The Lee Tribe

Sam Lee (Wally's son)                      W Lee
Gypsy girl, South Wales

Many of the South Walian Lees
are descended from Sampson and Elijah Lee, sons of Sam Lee from England.  This branch of the Lees were mainly based in South Wales but were sometimes found in North Wales and Lancashire.

Sampson Lee was born in Gloucester about 1805 and married Obadire (Alderaife?) Buckland.  They had 13 children : Shandras, Senbee, Alafair, Gravalina, Job, Maggonas, Louisa, Esther, Madonna, Charlie, Perrin, Essea and Diana (1861 census).  Elijah Lee married Rosanna Boswell and had 11 children:  Sampson, Dilaia, Bill, Melvinia, Jane, Tom, Silas, Sophia, Christmas, Llewellyn and John (source JGLS).

Some of Elijah's and Sampson's children intermarried.  Sisters Dilaia and Melvinia married Herons.  By 1881 Melvinia and Moses Heron were living in tents near Wrexham with Maggonas Lee and his family as neighbours.  Other Lees married into the Joneses, Locks, Prices, Scamps and Taylors.

Another branch of the Lees settled in North Wales.  Henry Lee descended from Righteous Lee and Penni Cooper.  Henry married Alice Wood (great grand-daughter of Abram Wood) by "jumping over the broomstick".  This was a binding ceremony in which the couple jumped over a branch of golden broom held out by the bride's father.  Their offspring were: Ellin, Oliver, Morjiana, Minnie, Debora, William, Ithal and Alice; and they married other Lees plus Boswells, Locks, Lovells and Woods.

Wally, Thyrles and Landa Lee                                W Lee

Middle son William married Ada Boswell/Lock (sister of Esmeralda) and lived in a caravan near Amlwch on Anglesey in 1891.

Many of William and Ada's children moved to Dublin in the 1930s, and their descendants live in Ireland or North Wales today.



Henry's eldest son Oliver was a participant in the legendary fight at Machynlleth between the Locks and the Lovells.  Zachariah Lock (aka Harry Boswell) from Shropshire had fallen for Maria Wood, and the couple wanted to live in North Wales.  Oliver and Seth Lovell disagreed with their choice, and bare-knuckle fisticuffs took place.  Harry was victorious, so Seth was required to move his family further south.


Henry's daughter Morjiana inherited her mother Alice Wood's clairvoyance skills (which Alice had acquired from her mother Black Ellen), and she was a well-known fortune-teller at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the 1900s.  Morjiana's daughter Cinderella continued this tradition into the 1950s.

Henry's youngest son Ithal travelled in a caravan and with tents throughout Wales, Ireland, Scotland and the southwest of England.  All his children were born in tents and took their first baths in a cold stream.


Ithal spoke both Welsh- and English-Romani (plus standard Welsh and English), and he became a close friend of John Sampson, the researcher into the Romani language from Liverpool.

Ithal promised Sampson to scatter his ashes on the mountain of Foel Goch near Corwen.  When the time came, Ithal led the funeral procession, carrying the ashes in a black wooden casket.  After Sampson's ashes had been cast to the four winds, Ithal burnt the casket and respectfully lit his pipe from the friendly flames.



Would you like to contribute to these pages?

Romani Cymru researchers would like to hear from anyone who is Welsh Romani or has Welsh Romani ancestral connectionsWe would also like to hear from anyone with stories or experiences over the past years relating to Welsh Gypsies.  All sensitive information will be treated in the strictest of confidence.  Please email The Romani Cymru Project at:

Strict Copyright Warning
All texts/audio/still/motion picture images are strictly copyright to ValleyStream Media 1980-2010 or to the stated contributor/
copyright holder/s or "unKn". Any unauthorised copying of any images or material from this website for any use is strictly prohibited without written permission from the image owners - owners of unknown images ("unKn")  from this website please contact us for fair use or image withdrawal. All rights reserved.

Romani Cymru
Romany Wales Project