I have often heard people refer to themselves as, " true," or, "pure-bred," Romany gypsies. It is certainly true that many families, especially in the past have tended to stick to their own kind when choosing a husband or wife but I am not convinced that marrying outside the community is a new thing.
I do not know how many Romanies first came to the UK but I cannot imagine it was a huge number and if this is correct those immigrants would surely have mixed with locals otherwise there would have been some terrible inbreeding. Furthermore Romanies were dark of complexion and it is accepted that they originated from India. This is why I found it a little amusing a while back when a very Caucasian looking chap, complete with ginger hair, blue eyes and pale skin told me that he was 100% purebred, Romany gypsy and that not one of his family had ever married outside.
I have no doubt that this chap has plenty of gypsy ancestry, he is part of the community and takes his culture seriously but I am fairly certain that like many others he must have a bit of local blood as well. Of course his genetic make-up is irrelevant but I find it interesting that despite his very handsome and very anglo saxon features he is certain that he is pure Romany and also that the idea of marrying a non Romany woman is abhorrent to him.
I have to say that this is not the first time I have come across such views and I wonder if this attitude has become more previlant in recent years, partly due to increased mistrust between travellers and the settled community. You often hear non travellers talk about the difference between, "proper gypsies," who are often deemed as ok and other types of people who pretend to be gypsies or are not real gypsies but use the way of life in order to get away with bad behaviour. I guess it is obvious that no one would want to be accused of being in the latter catagory.
Furthermore the lifestyle of most UK travellers has changed greatly in recent years and many feel concerned about the effects this has on their family life, their values and culture so in marrying their own kind seek to protect the community from negative influences and problems.
I have collected a few stories and opinions from people who have married outside their community which I will share here over the coming days.