Kale (Welsh Roma)
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A Welsh Kale family, 1951
|Regions with significant populations|
|English, Welsh Romani|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Kale (also Kalá, Valshanange; Welsh: Roma yng Nghymru) are a group of Romani people in Wales. Many claim to be descendants of Abram Wood, who was the first Rom to reside permanently and exclusively in Wales in the early 18th century, though Romanichal Travellers have appeared in Wales since the 16th century. Welsh Kale are almost exclusively found in Northwest Wales, specifically the Welsh-speaking areas. Romanichal Travellers inhabit South Wales (In and around Cardiff, Swansea and Newport) and North East Wales (In an around Wrexham as well as in parts of Wales close to Liverpool and Chester).
Generally speaking, the Kale have employed a tribal structure in which a group of several family units would be under the authority of a male chieftain. However some Kale families are matriarchal with a senior woman being chosen by consensus among the other women of the family to take the leadership role.
Many Welsh Kale have migrated to the United States over the centuries. Most Welsh Kale who migrated to the US have become absorbed into the Romanichal communities of the US, with large portions of American Romanichal Travellers claiming Welsh Kale heritage.
The Kale speak Welsh Romani. Originally the variants of Welsh Romani and the Angloromani of the Romanichal constituted a common "British Romani" language. Both Welsh Romani and Angloromani share characteristics and are closely related to each other and to Romani dialects spoken in Scotland (Scottish Cant), Finland (Finnish Kalo) and Norway and Sweden (Scandoromani). Welsh, English, Scottish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish Romani share common ancestry from a wave of Romani immigrants who came to England in the 16th century.
The Welsh Romani language survived in North Wales until at least 1950. A sort of "pidgin" dialect arose in the late 19th century, mostly consisting of Romani, Welsh and English.
Integration into Welsh culture
While preserving their travelling lifestyle the Kale grew to claim several aspects of Welsh culture, including conversion to Christianity, taking on Welsh surnames, and participating in regional and national eisteddfodau. Notably, John Robert Lewis, the husband of Abram Wood's granddaughter, would win prizes for harping in 1842, 1848 and 1850.
Another descendant, John Roberts, earned the sobriquet "Telynor Cymru", and taught his whole family various instruments. His illustrious career culminated in a performance before Queen Victoria at the Palé Hall on 24 August 1889 on the occasion of the Royal Visit to Wales. John Roberts played with his nine sons, all of them on the harp.
- Romanichal Travellers (English Travellers)
- Romanisæl Travellers (Norwegian and Swedish Travellers)
- Finnish Kale
- Scottish Travellers
- Irish Travellers
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