View Full Version : Irish and Scottish Travelers in the 18th century

02-06-2015, 10:35 PM
Not Gypsies, which were a different ethnic group, but Travelers (Tinkers).

I'm looking for customs, marriage, funeral, and specifically - would it be accepted, prohibited or a gray area if a father traded his daughter for a horse, against her wishes, to a husband? My story is set in 1745. The father and daughter (and the Traveler tribe) are Irish in Ballyshannon (near Donegal). The husband-to-be is a Scottish traveler. It's a magnificent grey stallion, by the way!

King Neptune
02-06-2015, 11:00 PM
If the daughter was married, that would mean that she had already been sold.

Did you look at this site?
It appears to have considerable information, but I don't know how much history is included.

02-07-2015, 04:54 AM
Yup, that was one of many sites I looked into. I've also bought a couple books written by Travelers, and contacted a couple. Haven't gotten an answer yet.

The daughter is told a few hours before the wedding, and she has no chance to escape her father's transaction. She is part of a mass wedding at a festival.

02-07-2015, 05:03 AM
Jess Smith writes the best books (well I think) about Scottish Travellers most are about her upbringing but she also has some on the tales of the past.

"The Way of the Wanderers" and "Sookin Berries" would probably be the most relevant of the books.

02-07-2015, 03:31 PM
Jess Smith was the Traveler I contacted, and I bought her Way of the Wanderers book :)

AW Admin
02-07-2015, 08:42 PM
This is a decent book about modern Travellers:


This is a piece that I used to see cited fairly often in a well-respected Irish folklore scholarly journal:


There was some speculation in the very late twentieth century that Travellers were the descendants of a splinter group of non-Celtic speaking I.E. folk. I remember a few academic linguists presenting papers in support; that theory seems to have been abandonned.

02-07-2015, 10:12 PM

02-08-2015, 09:14 AM
For some basic social/political history, I recommend John Prebble's book The Highland Clearances. What was going on in Scotland during this period was anything but pleasant and welcoming to travelers.


02-08-2015, 04:00 PM
blacbird - I'm very familiar with the Highland Clearances. My book is set just before that, in 1745 (a year before Culloden). The Black Watch was a big danger, almost as much as British Soldiers.