Hezekiah Scott

The old Gypsiologists of the nineteenth century had heard of Hezekiah and made reference to him in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, remarking that Mercy Lee, who came from an important Gypsy tribe, had ‘married a traveller with Gypsy blood in him named Kai Scott and had a family.’ Hezekiah was 22 at the time of this marriage; the son of John and Harriet Scott, he had been baptised at Harlington, Middlesex, on 4th July 1824, where his parents were described as ‘strangers.’ The bride, Mercy/Mesi, was a little older than Hezekiah, having been baptised at Bisham, in Berkshire on 11th March 1819, the daughter of Charles and Ann, Gypsies. Their wedding took place at Eversley, in Hampshire in 1846.

The Gypsies who travelled the southern counties, especially Hampshire and Berkshire, often favoured the parish of Eversley, Hampshire, where the rector there for more than thirty years was Charles Kingsley, famous for having written The Water Babies (1862/3). Kingsley was considered friendly toward the travelling community and therefore Mercy and Hezekiah were to return to the church at Eversley many times over the years to baptise several of their children.

Mercy was already a mother at the time of her marriage, as she had a previous relationship with her cousin Sampson Lee, the son of Damon and Frances, who was considerably older than Mercy, having been baptised in 1798. There seem to have been three children born to this union, Charles Lee, baptised at Arborfield, Berkshire on 12th February 1842, Mary Lee, baptised at Basingstoke, Hampshire, 23rd July 1843 and Anne, baptised at the much-favoured Eversley on 19th October 1845. Charles Lee, we know, married Elizabeth Rose, the daughter of John Skerry and Ann Rose, and the couple had several children together.

Mercy would have another eight known children with Hezekiah/Kai, their eldest, a daughter named Fanette Scott, was baptised at Eversley in 1851, together with her younger brother, Henry. Fanette was probably about four years old at the time, Henry about eighteen months. At the same location they baptised William Scott on 20th February 1853 and Emily Richenda Scott on 11th January 1857.

In June 1858 their next child, Dangerfield Scott, was baptised, this time at Sunbury, in Middlesex, but daughter Mary Scott was christened back at Eversley in 1861. It is clear that Hezekiah travelled with members of the Lee family, and both he and Henry Lee, Mercy’s brother, were arrested in the spring of 1864, as the Berkshire Chronicle remarked, when ‘Gypsies who had pitched their tent about twenty yards from a rick at Silver Hill’ and a ‘quantity of very clean straw was found in it, which could be traced as having been brought from the stack in question.’ Henry Lee and Hezekiah Scott were sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment in consequence.

In 1865 another daughter, Charity, was born, but she died young and was buried at Eversley on 19th January 1867; tragically, just four days after this her mother, Mercy, who was only 48 years of age, was also buried. In the twenty-one years that Mercy and Hezekiah had been married there were probably other children that we don’t yet have records for (another child, Liberty Scott, who named Hezekiah and Mercy as parents, was baptised as an adult, and described as a labourer, at Longcross, in Surrey, on 15th July 1883, together with elder sister Fanette’s son, Dangerfield Ayres, whom she had named in tribute to her brother.)

The family continued to form unions with the Gypsy and traveller population, their son William united with a Gypsy, Jane Doe, daughter of Francis and Margaret; Dangerfield Scott married Gypsy Tiana Lee, daughter of John Smith and Martha Lee; Mary Scott married traveller James Sines in 1879 in Basingstoke, and Fanette’s partner was Major Ayres, born in 1837, the son of Samuel and Charlotte, Gypsies. Fanette and Major had a large family, Edward was born in 1871 and a daughter, Silvane, the following year. In 1875 Fanette named a son after her husband, and two years later another son was named after a brother, Henry. A little girl, Charlotte, was born in 1880, followed by Dangerfield, whom they had baptised in 1883, and had probably been born the previous year. Elsie, was born in 1884 and Sylvanus c1886, Edmond c1887 and Maurice in about 1892, by which time Fanette would be about 45 years old herself. Nor was this the only family she had, for Fanette Scott had previously given birth to a son, baptised as Belcher Scott, at Beech Hill, Berkshire, in 1868, naming the father as a Thomas Scott; Belcher would eventually marry a cousin, Emily Richenda Gregory, who had also been baptised at Eversley, the daughter of Athaliah Gregory, herself a grand-daughter of Charles Lee and Ann, Mercy’s parents.

Sometime between 1868 and 1870 Hezekiah formed another union with a Keziah James and together they had a daughter, Sophia Scott, in 1871, who married a traveller, David Chandler. in 1888 in Surrey.

Census records of the Gypsy and traveller population can be notoriously unreliable, since they rarely felt it necessary to expand on information given to the census taker, so that researchers have come to believe that the 1881 census, which records Hezekiah and Keziah, together with sons Dangerfield and Belcher and a daughter, Sophia, indicates these children belong to both parents. In fact, Dangerfield is Mercy’s son, Belcher is Fanette’s, and therefore Hezekiah’s grandson, and Sophia is the child of the couple, following their late union.

Hezekiah settled in Surrey permanently and that is where he died, buried on 16th December 1896, aged 72; Keziah can still be found in the registration district of Chertsey, in Surrey, during the subsequent census records of 1901 and 1911, by which time she had come to believe that she was some 94 years old; she was living with her daughter, Sophia, and her husband, David Chandler, and their very considerable family.