Egyptians Act 1530
The Egyptians Act 1530 (22 Henry VIII, c. 10) was an Act passed by the Parliament of England in 1531 to expel the "outlandish people calling themselves Egyptians", meaning Gypsies. It was repealed in 1840 by the Act 19 & 20 Vict. c.64.
The Act accused Gypsies of using crafty and subtle devices to deceive people, notably by claiming to tell fortunes whilst also frequently committing felonies such as robbery. The statute forbade any more Gypsies from entering the realm and gave those already in England sixteen days' notice to depart from the realm. Goods which Gypsies had stolen were to be restored to their owners and property confiscated from Gypsies was to be divided between the Sovereign and the Justice of the Peace or another arresting officer.
|“||an outlandish people, calling themselves Egyptians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise, who have come into this realm, and gone from shire to shire, and place to place, in great company; and used great subtlety and crafty means to deceive the people--bearing them in hand that they, by palmistry, could tell men's and women's fortunes; and so, many times, by craft and subtlety, have deceived the people for their money; and also have committed many heinous felonies and robberies, to the great hurt and deceit of the people that they have come among....
... the Egyptians now being in this realm, have monition to depart within sixteen days.... from henceforth no such person be suffered to come within this the King's realm and if they do, then they and every of them so doing, shall forfeit to the King our Sovereign Lord all their goods and titles and then to be commanded to avoid the realm within fifteen days under pain of imprisonment....
Egyptians Act 1554
The 1530 act was not successful in its aim of expelling all Gypsies, for Mary I passed the Egyptians Act 1554 (1 & 2 Philip & Mary, c. 4), which complained that "Egyptians" were plying their "devlish and naughty practices and devices". However, the new act allowed the Gypsies to escape prosecution so long as they abandoned their nomadic lifestyle, or as the act put it, their "naughty, idle and ungodly life and company".
- Great Britain; Edlyne Tomlins, Thomas; Raithby, John (1811). The statutes at large, of England and of Great Britain: from Magna Carta to the union of the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland. The Statutes at Large, of England and of Great Britain: 3. John Raithby - G. Eyre. (printer - A. Strahan). p. 89. In fact, "gypsies" are now known to be descendents of migrants from Northern India, from around 600AD, G Tremlett, 'Gypsies arrived in Europe 1,500 years ago, genetic study says' (7 December 2012) The Guardian
- Great Britain (1763). Danby Pickering, ed. The statutes at large from the Magna Charta, to the end of the eleventh Parliament of Great Britain. J. Bentham. p. 205.
- Mayall, David. English Gypsies and State Policies.
- Stanford Lehmberg, The Reformation Parliament 1529-1536 (Cambridge University Press, 1970).