Tinkers and Red Indians.

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Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby Iain » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:49 am

What's in a word ? Listening to the BBC's genealogy program "Digging up your Roots," http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/genealogy - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007rv8d ..., a researcher spoke about her difficulties in tracing her family, as her mother had been a cave-dweller somewhere on the Argyll peninsula. Even "cave-dweller" brings images of dinosaurs !

Then, rapidly reading Russanros's hello message for which I never found the time to reply, viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11078 …, Kevin, in his reply, mentioned the "Rest and be Thankful." (for those of us who have never heard of the name, this is an extremely beautiful but dangerous road near Loch Long and Loch Awe. Dangerous, especially in winter !
http://www.arrocharheritage.com/Arrocha ... l_RABT.htm
http://www.armin-grewe.com/holiday/scot ... ankful.htm

Anyway, as a lad, I often took the MacBrayne's bus on that road and to pass the time, I remember searching for and counting the domed leather-dwellings of the tinkers.

To this day, there always seems to be a certain stigma concerning their lifestyle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Travellers Then, the thought came to me…, cave-dwellers and many tinkers are simply people from choice or obligation who have been forced to distance themselves from society. (no gipsy link there) On the other hand…, Red Indians don't seem to have the same stigma. On the contrary !
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby ionnsaigh » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:19 am

Native American's :D
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby Iain » Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:39 pm

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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby ionnsaigh » Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:29 pm

I like that smilie. :D
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby ionnsaigh » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:54 am

Iain wrote:cave-dwellers and many tinkers are simply people from choice or obligation who have been forced to distance themselves from society. (no gipsy link there) On the other hand…, Red Indians don't seem to have the same stigma. On the contrary !


Could it be society, that distanced itself from the Tinkers ? Similar to banishment ?
Should we bow to the demands of the political correct, by referring to them as, Traveling People ?
More questions than answers ( that's me )
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby Lachlan » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:41 am

As far as I know, the conventional view on the origins of tinkers in the Scottish Highlands has them being the scattered remnants of broken clans ie clans without a chief or lands. In the case of the MacGregors of course, the clan was proscribed/outlawed by royal and government order in the late 1600’s and they became wanderers or else sought the protection of other clans (such as Rob Roy MacGregor who sought protection of the Duke of Argyll for himself and family). The MacPhees lost their chief and lands at one time and they too became scattered, as had the MacAlpines. Their descendants, MacGregors and MacPhees, are famous in the Highlands as main tinker clans, grown into their role and own culture. Unlike gypsies, tinkers are home-grown and as we know, developed a language all their own, including elements of Gaelic.

I don’t know the origins of the Townsleys, Argyll’s own tinker clan who spent a lot of time in Kintyre, but seeing them on the road or in camp was one of my memories growing up in the 1960’s. The matriarch Bella Townsley was a well-kent face. I remember the ruddy faces and bleached hair of Townsley kids and one male member of the clan was a tall figure, usually pushing a pram along the A83. My Dad told me that the man had been in the Scots Guards (I believe during the war). So they didn’t always keep themselves to themselves. One of the children I recall was mixed-race black/white, so again, there was mixing with outsiders.

Though they’re seen as outside our culture and norms, tinkers had belief, honour and pride. I remember one time as a lad, we tripped off to Campbeltown one day during our family hols to find parts of the town absolutely mobbed. It turned out that sadly, a tinker child had been knocked down and killed by a motorist a few days earlier and the child’s funeral was being held in Campbeltown that day. Tinkers had come from all airts to attend the funeral and pay respects for one of their own. A sad day, but a show of their culture and identity within Scotland.
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby Iain » Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:52 am

Lachlan wrote: My Dad told me that the man had been in the Scots Guards


Hi Lachlan ! I was in the Pipes and Drums of the Scots Guards ! :)

That's a great reply to this thread and something I'd never thought about ! Absolutely logical and certainly more plausible than any "Romani-gypsy" connection. Suddenly, the word Tinker has taken on a new genealogical meaning.

I remember a BBC program called "Digging up your Roots" where they researched a woman who lived in a cave on the west coast. (quite common apparently) And if I remember rightly, they paralleled her life to that of a Tinker and made no mention of any distant clan break-up. Quite certain that if they ever read your post, it would have given them food for thought for a future program. :wink:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/genealogy

Thanks !
Last edited by Iain on Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby dunc99 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:26 am

By dredging back through the old grey matter, I remember a TV feature about the tinker who was in the Scots Guards. I believe that it was filmed in February 1960 at their camp at the Lint Mill (near Stewarton).

It was part of a weekly series, I think it was on BBC, called "It Happened to Me"
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:10 am

If my Dad was still alive, he could have told me the name of the Guardsman with the pram. But I think he was a Townsley (or Townslie, which sounds more Scottish). He was certainly with the Townslies.

I remember my Dad telling me of when he was a boy in the early 1930's at Newhouse, Ronachan nr Clachan. At that time, I believe he said the Tarbert-Campbeltown road was surfaced with stones, but not yet tarmacamed. Anyway, my poor Dad hadn't been able to got to the loo for some time and was well and truly constipated. His mum and dad tried everything to loosen him up but nothing worked. As the days passed, he felt weaker. His parents were worried. I think they got the doc, but he was unable to help.

One day, he was slowly walking the road near the house when he felt a strange rumbling inside. A most weird feeling was rocking his innards. He knew something was about to blow !!!! As fast as he could he headed for the nearest refuge, a small tree just over the dry-stane wall. He dived over the wall, just managing to yank down his drawers in time !

You can imagine what followed - all those days of toilet denial and backed-up laxative cures ! It was not pretty (well, pretty messy yes but not pretty !). While he was in mid-flow, a head appeared over the wall beside his little tree. It was an old tinker. He watched for a second or two and according to my dad's well-remembered imitation of his voice, said in a deep nasal voice "Aye, that's right, sit below a tree an' scooter it oot !"
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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby Iain » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:59 pm

Perhaps the most famous Kintyre Forum Scots Guardman is Tony Wilson. (after me of course ! Image ) Tony being the Pipe Major in direct contact with Paul McCartney. Many a pint we downed at Braemar !! http://www.britainexpress.com/villages/braemar.htm

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Re: Tinkers and Red Indians.

Postby Iain » Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:30 pm

[quote="Iain"]Perhaps the most famous Kintyre Forum Scots Guardman was Tony Wilson. (after me of course ! Image ) Tony being the Pipe Major in direct contact with Paul McCartney. Many a pint we downed at Braemar !! http://www.britainexpress.com/villages/braemar.htm Those were the days ! :wink:

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