On this day in 1585, the Recorder of London, William Fleetwood, wrote in a letter to William Cecil, the First Baron Burghley or Burleigh (*).
“[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”.
(*) A statesman and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I through much of her reign.