I am anxious to obtain information regarding the reason why there were so many gypsies buried in the churchyard at Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, and concerning the gypsy winter camp which used to be (and, possibly, still is) held in the neighbourhood.
I should be very grateful for any information you may be able to give me on the subject, or any references to publications which deal with it which may be within your knowledge.
Since Mr. Willis Watson's reply appeared it has been my privilege to see a young male descendant of the famous Stanleys of Norton Fitzwarren churchyard carrying on in Taunton the same manner of life as his ancestors. Although when this is written he is here, by the time it is printed, he may be many miles away. Motor transport has replaced the horse almost entirely, even among Romany 'travellers'.
A year or two ago, an old lady on a smiliar visit to Taunton, during her stay had her history verified by the registers at Norton Church I was told, in order to qualify for the old age Pension. In the early years of last century, probably the only records kept of Romany folk would be in registers of christenings and funerals. One section of the Norton Fitzwarren Stanleys ventured to America. They returned however, so perhaps America was hardly as congenial as our little island. I know another section, quartered near Bournemouth. The famous pugilist 'Digger' Stanley, a pre-war fighter, belonged to them.
- J.S. Fisher, Taunton.
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Taunton Courier & Western Advertiser - Wednesday, 4th May 1932
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