A real-life Fagin in Tudor London 



On this day in 1585, William Fleetwood wrote in a letter to William Cecil, the First Baron  Burghley or Burleigh, a statesman and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I through much of her reign (pictured above):

“[W]e … did spend the daie … searching out … sundrye that were receptors of ffelons … .  Amongst our travells this one matter tumbled owt by the waye, that one Wotton a gentilman borne, and sometyme a marchauntt man of good credyte, who falling by tyme into decaye, kept … neere Byllingesgate … a schole howse sett upp to learne younge boyes to cut purses.  There were hung up two devises, the one … a pockett, the other … a purse.  The pockett had yn it certen cownters and was hunge abowte with hawkes bells … ; and he that could take owt a cownter without any noyse, was allowed to be a … ffoyster: and he that could take a peece of silver owt of the purse … was adjudged a … Nypper.  Nota that a ffoister is a Pick-pockett, and a Nypper … a Pickepurse, or a Cutpurse”.


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