1789 Scarce Book - Life And Adventures Of Bampfylde-Moore Carew, Gypsies, America, Cant Language.
Author: Robert Goadby or Bampfylde Moore Carew.
Title: The Life And Adventures Of Bampfylde-Moore Carew, Commonly Called The King of the Beggars. Being an impartial Account of his Life, from his leaving Tiverton School at the Age of Fifteen, And entering into a Society of Gipsies; Wherein the Motives of his Conduct are related and explained: The great Number of Characters and Shapes he has appeared in through Great Britain, Ireland, and several other places of Europe: With his Travels twice through great Part of America. Giving A Particular Account Of The Origin, Government, Laws, and Customs of the Gipsies; With the Method of Electing their King. And A Dictionary Of The Cant Language, used by the Mendicants.
Publisher: London: Printed for John Taylor, 1789.
Language: Text in English.
Size: 7 " X 4.5 ".
Pages: 204 pages.
Binding: Attractive and very good quarter calf leather binding (hinges fine, the spine was beautifully repaired/re-backed with the original title and date labels, overall slightly worn and scuffed - as shown) under a protective removable mylar cover.
Content: Very good content (tight and clean, light foxing and staining - as shown, contents tanned but very good, small chip to the outer blank margin of frontispiece repaired by a previous owner without affecting the image - as shown, bookplate of John Blowey the famous collector of Cornish books on the first endpaper - as shown).
Illustrations: Complete with the rare full-page frontispiece portrait.
Estimate : (USD 350 - USD 500)
The book: Scarce and attractive edition of The Life and Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew. Carew claims to have taken to the road after he ran away from Blundell's School in Tiverton. With friends, he chased a deer through fields causing damage, which caused farmers to complain to the headmaster. Carew ran away and, at an alehouse, fell in with a band of “gypsies”. (These were almost certainly not Romany but vagabonds living off their wits.) Carew travelled widely, at first around Devon and then around England, supporting himself by playing confidence tricks on the wealthy.
His first trick involved a “Madam Musgrove”, who asked for his help in discovering treasure she believed was hidden on her land. Carew, consulting “the secrets of his arts” for a fee of 20 guineas, informed her it was under a laurel tree but that she should not seek it until a particular day and hour. Of course by the appointed hour Carew and her money were long gone. This was a well-known and documented trick from a period when cunning folk were often consulted about lost items.
Carew claimed to be a master of disguise, in which he followed the tradition of counterfeit rogues dating back to Thomas Harman. He masqueraded as a shipwrecked sailor (a popular way to claim alms), a clergyman, and defrauding “Squire Portman” twice in one day, first as a rat-catcher and then a woman whose daughter had been killed in a fire, (another staple of fraudulent beggars).
Carew then travelled to Newfoundland, where he stayed a short time. On his return, he pretended to be the mate of a vessel and eloped with the daughter of a respectable apothecary of Newcastle on Tyne, whom he afterwards married. After further years as a vagabond, he claimed to have been elected King of the Gypsies upon the death of Clause Patch. The ceremony described reproduces one from Thomas Harman’s Caveat for Common Cursitors, via the popular play The Beggars' Bush by Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, and Philip Massinger in which Clause is a character.
Carew was convicted of being an idle vagrant and sentenced to be transported to Maryland. There he attempted to escape, was captured, escaped again, and fell in with friendly Indians. He travelled to Pennsylvania, swam the Delaware, adopted the guise of a Quaker, and made his way to Philadelphia and New York City.
Having embarked for England, he escaped being pressed to serve in the Navy by pricking his hands and face, and rubbing in bay salt and gunpowder, so as to simulate smallpox. Such tricks were commonplaces in rogue literature. On returning to England, he claims to have found his wife and daughter and then travelled to Scotland by 1745 in time to accompany Charles Edward Stuart to Carlisle and Derby.
An interesting aside is that when he was sentenced to be transported to Maryland it was in the ships of a company run by a family of Bideford Port, Devon, which later married into the Moore, Bampfylde, and Carew families.There is a Bond and a Contract from Mr Davy, Clerk of the Peace and Justices, for the transport of Richard Bond, Bampfield Moore Carew, William Crocker, Abraham Hart, Edward Browne, John Smith, Judith Daw and Mary Underhill to Virginia. Bampfield Moore Carew's name is inserted in the Bond only. The trade of transporting convicts was common from the west country ports in the 18th century as a return cargo for the tobacco trades, Bideford being one of the major centres for such imports.
A charming work with early American interest. A rare find in any condition!
The author: Bampfylde Moore Carew (1693) was an English rogue, vagabond and impostor, who claimed to be King of the Beggars. He was the son of Reverend Theodore Carew, rector of Bickleigh. The Carews were a well-established Devonshire family. Although they had a reputation for adventurousness, Bampfylde Moore Carew took this to extremes, if his picaresque memoirs are to be believed. Little is known about his life beyond these, in which he is described on the title-page as "the Noted Devonshire Stroller and Dogstealer".
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1789 Scarce Book - Life And Adventures Of Bampfylde-Moore Carew, Gypsies, America, Cant Language. Price List