CAREW, Bampfylde-Moore. ~ 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. London: for J. Buckland, C. Bathurst and T. Davies, 1793.
12mo (150 × 90 mm), pp. 235, . Two woodcut ornaments, typographical headpiece. Somewhat browned and spotted, paper flaw to lower forecorner of H4, slight loss, affecting just a few letters. Contemporary tree calf, gilt, red morocco label. Slightly rubbed. A very good copy.
The celebrated life of a colourful swindler and impostor which was first published in 1745 and reprinted numerous times. This is one of two editions printed for Buckland, Bathurst and Davies in 1793. The final 5 pages contain a notable ‘cant’ dictionary explaining popular terms and phrases such as ‘tipping the velvet’, ‘beard splitter’, ‘hog grubber’, ‘nun gimmer’ and ‘woblety cropt’.
Carew fell in with a band of romanies as a wayward young boy. ‘After a year and a half Carew returned home for a time, but soon after resumed a career of swindling and imposture, which saw him deceive people to whom he had previously been well known. Eventually he embarked for Newfoundland, but stayed only a short time. On his return to England he passed as the mate of a vessel, and eloped with the daughter of a respectable apothecary from Newcastle upon Tyne, whom he later married.
Carew soon returned to the nomadic life, and when Clause Patch, a Gypsy king or chief, died Carew was elected his successor. He was convicted of being an idle vagrant, and sentenced to be transported to Maryland. On his arrival he attempted to escape, but was captured and made to wear a heavy iron collar; he escaped again, and encountered some Native Americans, who removed his shackles. On departure he travelled to Pennsylvania. He was then said to have swum the Delaware River, after which he adopted the guise of a Quaker, and made his way to Philadelphia, then to New York, and finally to Boston, where he embarked for England. He escaped impressment on board a man-of-war by pricking his hands and face, and rubbing in bay salt and gunpowder, so as to simulate smallpox’ (John Ashton, rev. Heather Shore in Oxford DNB).
This biography is variously attributed to Carew himself, to Robert Goadby and also to his wife, Mrs. Goadby.