Infomotions, Inc.With the new deuised knauish arte of Foole-taking / R. G.

Author: R. G.
Title: With the new deuised knauish arte of Foole-taking
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): hee; conny; haue; maister; purse; bee; gentleman; cunning; honest
Contributor(s): Bracker, M. Leone, 1885-1937 [Illustrator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 15,358 words (really short) Grade range: 16-18 (graduate school) Readability score: 46 (average)
Identifier: etext14462
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Third And Last Part Of Conny-Catching.
(1592), by R. G.

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Title: The Third And Last Part Of Conny-Catching. (1592)
       With the new deuised knauish arte of Foole-taking

Author: R. G.

Release Date: December 25, 2004 [EBook #14462]

Language: English

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Third and last part of Conny-catching.

With the new deuised knauish arte of

_The like coosnages and villanies never before discouered._

By R.G.


Printed by _T.Scarlet_ for _C.Burby_, and are to be solde at
his shop vnder S.Mildreds Church in the Poultrie. 1592.

receiued either pleasure or profite by the two
former published bookes of this
And to all beside, that desire to know the wonderfull
slie deuises of this hellish crew
of Conny-catchers.

[Illustration: I]

In the time of king Henrie the fourth, as our English Chronicles haue
kept in remembrance, liued diuerse sturdie and loose companions in
sundrie places about the Citie of London, who gaue themselues to no
good course of life, but because the time was somewhat troublesome,
watched diligently, when by the least occasion of mutinie offered,
they might praie vppon the goods of honest Citizens, and so by their
spoyle inrich themselues. At that time liued likewise a worthie
Gentleman, whose many verie famius deeds (wherof I am sorie I may here
make no rehearsal, because neither time nor occasion will permitte me)
renowne his name to all ensuing posterities: he, being called sir
_Richard Whittington_, the founder of Whittington Colledge in
London, and one that bare the office of Lord Maior of this Citie three
seuerall times. This worthie man wel noting the dangerous disposition
of that idle kinde of people, tooke such good and discreete order
(after hee had sent diuers of them to serue in the kings warres, and
they loath to doe so well returned to their former vomite) that in no
place of or about London they might haue lodging, or entertainment,
except they applied themselues to such honest trades and exercises, as
might witnesse their maintaining was by true and honest meanes. If any
to the contrarie were founde, they were in iustice so sharply
proceeded against, as the most hurtfull and dangerous enemies to the

In this quiet and most blissefull time of peace, when all men (in
course of life) should shew themselves most thankfull for so great a
benefit, this famous citie is pestered with the like, or rather worse
kinde of people, that beare outward shew of ciuill, honest, and
gentlemanlike disposition, but in very deed their behauiour is most
infamous to be spoken of. And as now by their close villanies they
cheate, cosen, prig, lift, nippe, and such like tricks now vsed in
their _Conie-catching_ Trade, to the hurt and vndoing of many an
honest Citizen, and other: So if God should in iustice be angrie with
vs, as our wickednesse hath well deserued, and (as the Lorde forsend)
our peace should be molested as in former time, euen as they did, so
will these be the first in seeking domesticall spoile and ruine: yea
so they may haue it, it skilles not how they come by it. God raise
such another as was worthie _Whittington_, that in time may
bridle the headstrong course of this hellish crew, and force them liue
as becommeth honest subiects, or els to abide the rewarde of their

By reading this little tratise ensuing, you shall see to what
marueilous subtil pollicies these deceiuers have atteyned, and how
daylie they practise strange driftes for their purpose. I say no more,
but if all these forewarnings may be regarded, to the beneft of the
well minded, and iust controll of these carelesse wretches, it is all
I desire, and no more then I hope to see.

Yours in all he may

R. G.

[Illustration: ]

The third and last part of Conny-catching with the new deuifed knauish
Arte of Fooletaking.

Being by chance inuited to supper, where were present diuers, both of
worship an good accompt, as occasion serued for entercourse of talke,
the present treacheries and wicked deuises of the world was called in
question. Amongst other most hatefull and wel worthie reprebension,
the woondrous villanies of loose and lewde persons, that beare the
shape of men, yet are monsters in condition, was specially remembred,
and not onely they, but their complices, their confederates, their
base natured women and close compacters were noted: Namely, such as
tearme themselues Conny-catchers, Crosse-biters, with their
appertaining names to their seueral coosening qualities, as already is
made knowne to the world, by two seuerall imprinted books, by means
whereof, the present kinde of conference was occasioned. Quoth a
Gentleman sitting at the Table, whose deepe step into age deciphered
his experience, and whose grauitie in speeche reported his discretion,
quoth hee, by the two published bookes of Cony-catching: I have seene
divers thinges whereof I was before ignorant, not withstanding had I
beene acquainted with the author: I could haue giuen him such notes of
notorious matters that way intending, as in neither of the pamphlets
are the like set downe. Beside, they are so necessarie to be knowne,
as they will both forearme any man against such trecherous vipers, and
forewarne the simpler sort from conuersing with them. The Gentleman
being knowne to be within commission of the peace, and that what he
spake of either came to him by examinations, or by riding in the
circuits as other like officers do: was intreated by one man aboue the
rest (as his leisure serued him) to acquaint him with those notes, and
he would so bring it to passe, as the writer of the other two bookes,
should haue the sight of them, and if theyr quantitie would serue,
that he should publish them as a third, and more necessary part then
the former were.  The Gentleman replied al such notes as I speake, are
not of mine owne knowledge, yet from such men haue I receiued them, as
I dare assure their truth: and but that by naming men wronged by such
mates, more displeasure would ensue then were expedient, I could set
downe both time, place, and parties. But the certaintie shal suffice
without any such offence. As for such as that see their iniuries
discouered, and (biting the lip) say to themselues, thus was I made a
Conny: their names being shadowed, they haue no cause of anger, in
that the example of their honest simplicitie beguiled, may shield a
number more endangered from tasting the like. And seeing you haue
promised to make them knowne to the author of the former two Bookes,
you shall the sooner obtaine your request: assuring him thus much vpon
my credit & honestie, that no one vntrueth is in the notes, but euerie
one credible, and to be iustified if need serue.  Within a fortnight
or thereabout afterward, the Gentleman performed his promise, in
seuerall papers sent the notes, which here are in our book compiled
together when thou hast read, say, if euer thou heardest more notable
villanies discouered. And if thou or thy friends receiue any good by
this, as it cannot be but they will make a number more carefull of
themselues: thanke the honest Gentleman for his notes, and the writer
that published both the other and these, for generall example.

A pleasant tale howe an honest substantiall Citizen was made a Connie,
and simplie entertained a knaue that carried awaie his goods verie

What laws are used among this helish crew, what words and termes they
give themselves and their copesmates, are at large set downe in the
former two Bookes: let it suffise yee then in this, to read the simple
true discourses of such as have by extraordinary cunning and treachery
beene deceived, and remembering their subtle meanes there, and slye
practises here, be prepared against the reaches of any such

Not long since, a crew of Conny-catchers meeting togither, and in
conference, laying downe such courses as they severally should take,
to shunne suspect, and returne a common benfit among them: the Carders
received their charge, the Dicers theirs, the hangers about the court
theirs, the followers of Sermons theirs and so the rest to their
offices. But one of them especiallie, who at their woonted meetings,
when reporte was made howe every purchase was gotten, and by what
pollycie each one prevailed: this fellowe in a kinde of priding
scorne, would usually say.

In faithe Maisters these thinges are prettily done, common sleyghts,
expressing no deepe reache of witte, and I woonder men are so simple
to bee so beguiled.  I would fayne see some rare and artificiall feate
indeede, that some admiration and fame might insue the dooing thereof:
I promise yee, I disdayne these base and pettie paltries, and may my
fortune iumpe with my resolution, yee shall heare my boyes with in a
day or two, that I will accomplish a rare stratagem indeed, of more
value then fortie of yours, and when it is done shall carry some
credit with it. They wondring at his wordes, desired to see the
successe of them, & so dispersing themselves as they were accustomed,
left this frollicke fellow pondering on his affaires. A Cittizens
house in London, which hee had diligently eyed & aymed at for a
fortnights space, was the place wherein he must performe this exploit,
and having learned one of the servant maides name of the house, as
also where shee was borne and her kindred. Upon a sonday in the
afternone, when it was her turne to attend on her maister and mistres
to the garden in Finsbury fields, to regard the children while they
sported about, this craftie mate having dulie watched their comming
forth, and seeing that they intended to goe downe S. Laurence lane,
stepped before them, ever casting an eye back, least they should turne
some contrarie way: but their following still fitting his owne desire,
neere unto the Conduit in Aldermanbury, he crossed the way and came
unto the maid, and kissing her sayd. Coosen Margeret, I am verye glad
to see you well, my unckle your father, and all your friends in the
Countrey are in good health God be praised. The Maide hearing herselfe
named, and not knowing the man, modestly blushed, which hee
perceiving, held way on with her amongst her fellow apprentices, and
thus began againe.  I see Coosen you knowe mee not, and I doe not
greatlie blame you, it is so long since you came foorth of the
Countrey, but I am such a ones sonne, naming her Uncle right, and his
sonnes name, which she very well remembred, but had not seene him in
eleven yeares.  Then taking foorth a bowed groat, and an olde pennie
bowed, he gave it her as being sent from her Uncle and Aunt, whome hee
tearmed to bee his father and mother: Withall (quoth he) I have a
Gammon of bacon and a Cheese from my Uncle your Father, which are sent
to your Maister and Mistresse, which I received of the Carrier,
because my Uncle enioyned me to deliver them, when I must intreat your
mistres, that at Whitsontide next shee will give you leave to come
downe into the Countrey. The Maide thinking simplie all hee said was
true, and as they so farre from their parents, are not onely glad to
heare of their welfare, but also rejoyce to see any of their kindred:
so this this poor Maid, wel knowing her Uncle had a sonne so named as
he called himself, and thinking from a boy (as he was at her leaving
the Countrey) he was now growne such a proper handsome young man, was
not a little joyful to see him: beside, shee seemed proud, that her
kinsman was so neat a youth, and so shee held on questioning with him
about her friends: hee soothing each matter so cunningly, as the maide
was confidently perswaded of him. In this time, one of the children
stepped to her mother and said, Our Marget (mother) hath a fine coosen
come out of the Country, and he hath a Cheese for my Father and you:
whereon shee looking backe, said: Maide, is that your kinsman? yes
forsooth mistresse quoth shee, my Uncles sonne, whome I left a little
one when I came forth of the countrey.

The wilye Treacher, beeing maister of his trade, would not let slippe
this opportunitie, but courteouslie stepping to the Mistresse (who
loving her maid wel, because indeed shee had been a very good servant,
and from her first comming to London had dwelt with her, tould her
husband therof) coyned such a smooth tale unto them both, fronting it
with the Gammon of Bacon and the Cheese sent from their maides Father,
and hoping they would giue her leaue at Whitsontide to visit the
countrey, as they with verie kinde words entertained him, inuiting him
the next night to supper, when he promised to bring with him the
Gammon of Bacon and the Cheese. Then framing an excuse of certaine
busines in the town, for that time he tooke his leaue of the Maister
and Mistresse, and his new Cosen Margaret, who gave many a looke after
him (poore wench) as he went, ioying in her thoughts to haue such a

On the morrow hee prepared a good Gammon of bacon, which he closed up
in a soiled linnen cloth, and sewed an old card vpon it, whereon he
wrote a superscription vnto the Maister of the Maide, and at what
signe it was to be deliuered, and afterward scraped some of the
letters halfe out, that it might seeme they had bin rubd out in the
carriage. A good Cheese he prepared likewise, with inscription
accordingly on it, that it could not be discerned, but that some
unskilfull writer in the country had done it, both by the grosse
proportion of the letters, as also the bad ortographie which amongst
plaine husbandmen is verie common, in that they haue no better
instruction. So hiring a Porter to carrie them betweene flue and fire
in the evening he comes to the cittizens house, and entring the shop,
receives them of the Porter, whome the honest meaning Cittizen would
have paid for his pains, but this his maids new-found Cosen sayd hee
was satisfied alreadie, and so straining courtesse would not permit
him: well, vp are carried the Bacon and the Cheese, where God knowes,
Margaret was not a little busse, to haue all things fine and neat
against her Cosens comming vp, her Mistresse like wise, (as one well
affecting her seruant) had prouided verie good cheere, set all her
plate on the Cubboorde for shewe, and beautified the house with
Cusheons, carpets, stooles and other deuises of needle worke, as at
such times diuers will do, to haue the better report made of their
credite amongst their seruants friends in the Country, albeit at this
time (God wot) it turned to theyr owne after-sorrowing.  The maister
of the house, to delay the time while Supper was readye, hee likewise
shewes this dissembler his shop, who seeing things fadge so pat to his
purpose, could question of this sort, and that well enougth I warrant
you, to discern the best from the worst and their appointed places,
purposing a further reache then the honest Cittizen dreamed of: and to
bee plaine with ye, such was this occupiers trade, as though I may not
name it, yet thus much I dare vtter, that the worst thing he could
carry away, was aboue twentie nobles, because hee dealt altogeather in
whole and great sale, which made this companion forge this kindred and
aquaintance, for an hundred pound or twaine was the very least he
aimed at. At length the mistresse sendes word supper is on the Table,
where vpon vp hee conducts his guest, and after diuers welcomes, as
also thanks for the Cheese and Bacon: To the Table they sit, where let
it suffice, hee wanted no ordinarie good fare, wine and other knackes,
beside much talke of the Countrey, how much his friends were beholding
for his Cosen Margaret, to whome by her mistresse leaue hee dranke
twise or thrise, and she poore soule dooing the like againe to him
with remembrance of her father and other kindred, which he stil
smoothed very cunningly.  Countenance of talke made them careles of
the time which slipped from them faster then they were aware of, nor
did the deceiuer hasten his departing, because he expected what indeed
followed, which was, that being past tenne of the clocke, and he
feigning his lodging to be at Saint Gyles in the field, was intreated
both by the goodman and his wife to take a bed there for that night,
for fashion sake (though very glad of this offer) hee said he would
not troble them, but giuing them many thanks, would to his lodging
though it were further. But wonderfull it was to see how earnest the
honest Citizen and his wife laboured to perswade him, that was more
willing to staye then they could bee to bid him, and what dissembled
willingnesse of departure hee vsed on the other side, to couer the
secret villanie intended. Well, at the length with much ado, he is
contented to stay, when Margaret and her Mistresse presently stirred
to make ready his bed, which the more to the honest mans hard hap, but
all the better for this artificial Conny-catcher, was in the same room
where they supped, being commonly called their hall, and there indeed
stood a verie faire bed, as in such sightly roumes it may easily bee
thought, Citizens vse not to haue any thing meane or simple. The
mistresse, least her guest should imagine she disturbed him, suffered
all the plate to stand still on the cupbord: and when she perceiued
his bed was warmed, and euery thing els according to her mind, she and
her husband bidding him good night: tooke themselues to their chamber,
which was on the same floore but inward, hauing another chamber
betweene them and the hall, wherw the maides and children had their
lodging.  So desiring him to call for any thing hee wanted, and
charging Margaret to looke it should bee so, to bed are they gone:
when the Apprentises hauing brought vp the keyes of the street dore, &
left them in their maisters chamber as they were woont to do, after
they had said praiers, their evening exercise, to bed go they
likewise, which was in a Garret backward ouer their maisters
chamber. None are nowe vp but poore Margaret and her counterfeit
coosen, whom she loth to offend with long talke, because it waxed
late: after some few more speeches, about their parents and friends in
the countrey, she seeing him laid in bed, and all such thinges by him
as she deemed needfull, with a low courtesie I warrant ye, commits him
to his quiet, and so went to bed to her fellowes the maidseruants.
Well did this hypocrite perceive the keyes of the doores carried into
the goodmans chamber, wherof he being not a litle glad, thoght now
they would imagine all things sure, and therfore doutlesse sleep the
sounder: as for the keyes, he needed no helpe of them, because such as
hee go neuer vnprouided of instruments fitting their trade, & so at
this time was this notable trecher. In the dead time of the night when
sound sleepe makes the eare vnapt to heare the verie least noyse, he
forsaketh his bed, & hauing gotten al the plate bound up togither in
his cloke, goeth down into the shop, where well remembring both the
plate & parcels, maketh vp his pack with some twenty pounds worth of
goods more. Then setling to his engin, he getteth the doore off the
hinges, and being foorth, lifteth close to againe, and so departs,
meeting with in a doozen paces, three or foure of his companions that
lurked therabouts for the purpose. Their word for knowing each other,
as is said, was Quest, and this villains comfortable newes to them,
was Twag, signifiyng hee had sped: ech takes a fleece for easier
carriage, and so away to Belbrow, which as I haue heard is as they
interpret it, the house of a theefe receiuer, without which they can
do nothing, and this house with an apt porter to it, standes ready for
them al houres of the night: too many such are there in London, the
maisters whereof beare countenance of honest substantiall men, but all
their living is gotten in this order, the end of such (though they
scape awhile) will be sailing westward in a Cart to Eiborn.  Imagine
these villanies there in their iollitie, the one porting point by
point his cunning deceipt, and the other (fitting his humour)
extolling the deede with no meane commendations. But returning to the
honest Citizen, who finding in the morning how dearly he paid for a
gammon of bacon, and a cheese, and how his kinde courtesie was thus
trecherously requited: blames the poore maide, as innocent herein as
himselfe, and imprisoning her, thinking so to regaine his owne: griefe
with ill cherishing there shortens her life: And thus ensueth one hard
hap upon another, to the great griefe both of maister and mistresse,
when the trueth was knowne, that they so wronged their honest servant:
how it may forewarne others, I leave to your owne opinions, that see
what extraordinarie devises are now avayed, to beguile the simple and
honest liberall minded.

Of a notable knave, who for his cunning deceiving a gentleman of his
purse: scorned the name of a Conny-catcher, and would needs be termed
a Foole-taker, as maister and beginner Of that new found Arte.

A Crew of these wicked companions, being one day met togither in Pauls
Church (as that is a usual place of their assemblie, both to determin
on their drifts, as also to speed of many a bootie) seeing no
likelihood of a good afternoone, so they tearme it either fore-noone
or after, when ought is to be done: some dispersed themselves to the
plaies, other to the bowling allies and not past two or three stayed
in the Church. Quoth on of them, I have vowed not to depart, but
something or other Ile haue before I go: my minde giues me, that this
place yet will yeelde us all our suppers this night, the other holding
like opinion with him, there likewise walked vp and downe, looking
when occasion would serue for some Cash. At length they espyed a
Gentleman towarde the lawe entring in at the little North doore, and a
countrey Clyent going with him in verye hard talke, the Gentleman
holding his gowne open with his armes on eyther side as very manie
doe, gaue sight of a faire purple velvet purse, which was halfe put
vnder his girdle: which I warrant you the resolute fellow that would
not depart without some thing, had quicklye espyed. A game, quote hee
to his fellows, marke the stand, and so separating themselves walked
aloofe, the Gentleman going to the nether steppe of the staires that
ascend vp into the Quire, and there he walked still with his
client. Oft this crew of mates met together, and said there was no
hope of nipping the bong because he held open his gowne so wide, and
walked in such an open place. Base knaves, quoth the frolik fellowe,
if I say I will have it, I must have it, though hee that owes it had
sworne the contrarie. Then looking aside, hee spyed his trugge or
queane comming vppe the Church: away, quoth hee to the other, go looke
you for some other purchase, this wench and I are suffient for
this. They goe, he lessons the drab in this sort, that shee should to
the Gentleman, whose name shee verye well knew, in that shee had holpe
to coosen him once before, & pretending to be sent to him from one he
was well acquainted with for his councell should give him his fee for
auoiding suspition, & so frame some wrong done hir as well inough she
could: when her mate (taking occasion as it serued) would woorke the
meane, shee should strike, & so they both prevaile. The queane well
inured with such courses, because she was one of the most skilful in
that profession, walked up and downe alone in the Gentlemans sight,
that he might discerne shee stayed to speake with him, and as he
turned toward her, hee saw her take money out of her purse, whereby
hee gathered some benefite was toward him: which made him the sooner
dispatch his other clyent, when shee stepping to him, told such a tale
of commendations from his verie friend, that had sent her to him as
she said, that hee entertained her very kindly, and giving him his fee,
which before her face he put up into his purse, and thrust under his
girdle againe: she proceeded to a very sound discourse, whereto he
listened with no little attention. The time serving fit for the
fellows purpose, he came behind the Gentleman, and as many times one
friend wil familiarly with another, clap his hands over his eyes to
make him guesse who he is, so did this companion, holding his hands
fast over the Gentlemans eyes, sayde: who am I: twise or thrise, in
which time the drab had gotten the purse and put it up. The Gentleman
thinking it had been some merrie friend of his, reckoned the names of
three or foure, when letting him go, the crafty knave dissembling a
bashful shame of what he had done, said: By my troth sir I crie ye
mercy, as I came in at the Church doore, I took ye for such a one
(naming a man) a verie friend of mine, whome you very much resemble: I
beseech ye be not angrie, it was verie boldlye done of me, but in
penance of my fault, so please yee to accept it, I will bestow a
gallon or two of Wine on yee, and so laboured him earnestly to go with
him to the taverne, stil alledging his sorow for mistaking him. The
Gentleman little suspecting how who am I had handled him, seeing how
sorie he was, and seeming to be a man of no such base condition: tooke
all in good part, saying: No harme sir, to take one for another, a
fault wherein any man may easily erre, and so excusing the acceptation
of his wine, because he was busie there with a gentlewoman his friend:
the trecher with courtesie departed, & the drab (having what shee
would) shortning her tale, hee desiring her to come to his Chamber the
next morning, went to the place where her copes-mate and she met, and
not long after, divers other of the crue, who bearing in what manner
this act was performed, smiled a good therat, that she had both got
the Gentlemans purse, her owne money againe, and his advise for iust
nothing. He that had done this tall exploit, in a place so open in
view, so hardly to be come by, & on a man that made no meane esteem of
his wit: bids his fellowes keepe the worthles name of a Conny-catcher
to themselves: for he hence-foorth would bee termed a Foole-taker, and
such as could imitate this quaint example of his, (which he would set
down as an entrance into that art) should not thinke scorne to become
his schollers.

Night drawing on apace, the Gentleman returned home, not al this while
missing his purse, but being set at supper, his wife intreated a pint
of Sack, which hee minding to send for: drewe to his purse, and seeing
it gone, what strange lookes (beside sighs) were betweene him and his
wife. I leave to your supposing, and blame them not: for as I have
heard, there was seven pound in gold, beside thirtie shillings and od
white money in the purse. But in the middle of his griefe, hee
remembred him that said, who am I: Wherewith hee brake foorth into a
great laughter, the cause whereof his wife beeing desirous to know, he
declared all that passed between him and the deceiuer, as also how
sone afterward the queane abreuiated her discourse and followed: so in
troth wife (quoth he) betweene who am I and the drab, my purse is
gone: let his lesse teach others to looke better to theirs.

An other Tale of a coosening companion, who would needs trie his
cunning in this new inuentcd arte, and how by his knauerie (at one
instant) he beguiled halfe a dozen and more.

Of late time there hath a certaine base kinde of trade beene vsed, who
though diuers poore men, and doubtles honest, apply themselues onely
to relieue their need: yet are there some notorious varlets do the
same, being compacted with such kinde of people, as this present
treatise manifesteth to the world, and what with outward simplicity on
the one side, and cunning close treachery on the other, diuers honest
Cittizens and day-labouring men, that resort to such places as I am to
speake of, onely for recreation as opportunitie serueth, haue beene of
late sundry times deceyued of their purses. This trade, or rather
vnsufferable loytring qualitie, in singing of Ballets, and songs at
the doores of such houses where playes are vsed, as also in open
markets and other places of this Cittie, where is most resort: which
is nothing els but a slie fetch to draw many together, who listning
vnto an harmelesse dittie, afterwarde walke home to their houses with
heauie hearts: from such as are heereof true witnesses to their cost,
doo I deliuer this example. A subtill fellow, belike imboldned by
acquaintance with the former deceit, or els being but a beginner to
practise the same, calling certain of his companions together, would
try whether he could attaine to be maister of his art or no, by taking
a great many of fools with one traine: but let his intent and what els
beside, remaine to abide the censure after the mater is heard, and
come to Gratious street, where this villanous pranke was performed. A
roging mate, & such another with them were there got vpon a stal
singing of balets, which belike was some prety toy, for very many
gathered about to heare it, & divers buying, as their affections
serued, drew to their purses, & paid the singers for them. The slie
mate and his fellowes, who were dispersed among them that stood to
hear the songs well noted where euerie man that bought, put up his
purse againe, and to such as would not buy, counterfeit warning was
sundrie times giuen by the roge and his associate, to beware of the
cut-purse, & take to their purses, which made them often feel where
their purses were, either in sleeue, hose, or at girdle, to know
whether they were safe or no. Thus the crafty copesmates were
acquainted with what they most desired, and as they were scatred by
shouldring, thrusting, feining to let fall somthing, and other wilie
tricks fit for their purporse: heere one lost his purse, there another
had his pocket pickt, & to say all in briefe, at one instant, vpon the
complaint of one or two that saw their purses were gone, eight more in
the same companie, found themselues in like predicament.  Some angrie,
others sorrowfull, and all greatly discontented, looking about them,
knewe not who to suspect or challenge, in that the villaines
themselues that had thus beguiled them, made shew that they had
sustained like losse. But one angry fellow, more impacient then all
the rest, he falls vpon the ballad singer, and beating him with his
fists well favouredly, sayes, if he had not listned his singing, he
had not lost his purse, and therefore would not be otherwise
perswaded, but that they two and the cutpurses were compacted
together.  The rest that had lost their purses likewise, & saw that so
many complaine togither: they iump in opinion with the other fellow, &
begin to tug & hale the ballad singers when one after one, the false
knaves began to shrink away with the purses, by means of some officer
then being there present, the two Roges were had before a iustice, and
upon his discreete examination made, it was found, that they and the
cut-purses were compacted together, and that by this unsuspected
villanie, they had deceived many. The one Foole-taker himself, with
one or two more of that companie, was not long after apprehended: when
I doubt not but they had their reward answerable to their deseruing:
for I heare of their iorney westward, but not of their returne: let
this forewarne those that listen singing in the streets.

Of a craftie mate, that brought two young men vnto a Tauerne, where
departing with a Cup, hee left them to pay both for the wine and Cup.

A friend of mine sent mee this note, and assuring me the truth
thereof, I thought necessary to let it downe amongst the rest: both
for the honest simplicitie on the one side and most cunning knavery
used on the other, and thus it was. Two young men of familiar
acquaintance, who delighted much in musicke, because themselves
therein were somwhat expert, as on the virginals, bandora, lute and
such like: were one eventing at a common inne of this town (as I have
heard) where the one of them shewed his skil on the virginals to the
no little contentment of the hearers. Now as divers guests of the
house came into the roome to listen, so among the rest entered an
artificial Cony-catcher, who as occasion served, in the time of
ceasing between the severall toies and fancies be plaied: very much
commended his cunning, quick hand, and such qualities praiseworthy in
such a professor. The time being come, when these young men craved
leaue to depart, this politique varlet stepping to them, desired that
they would accept a quarte of Wine at his hande, which hee would most
gladlie bestow upon them: besides, if it liked him that played on the
Virginals to instruct, hee would helpe him to so good a place, as
happily might advantage him for ever. These kind words, delivered with
such honest outward shewe, caused the yoong men, whose thoughts were
free from any other opinion, than to bee as truely and plainly dealt
withall as themselves meant, accepted his offer, because hee that
played on the Virginals was desirous to have some good place of
seruice: & hereupon to the Tauerne they goe, and being set, the wily
companion calleth for two pintes of wine, a pinte of white, and a
pinte of claret, casting his cloake upon the table, and falling to his
former communication of preferring the yoong man. The wine is
brought, and two cuppes withall, as is the vsuall manner: when
drinking to them of the one pinte, they pledge him, not unthankfull
for his gentlenesse. After some time spent in talke, and as he
perceived fit for his purpose, hee takes the other cup, and tastes the
other pinte of wine: wherewith he finding fault, that it dranke
somewhat harde, sayd, that Rose-water and Sugar would do no harme:
whereupon he leaves his seate, saying he was well acquainted with one
of the seruants of the house, of whom he could have two penny worth of
Rose-Water for a penny, and so of Sugar likewise, wherefore be would
step to the barre unto him, so taking the cup in his hand, hee did:
the young men neuer thinking on any such treacherie as ensued, in that
he seemed an honest man, and beside left his cloake lying on the table
by them. No more returnes the yonker with Rose-water and Sugar, but
stepping cut of doores, unseene of any, goes away roundly with the
cup. The young men not a little wondering at his long tarrying, by the
comming of the seruants to see what they wanted, who tooke no regarde
of his sudden departure, finde themselves there left, not onely to pay
for the wine, but for the Cuppe also, being rashlye supposed by the
maister and his seruants to be copartners with the treacherous
villaine: but their honest behaviour well knowne, as also their
simplicity too much abused, well witnessed their innocencie:
notwithstanding they were faine to pay for the cup, as afterwarde they
did, hauing nothing towardes their charge but a thred bare cloake not
worth two shillings. Take heede how you drinke wine with any such

Of an honest housholder which was cuningly deceyued by a subtill
companion, that came to hire a Chamber for his Master.

Not farre from Charing Crosse dwelleth an honest young man, who being
not long since married, and having more roomes in his house than
himselfe occupyeth, either for terme time, or the Court lying so
neere, as divers do, to make a reasonable commoditie, and to ease
house-rent, which (as the worlde goeth now to none of the cheapest)
letteth foorth a chamber or two, according as it may be spared. In an
evening but a while since, came one in the manner of a Seruing man to
this man and his wife, and he must needes have a Chamber for his
Maister, offering so largely, as the bargaine was soone concluded
betweene them. His intent was to have fingered some bootie in the
house, as by the sequele it may bee likeliest gathered: but belike no
fit thing lying abroad, or hee better regarded then happily be would
be, his expectation that way was frustrated, yet as a resolute
Conny-catcher indeed, that scorneth to attempt without some successe,
and rather will pray upon small commoditye, then returne to his
fellows disgraced with a lost labor: he summons his wits together, &
by a smooth tale over-reached both the man and his wife. He tels them,
that his Maister was a captaine late come from the Sea, and had costly
apparel to bring thither, which for more earlie carriage, he entreats
them lend him a sheet to bind it vp in, they suspecting no ill,
because he required their boy should goe with him to helpe him cary
the stuffe, the good wife steppes vnto her Chest, where her linnen lay
finelie sweetned with Rose leaves and Lavender, and lends him a very
good sheete in deed.

This successe made him bold to venter a little further, and then he
tels them, his maister had a great deale of broken Sugar, and fine
spices that lay negligently abroad in his lodging as it was brought
from the Ship, all which hee was assured his Maister would bestow on
them, so he could deuise how to get it brought thither.

These liberall promises, prevailing with them that lightlie beleeued,
and withall were somewhat couetous of the Sugar and spices: The woman
demanded if a couple of pillow-beeres would not serue to bring the
sugar and spices in: yes marry (quoth hee) so the Sugar may best be
kept by it self, and the spices by themselves.  And (quoth hee)
because there are many craftie knaues abroad,(greeving that any should
be craftier then himselfe) and in the evening the linnen might
quicklie bee snatched from the boy: for the more safety, he would
carry the sheet and pillow-beeres himselfe, & within an hower or
little more returne with the boy againe, because he would have all
things redy before his maister came, who (as he said) was attending on
the Councell at the court. The man and his wife crediting his smooth
speeches, sends their boy with him, and so along toward Zuie-bridge go
they. The Conny-catcher seeing himselfe at free libertie, that he had
gotten a very good sheet, and two fine pillow-beeres: steps to the
wall, as though he would make water, bidding the boye goe faire and
softly on before. The boy doubting nothing, did as hee willed him,
when presently he stept into some house hard by fit to entertaine him:
and neuer since was hee, his Maister, the Sugar, spices, or the linnen
heard off. Manie have beene in this manner deceived, as I heare, let
this then giue them warning to beware of any such unprofitable guests.

Of one that came to buy a knife, and made first proofe of his trade on
him that solde it.

One of the cunning Nippes about the towne, came unto a poore Cutler to
have a Cuttle made according to his owne minde, and not aboue three
inches would he have both the knife and the haft in length: yet of
such pure mettall, as possibly may bee.  Albeit the poore man never
made the like before, yet being promised foure times the value of his
stuffe and paines, he was contented to doe this, and the day being
come that hee should deliuer it, the partie came, who liking it
exceedingly, gaue him the money promised, which the poore man gladly
put up into his purse, that hung at a button hole of his wascoate
before his brest, smiling that he was so well paid for so small a
trifle: the partie perceiuing his merry countenance, and imagining he
gest for what purpose the knife was, sayde, honest man, whereat smile
you? By my troth sir (quoth the Cutler) I smile at your knife, because
I never made one so litle before: and were it not offensive unto you,
I would request to know to what use you will put it too?  Wilt thou
keepe my counsaile (quoth the Nipe) yea on mine honestie (quoth the
Cutler.) Then hearken in thy eare said the Nip, and so rounding with
him, cut the poore mans purse that houng at his bosom, he neuer
faeling when he did it: with this knife (quoth the Nippe) meane I to
cut a purse, marry GOD forbid (quoth the Cutler) I cannot thinke you
to be such a kind of man, I see you loue to iest, and so they parted.

The poore man, not so wise as to remember his owne purse, when by such
a warning hee might haue taken the offendour dooing the deede, but
rather proud (as it were) that his money was so easily earned: walkes
to the Alehouse, which was within a house or two of his owne, and
finding there three or foure of his neighbors with whom he began to
iest very pleasantly: sweares by cocke and pie hee would spend a whole
groat uppon them, for hee had gotten it and more, cleerely by a good
bargaine that morning.

Though it was no maruell to see him so liberall, because indeede he
was a good companion: yet they were loth to put him to such cost,
nothwithstanding he would need doe it, and so farre as promise
stretcht, was presently fild in and set upon the boord. In the
drinking time often he wisht to meet more such customers as he had
done that morning, and commended him for a very honest gentleman I
warrant you. At length, when the reckoning was to be paide, hee drawes
to his purse, where finding nothing left but a peece of the string in
the button hole, I leave to your iudgement, whether he was now as
sorie as he was merrie before.

Blanck and all amort sits the poore Cutler, and with such a pittifull
countenance, as his neighbours did not a little admire his solemne
alteration, and desirous to know the cause thereof, from point to
point he discourseth the whole manner of the tragedie, neuer naming
his new customer, but with such a farre fetcht sigh, as soule and body
would have parted in sunder. And in midst of all his griefe, he brake
forth into these termes.  Ile belieue a man the better by his word
while I know him, the knife was bought to cut a purse indeed, and I
thanke him for it, hee made the first proofe of the edge with mee. The
neigbbours greeving for his losse, yet smiling at his folly to be so
overreached, were faine to pay the groate the Cutler called in,
because he had no other money about him, and spent as much more beside
to driue away his heauinesse.

This tale, because it was somewhat misreported before, upon talke had
with the poore Cutler himselfe, is set downe now in true forme and
manner how it was done, therefore is there no offence offered, when by
better consideration, a thing may be enlarged or amended, or at least
the note be better confirmed. Let the poore Cutlers mishap example
others, that they brag not over hastily of gaine easily gotten, least
they chance to pay as deerely for it, as he did.

Of a yoong Nip that cunningly beguiled an antient professor of that
trade, and his queane with him, at a play.

A good fellow that was newly entered into the nipping craft, and had
not as yet attained to any acquaintance with the chiefe and cunning
maisters of that trade: In the Christmas holy-dayes last, came to see
a playe at the Bull within Bishops gate, there to take his benefit as
time and place would permit him. Not long had hee stayed in the
prease, but hee had gotten a yoong mans purse out of his pocket, which
when he had, hee stepped into the stable to take out the money, and to
conuey away the purse. But looking on his commoditie, hee founde
nothing therein but white counters, a thimble and a broken three
pence, which belike the fellowe that ought it, had doone of purpose to
deceiue the cutpurse withall, or else had plaide at the Cardes for
counters, and so carried his winnings about him till his next sitting
to playe. Somewhat displeased to be so ouertaken, he looked aside, and
spied a lustie youth entring at the doore, and his drab with him; this
fellow he had heard to bee one of the finest Nippers about the towne,
and euer caried his queane with him, for conueiance when the stratagem
was performed: he puts up the counters into the purse againe, and
follows close to see some peece of their seruice. Among a companie of
seemely men was this lustie companion and his minion gotten, where
both they might best beholde the playe, and work for aduantage, and
ever this young Nip was next to him, to mark when he should attempt
any exployte, standing as it were more then halfe between the cunning
Nip and his drab, onely to learne some part of their skill. In short
time the deed was performed, but how, the young Nip could not easily
discern, only he felt him shift his hand toward his trug, to convey
the purse to her, but she being somwhat mindful of the play, because a
merriment was then on the stage, gaue no regarde: whereby thinking he
had puld her by the coat, hes twicht the young Nip by the cloke, who
taking advantage of this offer, put downe his hand and receiued the
purse of him: then counting it discourtesse to let him loose al his
labour, he softly pluckt the queane by the coate, which shee feeling,
and imagining it had beene her companions hand: receiued of him the
first purse with the white counters in it. Then fearing least his stay
should hinder him, and seeing the other intended to have more purses
ere he departed: away goes the young Nip with the purse he got to
eastiy, wherein (as I haue heard) was xxvii. shillings and odde mony,
which did so much content him, as that he had beguiled so ancient a
stander in that profession: what the other thought when he found the
purse, and could not gesse howe hee was coosened: I leave to your
censures, onely this makes me smile, that one false knave can beguile
another, which biddes honest men looke the better to their pursses.

How a Gentleman was craftily deceived of a Chayne of Golde and his
pursse, in Paules Church in London.

A Gentleman of the countrey, who (as I have herd since the time of his
mishap, whereof I am now to speake) had about halfe a yeere before
buryed his wife, and belike thinking wel of some other Gentlewoman,
whom hee ment to make account of as his second choice: upon good hope
or other wife persuaded, he came up to London to provide himselfe of
such necessaries as the Countrey is not usually stored withall.
Besides, silkes, veluets, cambrickes and such like, he bought a Chaine
of Golde that cost him fiftie and seaven pounds and odde money,
whereof because he would have the mayden head or first wearing
himselfe, hee presently put it on in the Goldsmiths shop, and so
walked therewith about London, as his occasions serued.  But let not
the Gentleman bee offended, who if this Booke come to his handes, can
best auouch the trueth of this discourse, if heere by the ways I blame
his rash pride, or simple credulitie: for betweene the one and other,
the Chaine hee paide so deere for about ten of the clock in the
morning, the Cunny catchers the same day ere night shared amongst
them, a matter whereat hee may well greeve and I be sorie, in respect
hee is my very good friend: but to the purpose. This Gentleman walking
in Paules, with his Chaine faire glittering about his necke, talking
with his man about some businesse: was well viewed and regarded by a
crewe of Conny-catchers, whose teeth watred at his goodly Chaine, yet
knew not how to come by it hanging as it did, and therefore entred
into secret conspiration among themselves, if they could not come by
all the Chaine, yet how they might make it lighter by halfe a score
poundes at the least. Still had they their eyes on the honest
Gentleman, who little doubted any such treason intended against his so
late bought bargaine: and they hauing laid their plot, ech one to be
assistant in this enterprise, saw when the Gentleman dismissed his
servant, to go about such affaires as hee had appointed him, himselfe
still walking there up and downe the middle Isle. One of these mates,
that stood most on his cunning in these exploytes, folowed the serving
man foorth of the Church calling him by diuers names, as John, Thomas,
William, &c. as though he had knowne his right name, but could not hit
on it: which whether he did or no I know not, but wel I wot the
seruingman turned back again, and seeing him that called him seemed a
Gentleman, booted and cloaked after the newest fashion, came with his
hat in his hand to him, saying: Sir, do ye call me? Marie doe I my
frend quoth the other, doost not thou serue such a Gentleman? and
named one as himselfe pleased.  No truely Sir, answered the
seruingman, I know not any such Gentleman as you speake of. By my
troth replyed the Conny-catcher, I am assured I knew thee and thy
Maister, though now I cannot suddenly remember my selfe. The
seruingman fearing no harme, yet fitting the humour of this trecherous
companion, tolde right his Masters name whome he served, and that his
Master was even then walking in Paules. O Gods will (quoth the
Cony-catcher, repeating his masters name) a very honest Gentleman, of
such a place is he not? naming a shire of the Country: for hee must
knowe both name, Country and somtimes what Gentlemen dwell neere the
partie that is to bee over reached, ere hee can proceed. No in deede
Sir (answered the servingman, with such reverence as it had beene to
an honest Gentleman indeed) my Master is of such a place, a mile from
such a Towne, and heard by such a knights house: by which report the
deceiver was halfe instructed, because though he was ignorant of the
fellows Master, yet wel he knew the Country, and the knight named. So
crauing pardon that he had mistaken him, he returnes againe into the
Church, and the servingman trudgeth about his assigned busines. Being
come to the rest of the crew, he appointes one of them (whome he knew
to be expert in deed), to take this matter in hand, for him self might
not do it, least the servingman should return and know him, he
schooled the rest likewise what euery man should do when the pinch
came, and changing his cloke with one of his fellowes, walked by
himselfe attending the feate: and every one being as ready, the
apointed fellow makes his sally foorth, and comming to the Gentleman,
calling him by his name, giues him the courtesie and embrace, likewise
thanking him for good choere he had at his house, which he did with
such seemly behaviour & protestation, as the Gentleman (thinking the
other to be no lesse) used like action of kindenesse to him. Now as
Country Gentlemen haue many visiters both with neere dwelling
neighbours, and freends that iourney from farre, whom they can hardly
remember, but some principall one that servus as countenance to the
other: so hee not discrediting the cunning mates words, who still at
every point alleaged his kinred to the knight neighbor to the
Gentleman, which the poore serving man had (doubting no ill) reuealed
before, and that both there and at his owne house in hawking time with
that knight and other Gentlemen of the countrey he had liberally
tasted his kindnes: desiring pardon that he had forgotten him, and
offered him the curtesie of the citie. The Conny-catcher excused
himselfe for that time, saying, at their next meeting hee would bestow
it on him. Then seeming to have espyed his chaine, and commending the
fairenes and woorkemanship thereof: saies, I pray ye sir take a litle
counsel of a friend, it may be you will returne thankes for it. I
wonder quoth he, you dare weare such a costly Jewell so open in sight,
which is euen but a baite to entice bad men to adventure time and
place for it, and no where sooner then in this cittie, where (I may
say to you) are such a number of Connycatchers, Cossoners and such
like, that a man can scarecly koepe any thing from them, they have so
many reaches and sleights to beguile withall: which a very especiall
freend of mine found too true not manye dayes since. Weereupon he
tolde a very solemne tale, of villanies and knaveries in his own
profession, whereby he reported his freeend had lost a watch of gold;
shewing how closely his friend wore it in his bosome, and howe
straungely it was gotten from him, that the gentleman by that
discourse wared halfe affraid of his chaine.  And giving him many
thankes for his good warning, presently takes the Chaine from about
his necke, and tying it up fast in a handkercher put it up into his
sleeue saying. If the Conny-catcher get it heere, let him not spare
it. Not a little did the tretcher smile in his sleeue, hearing the
rashe securitie, but in deede simplicitie of the Gentleman, and no
sooner sawe he it put vp, but presently he counted it sure his owne,
by the assistance of his complices, that lay in an ambuscado for the
purpose: with embraces and courtesies on either side, the
Conny-catcher departs, leaving the gentleman walking there still:
whereat the crewe were not a little offended, that he still kept in
the Church, and would not goe abroad. Well, at length (belike
remembring some businesse) the Gentleman taking leave of an other that
talked with him, hasted to go forth at the furthest west doore of
Paules, which he that had talked with him, and gave him such counsell
perceiuing, hied out of the other doore, and got to the entrance ere
hee came foorth, the rest following the gentleman at an inche. As hee
was stepping out, the other stept in, and let fall a key, hauing his
hat so low ouer his eyes, that he could not well discerne his face,
and stooping to take up the keye, kept the Gentleman from going
backward or forward, by reason his legge was ouer the threshold. The
formost Conny-catcher behind, pretending a quarrell vnto him that
stooped, rapping out an oth, and drawing his dagger, saide: Doe I
meete the villaine? Nay, he shall not scape me now, and so made offer
to strike him.

The gentleman at his standing up, seeing it was he that gaue him such
good counsaile, and pretended himselfe his verie friend, but neuer
imagining this traine was made for him: stept in his defence, when the
other following tript vp his heeles: so that hee and his counsellour
were downe together, and two more uppon them, striking with their
daggers verie eagerly, marry indeed the gentleman had most of the
blowes, and both his handkercher with the chaine, and also his pursse
with three and fiftie shillings in it, were taken out of his pocket in
this strugling, euen by then man that himself defended.

It was maruellous to behold, how not regarding the Villaines wordes
uttered before in the Church, nor thinking uppon the charge about him
(which after hee had thus treacherouslye lost unwittingly): he stands
pacifiyng them that were not discontented, but onely to beguile
him. But they vowing that they would presently go for their weapons,
and so to the field, told the Gentleman he laboured but in vaine, for
fight they must and would, and so going downe by Paules Chaine, left
the gentleman made a Conny going up toward Fleet-street, sorry for his
new Counseller and freend, and wishing him good lucke in the fight:
which in deede was with nothing but wine pots, for ioy of their late
gotten bootie. Neere to Saint Dunstones church the Gentleman remembred
himself, and feeling his pocket so light had suddenly more greefe at
his hart, then euer happen to him or any man againe. Backe he comes to
see if hee could espye anye of them, but they were farre inoughe from
him: God send him better hap when he goes next a wooing, and that this
his losse may bee a warning to others.

How a cunning knaue got a Truncke well stuffed with linen and certaine
parcels of plate out of a Cittizens house, and how the Master of the
house holpe the deceiuer to carry away his owne goods.

Within the Cittie of London, dwelleth a worldly man, who hath very
great dealing in his trade, and his shoppe very well frequented with
customers: had such a shrewd mischance of late by a Conny-catcher, as
may well serue for an example to others least they haue the like. A
cunning villaine, that had long time haunted this Cittizens house, and
gotten many a cheat which he carryed away safely: made it his custome
when hee wanted money, to helpe him selfe euer where hee had so often,
diuers things he had which were neuer mist, especially such as
appertained to the Cittizens trade, but when anye were found wanting,
they could not deuise which way they were gone, so pollitiquely this
fellow alwayes behaued himselfe, well knew hee what times of greatest
businesse this Cittizen had in his trade, and when the shop is moft
stored with Chapmen: then would he step up the stares (for there was
and is another doore to the house besides that which entreth into the
shoppe) and what was next hand came euer away with. One time above the
rest, in an evening about Candlemas, when day light shuts in about
five of the clocke, hee watched to doe some feate in the house, and
seeing the mistresse goe foorth with her maide, the goodman and his
folkes very busie in the shop: up the staires he goes as he was wonte
to doo, and lifting up the latch of the hall portall doore, saw no
body neere to trouble him, when stepping into the next chamber, where
the Cittizen and his Wife usually lay, at the beds feete there stood a
handsome truncke, wherein was verye good linnen, a faire gilte Salte,
two silver French bowles for Wine, two silver drinking pots, a stone
Jugge covered with silver, and a doosen of silver spoones. This
truncke hee brings to the stayres head, and making fast the doore,
againe, drawes it downe the steppes so softlye as hee could, for it
was so bigge and heavy, as he could not easilie carry it, hauing it
out at the doore, unseene of anye neighbour or any body else, he stood
strugling with it to lift it up on the stall, which by reason of the
weight trobled him very much. The goodman comming foorth of his shop,
to bid a customer or two farwell, made the fellowe affraide he should
now bee taken for all togither: but calling his wittes together to
escape if he could, he stoode gazing up at the signe belonging to the
house, as though hee were desirous to know what signe it was: which
the Cittizen perceiving, came to him and asked him what he sought for?
I looke for the signe of the blew bell sir, quoth the fellowe, where a
gentleman hauing taken a chamber for this tearme time, hath sent me
hether with this his Troncke of apparrell: quoth the Citizen I know no
such signe in this street, but in the next (naming it) there is such a
one indeed, and there dwelleth one that letteth foorth Chambers to
Gentlemen.  Truly sir quoth the fellowe, thats the house I should goe
to, I pray you sir lend me your hand, but to help the Trunck on my
back, for I thinking to ease me a while vpon your stall, set it
shorte, and now I can hardly get it vp againe. The Cittizen not
knowing his owne Trunke, but indeede neuer thinking on any such
notable deceite: helps him vp with the Trunke, and so sends him away
roundly with his owne goods. When the Truncke was mist, I leaue to
your conceits what housholde greefe there was on all sides, especially
the goodman himselfe, who remembring how he helpt the fellow vp with a
Trunke, perceiued that heereby hee had beguiled himselfe, and loste
more then in haste hee should recouer againe. Howe this may admonish
others, I leaue to the iudgement of the indifferent opinion, that see
when honest meaning is so craftily beleagerd, as good foresight must
bee vsed to preuent such daungers.

How a Broker was cunningly ouer-reached by as craftie a knaue as
himselfe, and brought in danger of the Gallowes.

It hath beene vsed as a common by-word, a craftie knaue needeth no
Broker, whereby it should appeare that there can hardlie bee a
craftier knaue than a Broker. Suspend your iudgements till you haue
heard this Discourse ensuing, and then as you please, censure both the
one and the other.

A Ladie of the Countrie sent vp a seruant whome she might well put in
trust, to prouide hir of a gowne answerable to such directions as she
had giuen him, which was of good price, as may appear by the outside
and lace, whereto doubtlesse was euerie other thing agreeable: for the
Tayler had seuenteen yards of the best black satten could be got for
monie, and so much golde lace, beside spangles, as valued thirteene
pound, what else was beside I know not, but let it suffice, thus much
was lost, and therefore let vs to the manner bow.

The satten and the lace being brought to the Tayler that should make
the gowne, and spread abroade on the shop boord to be measured,
certaine good fellowes of the Conny-catching profession chanced to go
by, who seeing so rich lace, and so excellent good satten, began to
commune with themselues how they might make some purchase of what they
had seene: and quickly it was to bee done or not at al. As euer in a
crew of this quality, there is some one more ingenious and politique
then the rest, or at least wise that couets to make himselfe more
famous then the rest: so this instant was there one in this companie
that did sweare his cunning should deepelie deceiue him, but he would
haue both the lace and satten, When hauing laid the plot with his
companions, how and which waie their helpe might stand them in stead,
this they proceeded.

Well noted they the seruing-man that stood in the shoppe with the
Tailer, and gathered by his diligent attendance, that he had some
charge of the gowne there to be made, wherefore by him must they worke
their trecherie intended, and vse him as an instrument to beguile
himselfe. One of them sitting in a seate nere vnto the Tailers stall,
could easily heare the talke that passed betweene the seruing-man and
the Tayler, where among other communication, it was concluded that the
gowne should be made of the selfe same fashion in euery point, as
another Ladies was who then lay in the citie, and that measure being
taken by her, the same would sirlie serue the Lady for whome the gowne
was to bee made: now the seruingman intended to go speake with the
Ladie, and uppon a token agreed betweene them (which he careleslie
spake so lowd, that the Conny-catcher heard it) he would as her
leisure serued, certifie that Tailer, and he should bring the stuffe
with him, to haue the Ladies opinion both of the one and the other.

The seruingman being gone about his affaires, the subtill mate that
has listned to all their talke, acquaints his fellows both with the
determination and token appointed for the Tailers comming to the
Lady. The guide and leader to all the rest for villany, though there
was no one but was better skilde in such matters then honestie: he
appoints that one of them should go to the tauerne, which was not
farre off, & laying two fagots on the fire in a roome by himselfe, and
a quarte of wine filled for countenance of the treacherie: another of
that crue should giue atteudance on him, as if hee were his maister,
being bare headed, and sir humblie answering at euery word. To the
tauern goes this counterfet gentleman, and his seruant waiting on him,
where euery thing was performed as us before rehearsed. When the
master knaue calling the drawer, demanded if there dwelt neere at hand
a skillfull Tailer, that could make a suite of veluet for himselfe,
marry it was to be doone with very great speed.

The Drawer named the Tailer that we now speake of, & upon the drawers
commending his cunning, the man in all hast was sent for to a
gentleman, for who he must make a sute of veluet foorthwith. Upon
talke had of the stuffe, how much was to be bought of everything
appertayning thereto: he must immediatly take measure of this
counterfet gentleman, because he knew not when to returne that waye
againe, afterward they would go to the Mercers. As the Tailer was
taking measure on him bare headed, as if he had bin a substantiall
gentleman indeed, the craftie mate had cunningly gotten his pursse out
of his pocket, at the one string whereof was fastened a little key,
and at the other his signet ring: This bootie he was sure of all
readie, whether he should get any thing els or no of the mischiefe
intended, stepping to the window he cuts the ring from the pursse, and
by his supposed man (rounding him in the eare) sendes it to the
plot-layer of this knauerie, minding to traine the tailer along with
him, as it were to the mercers, while he the meane time tooke order
for the other matter. Afterward speaking alowde to his man, Sirrha,
quoth hee, dispatch what I bad you, and about foure of the clock meet
me in Paules, by that time I hope the tailer and I shall have
dispacht. To Cheapside goeth the honest Tailer with this notorious
dissembler, not missing his pursse for the space of two houres after,
in lesse then halfe which time the satten and golde lace was gotten
likewise by the other villain from the Taylers house in this order.

Being sure the Tayler should bee kept absent, hee sends another mate
home to his house, who abused his servants with this devise: that the
ladies man had met their master abroad, and had him to the other Ladie
to take measure of her, and least they should delaye the time too
long, hee was sent for the satten and lace, declaring the token
appointed, and with all giving their masters signet ring for better
confirmation of his message, The servants could doe no lesse then
deliuer it, being commanded (as they supposed) by so credible
testimony: neither did the leasure of anie one serue to goe with the
the messenger, who seemed an honest young Gentleman and carried no
cause of distrust in his countenance: wherefore they delivered him the
lace and satten folded up together as it was, and desired him to will
their master to make some speede home, both for cutting out of worke,
and other occassions.

To a Broker fit for their purpose, goes this deceiuer with the satten
lace, who knowing well they could not come honestly by it, nor anie
thing else hee bought of that crew, as often before he had dealt much
with them: either gaue them not so much as they would haue, or at
least as they iudged they could haue in another place, for which the
ring-leader of this coosnage, vowed in his mind to be reuenged on the
Broker. The master knaue who had spent two houres and more in vaine
with the Tailer, and would not like of anie veluet he saw, when he
percieued that he mist his purse, and could not deuise how or where he
had lost it, shewed himselfe verie sorrie for his mishap, and said in
the morning he would send the veluet home to his house, for he knew
where to speed of better then anie he had seene in the shops. Home
goes the Tailer verie sadly, where he was entertained with a greater
mischance, for there was the Ladies seruing-man swearing and stamping,
that he had not seen their master since the morning they parted,
neither had hee sent for the satten and lace, but when the seruantes
insisted their innocencie, beguiled both with the true token
rehearsed, and their masters ring, it exceedeth my cunning to set
downe answerable wordes to this exceeding griefe and amazement on
their part, but most of al the honest Tailer, who sped the better by
the Brokers wilfulnes, as afterward it happened, which made him the
better brooke the losse of his purse. That night all means were used
that could bee, both to the Mercers, brokers, goldsmiths, goldfiners,
& such like, where happily such things doe come to bee solde: but all
was in vaine, the onely helpe came by the inuenter of this villanie,
who scant sleeping all night, in regard of the brokers extreme
gaining, both by him and those of his profession: the next morning he
came to the Tailers house, at what time hee espied him with the Ladies
seruing-man, comming forth of the doores, and into the tauern he went
to report what a mishap hee had upon the sending for him thether the
daie before.

As he was but newly entered his sadde discourie, in comes the partie
offended with the broker, and hauing heard all (whereof none could
make better report than himselfe) he takes the tailer and seruing-man
aside, and pretending great griefe for both their causes, demands what
they would thinke him worthy of that could help them to their good
againe. On condition to meete with such a friend, offer was made of
fiue pound, and after sundrie speeches passing between them alone, be
seeming that he would would worke the recouerie thereof by arte, and
they premising not to disclose the man that did the good, he drew
forth a little booke out of his bosome, whether it was latine or
english it skilled not, for hee could not reade a word on it, then
desiring them to spare him alone a while, they shoulde perceiue what
hee woulde doe for them. Their heartes encouraged with some good hope,
kept all his wordes secret to themselues: and not long had they sitten
absent out of the roome, but he called them in againe and seeming as
though he had been a scholler in deed, sayd he found by his figure
that a broker in such a place had their goods lost, and in such a
place of the house they should finde it, bidding them go thether with
all speed, and as they found his wordes, so (with referring to
themselues how they came to knowledge therof) to meet him there againe
in the euening, and reward him as he had deserued.

Awaie in hast goes the Tailor and the seruing-man, and entering the
house with the Constable, found them in the place where hee that
reueald it, knew the broker alwaie laid such gotten goods. Of their
ioy againe, I leaue you to coniecture, and thinke you see the broker
with a good paire of bolts on his heele, readie to take his farewell
of the worlde in a halter, when time shall serue. The counterfet
cunning man, and artificial conny-catcher, as I heard, was paide his
fiue poundes that night. Thus one craftie knaue beguiled another, let
each take heed of dealing with anie such kind of people.



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Conny-Catching. (1592), by R. G.


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