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Encyclopedia > Romnichal

Romnichal or Romanichal is the name by which groups of Romani people (often known as Gypsies) found in some parts of the United Kingdom, notably England, are called in their own language, Anglo-Romany. The name is not universally accepted by English Roma, who will often call themselves "Romany Folk". They are thought to have arrived in Britain in the 16th century. Languages Romani, languages of native region Religions Christianity, Islam Related ethnic groups South Asians (Desi) The Romani people (as a noun, singular Rom, plural Roma; sometimes Rrom, Rroma) or Romanies are an ethnic group living in many communities all over the world. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Unified  -  by Athelstan 967 AD  Area  -  Total 130,395 km²  50,346 sq mi  Population  -  2007 estimate... Angloromani is a language combining aspects of English and Romany. ...

The word "Romnichal" derives from "Romani chal", where "chal" is Anglo-romani for "fellow".[1] It is pronounced with the "ch" being equivalent to that in "church".

It is not clear how they are related to the other main Romani people in the UK, the Welsh Kale, or to other Roma groups.

They (and their descendants) are also to be found throughout the United States and also in Australia.[2]



The Romani people in England are thought to have spoken the Romani language until the 19th century, when it was replaced by English and Anglo-Romani, a creole language that combines the language structure and grammar of English with the Romani Lexicon.[3] Most Romnichals also speak English. Angloromani is a language combining aspects of English and Romany. ...

Many Anglo-Romani words have been incorporated into English, particularly in the form of slang words used in the UK.


The first groups of Romani people arrived in the British Isles by the end of the 15th century, running from the conflicts in Southeastern Europe (the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans). In 1505, there are recorded Romani persons in Scotland, probably arrived from Spain. The same as in the rest of Western Europe they were received with suspicion by a local monocultural population unaccustomed with foreigners. Soon the leadership passed laws aiming at stoping the Romani imigration and at the assimilation of those already settled. Under the Reign of Henry VIII, the Egyptians Act 1530 banned Roma from entering the country and required those living in the country to leave within 16 days. Failure to do so could result in confiscation of property, imprisonment and deportation. The act was amended, under the reign of Philip and Mary, with the Egyptians Act 1554, which removed the threat of punishment to Roma if they abandoned their "naughty, idle and ungodly life and company" and adopted a settled lifestyle. However, for those who failed to adhere to a sedentary existence, the punishment was upped to execution. A new law, in 1562, offers the possibility of becoming citizens for the Romanies born in England and Wales, if they assimilate in the local population. Despite this legislation, the Romani population managed to survive, but was forced to a marginal lifestyle and subjected to continuous discrimination from the state authorities and many of the local non-Romanies. In one event, in 1596, 106 men and women are condemned to death at York just for being Romani, but only nine are executed. The others prove they were born in England. From the years 1780s, gradually, the anti-Romani laws are repelled, although not all. Location of the British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands off the north west coast of continental Europe comprising Great Britain, Ireland and a number of smaller islands. ... (14th century - 15th century - 16th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 15th century was that century which lasted from 1401 to 1500. ... The Balkans is the historic and geographic name used to describe southeastern Europe (see the Definitions and boundaries section below). ... Motto دولت ابد مدت Devlet-i Ebed-müddet (The Eternal State) Anthem Ottoman imperial anthem Borders in 1680, see: list of territories Capital Söğüt (1299–1326) Bursa (1326–65) Edirne (1365–1453) Constantinople (Ä°stanbul, 1453–1922) Language(s) Ottoman Turkish (official); spoken languages include Abkhazian, Adyghe, Albanian, Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Azerbaijani... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... 1505 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Motto (Latin) No one provokes me with impunity Cha togar mfhearg gun dioladh (Scottish Gaelic)1 Wha daur meddle wi me?(Scots)1 Anthem (Multiple unofficial anthems) Scotlands location in Europe Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow Official languages English, Gaelic, Scots Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II... The borders of Western Europe were largely defined by the Cold War. ... Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England and Lord of Ireland (later King of Ireland) from 22 April 1509 until his death. ... June 25 - Augsburg confession presented to Charles V of Holy Roman Empire. ... Events January 5 - Great fire in Eindhoven, Netherlands. ... Year 1562 was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. ... Events February 5 - 26 catholics crucified in Nagasaki, Japan. ... York is a city in North Yorkshire, England, at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss. ...

During the centuries 17th and 18th, after England acquired the first colonies, periodically, Romanies were round up and deported, first in Carribean, then also in North America and Australia. Many times, those departed in this manner did not survive as an ethnic group, because of the separations after the round up, the sea passage and the subsequent settlement as slaves, all destroying the social fabric. In the same time, it began a volutary emigration in the English colonies, Romani groups that survived and continued the expression of the Romani culture there. The Caribbean or the West Indies is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. ... World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ...

The identity of the Romnichals was formed in the years 1660-1800, as a Romani group living in Britain. In the 1830s, the first wooden horse-drawn covered waggons used by them were reported.

In the first phase of the Second World War, the Nazis drew up lists of Romani individuals (many of them Romnichals) and persons with Romani ascendency from the United Kingdom to be interned and subjected to Porajmos in the eventuality of this country's occupation. Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ... The Nazi party used a right-facing swastika as their symbol and the red and black colors were said to represent Blut und Boden (blood and soil). ... Roma arrivals in the Belzec extermination camp await instructions The Porajmos (also Porrajmos) literally Devouring, or Samudaripen (Mass killing) is a term coined by the Roma (Gypsy) people to describe attempts by the Nazi regime to exterminate most of the Roma peoples of Europe during The Holocaust. ...

The crisis of the 1960s decade, caused by the Caravan Sites Act (stoping new private sites being built until 1972), determines the appearance of the British Gypsy Council to fight for the rights of the Romnichals.[4]

Romnichal Lifestyle

Traditionally, Romnichals earned a living doing agricultural work and would move to the edges of towns for the winter months. There was casual work available on farms throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn months, and would start with seed sowing, planting potatoes and fruit trees in the Spring, weeding in early Summer, and there would be a succession of harvests of crops from Summer to late Autumn.

Of particular significance was the hop industry, which employed thousands of Romnichals both in Spring for vine training and for the harvest in early Autumn.

Winter months were often spent doing casual labour in towns or selling goods or services door to door.

Mass industrialisation of agriculture in the 1960s led to the disappearance of many of the casual farm jobs Romnichals had traditionally carried out. This, and legislation aimed at stopping travellers camping on common land and roadsides, has forced large numbers of Romnichals to abandon their nomadic lifestyle and take on a sedentary existence[5].

Originally, Romnichals would travel on foot, or with light, horse-drawn carts, and they would build "bender" tents where they settled for a time. A bender is type of tent constructed from a frame of bent hazel branches (hazel is chosen for its straightness and flexibility), covered with canvas or tarpaulin. These tents are still favoured by New Age Traveller groups.

Around the mid to late-nineteenth century, Romnichals started using wagons that incorporated living spaces on the inside. These they called "Vardos" and were often brightly and colourfully decorated on the inside and outside.

In the present day, Romnichals are more likely to live in caravans.

They often marry between the ages of 16 and 20, some to clan members or to distant relatives, but inter-clan marriage also occurs. Common Romnichal family names are Heron, Joles, Gotab, Stanley, Smith, Bryer, Bennet, Boswell, Gannon, Wardley, Cooper, Young, Kelly, Swartz, Pickett, Wells,[citation needed] Some Romnichals do maintain a semi-nomadic life, preferring to live in caravans so that they can move around, but others have settled down more permanently. Regardless, they do tend to remain in groups of members sharing the same ethnic background. A family name, or surname, is that part of a persons name that indicates to what family he or she belongs. ...

Legislation enacted to prevent travelling lifestyles

The Inclosure Act 1857 created the offence of injury or damage to village greens and interruption to its use or enjoyment as a place of exercise and recreation. The Commons Act 1876 makes encroachment or inclosure of a village green, and interference with or occupation of the soil unlawful unless it is with the aim of improving enjoyment of the green.

Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 states that no occupier of land shall cause or permit the land to be used as a caravan site unless he is the holder of a site licence. It also enables a district council to make an order prohibiting the stationing of caravans on common land, or a town or village green.

These acts had the overall effect of preventing travellers using the vast majority of their traditional stopping places.

The Caravan Sites Act 1968 required local authorities to provided caravan sites for travellers, if there were a demonstrated need. This was resisted by many councils who would claim that there were no Gypsies living in their areas. The result was that insufficient pitches were provided for travellers, leading to the situation whereby holders of a pitch could no longer travel, for fear of losing it.

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 removed the duty of local councils to provide authorised pitches and gave the Council and Police powers to move travellers on, subject to certain welfare issues. The official response of the government was that travellers should buy land and apply for planning permission to occupy it. However, those that did so found it extremely difficult to get planning permission, with more than 90% of applications by travellers refused.

Romnichals in the USA

In the United States there are several major locations of settlement, including the St. Louis area, the Wisconsin Dells area, Louisiana, Florida, Downers Grove, Chicago and Pennsylvania. This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Dells of the Wisconsin River The Dells of the Wisconsin River (used in the singular, and also called the Wisconsin Dells) is a 5 mi (8 km) gorge on the Wisconsin River in southern Wisconsin in the United States noted for its particular scenic beauty, in particular for its unique... Official language(s) de jure: none de facto: English & French Capital Baton Rouge Largest city New Orleans [1] Area  Ranked 31st  - Total 51,885 sq mi (134,382 km²)  - Width 130 miles (210 km)  - Length 379 miles (610 km)  - % water 16  - Latitude 29°N to 33°N  - Longitude 89°W... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Largest metro area Miami Area  Ranked 22nd  - Total 65,795[1] sq mi (170,304[1] km²)  - Width 361 miles (582 km)  - Length 447 miles (721 km)  - % water 17. ... Downers Grove is located in DuPage County, Illinois Downers Grove is a village located 19 miles west of Chicago in DuPage County, Illinois. ... Nickname: Motto: Urbs In Horto (Latin: City in a Garden), I Will Location in the Chicago metro area and Illinois Coordinates: Country United States State Illinois County Cook & DuPage Incorporated March 4, 1837 Government  - Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Area  - City  234. ... Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ...


  1. ^ Manfri Frederick Wood. Romanichal Word List.
  2. ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=rme Areas of Angloromani's use
  3. ^ University of Manchester Romani Project. The Anglo-Romani project.
  4. ^ http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/timeline.htm
  5. ^ BBC Kent Romany Roots. Romany History.


  • 'Gypsies' in the United States
  • Salo, M., 'Romnichel economic and social organization in urban New England, 1850-1930,' in Salo, M. ed. Urban Gypsies, special issue of Urban Anthropology, 2.3/4 (1982), 273-313

  Results from FactBites:
Australian Information from Wikipedia (4456 words)
Romnichal (Rom'nies) mainly in Britain and North America; and
Larger-scale immigration began in the 1860s, with groups of Romnichal from Britain.
The largest number immigrated in the early 1900s, mainly from the Vlax group of Kalderash.
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The Romnichals came to the United States earlier than the Rom, and ran successful horse-trading operations in New England.
Even groups such as the Gitanos or Romnichals, despite having lost most of their original language, still maintain a strong sense of ethnic identity and exclusiveness.
Romnichals took an early American role as horse traders, and achieved particular success in Boston.
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