James Hardy Vaux: Newcastle’s Pickpocket & Literary Pioneer

James hardy Vaux

ABC Newcastle (Newcastle)
Day Shift -24/06/2008 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Producer: Jeanette McMahon
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the autobiography of convict, author and scallywag charmer James Hardy Vaux (1782 – fl.1841). His book containing an account of his sordid life up until the end of his sentence at Newcastle’s penal settlement and vocabulary of the ‘Flash Language’ were written and compiled in Newcastle during the years 1811-1814 under the reign of Commandant Thomas Skottowe. They were published in two volumes in 1819. His biographers affirm that his work was the first full length autobiography ever written in Australia, and his Vocabulary of the Flash Language the first dictionary ever compiled in Australia. The University’s Cultural Collections holds the 1819 first edition of this work as well as the 1964 republished edition. Di Gravio also discusses whether the mysterious and impossibly rare James Murray edition under the title of Memoirs of the First Thirty-Two Years of The Life of James Hardy Vaux, A Swindler and Pickpocket; Now Transported for the Second Time, and For Life, to New South Wales, was also supposedly published in 1819.

Broadcast Notes:

Newcastle in 1812
Newcastle in 1812

Newcastle’s history never ceases to amaze, we are certainly an important historical region of little known Australian ‘firsts’.

In the case of James Hardy Vaux we have the strange honour of being the place at which Australia’s first substantial autobiographical work was written, and the first dictionary of the convict slang (or flash) language compiled.

Albeit from a charming convict pickpocket, who was transported to Botany Bay, not once but three times! He somehow managed to extract a Pardon (backdated as well) from the Governor after he had been caught forging his signature. He was also allowed to tutor the Governor’s children as well as those of the Rev Samuel Marsden.

The illustration above is a composite panoramic image stitched together by Russell Rigby (Coal River Working Party’s mining geologist) from T.R. Browne’s Newcastle, in New South Wales, with a distant view of Point Stephen, 1812 and View of Hunters River, near Newcastle, New South Wales, 1812. Both engravings are held in the Newcastle Region Art Gallery. This was what Newcastle (or The Coal River) looked like in 1812 when Vaux compiled his dictionary and later his Memoirs. The words he recorded below (‘for the use of the magistrates’) are a record of what the convicts sounded like, the language and expressions they used in the excution of their criminal profession. Some of these words are still in use today.

Language continues to evolve, and it is the key to all culture. I have found Vaux’s dictionary very helpful in clarifying early accounts such as those surrounding Wixted’s 1801 settlement, especially the episode where the convict prisoners wanted a new commandant, but didn’t expect they would get the hard task master Dr Mason. ‘When they discovered that the corporal’s successor was going to be Dr Mason they applied to the corporal to know if he would join them in “jacketing” Mason should he prove too severe.’ I’ve often wondered what ‘jacketing’ meant’ and now thanks to Vaux we learn:

‘JACKET: to jacket a person, or clap a jacket on him, is nearly synonymous
with bridging him. See BRIDGE. But this term is more properly applied to
removing a man by underhand and vile means from any birth or situation he
enjoys, commonly with a view to supplant him; therefore, when a person,
is supposed to have fallen a victim to such infamous machinations, it is
said to have been a jacketing concern.’


‘BRIDGE: to bridge a person, or throw him over the bridge, is, in a
general sense, to deceive him by betraying the confidence he has reposed
in you, and instead of serving him faithfully, to involve him in ruin or
disgrace; or, three men being concerned alike in any transaction, two of
them will form a collusion to bridge the third, and engross to themselves
all the advantage which may eventually accrue. Two persons having been
engaged in a long and doubtful contest or rivalship, he, who by superior
art or perseverance gains the point, is said to have thrown his opponent
over the bridge. Among gamblers, it means deceiving the person who had
back’d you, by wilfully losing the game; the money so lost by him being
shared between yourself and your confederates who had laid against you.
In playing three-handed games, two of the party will play into each
other’s hands, so that the third must inevitably be thrown over the
bridge, commonly called, two poll one. See PLAY ACROSS.’

You get the idea. The dictionary becomes intoxicating reading and is quite hilarious in parts. Especially the ‘Knapping a Jacob from a Danna-Drag’:

‘KNAPPING A JACOB FROM A DANNA-DRAG: This is a curious species of robbery,
or rather borrowing without leave, for the purpose of robbery; it
signifies taking away the short ladder from a nightman’s cart, while the
men are gone into a house, the privy of which they are employed emptying,
in order to effect an ascent to a one-pair-of-stairs window, to scale a
garden-wall, etc., after which the ladder, of course, is left to rejoin
its master as it can.’

James Hardy Vaux Time Line
(Digested from the works of Averil F. Fink and Noel McLachlan)

20 May 1782 – James Hardy Vaux was baptised in East Clandon, Surrey England. His father was Hardy Vaux a butler and home steward to George Holme Sumner MP. Spends most of his childhood in Shifnal in Shropshire.

1796 – His life of loose living began at age 14 when he was apprenticed to a linen draper in Liverpool. After he was dismissed from that job, he went to London and obtained work as a copying clerk for a law firm, until losing his job there as well.

December 1798 – 1799 Serving on the frigate Astraea, he deserted at Yarmouth in August 1799 and returned to London.

April 1800 – First Trial. Tried under the alias of John Smith for stealing an amount of cloth from Addington the linen draper, later acquitted. Not Guilty.

September 1800 – Second Trial. Arrested for pocket picking and sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing a handkerchief.

16 May 1801 – Boards Minorca for Sydney.

December 1801 – Arrived in Sydney and worked as a clerk but was caught forging the signature of Governor Gidley King and was moved to a road gang.

1807 – He either befriended or charmed the Rev Samuel Marsden who took him back to England aboard the Buffalo in 1807. On board the vessel he was instructor to Marsden’s children (and Governor King’s children), Governor King also furnished him with a Pardon, back dated to 12 August 1806. He later became insubordinate and had to enlist as a seamen. Description of ‘ball of fire’ in his account matches up with Mrs King’s Diary and Captain’s log. He again deserted.

December 1807 – He arrived back in London.

21 July 1808 – First marriage. He married a ‘slightly soiled lady of the streets’ Mary Ann Thomas at St Paul’s Covent garden.

December 1808 – Third Trial. Arrested for stealing a snuffbox, but later acquitted.

February 1809 – Fourth Trial. James Hardy Vaux aged 26 was sentenced to death for stealing from Mr Bilger’s jewellery shop, sentence was committed to transportation.

16 December 1810 – James Hardy Vaux is back in Sydney.

1811 – Fifth Trial. Sentenced to 12 months hard labour for receiving stolen property from Edwards and sent to Newcastle, (aka ‘The Hell of New South Wales’) and served two years in the coal mine. While at Newcastle he compiles his Vocabulary of the Flash Language. The Commandant at the time was Thomas Skottowe, a Lieutenant in the 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot, he served as Commandant of the penal colony in Newcastle from 1811 to 1814.

5th July 1812 Prior to this date compiles Vocabulary of the Flash Language at the suggestion of a friend.

January 1814 – Back in Sydney Vaux was caught trying to escape the Earl Spencer, flogged and sent back to Newcastle. As a Store Clerk there he was encouraged to write his Memoirs in addition to his convict slang dictionary for the use of magistrates. The Vocabulary is dedicated to Thomas Skottowe, who was commandant of Newcastle from 1811-1814.

3 August 1818 – Second Marriage. Whilst Governor Macquarie was visiting Newcastle Vaux (by special license) married Frances Sharkey. One of ten couples married that day, the first in the new Christ Church, married in the Governor’s presence. Macquarie writes in his Journal that all convicts were given a holiday with an extra meat ration.

September 1818 – He returned to Sydney and applied for a Ticket of Leave.

1819 – Vaux assigned to Justice Baron Field. Field arranges for the manuscript of Vaux’s Memoirs and Vocabulary to be published by John Murray.

12 January 1819 – [John Murray edition limited to 500 copies very rare?] Memoirs of the First Thirty-Two Years of The Life of James Hardy Vaux, A Swindler and Pickpocket; Now Transported for the Second Time, and For Life, to New South Wales. Written by Himself.

1819 – Official first edition. Vaux, James Hardy, b. 1782. Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux written by himself. London : Printed by W. Clowes … , 1819. [Could this be the official John Murray edition without his imprint, as Clowes was his printer?]

26 January 1820 – Vaux receives a Conditional Pardon (probably due to his Memoirs) and is employed as clerk in the Colonial Secretary’s Office.

1823 – Conversion. Vaux converts to Catholicism via Rev. John Joseph Therry.

29 December 1826 – Dismissal. Informed by letter that His Excellency Governor Darling no longer required his services from 31st inst. He was then employed in an iron monger’s store.

1827 – 2nd Edition. Memoirs of Hardy Vaux, A Swindler and Thief, Now Transported to New South Wales for the Second Time, and For Life. Written by Himself. Second Edition. London, 1827. Printed for Hunt and Clarke, York Street, Covent Garden.

2 April 1827 – Third Marriage. Vaux (under the name of James Lowe) married his housekeeper Eleanor Bateman (another Irish convict) – although his previous wife was alive.

1829 – Memoirs of Hardy Vaux reprinted.

April 1829 – Escape. Vaux absconded and so broke the terms of his conditional pardon. Went to Ireland.

1830 – Memoirs of Hardy Vaux reprinted.

11 February 1830 – Hardy Vaux is used as a character in W.T. Moncrieff’s ‘Van Diemen’s Land! or Settlers and Natives’ playing at Surrey Theatre in Blackfriers Road

30 August 1830 – Dublin Trial. In Ireland, Vaux is convicted under the alias of James Young of passing forged notes and is again sentenced to death, later committed to 7 years transportation (he managed to convince the Directors of the Provincial Bank of Ireland to consent to a mitigation of punishment in return for a guilty plea – quite amazing as the punishment was 14 years for such an offence).

May 1831 – Returns to Sydney aged forty nine, aboard the Waterloo, at which his previous sentence is revived and is sent to Port Macquarie.

1831-1836 Port Macquarie.

March 1836 Vaux was given a Ticket of Leave (probably fraudulent) and returned to Port Macquarie via the William the Fourth.

1839 Trial. Vaux returns to Sydney. In May 1839 he is charged with the criminal assault of an eight year old girl and is sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.

1841 – Released on the recommendation of Chief Justice Sir James Darling and vanishes never to be seen again.

1964 – The memoirs of James Hardy Vaux : including his vocabulary of the Flash language edited and with an introduction and notes by Noel McLachlan. London : Heinemann, 1964. McLachlan writes (p.xv):

“Vaux’s Memoirs are in fact the first piece of full length autobiography to have been written in Australia as well (in my opinion) the first work of sustained literary value to come from that country. The slang glossary attached to it is the first Australia dictionary.”

1990 – Flash Jim Vaux: a ballad opera by Ron Blair. Montmorency, Vic. : Yackandandah Playscripts, 1990.

Excerpts from the Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux relating to his days in Newcastle
(Read the full Memoirs and Dictionary scanned by Google Books here)

Vol. 2 p.136
After receiving our sentence, the corporal part of which was severely inflicted on Edwards, I continued to labour in the jail-gang for about three weeks, when, by an order from the Governor, as I understood, both myself and Edwards were double-ironed, put on board a government vessel, with several other prisoners, and transported to Newcastle, commonly called the “Coal river,” without any definite term being fixed for our exile; and as we were both prisoners for life, it was uncertain how long our banishment might be protracted.

Vol. 2 p.137

ON arriving at Newcastle, I was first employed in wheeling coals out of the mines, a most laborious occupation indeed; but during my continuance at that settlement, I was put to all descriptions of work, and for the last three months performed the duty of a constable, or watchman. Since the day on which the transaction at Colles’s took place, I never exchanged a word with the villain Edwards. He had been but a few weeks at Newcastle, before he committed a robbery, and absconded to the woods, from which he was brought back by some natives a naked and miserable object. His subsequent conduct at the coal river e xhibited nothing but a succession of robberies, and every species of depravity; when detected in which, on several occasions, he betrayed his accomplices, and proved as perfidious as he was dishonest. He frequently escaped by land, amidst innumerable hard-

Vol 2 p.138

ships, to Sydney; where, after the commission of some robbery, be was uniformly apprehended, and sent back to Newcastle. In fact, though scarce twenty years of age, nothing was wanting to fill up the measure of his wickedness, but the blackest of all crimes, – an act of murder! and, as if he laboured to attain the summit of human depravity, that act he soon afterwards virtually committed; for being at length, on one of his elopements from the coal river, apprehended and lodged in Sydney jail, at a period when many prisoners, of bad character, were about being embarked for the settlements on Van Dieman’s land, Edwards was included in the number. He there renewed his iniquitous courses; associating with a band of ruffians, who escaped to the woods, and there subsisted by plundering the settlers, robbing on the high-way, etc. A party of these miscreants (eight in number,) were one day attacked by some armed persons, who had assembled together, and gone in pursuit of them; a serious conflict ensued, the marauders, also, being well armed; and after several shots had been exchanged, the settlers were obliged to retreat, several of their number being severely wounded, and one killed on the spot by the fire of the free-booters. The consequence of this outrage was, that the whole of the latter were immediately declared by proclamation to be in a state of outlawry, and a large reward offered for the apprehension of all or either of them.

Vol 2 p.139
As parties of military, as well as the inhabitants, were detached in all directions, there is no doubt but the whole of these desperadoes have long since received the due reward of their villany. This account I read in a Sydney Gazette a few months ago, and among the names of the bush-rangers, (as they are termed,) who jointly committed the above outrage and murder, I was shocked, though not surprised to see that of the young, but depraved, Edwards!

Having continued nearly two years at the coal river, the commanding officer was induced, in consideration of my uniform good behaviour, to permit my return to Sydney, on my arrival at which place, I was once more disposed of in the town gang. Being advised to solicit the Governor for an appointment to some less laborious employment, I waited on His Excellency with a petition, in which I urged my exemplary behaviour for the last two years at Newcastle; as a proof that whatever my former conduct might have been, I was now disposed to reform; and entreating His Excellency to divest himself of that prejudice which I feared had already operated against me too severely, humbly prayed that he would make trial of me in the only capacity in which I was capable of being useful, namely, that of a clerk in one of the public-offices. Unhappily for me, the cloud was not yet dispelled, but threatened to obscure, still longer, the prospect

Vol 2 p.140
of advancement and prosperity which I had in vain sighed for, and fondly pictured to myself as the certain consequence of a thorough reformation in principle. The Governor very coolly answered that it was not merely my having behaved well for two years at the coal-river, but I must conduct myself with propriety for a series of years, before I could expect, or ought to apply for, any mark of indulgence. This answer was certainly disheartening in the extreme; and I was equally unsuccessful.

In an application to the then acting commissary, William Broughton, Esq., who, although he never saw me until my arrival in the Indian, not being in the colony during my former term of exile, yet this gentleman, from hearing only of my repeated frauds while employed in the office of Governor King, (and which no doubt were much exaggerated by report and repetition after my departure for Europe,) had conceived so violent a dislike to me, that he gave me a decisive; though civil, denial; and I have since heard, that he declared I should not hold a situation in the commissariat, if there was not another clerk in the colony. God grant that some well-disposed christian, who reads these Memoirs of my unhappy Life, may induce this gentleman, for whose shining talents and excellent qualities I have the highest respect, to retract his discouraging declaration, and to admit me to an employment, however subordinate, in his depart

Vol 2 p.141
ment, which, as I am now situated, form the ne plus ultra of my ambition.

To resume my narrative: finding from these disheartening failures, that I had nothing to hope for but a continuance of suffering and bodily fatigue, far above my strength, for many succeeding years, perhaps for the remainder of my life; surely no dispassionate reader will pronounce me culpable, or consider that I deviated from the resolutions I had formed, to act correctly while 1 lived, if I listened with eagerness to an offer of assistance in effecting my escape from a state of bondage which became every day more irksome and galling, in proportion as I reflected that my inoffensive conduct fairly entitled me to a share of that favour and indulgence I every day saw extended to objects I knew less worthy than myself. In fact, a person belonging to the Earl Spencer, Indiaman, then on the point of sailing for Ceylon and Bombay, did, in the month of January 1814, from motives of pure and disinterested compassion, propose that I should conceal myself, with his assistance, on board that ship, and promised me every support in his power. I accepted with joy and gratitude this unexpected offer, and, without any difficulty, got on board, and, as I thought, effectually concealed, on the night of the Queen’s birth-day. I lay close and undiscovered for four days, and on the fifth had the pleasure to hear that the ship would that day

Vol 2 p.142
finally sail, she having already dropped down the harbour. But, how often is the cup of happiness dashed from the lips of mortals! On the 23d of January, about ten o’clock in the forenoon, my friend came to me in my place of concealment, and informed me that upwards of thirty constables were come on board to search the ship, for that so many prisoners were missing from their respective employments, that the Governor would not suffer the ship to depart until they were found. He, however, assured me that it was very unlikely any search would take place in the spot I was in, and, indeed, I considered it next to impossible that I could be discovered, unless I was betrayed. I remained in a state of the utmost anxiety for three hours, during which a vigilant search was making in every other part of the ship; not by the constables, for they would have been unequal to the task, but by a mater of the vessel, assisted by several sailors. At length, I heard voices approaching, and eagerly listening, I was convinced by the discourse which passed between the parties, that they knew exactly where I was concealed, and that I really had been, by somebody, most villanously betrayed. In a moment the mate advanced, as it were mechanically, twards me, and thrusting his candle into the entrance of my hiding place, desired me, in a premptory tone, to come out. Thus were my fond hopes of liberty and happiness effectually

Vol 2 p.143
destroyed. I had become a second time the victim of treachery; but as more than one person, besides my principal abettor, knew of my concealment, I was at a loss whom to suspect as the informer. I was now ordered into a boat alongside, in which there were about a dozen other men and several women who had been found concealed in various situations. The search being not yet over, I remained alongside the ship above an hour, in which time the number of ill-fated persons collected in the boat had increased to twenty-seven men and four women. The ship having now been thoroughly ransacked, the search was given up, and the persons taken out were brought ashore, attended by the constables. We were all immediately lodged in gaol; and the next day, a report having been made to the Governor, His Excellency was pleased to order each man to be punished with fifty lashes in the public lumber yard. This sentence was certainly as lenient as could be expected for such an attempt (I do not say offence) as we had been guilty of, had the punishment stopped there; but, extraordinary to relate, although we had been all equally culpable and were found under the same circumstances, a distinction was subsequently made, which I cannot help still considering unfair and unmerited. The day after the corporal punishment had been inflicted, twenty three of our number were ordered to return to the respective employments in Sydney, from

Vol 2 p.144
which they had severally absconded, and myself and three others were sentenced by the Governor to be sent to the coal-river for one year; for this distinction; there appears to have been no other reason, but because we had each of us before suffered a similar banishment, and had been but a few months retained from thence to Sydney! In a few days, I was accordingly embarked with eleven other prisoners, and a second time landed at Newcastle, from whence I had been absent nearly twelve months. On my arrival, it happened that the store-keeper of that settlement was in want of a clerk, and he, applying to the commandant for me, I was appointed to that situation, in which I still continue; and having scrupulously adhered to my former vows of rectitude, and used every exertion to render myself serviceable to my employer, and to merit his good opinion, as well as that of the commandant, I have had the satisfaction to succeed in these objects; and I am not without hope, that when I am permitted to quit my present service and return to Sydney, my good conduct will be rewarded with a more desirable situation. I have now been upwards of seven years a prisoner, and knowing the hopeless sentence under which I labour, shall, I trust, studiously avoid in future every act which may subject me to the censure of my superiors, or entail upon me a repetition of those sufferings I have already too severely experienced. I have thus

Vol 2 p.145
described (perhaps too minutely for the reader’s patience) the various vicissitudes of my past life. Whether the future will be so far diversified as to afford matter worthy of being committed to paper, either to amuse a vacant hour, or to serve as a beacon which may warn others to avoid the rocks on wnich I have unhappily split, is only known to the great Disposer of events.

End of the Memoirs


compiled and written by JAMES HARDY VAUX

Note: The Author has found it necessary to introduce frequently in the course of his definitions, technical, or cant words and phrases. Tis he could not avoid without much tautology and unpleasing circumlocution. The Reader will therefore take notice, that all such cant terms are placed in Italics; and where at a loss to comprehend them, he has only to refer to their alphabetical position for an explanation.


To THOMAS SKOTTOWE, Esq., of His majesty’s 73d Regiment,
Commandant of Newcastle, in the Colony of New South Wales, and one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for that Territory.


WITH the utmost deference and respect, I beg leave to submit to your perusal the following sheets. The idea of such a compilation first originated in the suggestion of a friend; and however the theme may be condemned as exceptionable by narrow minds, I feel confident you possess too much liberality of sentiment to reject its writer as utterly depraved, because he has acquired an extensive knowledge on a subject so obviously disgraceful. True it is, that in the course of a chequered and eventful life, I have intermixed with the most dissolute and unprincipled characters, and that a natural quickness of conception, and most retentive memory, have rendered me familiar with their language and system of operations.

Permit me, Sir, to assure you most seriously, that I view with remorse the retrospect of my hitherto misspent life, and that my future exertions shall be solely directed to acquire the estimable good opinion of the virtuous part of the community.

I trust the Vocabulary will afford you some amusement from its novelty; and that from the correctness of its definitions, you may occasionally find it useful in your magisterial capacity.

I cannot omit this opportunity of expressing my gratitude for the very humane and equitable treatment I have experienced, in common with every other person in this settlement*, under your temperate and judicious government.

I have the honour to remain,
with the most dutiful respect,
Your devoted, and very humble Servant,
J.H. Vaux

5th July, 1812.

* The Author (a prisoner under sentence of transportation for life) having, by an alleged act of impropriety, incurred the Governor’s displeasure, was at this period banished to Newcastle, a place of punishment for offenders: these sheets were there compiled during the solitary hours of cessation from hard labour; and the Commandant was accordingly presented by the Author with the first copy of his production.




ANDREW MILLER’S LUGGER: a king’s ship or vessel.

AREA SNEAK, or AREA SLUM: the practice of slipping unperceived down the
areas of private houses, and robbing the lower apartments of plate or
other articles.

ARM-PITS: To work under the arm-pits, is to practise only such kinds of
depredation, as will amount, upon conviction, to what the law terms
single, or petty larceny; the extent of punishment for which is
transportation for seven years. By following this system, a thief avoids
the halter, which certainly is applied above the arm-pits.

AWAKE: an expression used on many occasions; as a thief will say to his
accomplice, on perceiving the person they are about to rob is aware of
their intention, and upon his guard, stow it, the cove’s awake. To be
awake to any scheme, deception, or design, means, generally, to see
through or comprehend it.

BACK-JUMP. A back-window. See JUMP.

BACK-SLANG: to enter or come out of a house by the back-door ; or, to go
a circuitous or private way through the streets, in order to avoid any
particular place in the direct road, is termed back-slanging it.

BACK-SLUM: a back room; also the back entrance to any house or premises;
thus, we’ll give it ’em on the back-slum, means, we’ll get in at the

BAD HALFPENNY. When a man has been upon any errand, or attempting any
object which has proved unsuccessful or impracticable, he will say on his
return, It’s a bad halfpenny; meaning he has returned as he went.

BANDED: hungry.

BANDS. To wear the bands, is to be hungry, or short of food for any
length of time; a phrase chiefly used on board the hulks, or in jails.

BANG- UP. A person, whose dress or equipage is in the first style of
perfection, is declared to be bang up to the mark. A man who has behaved
with extraordinary spirit and resolution in any enterprise he has been
engaged in, is also said to have come bang up to the mark; any article
which is remarkably good or elegant, or any fashion, act, or measure
which is carried to the highest pitch, is likewise illustrated by the
same emphatical phrase.

BARKING-IRONS: pistols; an obsolete term.

BARNACLES: spectacles.

BASH: to beat any person by way of correction, as the woman you live
with, etc.

BASTILE: generally called, for shortness, the Steel; a cant name for the
House of Correction, Cold-Bath-Fields, London.

BEAK: a magistrate; the late Sir John Fielding, of police memory, was
known among family people by the title of the blind beak.

BEAN: a guinea.

BEEF: stop thief! to beef a person, is to raise a hue and cry after him,
in order to get him stopped.


BENDER: a sixpence.

BENDER: an ironical word used in conversation by flash people; as where
one party affirms or professes any thing which the other believes to be
false or insincere, the latter expresses his incredulity by exclaiming
bender! or, if one asks another to do any act which the latter considers
unreasonable or impracticable, he replies, O yes, I’ll do it–bender;
meaning, by the addition of the last word, that, in fact, he will do no
such thing.

BEST: to get your money at the best, signifies to live by dishonest or
fraudulent practices, without labour or industry, according to the
general acceptation of the latter word; but, certainly, no persons have
more occasion to be industrious, and in a state of perpetual action than
cross-coves; and experience has proved, when too late, to many of them,
that honesty is the best policy; and, consequently, that the above phrase
is by no means a-propos.

BETTY: picklock; to unbetty, or b e g a lock, to open or relock it, by
means of the betty, so as to avoid subsequent detection.

BILLIARD SLUM. The mace is sometimes called giving it to ’em on the
billiard slum. See MACE.


BIT: money in general.

BIT-FAKER: a coiner. See FAKE.

BIT-FAKING: coining base money.


BLEEDERS: spurs.

BLOODY-JEMMY: a sheep’s head.

BLOW THE GAFF: a person having any secret in his possession, or a
knowledge of any thing injurious to another, when at last induced from
revenge, or other motive, to tell it openly to the world and expose him
publicly, is then said to have blown the gaff upon him.

BLOWEN: a prostitute; a woman who cohabits with a man without marriage.


BLUE-PIGEON FLYING: the practice of stealing lead from houses, churches,
or other buildings, very prevalent in London and its vicinity.

BLUNT: money.

BOB, or BOBSTICK: a shilling.


BODY-SNATCHER: a stealer of dead bodies from church which are sold to the
surgeons and students in anatomy.

BOLT: to run. away from or leave any place suddenly, is c bolting, or
making a bolt: a thief observing an alarm while attempting a robbery,
will exclaim to his accomplice, Bolt, there’s a dawn. sudden escape of
one or more prisoners from a place of confinement is termed a bolt.

BOLT-IN-TURN: a term founded on the cant word bolt merely a fanciful
variation, very common among flash persons, there being in London a
famous inn so called; it is customary when a man has run away from his
lodgings, broke out of a jail, or ma any other sudden movement, to say,
The Bolt-in-fun is concerned; or? He’s gone to the Bolt-in-turn; instead
of simply saying, He has bolted, etc. See BOLT.

BONED: taken in custody, apprehended; Tell us how you was boned,
signifies, tell us the story of your apprehension; a common request among
fellow-prisoners in a jail, etc., which is readily complied with in
general; and the various circumstances therein related afford present
amusement, and also useful hints for regulating their future operations,
so as to avoid the like misfortune.

BONNET: a concealment, pretext, or pretence; an ostensible manner of
accounting for what you really mean to conceal; as a man who actually
lives by depredation, will still outwardly follow some honest employment,
as a clerk, porter, newsman, etc. By this system of policy, he is said
to have a good bonnet if he happens to get boned, and, in a doubtful
case, is commonly discharged on the score of having a good character. To
bonnet for a person, is to corroborate any assertion he has made, or to
relate facts in the most favourable light, in order to extricate him from
a dilemma, or to further any object he has in view.

BOUNCE: to bully, threaten, talk loud, or affect great consequence; to
bounce a person out of any thing, is to use threatening or high words, in
order to intimidate him, and attain the object you are intent upon; or to
obtain goods of a tradesman, by assuming the appearance of great
respectability and importance, so as to remove any suspicion he might at
first entertain. A thief, detected in the commission of a robbery, has
been known by this sort of finesse, aided by a genteel appearance and
polite manners, to persuade his accusers of his innocence, and not only
to get off with a good grace, but induce them to apologize for their
supposed mistake, and the affront put upon him. This masterstroke of
effrontery is called giving it to ’em upon the bounce.

BOUNCE: a person well or fashionably drest, is said to be a rank bounce.

BOWLED OUT: a man who has followed the profession of thieving for some
time, when he is ultimately taken, tried, and convicted, is said to be
bowled out at last. To bowl a person out, in a general sense, means to
detect him in the commission of any fraud, or peculation, which he has
hitherto practised without discovery.

BRACE UP: to dispose of stolen goods by pledging them for the utmost you
can get at a pawnbroker’s, is termed bracing them up.

BRADS: halfpence; also, money in general.

BREAKING UP OF THE SPELL: the nightly termination of performance at the
Theatres Royal, which is regularly attended by pickpockets of the lower
order, who exercise their vocation about the doors and avenues leading
thereto, until the house is emptied and the crowd dispersed.

BREECH’D: flush of money.

BRIDGE: to bridge a person, or throw him over the bridge, is, in a
general sense, to deceive him by betraying the confidence he has reposed
in you, and instead of serving him faithfully, to involve him in ruin or
disgrace; or, three men being concerned alike in any transaction, two of
them will form a collusion to bridge the third, and engross to themselves
all the advantage which may eventually accrue. Two persons having been
engaged in a long and doubtful contest or rivalship, he, who by superior
art or perseverance gains the point, is said to have thrown his opponent
over the bridge. Among gamblers, it means deceiving the person who had
back’d you, by wilfully losing the game; the money so lost by him being
shared between yourself and your confederates who had laid against you.
In playing three-handed games, two of the party will play into each
other’s hands, so that the third must inevitably be thrown over the
bridge, commonly called, two poll one. See PLAY ACROSS.

BROADS: cards ; a person expert at which is said to be a good


BROWNS and WHISTLERS: bad halfpence and farthings; (a term used by

BUB: a low expression signifying drink.

BUCKET. To bucket a person is synonymous with putting him in the well.
See WELL. Such treatment is said to be a bucketting concern.

BUFF, To buff a person or thing, is to swear to the identity of them;
swearing very positively to any circumstance, is called buffing it home.

BUFFER: a dog.

BUG or BUG OVER. To give, deliver, or hand over; as, He bug’d me a quid,
he gave me a guinea; bug over the rag, hand over the money.

BULL: a crown, or five shillings.

BULL-DOG: a sugar-loaf.

BULL-HANKERS: men who delight in the sport of bull-banking; that is,
bull-baiting, or bullock-hunting, games which afford much amusement, and
at the same time frequent opportunities of depredation, in the confusion
and alarm excited by the enraged animal.

BUM-CHARTER: a name given to bread steeped in hot water, by the first
unfortunate inhabitants of the English Bastile, where this miserable fare
was their daily breakfast, each man receiving with his ; scanty portion
of bread, a quart of boil’d water from the cook’s coppers!

BUM-TRAP: a sheriff’s officer or his follower.

BUNCE: money.

BURICK: a prostitute, or common woman.

BUSH’D: poor; without money.

BUSHY-PARK: a man who is poor is said to be at Bushy park, or in the

BUSTLE: a cant term for money.

BUSTLE: any object effected very suddenly, or in a hurry, is said to be
done upon the bustle. To give it to a man upon the bustle, is to obtain
any point, as borrowing money, etc.; by some sudden story or pretence,
and affecting great haste, so that he is taken by surprise, and becomes
duped before he has time to consider of the matter.

BUZ: to buz a person is to pick his pocket. The buz is the game of
picking pockets in general.

BUZ-COVE, or BUZ-GLOAK: a pickpocket; a person who is clever at this
practice, is said to be a good buz.

CABIN: a house.

CADGE: to beg. The cadge is the game or profession of begging.

CADGE-CLOAK: a beggar.

CANT OF DOBBIN: a roll of riband.

CAP: synonymous with BONNET, which see.

CARDINAL: a lady’s cloak.

CARRY THE KEG: a man who is easily vexed or put out of humour by any joke
passed upon him, and cannot conceal his chagrin, is said to carry the
keg, or is compared to a walking distiller.

CASTOR: a hat.

CAT and KITTEN RIG: the petty game of stealing pewter quart and pint pots
from public-houses.

CAZ: cheese; As good as caz, is a phrase signifying that any projected
fraud or robbery may be easily and certainly accomplished; any person who
is the object of such attempt and is known to be an easy dupe, is
declared to be as good as caz, meaning that success is certain.

CHANDLER-KEN: a chandler’s shop.

CHANT: a person’s name, address, or designation; thus, a thief who
assumes a feigned name on his apprehension to avoid being known, or a
swindler who gives a false address to a tradesman, is said to tip them a
queer chant.

CHANT: a cipher, initials, or mark of any kind, on a piece of plate,
linen, or other article; any thing so marked is said to be chanted.

CHANT: an advertisement in a newspaper or hand-bill; also a paragraph in
the newspaper describing any robbery or other recent event; any lost or
stolen property, for the recovery of which, or a thief, etc., for whose
apprehension a reward is held out by advertisement, are said to be

CHARLEY: a watchman.

CHARLEY-KEN: a watch-box.

CHATS: lice.

CHATTY: lousy,

CHAUNT: a song; to chaunt is to sing; to throw off a rum chaunt, is to
sing a good song.

CHEESE IT. The same as Stow it.


CHINA STREET: a cant name for Bow Street, Covent Garden.

CHIV: a knife; to chiv a person is to stab or cut him with a knife.

CHRISTEN: obliterating the name and number on the movement on a stolen
watch; or the crest, cipher, etc., on articles of plate, and getting
others engraved, so as to prevent their being identified, is termed
having them bishop’d or christen’d.

CHUM: a fellow prisoner in a jail, hulk, etc.; so there are new chums
and old chums, as they happen to have been a short or a long time in

CHURY: a knife.

CLEANED OUT: said of a gambler who has lost his last stake at play; also,
of a flat who has been stript of all his money by a coalition of sharps.

CLOUT: a handkerchief of any kind.

CLOUTING: the practice of picking pockets exclusively of handkerchiefs.

CLY: a pocket.

CLY-FAKER: a pickpocket.

COACH-WHEEL: a dollar or crown-piece.

COME. A thief observing any article in a shop, or other situation, which
he conceives may be easily purloined, will say to his accomplice, I think
there is so and so to come.

COME IT: to divulge a secret; to tell any thing of one party to another;
they say of a thief who has turned evidence against his accomplices, that
he is coming all he knows, or that he comes it as strong as a horse.

COME TO THE HEATH: a phrase signifying to payor give money, and
synonymous with Tipping, from which word it takes its rise, there being a
place called Tiptree Heath, I believe, in the County of Essex.

COME TO THE MARK: to abide strictly by any contract previously made; to
perform your part manfully in any exploit or enterprise you engage in; or
to offer what I consider a fair price for any article in question.

CONCERNED. In using many cant words, the lovers of flash, by way of
variation, adopt this term, for an illustration of which, see

CONK: the nose.

CONK: a thief who impeaches his accomplices; a spy; informer, or
tell-tale. See NOSE, and WEAR IT.

COVE: the master of a house or shop, is called the Cove; on other
occasions, when joined to particular words, as a cross-cove, a
flash-cove, a leary-cove, etc., it simply implies a man of these several
descriptions; sometimes, in speaking of any third person, whose name you
are either ignorant of, or don’t wish to mention, the word cove is
adopted by way of emphasis, as may be seen under the word AWAKE.

COVER: to stand in such a situation as to obscure your Pall, who is
committing a robbery, from the view of by-standers or persons passing, is
called covering him. Any body whose dress or stature renders him
particularly eligible for this purpose, is said to be a good cover.

COVESS: the mistress of a house or shop, and used on other occasions, in
the same manner as Cove, when applied to a man.

CRAB: to prevent the perfection or execution of any intended matter or
business, by saying any thing offensive or unpleasant, is called crabbing
it, or throwing a crab; to crab a person, is to use offensive language or
behaviour as will highly displease, or put him in an ill humour.

CRAB’D: affronted; out of humour; sometimes called, being in Crab-street.


CRACK: to break open; the crack is the game of house-breaking; a crack is
a breaking any house or building for the purpose of plunder.

CRACKSMAN: a house-breaker.

CRACK A WHID: to speak or utter: as, he crack’d some queer whids, he
dropt some bad or ugly expressions: crack a whid for me, intercede, or
put in a word for me.

CRACKER: a small loaf, served to prisoners in jails, for their daily

CRAP: the gallows.

CRAP’D: hanged.

CRIB: a house, sometimes applied to shops, as, a thimble-crib, a
watch-maker’s shop; a stocking-crib, a hosier’s, etc.

CROAK: to die.

CROOK: a sixpence.

CROSS: illegal or dishonest practices in general are called the cross, in
opposition to the square. See SQUARE. Any article which has been
irregularly obtained, is said to have been got upon the cross, and is
emphatically termed a cross article.

CROSS-COVE, or CROSS-MOLLISHER, a man or woman who lives upon the cross.

CROSS-CRIB: a house inhabited, or kept by family people. See SQUARE CRIB.

CROSS-FAM: to cross-fam a person, is to pick his pocket, by crossing your
arms in a particular position.

CUE. See letter Q.




CUTTING-GLOAK: a man famous for drawing a knife, and cutting any person
he quarrels with.

DAB: a bed. DAB IT UP: to dab it up with a woman, is to agree to cohabit
with her.

DANCERS: stairs.

DANNA: human, or other excrement.

DANNA-DRAG: commonly pronounced dunnick-drag. See KNAP A JACOB, etc.

DARBIES: fetters.

DARKY: night.

DARKY: a dark lanthorn.

DEATH-HUNTER: an undertaker.

DICKY, or DICK IN THE GREEN: very bad or paltry; any thing of an inferior
quality, is said to be a dicky concern.

DIMMOCK: money.

DING: to throw, or throw away; particularly any article you have stolen,
either because it is worthless, or that there is danger of immediate
apprehension. To ding a person, is to drop his acquaintance totally; also
to quit his company, or leave him for the time present; to ding to your
pall, is to convey to him, privately, the property you have just stolen;
and he who receives it is said to take ding, or to knap the ding.

DINGABLE: any thing considered worthless, or which you can well spare,
having no further occasion for it, is declared to be dingable. This
phrase is often applied by sharps to a flat whom they have cleaned out;
and by abandoned women to a keeper, who having spent his all upon them,
must be discarded, or ding’d as soon as possible.

DISPATCHES: false dice used by gamblers, so contrived as always to throw
a nick.

DO: a term used by smashers; to do a queer half-quid, or a queer screen,
is to utter a counterfeit half-guinea, or a forged bank-note.

DO IT AWAY: to fence or dispose of a stolen article beyond the reach of
probable detection.

DO IT UP: to accomplish any object you have in view; to obtain any thing
you were in quest of, is called doing it up for such a thing; a person
who contrives by nob-work, or ingenuity, to live an easy life and appears
to improve daily in circumstances, is said to do it up ill good twig.

DO THE TRICK: to accomplish any robbery, or other business successfully;
a thief who has been fortunate enough to acquire an independence, and
prudent enough to tie it up in time, is said by his former associates to
have done the trick; on the other hand, a man who has imprudently
involved himself in some great misfortune, from which there is little
hope of his extrication is declared by his friends, with an air of
commiseration, to have done the trick for himself; that is, his ruin or
downfall is nearly certain.

DOBBIN: riband. See CANT.

DOLLOP: a dollop is a large quantity of any thing; the whole dollop means
the total quantity.

DONE: convicted; as, he was done for a crack, he was convicted of

DORSE: a lodging; to dorse with a woman, signifies to sleep with her.

DOUBLE: to double a person, or tip him the Dublin packet, signifies
either to run away from him openly, and elude his attempts to overtake
you, or to give him the slip in the streets, or elsewhere, unperceived,
commonly done to escape from an officer who has you in custody, or to
turn up a flat of any kind, whom you have a wish to get rid of.

DOUBLE-SLANGS: double-irons.

DOWN: sometimes synonymous with awake, as, when the party you are about
to rob, sees or suspects your intention, it is then said that the cove is
down. A down is a suspicion, alarm, or discovery, which taking place,
obliges yourself and palls to give up or desist from the business or
depredation you were engaged in; to put a down upon a man, is to give
information of any robbery or fraud he is about to perpetrate, so as to
cause his failure or detection; to drop dawn to a person is to discover
or be aware of his character or designs; to put a person down to any
thing, is to apprize him of, elucidate, or explain it to him; to put a
swell down, signifies to alarm or put a gentleman on his guard, when in
the attempt to pick his pocket, you fail to effect it at once, and by
having touched him a little too roughly, you cause him to suspect your
design, and to use precautions accordingly; or perhaps, in the act of
sounding him, by being too precipitate or incautious, his suspicions may
have been excited, and it is then said that you have put him down, put
him fly, or spoiled him. See SPOIL IT. To drop dawn upon yourself, is to
become melancholy, or feel symptoms of remorse or compunction, on being
committed to jail, cast for death, etc. To sink under misfortunes of any
kind. A man who gives way to this weakness, is said to be down upon

DOWN AS A HAMMER; DOWN AS A TRIPPET. These are merely emphatical phrases,
used out of flash, to signify being dawn, leary, fly, or awake to any
matter, meaning, or design.

DRAG: a cart. The drag, is the game of robbing carts, waggons, or
carriages, either in town or country, of trunks, bale-goods, or any other
property. Done for a drag, signifies convicted for a robbery of the
before-mentioned nature.

DRAG-COVE: the driver of a cart.

DRAGS MAN: a thief who follows the game of dragging.

DRAKED: ducked; a discipline sometimes inflicted on pickpockets at fairs,
races, etc.

DRAW: to draw a person, is to pick his pocket, and the act of so stealing
a pocket-book, or handkerchief, is called drawing a reader, or clout. To
obtain money or goods of a person by a false or plausible story, is
called drawing him of so and so. To draw a kid, is to obtain his swag
from him. See KID-RIG.

DRIZ: lace, as sold on cards by the haberdashers, etc.

DROP: the game of ring-dropping is called the drop.

DROP: to give or present a person with money, as, he dropp’d me a quid,
he gave me a guinea. A kid who delivers his bundle to a sharper without
hesitation, or a shopkeeper who is easily duped of his goods by means of
a forged order or false pretence, is said to drop the swag in good twig,
meaning, to part with it freely.

DROP A WHID: to let fall a word, either inadvertently or designedly.

DROP-COVE: a sharp who practises the game of ring-dropping.


DRUMMOND: any scheme or project considered to be infallible, or any event
which is deemed inevitably certain, is declared to be a Drummond;
meaning, it is as sure as the credit of that respectable banking-house,
Drummond and Co.

DUB: a key.

DUB AT A KNAPPING-JIGGER: a collector of tolls at a turnpike-gate.

DUB-COVE, or DUBSMAN: a turnkey.


DUB UP: to lock up or secure any thing or place; also to button one’s
pocket, coat, etc.

DUCE. Twopence is called a duce.

DUDS: women’s apparel in general.

DUES. This term is sometimes used to express money, where any certain sum
or payment is spoken of; a man asking for money due to him for any
service done, or a blowen requiring her previous compliment from a
family-man, would say, Come, tip us the dues. So a thief, requiring his
share of booty from his palls, will desire them to bring the dues to

DUES. This word is often introduced by the lovers of flash on many
occasions, but merely out of fancy, and can only be understood from the
context of their discourse; like many other cant terms, it is not easily
explained on paper; for example, speaking of a man likely to go to jail,
one will say, there will be quodding dues concerned, of a man likely to
be executed; there will be topping dues, if any thing is alluded to that
will require a fee or bribe, there must be tipping dues, or palming dues
concerned, etc.

DUMMY: a pocket-book; a silly half-witted person.

DUMMY-HUNTERS: thieves who confine themselves to the practice of stealing
gentlemen’s pocket-books, and think, or profess to think, it paltry to
touch a clout, or other insignificant article; this class of depredators
traverse the principal streets of London, during the busy hours, and
sometimes meet with valuable prizes.


FADGE: a farthing.

FAKE: a word so variously used, that I can only illustrate it by a few
examples. To fake any person or place, may signify to rob them; to fake a
person, may also imply to shoot, wound, or cut; to fake a man out and
out, is to kill him; a man who inflicts wounds upon, or otherwise
disfigures, himself, for any sinister purpose, is said to have faked
himself; if a man’s shoe happens to pinch, or gall his foot, from its
being overtight, he will complain that his shoe fakes his foot sadly; it
also describes the doing of any act, or the fabricating any thing, as, to
fake your slangs, is to cut your irons in order to escape from custody;
to fake your pin, is to create a sore leg, or to cut it, as if
accidentally, with an axe, etc., in hopes to obtain a discharge from the
army or navy, to get into the doctor’s list, etc.; to fake a screeve, is
to write a letter, or other paper; to fake a screw, is to shape out a
skeleton or false key, for the purpose of screwing a particular place; to
fake a cly, is to pick a pocket; etc., etc., etc.

FAKE AWAY, THERE’S NO DOWN: an intimation from a thief to his pall,
during the commission of a robbery, or other act, meaning, go on with
your operations, there is no sign of any alarm or detection.

FAKEMAN-CHARLEY; FAKEMENT. As to fake signifies to do any act, or make
any thing, so the fakement means the act or thing alluded to, and on
which your discourse turns; consequently, any stranger unacquainted with
your subject will not comprehend what is meant by the fakement; for
instance, having recently been concerned with another in some robbery,
and immediately separated, the latter taking the booty with him, on your
next meeting you will inquire, what he has done with the fakement?
meaning the article stolen, whether it was a pocket-book, piece or linen,
or what not. Speaking of any stolen property which has a private mark,
one will say, there is a fakeman-charley on it; a forgery which is well
executed, is said to be a prime fakement; in a word, any thing is liable
to be termed a fakement, or a fakeman-charley, provided the person you
address knows to what you allude.

FAM: the hand.

FAM: to feel or handle.

FAMILY: thieves, sharpers and all others who get their living upon the
cross, are comprehended under the title of “The Family.”

FAMILY-MAN, or WOMAN: any person known or recognised as belonging to the
family; all such are termed family people.

FANCY: any article universally admired for its beauty, or which the owner
sets particular store by, is termed a fancy article; as, a fancy clout,
is a favourite handkerchief, etc.; so a woman who is the particular
favourite of any man, is termed his fancy woman, and vice versa.

FAWNEY: a finger-ring.

FAWNIED, or FAWNEY-FAM’D: having one or more rings on the finger.

FEEDER: a spoon.

FENCE: a receiver of stolen goods; to fence any property, is to sell it
to a receiver or other person.

FIB: a stick. To fib is to beat with a stick; also to box.

FIBBING-GLOAK, a pugilist.

FIBBING-MATCH: a boxing match.

FILE: a person who has had a long course of experience in the arts of
fraud, so as to have become an adept, is termed an old file upon the
town; so it is usual to say of a man who is extremely cunning, and not to
be over-reached, that he is a deep file. File, in the old version of cant,
signified a pickpocket, but the term is now obsolete.

FINGER-SMITH: a midwife.

FI’PENNY: a clasp-knife.

FLASH: the cant language used by the family. To speak good flash is to be
well versed in cant terms.

FLASH: a person who affects any peculiar habit, as swearing, dressing in
a particular manner, taking snuff, etc., merely to be taken notice of,
is said to do it out of flash.

FLASH: to be flash to any matter or meaning, is to understand or
comprehend it, and is synonymous with being fly, down, or awake; to put a
person flash to any thing, is to put him on his guard, to explain or
inform him of what he was before unacquainted with.

FLASH: to shew or expose any thing: as I flash’d him a bean, I shewed him
a guinea. Don’t flash your sticks, don’t expose your pistols, etc.

FLASH-COVE, or COVESS: the landlord or landlady of a flash-ken.

FLASH-CRIB, FLASH-KEN, or FLASH-PANNY, a public-house resorted to chiefly
by family people, the master of which is commonly an old prig, and not
unfrequently an old-lag.

FLASH-MAN: a favourite or fancy-man; but this term is generally applied
to those dissolute characters upon the town, who subsist upon the
liberality of unfortunate women; and who, in return, are generally at
hand during their nocturnal perambulations, to protect them should any
brawl occur, or should they be detected in robbing those whom they have
picked up.

FLASH-MOLLISHER: a family-woman.

FLASH-SONG: a song interlarded with flash words, generally relating to
the exploits of the prigging fraternity in their various branches of

FLESH-BAG: a shirt.

FLAT. In a general sense, any honest man, or square cove, in opposition
to a sharp or cross-cove; when used particularly, it means the person
whom you have a design to rob or defraud, who is termed the flat, or the
flatty-gory. A man who does any foolish or imprudent act, is called a
flat; any person who is found an easy dupe to the designs of the family,
is said to be a prime flat. It’s a good flat that’s never down, is a
proverb among flash people; meaning, that though a man may be repeatedly
duped or taken in, he must in the end have his eyes opened to his folly.

FLAT-MOVE. Any attempt or project that miscarries, or any act of folly or
mismanagement in human affairs is said to be a flat move.

FLATS: a cant name for playing-cards.

FLIP: to shoot.

FLOOR: to knock down anyone, either for the purpose of robbery, or to
effect your escape, is termed flooring him.

FLOOR’D: a person who is so drunk, as to be incapable of standing, is
said to be floor’d.

FLUE-FAKER: a chimney-sweeper.

FLY: vigilant; suspicious; cunning; not easily robbed or duped; a
shopkeeper or person of this description, is called a fly cove, or a
leary cove; on other occasions fly is synonymous with flash or leary, as,
I’m fly to you, I was put flash to him, etc.

FLY THE MAGS: to gamble, by tossing up halfpence.

FOGLE: a silk handkerchief.

FORKS: the two forefingers of the hand; to put your forks down, is to
pick a pocket.

FOSS, or PHOS: a phosphorus bottle used by cracksmen to obtain a light.

FRISK: to search; to frisk a cly, is to empty a pocket of its contents;
to stand frisk, is to stand search.

FRISK: fun or mirth of any kind.

GAFF: to gamble with cards, dice, etc., or to toss up.

GAFF: a country fair; also a meeting of gamblers for the purpose of play;
any public place of amusement is liable to be called the gaff, when
spoken of in flash company who know to what it alludes.

GALANEY: a fowl.

GALLOOT: a soldier.

GAME: every particular branch of depredation practised by the family, is
called a game; as, what game do you go upon? One species of robbery or
fraud is said to be a good game, another a queer game, etc.

GAMMON: flattery; deceit; pretence; plausible language; any assertion
which is not strictly true, or professions believed to be insincere, as,
I believe you’re gammoning, or, that’s all gammon, meaning, you are no
doubt jesting with me, or, that’s all a farce. To gammon a person, is to
amuse him with false assurances, to praise, or flatter him, in order to
obtain some particular end; to gammon a man to any act, is to persuade
him to it by artful language, or pretence; to gammon a shop-keeper,
etc., is to engage his attention to your discourse, while your
accomplice is executing some preconcerted plan of depredation upon his
property; a thief detected in a house which he has entered, upon the
sneak, for the purpose of robbing it, will endeavour by some gammoning
story to account for his intrusion, and to get off with a good grace; a
man who is, ready at invention, and has always a flow of plausible
language on these occasions, is said to be a prime gammoner; to gammon
lushy or queer, is to pretend drunkenness, or sickness, for some private

GAMMON THE TWELVE: a man who has been tried by a criminal court, and by a
plausible defence, has induced the jury to acquit him, or to banish the
capital part of the charge, and so save his life, is said, by his
associates to have gammoned the twelve in prime twig, alluding to the
number of jurymen.

GAMS: the legs, to have queer gams, is to be bandy-legged, or otherwise

GARNISH: a small sum of money extracted from a new chum on his entering a
jail, by his fellow-prisoners, which affords them a treat of beer, gin,

GARDEN: to put a person in the garden, in the hole, in the bucket, or in
the well, are synonymous phrases, signifying to defraud him of his due
share of the booty by embezzling a part of the property, or the money, it
is fenced for; this phrase also applies generally to defrauding anyone
with whom you are confidentially connected of what is justly his due.

GARRET: the fob-pocket.

GEORGY: a quartern-loaf.

GILL: a word used by way of variation, similar to cove, gloak, or gory;
but generally coupled to some other descriptive term, as a flash-gill, a
toby-gill, etc.

GIVE IT TO: to rob or defraud any place or person, as, I gave it to him
for his reader, I robb’d him of his pocket-book. ‘What suit did you give
it them upon? In what manner, or by what means, did you effect your
purpose? Also, to impose upon a person’s credulity by telling him a
string of falsehoods; or to take any unfair advantage of another’s
inadvertence or unsuspecting temper, on any occasion; in either case, the
party at last dropping down, that is, detecting your imposition, will
say, I believe you have been giving it to me nicely all this while.

GLAZE: a glass-window.

GLIM: a candle, or other light.

GLIM-STICK: a candlestick.

GLOAK: synonymous with GILL, which see.

GNARL: to gnarl upon a person, is the same as splitting or nosing upon
him; a man guilty of this treachery is called a gnarling scoundrel, etc.

GO-ALONGER: a simple easy person, who suffers himself to be made a tool
of, and is readily persuaded to any act or undertaking by his associates,
who inwardly laugh at his folly, and ridicule him behind his back.

GO OUT: to follow the profession of thieving; two or more persons who
usually rob in company, are said to go out together.

GOOD: a place or person, which promises to be easily robbed, is said to
be good, as, that house is good upon the crack; this shop is good upon
the star; the swell is good for his montra; etc. A man who declares
himself good for any favour or thing, means, that he has sufficient
influence, or possesses the certain means to obtain it; good as bread, or
good as cheese, are merely emphatical phrases to the same effect. See

GORY: a term synonymous with cove, gill, or gloak, and like them,
commonly used in the descriptive. See FLAT and SWELL.

GRAB: to seize; apprehend; take in custody; to make a grab at any thing,
is to snatch suddenly, as at a gentleman’s watch-chain, etc.

GRAB’D: taken, apprehended.

GRAY: a half-penny, or other coin, having two heads or two tails, and
fabricated for the use of gamblers, who, by such a deception. frequently
win large sums.

GROCERY: half-pence, or copper coin, in a collective sense.

GRUB: victuals of any kind; to grub a person, is to diet him, or find him
in victuals; to grub well, is to eat with an appetite.

GUN: a view; look; observation; or taking notice; as, there is a strong
gun at us, means, we are strictly observed. To gun any thing, is to look
at or examine it.

HADDOCK: a purse; a haddock stuff’d with beans, is a jocular term for a
purse full of guineas!

HALF A BEAN, HALF A QUID; half-a-guinea.

HALF A BULL: half-a-crown.

HALF-FLASH AND HALF-FOOLISH: this character is applied sarcastically to a
person, who has a smattering of the cant language, and having associated
a little with family people, pretends to a knowledge of life which he
really does not possess, and by this conduct becomes an object of
ridicule among his acquaintance.

HAMMERISH: down as a hammer.

HANG IT ON: purposely to delay or protract the performance of any task or
service you have undertaken, by dallying, and making as slow a progress
as possible, either from natural indolence, or to answer some private end
of your own, To hang it on with a woman, is to form a temporary connexion
with her; to cohabit or keep company with her without marriage.

HANK: a bull-bait, or bullock-hunt.

HANK: to have a person at a good hank, is to have made any contract with
him very advantageous to yourself; or to be able from some prior cause to
command or use him just as you please; to have the benefit of his purse
or other services, in fact, upon your own terms.

HANK: a spell of cessation from any work or duty, on the score of
indisposition, or some other pretence.

HIGH-TOBY: the game of highway robbery, that is, exclusively on

HIGH-TOBY-GLOAK: a highwayman.

HIS-NABS: him or himself; a term used by way of emphasis, when speaking
of a third person.

HOBBLED: taken up, or in custody; to hobble a plant, is to spring it. See

HOG: a shilling; five, ten, or more shillings, are called five, ten, or
more hog.

HOIST: the game of shop-lifting is called the hoist,. a person expert at
this practice is said to be a goad hoist.



HORNEY: a constable.

HOXTER: an inside coat-pocket.

IN IT: to let another partake of any benefit or acquisition you have
acquired by robbery or otherwise, is called putting him in it: a
family-man who is accidentally witness to a robbery, etc., effected by
one or more others, will say to the latter, Mind, I’m in it: which is
generally acceded to, being the established custom; but there seems more
of courtesy than right in this practice.

IN TOWN: flush of money; breeched.

JACOB: a ladder; a simple half-witted person.

JACK: a post-chaise.

JACK-BOY: a postillion.

JACKET: to jacket a person, or clap a jacket on him, is nearly synonymous
with bridging him. See BRIDGE. But this term is more properly applied to
removing a man by underhand and vile means from any birth or situation he
enjoys, commonly with a view to supplant him; therefore, when a person,
is supposed to have fallen a victim to such infamous machinations, it is
said to have been a jacketing concern.

JASEY: a wig.

JEMMY, or JAMES: an iron-crow.

JERRY: a fog or mist.

JERVIS: a coachman.

JERVIS’S UPPER BENJAMIN: a box, or coachman’s great coat.

JIGGER: a door.

JOB: any concerted robbery, which is to be executed at a certain time, is
spoken of by the parties as the job, or having a job to do at such a
place; and in this case as regular preparations are made, and as great
debates held, as about any legal business undertaken by the industrious
part of the community.

JOGUE: a shilling; five jogue is five shillings, and so on, to any other

JOSKIN: a country-bumbkin.

JUDGE: a family-man, whose talents and experience have rendered him a
complete adept in his profession, and who acts with a systematic prudence
on all occasions, is allowed to be, and called by his friends, a fine

JUDGEMENT: prudence; economy in acting; abilities, (the result of long
experience,) for executing the most intricate and hazardous projects; any
thing accomplished in a masterly manner, is, therefore, said to have been
done with judgement; on concerting or planning any operations, one party
will say, I think it would be judgement to do so and so, meaning
expedient to do it.

JUDY: a blowen,. but sometimes used when speaking familiarly of any

JUGELOW, a dog.

JUMP: a window on the ground-floor.

JUMP: a game, or species of robbery effected by getting into a house
through any of the lower windows. To Jump a place, is to rob it upon the
jump. A man convicted for this offence, is said to be done for a jump.

KELP: a hat; to kelp a person, is to move your hat to him.

KEMESA: a shirt.

KEN: a house; often joined to other descriptive terms, as, a flash ken, a
bawdy-ken, etc.

KENT: a coloured pocket-handkerchief of cotton or linen.

KICK: a sixpence, when speaking of compound sums only, as, three and a
kick, is three and sixpence, etc.

KICKSEYS: breeches; speaking of a purse, etc., taken from the breeches
pocket, they say, it was got from the kickseys, there being no cant term
for the breeches pocket. To turn out a man’s kickseys, means to pick the
pockets of them, in which operation it is necessary to turn those pockets
inside out, in order to get at the contents.

KID: a child of either sex, but particularly applied to a boy who
commences thief at an early age; and when by his dexterity he has become
famous, he is called by his acquaintances the kid so and so, mentioning
his sirname.

KIDDY: a thief of the lower order, who, when he is breeched, by a course
of successful depredation, dresses in the extreme of vulgar gentility,
and affects a knowingness in his air and conversation, which renders him
in reality an object of ridicule; such a one is pronounced by his
associates of the same class, a flash-kiddy or a rolling-kiddy. My kiddy
is a familiar term used by these gentry in addressing each other.

KID-RIG: meeting a child in the streets who is going on some errand, and
by a false, but well fabricated story, obtaining any parcel or goods it
may be carrying; this game is practised by two persons, who have each
their respective parts to play, and even porters and other grown persons
are sometimes defrauded of their load by this artifice. To kid a person
out of any thing, is to obtain it from him by means of a false pretence,
as that you were sent by a third person, etc.; such impositions are all
generally termed the kid-rig.

KINCHEN: a young lad.

KIRK: a church or chapel.

KNAP: to steal; take; receive; accept; according to the sense it is used
in; as, to knap a clout, is to steal a pocket-handkerchief; to knap the
swag from your pall, is to take from him the property he has just stolen,
for the purpose of carrying it; to knap seven or fourteen pen’worth, is
to receive sentence of transportation for seven or fourteen years; to
knap the glim, is to catch the venereal disease; in making a bargain, to
knap the sum offered you, is to accept it; speaking of a woman supposed
to be pregnant, it is common to say, I believe Mr. Knap is concerned,
meaning that she has knap’d.

KNAPPING A JACOB FROM A DANNA-DRAG: This is a curious species of robbery,
or rather borrowing without leave, for the purpose of robbery; it
signifies taking away the short ladder from a nightman’s cart, while the
men are gone into a house, the privy of which they are employed emptying,
in order to effect an ascent to a one-pair-of-stairs window, to scale a
garden-wall, etc., after which the ladder, of course, is left to rejoin
its master as it can.


KNUCK, KNUCKLER, or KNUCKLING-COVE: a pickpocket, or person professed in
the knuckling art.

KNUCKLE: to pick pockets, but chiefly applied to the more refined branch
of that art, namely, extracting notes, loose cash, etc., from the
waistcoat or breeches pockets, whereas buzzing is used in a more general
sense. See BUZ.

LAG: to transport for seven years or upwards.

LAG: a convict under sentence of transportation.

LAG: to make water. To lag spirits, wine, etc., is to adulterate them
with water.

LAGGER: a sailor.

LAGGING-DUES: speaking of a person likely to be transported, they say
lagging dues will be concerned.

LAGGING MATTER: any species of crime for which a person is liable on
conviction to be transported.

LAG SHIP: a transport chartered by Government for the conveyance of
convicts to New South Wales; also, a hulk, or floating prison, in which,
to the disgrace of humanity, many hundreds of these unhappy persons are
confined, and suffer every complication of human misery.

LAMPS: the eyes; to have queer lamps, is to have sore or weak eyes.

LARK: fun or sport of any kind, to create which is termed knocking up a

LAWN: a white cambric handkerchief.

LEARY: synonymous with fly.


LEATHER-LANE: any thing paltry, or of a bad quality, is called a
Leather-lane concern.

LETTER Q: the mace, or billiard-slum, is sometimes called going upon the
Q, or the letter Q, alluding to an instrument used in playing billiards.

LETTER-RACKET: going about to respectable houses with a letter or
statement, detailing some case of extreme distress, as shipwreck,
sufferings by fire, etc.; by which many benevolent, but credulous,
persons, are induced to relieve the fictitious wants of the imposters,
who are generally men, or women, of genteel address, and unfold a
plausible tale of affliction.

LEVANTING, or RUNNING A LEVANT: an expedient practised by broken
gamesters to retrieve thcmselves, and signifies to bet money at a race,
cockmatch, etc., without a shilling in their pocket to answer the event.
The punishment for this conduct in a public cockpit is rather curious;
the offender is placed in a large basket, kept on purpose, which is then
hoisted up to the ceiling or roof of the building, and the party is there
kept suspended, and exposed to derision during the pleasure of the

LIFE: by this term is meant the various cheats and deceptions practised
by the designing part of mankind; a person well versed in this kind of
knowledge, is said to be one that knows life; in other words, that knows
the world. This is what Goldsmith defines to be a knowledge of human
nature on the wrong side.

LIGHT: to inform of any robbery, etc., which has been some time executed
and concealed, is termed bringing the affair to light,. to produce any
thing to view, or to give up any stolen property for the sake of a
reward, to quash a prosecution, is also called bringing it to light. A
thief, urging his associates to a division of any booty they have lately
made, will desire them to bring the swag to light.

LILL: a pocket-book.

LINE: to get a person in a line, or in a string, is to engage them in a
conversation, while your confederate is robbing their person or premises;
to banter or jest with a man by amusing him with false assurances or
professions, is also termed stringing him, or getting him in tow; to keep
any body in suspense on any subject without coming to a decision, is
called keeping him in tow, in a string, or in a tow-line. To cut the
line, or the string, is to put an end to the suspense in which you have
kept anyone, by telling him the plain truth, coming to a final decision,
etc. A person, who has been telling another a long story, until he is
tired, or conceives his auditor has been all the while secretly laughing
at him, will say at last, I’ve just dropped down, you’ve had me in a fine
string, I think it’s time to cut it. On the other hand, the auditor,
having the same opinion on his part, would say, Come, I believe you want
to string me all night, I wish you’d cut it; meaning, conclude the story
at once.

LOB: a till, or money-drawer. To have made a good lob, is synonymous with
making a good speak.

LOCK-UP-CHOVEY: a covered cart, in which travelling hawkers convey their
goods about the country; and which is secured by a door, lock, and key.

LODGING-SLUM: the practice of hiring ready furnished lodgings, and
stripping them of the plate, linen, and other valuables.

LOOK AT A PLACE: when a plan is laid for robbing a house, etc., upon the
crack, or the screw, the parties will go a short time before the
execution, to examine the premises, and make any necessary observations;
this is called looking at the place.

LOUR: money.

LUMBER: a room.

LUMBER: to lumber any property, is to deposit it at a pawnbroker’s, or
elsewhere for present security; to retire to any house or private place,
for a short time, is called lumbering yourself. A man apprehended, and
sent to gaol, is said to be lumbered, to be in lumber, or to be in

LUSH: to drink; speaking of a person who is drunk, they say, Alderman
Lushington is concerned, or, he has been voting for the Alderman.

LUSH: beer or liquor of any kind.

LUSH-CRIB, or LUSH-KEN: a public-house, or gin-shop.

LUSH, or LUSHY, drunk, intoxicated.

LUSHY-COVE: a drunken man.

MACE: to mace a shopkeeper, or give it to him upon the mate, is to obtain
goods on credit, which you never mean to pay for; to run up a score with
the same intention, or to spunge upon your acquaintance, by continually
begging or borrowing from them, is termed maceing, or striking the mace.

MACE-GLOAK: a man who lives upon the mace.

MAG: a halfpenny.

MANCHESTER: the tongue.

MANG: to speak or talk.

MAULEY: the hand.

MAX: gin or hollands.

MILESTONE: a country booby.

MILL: to fight. To mill a ‘person is to beat him.

MILL A GLAZE: to break a window.

MILL-DOLL: an obsolete name for Bridewell house of correction, in
Bridge-street, Blackfriars, London.

MILLING-COVE: a pugilist.

MITTS: gloves.

MITTENS: the hands.

MIZZLE: to quit or go away from any place or company; to elope, or run

MOLLISHER: a woman.

MONKEY: a padlock.

MONKERY: the country parts of England are called The Monkery.

MANTRA: a watch.

MORNING-SNEAK: going out early to rob private houses or shops by slipping
in at the door unperceived, while the servant or shopman is employed in
cleaning the steps, windows, etc.

MOTT: a blowen, or woman of the town.

MOUNT: to swear, or give evidence falsely for the sake of a gratuity. To
mount for a person is also synonymous with bonnetting for him.

MOUNTER: a man who lives by mounting, or perjury, who is always ready for
a guinea or two to swear whatever is proposed to him.

MOUTH: a foolish silly person; a man who does a very imprudent act, is
said to be a rank mouth.

MOVE: any action or operation in life; the secret spring by which any
project is conducted, as, There is a move in that business which you are
not down to. To be flash to every move upon the board, is to have a
general knowledge of the world, and all its numerous deceptions.





MUFF: an epithet synonymous with mouth.

MUG: the face; a queer mug is an ugly face.


MYNABS: me, myself.

NAIL: to nail a person, is to over-reach, or take advantage of him in the
course of trade or traffic; also, to rob, or steal; as, I nail’d him for
(or of) his reader, I robbed him of his pocket-book; I nail’d the swell’s
mantra in the push, I picked the gentleman’s pocket of his watch in the
crowd, etc. A person of an over-reaching, imposing disposition, is
called a nail, a dead nail, a nailing rascal, a rank needle, or a needle

NANCY: the posteriors.

NAP the BIB: to cry; as, the mollisher nap’d her bib, the woman fell a

NASH: to go away from, or quit, any place or company; speaking of a
person who is gone, they say, he is nash’d, or Mr. Nash is concerned.

NE-DASH: nothing.

NEEDLE: (see NAIL) to needle a person is to haggle with him in making a
bargain, and, if possible, take advantage of him, though in the most
trifling article.


NEEDY-MIZZLER: a poor ragged object of either sex; a shabby-looking

NIB: a gentleman, or person of the higher order. People who affect
gentility or consequence, without any real pretensions thereto, arc from
hence vulgarly called Half-nibs or Half-swells; and, indeed, persons of
low minds, who conceive money to be the only criterion of gentility, arc
too apt to stigmatize with the before-mentioned epithets any man, ‘who,
however well-bred and educated, may be reduced to a shabby external, but
still preserves a sense of decorum in his manners, and avoids associating
with the vagabonds among whom he may unfortunately be doomed to exist.

NIBB’D: taken in custody.

NIBBLE: to pilfer trifling articles, not having spirit to touch any thing
of consequence.

NIBBLER: a pilferer or petty thief.

NIX, or NIX MY DOLL: nothing.

NOB IT: to act with such prudence and knowledge of the world, as to
prosper and become independent without any labour or bodily exertion;
this is termed nobbing it, or fighting nob work. To effect any purpose,
or obtain any thing, by means of good judgment and sagacity, is called
nabbing it for such a thing.

NOB-PITCHERS: a general term for those sharpers who attend at fairs,
races, etc., to take in the flats at prick in the garter, cups and
balls, and other similar artifices.


NOSE: a thief who becomes an evidence against his accomplices; also, a
person who seeing one or more suspicious characters in the streets, makes
a point of watching them in order to frustrate any attempt they may make,
or to cause their apprehension; also, a spy or informer of any

NOSE: to nose, is to pry into any person’s proceedings in an impertinent
manner. To nose upon anyone, is to tell of any thing he has said or done
with a view to injure him, or to benefit yourself.

NULLING-COVE: a pugilist.

NUT: to please a person by any little act of assiduity, by a present, or
by flattering words, is called nutting him; as the present, etc., by
‘which you have gratified them, is termed a nut.

NUTS UPON IT: to be very much pleased or gratified with any object,
adventure, or overture; so a person who conceives a strong inclination
for another of the opposite sex, is said to be quite nutty, or nuts upon
him or her.

NUTS UPON YOURSELF: a man who is much gratified with any bargain he has
made, narrow escape he has had, or other event in which he is interested,
will express his self-satisfaction or gladness by declaring that he is,
or was, quite nuts upon himself.

OFFICE: a hint, signal, or private intimation, from one person to
another; this is termed officeing him, or giving him the office; to take
the office, is to understand and profit by the hint given.

OLD LAG: a man or woman who has been transported, is so called on
returning home, by those who are acquainted with the secret. See LAG.

OLIVER: the moon.

OLIVER IS IN TOWN: a phrase signifying that the nights are moonlight, and
consequently unfavourable to depredation.

OLIVER’S UP: the moon has risen.

OLIVER WHIDDLES: the moon shines.

ONE UPON YOUR TAW: a person who takes offence at the conduct of another,
or conceives himself injured by the latter, will say, never mind, I’ll be
one upon your taw; or, I’ll be a marble on your taw; meaning, I’ll be
even with you some time.

ONION: a watch-seal, a bunch if onions, is several seals worn upon one

ORDER-RACKET: obtaining goods from a shopkeeper, by means of a forged
order or false pretence.

OUT-AND-OUT: quite; completely; effectually. See SERVE and FAKE.

OUT-AND-OUTER: a person of a resolute determined spirit, who pursues his
object without regard to danger or difficulties; also an incorrigible
depredator, who will rob friend or stranger indiscriminately, being
possessed of neither honour nor principle.


OUT OF THE WAY: a thief who knows that he is sought after by the traps on
some information, and consequently goes out of town, or otherwise
conceals himself, is said by his palls to be out if the way for so and
so, naming the particular offence he stands charged with. See WANTED.

OUT OF TWIG, to put yourself out of twig, is to disguise your dress and
appearance, to avoid being recognised, on some particular account; a man
reduced by poverty to wear a shabby dress is said by his acquaintance to
be out if twig; to put any article out of twig, as a stolen coat, cloak,
etc., is to alter it in such a way that it cannot be identified.

PALL: a partner; companion; associate; or accomplice.

PALM: to bribe, or give money, for the attainment of any object or
indulgence; and it is then said that the party who receives it is palmed,
or that Mr. Palmer is concerned.

PALMING-RACKET: secreting money in the palm of the hand, a game at which
some are very expert.

PANNY: a house.

PANNUM: bread.


PATTER: to talk; as, He patters good flash, etc.

PATTER’D: tried in a court of justice; a man who has undergone this
ordeal, is said to have stood the patter.

PEAR-MAKING: inlisting in various regiments, taking the bounty, and then

PENSIONER: a mean-spirited fellow who lives with a woman of the town, and
suffers her to maintain him in idleness in the character of her

PETER: a parcel or bundle, whether large or small; but most properly it
signifies a trunk or box.

PETER-HUNTING: traversing the streets or roads for the purpose of cutting
away trunks, etc., from travelling carriages; persons who follow this
game, are from thence called peter-hunters, whereas the drag more
properly applies to robbing carts or wagons.

PETER-HUNTING-JEMMY: a small iron crow, particularly adapted for breaking
the patent chain, with which the luggage is of late years secured to
gentlemen’s carriages; and which, being of steel, case-hardened, is
fallaciously supposed to be proof against the attempts of thieves.

PETER-THAT: synonymous with Stow-that.

PICK-UP: to accost, or enter into conversation with any person, for the
purpose of executing some design upon his personal property; thus, among
gamblers, it is called Picking up a flat, or a mouth: sharpers, who are
daily on the look-out for some unwary countryman or stranger, use the
same phrase; and among drop-coves, and others who act in concert, this
task is allotted to one of the gang, duly qualified, who is thence termed
the picker-up; and he having performed his part, his associates proceed
systematically in cleaning out the flat. To pick up a cull, is a term
used by blowens in their vocation of street-walking. To pick a person up,
in a general sense, is to impose upon, or take advantage of him, in a
contract or bargain.

PIGS, or GRUNTERS: police runners.

PINS: the legs.

PINCH: to purloin small articles of value in the shops of jewellers,
etc., while pretending to purchase or bespeak some trinket. This game is
called the Pinch–I pinch’ d him for a fawney, signifies I purloined a
ring from him; Did you pinch any thing ill that crib? did you succeed ill
secreting any thing in that shop? This game is a branch of shoplifting;
but when the hoist is spoken of, it commonly applies to stealing articles
of a larger, though less valuable, kind, as pieces of muslin, or silk
handkerchiefs, printed cotton, etc. See HOIST.

PINCH-GLOAK: a man who works upon the pinch.

PIPES: boots.

PIT: the bosom pocket in a coat.

PIT- MAN: a pocket-book worn in the bosom-pocket.

PITCHER. Newgate in London is called by various names, as the pitcher,
the stone Pitcher, the start, and the stone jug, according to the humour
of the speaker.

PLANT. To hide, or conceal any person or thing, is termed Planting him,
or it; and any thing hid is called, the plant, when alluded to in
conversation; such article is said to be in plant; the place of
concealment is sometimes called the plant, as, I know of a fine plant;
that is, a secure hiding-place. To spring a plant, is to find any thing
that has been concealed by another. To rise the plant, is to take up and
remove any thing that has been hid, whether by yourself or another. A
person’s money, or valuables, secreted about his house, or person, is
called his plant. To plant upon a man, is to set somebody to watch his
motions; also to place any thing purposely in his way, that he may steal
it and be immediately detected.

PLAY A-CROSS. What is commonly termed playing booty, that is, purposely
losing the game, or match, in order to take in the flats who have backed
you, (see BRIDGE) while the sharps divide the spoil, in which you have a
share. This sort of treachery extends to boxing, racing, and every other
species of sport, on which bets are laid; sometimes a sham match is made
for the purpose of inducing strangers to bet, which is decided in such a
manner that the latter will inevitably lose. A-cross signifies generally
any collusion or unfair dealing between several parties.

PLUMMY. Right; very good; as it should be; expressing your approbation of
any act, or event, you will say, That’s plummy, or It’s all plummy;
meaning it is all right.

POGUE. A bag, (probably a corruption of poke.)

POPS. Pistols; an obsolete term.

POST, or POST THE PONEY. To stake, or lay down the money, as on laying a
bet, or concluding a bargain.

POUNDABLE. Any event which is considered certain or inevitable, is
declared to be poundable, as the issue of a game, the success of a bet,

POUND IT. To ensure or make a certainty of any thing; thus, a man will
say, I’ll pound it to be so; taken, probably from the custom of laying,
or rather offering ten pounds to a crown at a cock-match, in which case,
if no person takes this extravagant odds, the battle is at an end. This
is termed pounding a cock.

PRAD. A horse.

PRADBACK. Horseback.

PRIG. A thief.

PRIG. To steal; to go out a-prigging, is to go a-thieving.

PRIME. In a general sense, synonymous with plummy; any thing very good of
its kind, is called a prime article. Any thing executed in a stylish or
masterly manner, is said to be done in prime twig. See FAKEMENT, and

PULL. An important advantage possessed by one party over another; as in
gaming, you may by some slight, unknown to your adversary, or by a
knowledge of the cards, etc., have the odds of winning considerably on
your side; you are then said to have a great pull. To have the power of
injuring a person, by the knowledge of any thing erroneous in his
conduct, which leaves his character or personal safety at your mercy, is
also termed having a pull upon him, that is (to use a vulgar phrase) that
you have him under your thumb. A person speaking of any intricate affair,
or feat of ingenuity, which he cannot comprehend, will say, There is some
pull at the bottom of it, that I’m not fly to.

PULL, or PULL UP: to accost; stop; apprehend; or take into custody; as to
pull up a Jack, is to stop a post-chaise on the highway. To pull a man,
or have him pulled, is to cause his apprehension for some offence; and it
is then said, that Mr. Pullen is concerned.

PULLED, PULLED UP, or IN PULL: Taken in custody; in confinement.

PUSH: a crowd or concourse of people, either in the streets, or at any
public place of amusement, etc., when any particular scene of crowding
is alluded to, they say, the push, as the push, at the spell doors; the
push at the stooping-match, etc.




PUT UP: to suggest to another, the means of committing a depredation, or
effecting any other business, is termed, putting him up to it.

PUT UP AFFAIR: any preconcerted plan or scheme to effect a robbery,
etc., undertaken at the suggestion of another person, who possessing a
knowledge of the premises, is competent to advise the principal how best
to proceed.

PUTTER UP: the projector or planner of a put-up affair, as a servant in a
gentleman’s family, who proposes to a gang of housebreakers the robbery
of his master’s house, and informs them where the plate, etc., is
deposited, (instances of which are frequent in London) is termed the
putter up, and usually shares equally in the booty with the parties
executing, although the former may lie dormant, and take no part in the
actual commission of the fact.

PUZZLING-STICKS: the triangles to which culprits are tied up, for the
purpose of undergoing flagellation.


QUEER: bad; counterfeit; false; unwell in health.

QUEER, or QUEER-BIT: base money.

QUEER SCREENS: forged Bank-notes.

QUEER IT: to spoil it, which see.

QUEER-BAIL. Persons of no repute, hired to bail a prisoner in any
bailable case; these men are to be had in London for a trifling sum, and
are called Broomsticks.

QUID: a guinea.

QUOD: a gaol. To quod a person is to send him to gaol. In quod, is in

QUOD-COVE: the keeper of a gaol.


RACKET: some particular kinds of fraud and robbery are so termed, when
called by their flash titles, and others Rig; as, the Letter-racket, the
Order-racket; the Kid-rig; the Cat and Kitten-rig, etc., but all these
terms depend upon the fancy of the speaker. In fact, any game may be
termed a rig, racket, suit, slum, etc., by prefixing thereto the
particular branch of depredation or fraud in question, many examples of
which occur in this work.

RAG: money.

RAG-GORGY: a rich or monied man, but generally used in conversation when
a particular gentleman, or person high in office, is hinted at; instead
of mentioning his name, they say, the Rag-gorgy, knowing themselves to be
understood by those they are addressing. See COVE, and SWELL.

RAMP: to rob any person or place by open violence or suddenly snatching
at something and running off with it, as, I ramp’d him of his montra; why
did you not ramp his castor? etc. A man convicted of this offence, is
said to have been done for a ramp. This audacious game, is called by
prigs, the ramp, and is nearly similar to the RUSH, which see.

RANK: complete; absolute, downright, an emphatical manner of describing
persons or characters, as a rank nose, a rank swell, etc. etc.

RATTLER: a coach.

READER: a pocket-book.


REGULARS: one’s due share of a booty, etc. on a division taking place.
Give me my regulars, that is, give me my dividend.

REIGN: the length or continuance of a man’s career in a system of
wickedness, which when he is ultimately bowled out, is said to have been
a long, or a short reign, according to its duration.

RESURRECTION-COVE: a stealer of dead bodies.

RIBBAND: money in general.

RIDGE: gold, whether in coin or any other shape, as a ridge montra, a
gold watch; a cly-full of ridge, a pocket full of gold.


RINGING, or RINGING-IN: to ring is to exchange; ringing the changes, is a
fraud practised by smashers, who when they receive good money in change
of a guinea, etc., ring-in one or more pieces of base with great
dexterity, and then request the party to change them.

RINGING CASTORS: signifies frequenting churches and other public
assemblies, for the purpose of changing hats, by taking away a good, and
leaving a shabby one in its place; a petty game now seldom practised.


ROCK’D: superannuated, forgetful, absent in mind; old lags are commonly
said to be thus affected, probably caused by the sufferings they have

ROLLERS: horse and foot patrole, who parade the roads round about London
during the night, for the prevention of robberies.

ROMANY: a gypsy; to patter romany, is to talk the gypsy flash.

ROOK: a small iron crow.

ROUGH-FAM, or ROUGH-FAMMY: the waistcoat pocket.

ROW IN THE BOAT: to go snacks, or have a share in the benefit arising
from any transaction to which you are privy. To let a person row with
you, is to admit him to a share.

RUFFLES. Handcuffs.

RUGGINS’S: to go to bed, is called going to Ruggins’s.

RUM: good, in opposition to queer.

RUMBLE-TUMBLE: a stage-coach.

RUMP’D: flogged or scourged.

RUMPUS: a masquerade.

RUSH: the rush, is nearly synonymous with the ramp; but the latter often
applies to snatching at a single article, as a silk cloak, for instance,
from a milliner’s shop-door; whereas a rush may signify a forcible entry
by several men into a detached dwelling-house for the purpose of robbing
its owners of their money, etc. A sudden and violent effort to get into
any place, or vice-versa to effect your exit, as from a place of
confinement, etc., is called rushing them, or giving it to ’em upon the

RUSSIAN COFFEE-HOUSE: a name given by some punster of the family, to the
Brown Bear public-house in Bow-street, Covent-garden.

SACK: a pocket; to sack any thing is to pocket it.

SALT-BOXES: the condemned cells in Newgate are so called.

SALT-BOX-CLY: the outside coat-pocket, with a flap.

SAND: moist sugar.

SAWNEY: bacon.

SCAMP: the game of highway robbery is called the scamp. To scamp a person
is to rob him on the highway. Done for a scamp signifies convicted of a
highway robbery.

SCAMP, or SCAMPSMAN: a highwayman.

SCHOOL: a party of persons met together for the purpose of gambling.

SCOT: a person of an irritable temper, who is easily put in a passion,
which is often done by the company he is with, to create fun; such a one
is declared to be a fine scot. This diversion is called getting him out,
or getting him round the corner, from these terms being used by
bull-hankers, with whom also a scot is a bullock of a particular breed,
which affords superior diversion when hunted.

SCOTTISH: fiery, irritable, easily provoked.

SCOUT: a watchman.

SCOUT-KEN: a watch-house.

SCRAG’D: hang’d.

SCRAGGING-POST: the gallows.

SCREEN: a bank-note.

SCREEVE: a letter, or writing paper.

SCREW: a skeleton or false key. To screw a place is to enter it by false
keys; this game is called the screw. Any robbery effected by such means
is termed a screw.

SCREWSMAN: a thief who goes out a screwing.

SCURF’D: taken in custody.

SEEDY: poor, ragged in appearance, shabby.

SELL: to sell a man is to betray him, by giving information against him,
or otherwise to injure him clandestinely for the sake of interest, nearly
the same as bridgeing him. (See BRIDGE.) A man who falls a victim to any
treachery of this kind, is said to have been sold like a bullock in

SERVE: to serve a person, or place, is to rob them; as, I serv’d him for
his thimble, I rob’d him of his watch; that crib has been served before,
that shop has been already robbed, etc. To serve a man, also sometimes
signifies to maim, wound, or do him some bodily hurt; and to serve him
out and out, is to kill him.

SHAKE: to steal, or rob; as, I shook a chest of slop, I stole a chest of
tea; I’ve been shook of my skin, I have been robbed of my purse. A thief,
whose pall has been into any place for the purpose of robbery, will say
on his coming out, Well, is it all right, have you shook? meaning, did
you succeed in getting any thing? When two persons rob in company, it is
generally the province, or part, of one to shake, (that is, obtain the
swagg), and the other to carry, (that is, bear it to a place of safety).

SHALLOW: a hat.

SHAN: counterfeit money in general.

SHARP: a gambler, or person, professed in all the arts of play; a cheat,
or swindler; any cross-cove, in general, is called a sharp, in opposition
to a flat, or square-cove; but this is only in a comparative sense in the
course of conversation.

SHARPING: swindling and cheating in all their various forms, including
the arts of fraud at play.

SHIFTER: an alarm, or intimation, given by a thief to his pall,
signifying that there is a down, or that some one is approaching, and
that he had, therefore, better desist from what he is about.

SHINER: a looking-glass.

SHOOK: synonymous with rock’d.

SHOVE-UP: nothing.

SHUTTER-RACKET: the practice of robbing houses, or shops, by boring a
hole in the window shutter, and taking out a pane of glass.

SINGLE-HANDED: robbery by yourself, without a pall.

SIR SYDNEY: a clasp knife.

SKIN: a purse, or money bag.

SKIN: to strip a man of all his money at play, is termed skinning him.

SLANG. A watch chain, a chain of any kind; also a warrant, license to
travel, or other official instrument.

SLANG: to defraud a person of any part of his due, is called slanging
him; also to cheat by false weights or measures, or other unfair means.

SLANG WEIGHTS, or MEASURES: unjust, or defective ones.

SLANGING-DUES: ‘when a man suspects that he has been curtailed, or
cheated, of any portion of his just right, he will say, there has been
slanging-dues concerned.

SLANG’D: fettered.

SLANGS: fetters, or chains of any kind used about prisoners; body-slangs
are body-irons used on some occasions.

SLAVEY: a servant of either sex.

SLIP: the slash pocket in the skirt of a coat behind.

SLOP: tea.

SLOP-FEEDER: a tea-spoon.

SLOUR: to lock, secure, or fasten; to slour up is also to button up; as
one’s coat, pocket, etc.

SLOUR’D, or SLOUR’D UP: locked, fastened, buttoned, etc.

SLUM: a room.


SLY. Any business transacted, or intimation given, privately, or under
the rose, is said to be done upon the sly.

SMASHER: a man or woman who follows the game of smashing.

SMASHING: uttering counterfeit money; smashing of queer screens,
signifies uttering forged bank notes. To smash a guinea, note, or other
money, is, in a common sense, to procure, or give, change for it.

SMISH: a shirt.

SMUT: a copper boiler, or furance.

SNEAK: The sneak is the practice of robbing houses or shops, by slipping
in unperceived, and taking whatever may lay most convenient; this is
commonly the first branch of thieving, in which young boys are initiated,
who, from their size and activity, appear well adapted for it. To sneak a
place, is to rob it upon the sneak. A sneak is a robbery effected in the
above manner. One or more prisoners having escaped from their confinement
by stealth, without using any violence, or alarming their keepers, arc
said to have sneak’d ’em, or given it to ’em upon the sneak. See RUSH.

SNEAKSMAN: a man or boy who goes upon the sneak.

SNEEZER, or SNEEZING-COFER: a snuff-box.

SNITCH: to impeach, or betray your accomplices, is termed snitching upon
them. A person who becomes king’s evidence on such an occasion, is said
to have turned snitch; an informer, or talebearer, in general, is called
a snitch, or a snitching rascal, in which sense snitching is synonymous
with nosing, or coming it.

SNIPES: scissors.

SNIV: an expression synonymous with bender, and used in the same manner.

SNOW: clean linen from the washerwoman’s hands, whether it be wet or dry,
is termed snow.

SNOOZE: to sleep; a snooze sometimes means a lodging; as, Where can I get
a snooze for this darky instead of saying a bed.

SNUFFING: going into a shop on some pretence, watching an opportunity to
throw a handful of snuff in the eyes of the shopkeeper, and then running
off with any valuable article you can lay hands on; this is called
snuffing him, or giving it to him upon the snuff racket.


SOUND: to sound a person, means generally to draw from him, in an artful
manner, any particulars you want to be acquainted with; as, to sound a
kid, porter, etc., is to pump out of him the purport of his errand, the
contents of his bundle, or load, etc., that your pall may know how to
accost him, in order to draw the swag. See DRAW and KID-RIG. To sound a
cly, is to touch a person’s pocket gently on the outside, in order to
ascertain the nature of its contents.

SPANGLE: a seven-shilling piece.

SPANK: to spank a glaze, is to break a pane of glass in a shop window,
and make a sudden snatch at some article of value within your reach,
having previously tied the shop-door with a strong cord on the outside,
so as to prevent the shopman from getting out, till you have had full
time to escape with your booty; to spank a place, is to rob it upon the
spank, a spank is a robbery effected by the above means.

SPEAK: committing any robbery; is called making a speak; and if it has
been productive, you are said to have made a rum speak.

SPEAK TO: to speak to a person or place is to rob them, and to speak to
any article, is to steal it; as, I spoke to the cove for his montra; I
robb’d the gentleman of his watch. I spoke to that crib for all the
wedge; I robb’d that house of all the plate. I spoke to a chest of slop;
I stole a chest of tea. A thief will say to his pall who has been
attempting any robbery, “Well, did you speak? or, have you spoke?”
meaning, did you get any thing?

SPELL: the play-house.

SPICE: the spice is the game of footpad robbery; describing an exploit of
this nature; a rogue will say, I spiced a swell of so much, naming the
booty obtained. A spice is a footpad robbery.

SPICE GLOAK: a footpad robber.


SPLIT: to split upon a person, or turn split, is synonymous with nosing,
snitching, or turning nose. To split signifies generally to tell of any
thing you hear, or see transacted.

SPOIL IT: to throw some obstacle in the way of any project or
undertaking, so as to cause its failure, is termed spoiling it. In like
manner, to prevent another person from succeeding in his object, either
by a wilful obstruction, or by some act of imprudence on your part,
subjects you to the charge of having spoiled him. Speaking of some
particular species of fraud or robbery, which after a long series of
success, is now become stale or impracticable from the public being
guarded against it, the family will say, that game is spoiled at last. So
having attempted the robbery of any particular house or shop, and by
miscarrying caused such an alarm as to render a second attempt dangerous
or impolitic, they will say, that place is spoil’d, it is useless to try
it on any more.

SPOKE TO: alluding to any person or place that has been already robbed,
they say, that place, or person, has been spoke to before. A family man
on discovering that he has been robbed, will exclaim, I have been spoke
to, and perhaps will add, for such a thing, naming what he has lost.
Spoke to upon the screw, crack, sneak, hoist, buz, etc. etc., means
robbed upon either of those particular suits or games. Upon any great
misfortune befalling a man, as being apprehended on a very serious
charge, receiving a wound supposed to be mortal, etc., his friends will
say, Poor fellow, I believe he’s spoke to, meaning it is all over with

SPOONY: foolish, half-witted, nonsensical; a man who has been drinking
till he becomes disgusting by his very ridiculous behaviour, is said to
be spoony drunk; and, from hence it is usual to call a very prating
shallow fellow, a rank spoon.

SPOUT: to pledge any property at a pawnbroker’s is termed spouting it, or
shoving it up the spout.

SPREAD: butter.


SQUARE: all fair, upright, and honest practices, are called the square,
in opposition to the cross. Any thing you have bought, or acquired
honestly, is termed a square article,. and any transaction which is
fairly and equitably conducted, is said to be a square concern. A
tradesman or other person who is considered by the world to be an honest
man, and who is unacquainted with family people, and their system of
operations, is by the latter emphatically styled a square cove, whereas
an old thief who has acquired an independence, and now confines himself
to square practices, is still called by his old palls a flash cove, who
has tyed up prigging. See GROSS and FLAT. In making a bargain or
contract, any overture considered to be really fair and reasonable, is
declared to be a square thing, or to be upon the square. To be upon the
square with any person, is to have mutually settled all accompts between
you both up to that moment. To threaten another that you will be upon the
square with him, some time, signifies that you’ll be even with him for
some supposed injury, etc.


SQUARE-CRIB: a respectable house, of good repute, whose inmates, their
mode of life and connexions, are all perfectly on the square. See

SQUEEZE: the neck.

STAG: to turn stag was formerly synonymous with turning nose, or
snitching, but the phrase is now exploded.

STAG: to stag any object or person, is to look at, observe, or take
notice of them.

STAINES: a man who is in pecuniary distress is said to be at Staines, or
at the Bush, alluding to the Bush inn at that town. See BUSH’D.

STAKE: a booty acquired by robbery, or a sum of money won at play, is
called a stake, and if considerable, a prime stake, or a heavy stake. A
person alluding to any thing difficult to be procured, or which he
obtains as a great favour, and is therefore comparatively invaluable,
would say, I consider it a stake to get it at all; a valuable or
acceptable acquisition of any kind, is emphatically called a stake,
meaning a great prize.

STALL: a violent pressure in a crowd, made by pick-pockets for the more
easily effecting their depredatory purposes; this is called making a rum
stall in the push.

STALL OFF: a term variously applied; generally it means a pretence,
excuse, or prevarication-as a person charged ‘with any fault, entering
into some plausible story, to excuse himself, his hearers or accusers
would say, O yes, that’s a good stall off, or, Aye, aye, stall it off
that way if you can. To extricate a person from any dilemma, or save him
from disgrace, is called stalling him off; as an accomplice of your’s
being detected in a robbery, etc., and about to be given up to justice,
you will step up as a stranger, interfere in his behalf, and either by
vouching for his innocence, recommending lenity, or some other artifice,
persuade his accusers to forego their intention, and let the prisoner
escape; you will then boast of having stalled him off in prime twig. To
avoid or escape any impending evil or punishment by means of artifice,
submission, bribe, or otherwise, is also called stalling it off. A man
walking the streets, and passing a particular shop, or encountering a
certain person, which or whom he has reasons for wishing to avoid, will
say to any friend who may be with him, I wish you’d stall me off from
that crib, (or from that cove, as the case may be) meaning, walk in such
a way as to cover or obscure me from notice, until we are past the shop
or person in question.

STALL UP: To stall a person up, (a term used by pickpockets,) is to
surround him in a crowd, or violent pressure, and even sometimes in the
open street, while walking along, and by violence force his arms up, and
keep them in that position while others of the gang rifle his pockets at
pleasure, the cove being unable to help or defend himself; this is what
the newspapers denominate hustling, and is universally practised at the
doors of public theatres, at boxing matches, ship-launches, and other
places where the general anxiety of all ranks, either to push forward, or
to obtain a view of the scene before them, forms a pretext for jostling,
and every other advantage which the strength or numbers of one party
gives them over a weaker one, or a single person. It is not unusual for
the buz-coves, on particular occasions, to procure a formidable squad of
stout fellows of the lower class, who, though not expert at knuckling,
render essential service by violently pushing and squeezing in the crowd,
and, in the confusion excited by this conduct, the unconcerned prigs reap
a plentiful harvest, and the stallers up are gratified with such part of
the gains acquired, as the liberality of the knuckling gentlemen may
prompt them to bestow. This coup de guerre is termed making a regular
stall at such a place, naming the scene of their operations. See STALL.

STAMPS: shoes.


STAR. The star is a game chiefly practised by young boys, often under ten
years of age, although the offence is capital. It consists of cutting a
pane of glass in a shop-window, by a peculiar operation I called starring
the glaze, which is performed very effectually by a common penknife; the
depredators then take out such articles of value as lie within reach of
their arm, which if they are not interrupted, sometimes includes half the
contents of the window. A person convicted of this offence is said to
have been done for a star.


STASH. To stash any practice, habit, or proceeding, signifies to put an
end to, relinquish, or quash the same; thus, a thief determined to leave
off his vicious courses will declare that he means to stash (or stow)
prigging. A man in custody for felony, will endeavour, by offering money,
or other means, to induce his prosecutor’s forbearance, and compromise
the matter, so as to obtain his liberation; this is called stashing the
business. To stash drinking, card-playing, or any other employment you
may be engaged in, for the time present, signifies to stow it, knife it,
cheese it, or cut it, which are all synonymous, that is, to desist or
leave off. See WANTED.

STASH IT. See STOW IT, which has the same meaning.

STAUNCH: a resolute faithful associate, in whom one may place implicit
confidence, is said by his palls to be a staunch cover.

STEAMER: a tobacco-pipe.

STEVEN: money.

STICK: a pistol.

STICKS: household furniture.

STING: to rob or defraud a person or place is called stinging them, as,
that cove is too fly; he has been stung before; meaning that man is upon
his guard; he has already been trick’d.

STINK: When any robbery of moment has been committed, which causes much
alarm, or of which much is said in the daily papers, the family people
will say, there is a great stink about it. See WANTED.


STOOP: the pillory is called the stoop; to be stoop’d, is to be set on
the pillory.

STOOPING-MATCH: the exhibition of one or more persons on the pillory. See

STOW: to stow any business, employment, or mode of life, is the same as
to stash it, etc. See STASH.

STOW, STOW IT; or STOW FAKING: an intimation from a thief to his pall, to
desist from what he is about, on the occasion of some alarm, etc. See

STOW, or STOW-MANGING: an intimation from one flash-cove to another in a
mixed company to be silent, or drop the subject, he was upon. See MANG.

STOW THAT. When a person advances any assertion which his auditor
believes to be false, or spoken in jest, or wishes the former to recant,
the latter will say, stow that, if you please, or, cheese that, meaning
don’t say so, or that’s out of the question.

STRETCH. Five or ten stretch, signifies five or ten yards, etc.; so in
dealing for any article, as linen, etc., I will give you three hog a
stretch, means, I’ll give three shillings a yard. See HOG.


STRUMMEL: the hair of the head. To get your strummel faked in twig, is to
have your hair dressed in style.

STUBBS: nothing.

SUIT: in general synonymous with game; as, what suit did you give it to
’em upon? in what manner did you rob them, or upon what pretence, etc.,
did you defraud them? One species of imposition is said to be a prime
suit, another a queer suit: a man describing the pretext he used to
obtain money from another, would say, I draw’d him if a quid upon the
suit if so and so, naming the ground of his application. See DRAW. A
person having engaged with another on very advantageous terms to serve or
work for him, will declare that he is upon a good suit. To use great
submission and respect in asking any favour of another, is called giving
it to him upon the humble suit.

SWAG: a bundle, parcel, or package; as a swag of snow, etc. The swag, is
a term used in speaking of any booty you have lately obtained, be it of
what kind it may, except money, as Where did you lumber the swag? that
is, where did you deposit the stolen property? To carry the swag is to be
the bearer of the stolen goods to a place of safety. A swag of any thing,
signifies emphatically a great deal. To have knap’d a good swag, is to
have got a good booty.

SWAG. Wearing-apparel, linen, piece-goods, etc., are all comprehended
under the name of swag, when describing any speak lately made, etc., in
order to distinguish them from plate, jewellery, or other more portable

SWELL: a gentleman; but any well-dressed person is emphatically termed a
swell, or a rank swell. A family man who appears to have plenty of money,
and makes a genteel figure, is said by his associates to be in swell
street. Any thing remarkable for its beauty or elegance, is called a
swell article; so a swell crib, is a genteel house; a swell mollisher, an
elegantly-dressed woman, etc. Sometimes, in alluding to a particular
gentleman, whose name is not requisite, he is styled, the swell, meaning
the person who is the object of your discourse, or attention; and whether
he is called the swell, the cove, or the gory, is immaterial, as in the
following (in addition to many other) examples: I was turned up at
China-street, because the swell would not appear; meaning, of course, the
prosecutor: again, speaking of a person whom you were on the point of
robbing, but who has taken the alarm, and is therefore on his guard, you
will say to your pall, It’s of no use, the cove is as down as a hammer;
or, We may as well stow it, the gory’s leary. See COVE and DOWN.

SWIMMER: a guard-ship, or tender; a thief who escapes prosecution, when
before a magistrate, on condition of being sent on board the
receiving-ship, to serve His Majesty, is said by his palls to be

SWISH’D: married.

SWODDY, or SWOD-GILL: a soldier.

TANNER: a sixpence. Three and a tanner, is three and sixpence, etc.

TAT: to flog or scourge.

TATTS: dice.

TATT-BOX: a dice-box.

TATS AND ALL: an expression used out of flash, in the same manner as the
word bender; and has a similar meaning.

TEAZE: to flog, or whip.

THIMBLE: a watch.

THIMBLED: having, or wearing a watch.


THROUGH IT, or THROUGH THE PIECE: getting acquitted on an indictment, or
surmounting any other trouble, or difficulty, is called getting through
it, or thro’ the piece; so, to get a man through it, etc., is to
extricate him by virtue of your counsel and friendly assistance;
sometimes called pulling him through it.

THROW OFF: to talk in a sarcastical strain, so as to convey offensive
allusions under the mask of pleasantry, or innocent freedom; but,
perhaps, secretly venting that abuse which you would not dare to give in
direct terms; this is called throwing off, a practice at which the flash
ladies are very expert, when any little jealousies arise among them. To
begin to talk flash, and speak freely of robberies past, or in
contemplation, when in company with family people, is also termed
throwing off; meaning to banish all reserve, none but friends being
present; also, to sing when called on by the company present. See CHAUNT.

TILBURY: a sixpence.

TINNY: a fire; a conflagration.

TINNY-HUNTERS: persons whose practice it is to attend fires, for the
purpose of plundering the unfortunate sufferers, under pretence of
assisting them to remove their property.

TIP: to give, pay, or bribe. To take the tip, is to receive a bribe in
any shape; and they say of a person who is known to be corruptible, that
he will stand the tip. The tip is a term frequently used to signify the
money concerned in any dealings or contract existing between parties;
synonymous with the dues. See DUES.

TITTER: a young woman or girl.

TOBY: to toby a man, is to rob him on the highway; a person convicted of
this offence, is said to be done for a toby. The toby applies exclusively
to robbing on horseback; the practice of footpad robbery being properly
called the spice, though it is common to distinguish the former by the
title of high-toby, and the latter of low-toby.

TOBY-GILL, or TOBY-MAN: properly signifies a highwayman.

TODDLE: to walk slowly, either from infirmity or choice. Come, let us
toddle, is a familiar phrase, signifying, let us be going.

TODDLER: an infirm elderly person, or a child not yet perfect in walking.

TOG: a coat; to tog, is to dress or put on clothes; to tog a person, is
also to supply them with apparel, and they are said to be well or queerly
tog’d, according to their appearance.

TOG’D OUT TO THE NINES: a fanciful phrase, meaning simply, that a person
is well or gaily dressed.

TOGS, or TOGGERY: wearing-apparel in general.

TOM BRAY’S BILK: laying out ace and deuce at cribbage.

TOM BROWN: twelve in hand, or crib.

TOOLS: implements for house-breaking, picklocks, pistols, etc., are
indiscriminately called the tools. A thief, convicted on the police act,
of having illegal instruments or weapons about him, is said to be fined
for the tools.

TOP: to top a clout or other article (among pickpockets) is to draw the
corner or end of it to the top of a person’s pocket, in readiness for
shaking or drawing, that is, taking out, when a favourable moment occurs,
which latter operation is frequently done by a second person.

TOP’D: hanged.

TO THE NINES; or, TO THE RUFFIAN. These terms are synonymous, and imply
an extreme of any kind, or the superlative degree.

TOUT: to tout a person, is to watch his motions; to keep tout, is to look
out, or watch, while your pall is effecting any private purpose. A strong
tout, is a strict observation, or eye, upon any proceedings, or person.

TOW; or, TOWLINE. See LINE. To tow a person out; that is, from his
premises, or post: is to decoy him therefrom by some fictitious story, or
other artifice, while your pall seizes the opportunity of his absence, to
rob the place he has imprudently quitted.

TRAPS: police officers, or runners, are properly so called; but it is
common to include constables of any description under this title.


TRIG: a bit of stick, paper, etc., placed by thieves in the keyhole of,
or elsewhere about, the door of a house, which they suspect to be
uninhabited; if the trig remains unmoved the following day, it is a proof
that no person sleeps in the house, on which the gang enter it the
ensuing night upon the screw, and frequently meet with a good booty, such
as beds, carpets, etc., the family being probably out of town. This
operation is called trigging the jigger.

TRY IT ON: to make all attempt, or essay, where success is doubtful. So
to try it on with a woman, signifies to attempt her chastity.

TURN UP: to desist from, or relinquish, any particular habit or mode of
life, or the further pursuit of any object you had in view, is called
turning it up. To turn up a mistress, or a male acquaintance, is to drop
all intercourse, or correspondence, with them. To turn up a particular
house, or shop, you have been accustomed to use, or deal at, signifies to
withdraw your patronage, or custom, and visit it no more. To quit a
person suddenly in the street, whether secretly or openly, is called
turning him up. To turn a man up sweet, is to get rid of him effectually,
but yet to leave him in perfect good humour, and free from any suspicion
or discontent; this piece of finesse often affords a field for the
exercise of consummate address, as in the case of turning up a flat,
after having stript him of all his money at play, or a shopkeeper, whom
you have just robbed before his face of something valuable, upon the
pinch, or the hoist.

TURNED UP: a person acquitted by a jury, or discharged by a magistrate
for want of evidence, etc., is said to be turned up. See SWELL.

TURNIPS: to give any body turnips signifies to turn him or her up, and
the party so turned up, is said to have knap’d turnips.

TURN UP A TRUMP: to be fortunate in getting a good stake, or by any other
means improving your finances.

TWIG: any thing accomplished cleverly, or as it should be, is said to be
done in twig, in good twig, or in prime twig. A person well dress’d is
said to be in twig. See DROP, GAMMON THE TWELVE, and OUT OF TWIG.

TWISTED: hanged.


TYE IT UP: to tye up any particular custom, practice, or habit, is
synonymous with knifeing, stowing, turning it up, or stashing it. To 0’e
it up is a phrase, which, used emphatically, is generally understood to
mean a course of depredation and wickedness. See SQUARE, and DO THE

UNBETTY: to unlock. See BETTY.

UNDUB: to unlock, unfasten, etc. See DUB UP.

UNPALLED: a thief whose associates are all apprehended, or taken from him
by other means, is said to be unpalled, and he is then obliged to work

UNSLOUR: to unlock, unfasten, or unbutton. See SLOUR. Speaking of a
person whose coat is buttoned, so as to obstruct the access to his
pockets, the knucks will say to each other, the cove is dour’d up, we
must unslour him to get at his kickseys.

UNTHIMBLE: to unthimble a man, is to rob, or otherwise deprive him of his

UNTHIMBLED: having been divested of one’s watch.

UP IN THE STIRRUPS: a man who is in swell street, that is, having plenty
of money, is said to be up in the stirrups.





VARDO: a waggon.

VARDO-GILL: a waggoner.

WACK: to share or divide any thing equally, as wack the blunt, divide the
money, etc.

WACK: a share or equal proportion, as give me my wack, that is, my due

WALKER: an ironical expression, synonymous with bender, and used in the
same manner.


WANTED: when any of the traps or runners have a private information
against a family person, and are using means to apprehend the party, they
say, such a one is wanted; and it becomes the latter, on receiving such
intimation to keep out if the way, until the stink is over, or until he
or she can find means to stash the business through the medium of Mr.
Palmer, or by some other means.

WATER-SNEAK: robbing ships or vessels on a navigable river, or canal, by
getting on board unperceived, generally in the night. The water-sneak, is
lately made a capital offence.

WEAR IT: to wear it upon a person, (meaning to wear a nose, or a conk,)
is synonymous with nosing, conking, splitting, or coming it, and is
merely one of those fanciful variations so much admired by flash people.


WEDGE: silver; as a wedge-feeder, a silver spoon, etc.; but silver coin,
as well as silver plate, are both comprehended under the name of wedge.

WEED: tobacco.

WEED: to pilfer or purloin a small portion from a large quantity of any
thing; often done by young or timid depredators, in the hope of escaping
detection, as, an apprentice or shopman will weed his master’s lob, that
is, take small sums out of the till when opportunity offers, which sort
of peculation may be carried on with impunity for a length of time; but
experienced thieves sometimes think it good Judgment to weed a place, in
order that it may be good again, perhaps for a considerable length of
time, as in the instance of a warehouse or other depot for goods, to
which they may possess the means of access by means of a false key; in
this ease, by taking too great a swag, at first, the proprietors would
discover the deficiency, and take measures to prevent future depredation.
To weed the swag is to embezzle part of the booty, unknown to your palls,
before a division takes place, a temptation against which very few of tm
family are proof, if they can find an opportunity. A flash-cove, on
discovering a deficiency in his purse or property, which he cannot
account for, will declare that he, (or it, naming the article,) has been
weeded to the ruffian.

WEEDING DUES: speaking of any person, place, or property, that has been
weeded, it is said weeding dues have been concerned. See DUES.

WEIGH FORTY: term used by the police, who are as well versed in flash as
the thieves themselves. It is often customary with the traps, to wink at
depredations of a petty nature, and for which no reward would attach, and
to let a thief reign unmolested till he commits a capital crime. They
then grab him, and, on conviction, share (in many cases) a reward of
40l., or upwards; therefore these gentry will say, Let him alone at
present, we don’t want him till he weighs his weight, meaning, of course,
forty pounds.

WELL: to well your accomplice, or put him in the well, is explained under
the word GARDEN, which see.

WHIDDLE: to speak of, or mention any thing, as, Don’t you whiddle about
so and so, that is, don’t mention it.

WHIDDLER: a talkative or tell-tale person, who is not fit to be trusted
with a secret.



WIN, or WINCHESTER: a penny.

WIND: a man transported for his natural life, is said to be lag’d for his
wind, or to have knap’d a winder, or a bellowser, according to the humour
of the speaker.


WORK. To work upon any particular game, is to practise generally, that
species of fraud or depredation, as, He works upon the crack, he follows
housebreaking, etc. An offender having been detected in the very fact,
particularly in cases of coining, colouring base-metal, etc., is
emphatically said to have been grab’d at work, meaning to imply, that the
proof against him being so plain, he has no ground of defence to set up.

WRINKLE: to lie, or utter a falsehood.

WRINKLE: an untruth.

WRINKLER: a person prone to lying; such a character is called also a
gully, which is probably an abbreviation of Gulliver, and from hence, to
gully signifies to lie, or deal in the marvellous.

YACK: a watch (obsolete.)

YARN: yarning or spinning a yarn is a favourite amusement among
flash-people; signifying to relate their various adventures, exploits,
and escapes to each other. This is most common and gratifying, among
persons in confinement or exile, to enliven a dull hour, and probably
excite a secret hope of one day enjoying a repetition of their former
pleasures. See BONED. A person expert at telling these stories, is said
to spin a fine yarn. A man using a great deal of rhetoric, and exerting
all his art to talk another person out of any thing he is intent upon,
the latter will answer, Aye, Aye, you can spin a good yarn, but it won’t
do; meaning, all your eloquence will not have the desired effect.

YELLOW: jealous; a jealous husband is called a yellow gloak.

YOKUFF: a chest, or large box.

YORK: To stare or look at any person in an impertinent manner, is termed
yorking; to york any thing, in a common sense, is to view, look at, or
examine it.

YORK: a look, or observation; a flash-cove observing another person (a
flat) who appears to notice or scrutinize him, his proceedings, or the
company he is with, will say to his palls, That cove is yorking as strong
as a horse, or, There is York-street concerned.

YOUKELL: a countryman, or clown.

YOURNABS: yourself; an emphatical term used in speaking to another person.

Gionni Di Gravio
June 2008

2 thoughts on “James Hardy Vaux: Newcastle’s Pickpocket & Literary Pioneer

  1. Pingback: David Murray’s “Words for the Heat of Deeds” – A Story of Newcastle’s Convict Years | Coal River Working Party

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