Green’s Dictionary of Slang

harman n.

also beck-harman, harman-beck, harminbeck
[ety. unknown; ? OED suggests elision of SE hard-man; DSUE prefers ha-man, i.e. one who shouts ha!, stop; ult. dial. har, stop! + SE beck, beak; cit. 1922 is a deliberate archaism]

1. (UK Und.) a constable.

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 84: the harman beck the Counstable.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching n.p.: [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: The Ruffin cly the nab of the Harman beck.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 43: If that we be spied, O then begins our woe, / With the Harman beake out and alas / To Whittington we goe.
[UK]Dekker Canting Song O per se O O1: Duds and Ruffe-pecke, rombol’d by Harman-becke and won by Mawnders feates.
[UK]Jonson Gypsies Metamorphosed 34: If Beckharman come heel strike vs all dumbe.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Beggar’s Bush III iv: Let the queer-cuffin / And harmanbecks trine, and trine to the ruffin.
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 195: Cove. I doe not fear any Harmanbeck, or Pug, nor doe I care for Cly the Ierke.
[UK]R. Brome Jovial Crew IV ii: Bing awast, The Quire Cove and the Harmanbeck.
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty III i: By these good stampers, upper and nether duds; I’le nip from Ruffmans of the Harmanbeck, Though glimmer’d in the fambles, I cly the chates.
[Ire]Head Eng. Rogue I 65: The Harmanbeck, Huntsman or Constable seeing this [...] set a pack of young yelping Curs to track the scent.
[Ire] ‘The Beggars Curse’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 14: We may happen on the Harmans, and cly the Iarke, or to the quire ken, and scowre quire crampings, and so to trymming on the chetes.
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Harman-Beck, the Constable.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Harman, c. a Constable [...] Harman-beck, c. a Beadle.
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 5: Harminbeck, a Constable.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 194: The Ruffin nab the Cuffin-quere, and let the Harmanbeck trine with his Kinchins about his Coloquaron .
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 209: He taught his Pupil a deal of canting Words, telling him [...] Harmanbeck, a Constable.
[UK] ‘Frisky Moll’s Song’ in J. Thurmond Harlequin Sheppard 22: I Frisky Moll, with my rum coll, / Wou’d Grub in a bowzing ken; / But ere for the scran he had tipt the cole, / The Harman he came in.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 113: Constable A Harman.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 16: A Constable – Harmanbeck.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘A Cant Song’ Muses Delight 177: The harmans tap’d her, but d—me to hell, / I plumpt ’m, and sav’d ’er from limbo.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxviii: A Harman A Constable.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Harman, a constable. [Ibid.] Harman beck. A beadle.
[UK]Oxford Jrnl 4 Mar. 3/2: Thou has the luck to squeak now and so thy friends must go to quod and scour the cramp rings, whilst thou livest at ease with the Harmenbeck.
[UK] ‘The Bowman Prigg’s Farewell’ in Wardroper (1995) 283: But pray don’t you bring it yourself: / Harmans are at the Old Bailey. / I’d rather you would send it behalf, / For if they tout you they’ll nail you.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]J. Thurtell q. in Borrow Lavengro (1851) I 312: Fare ye well, for a green-coated buffer and a Harmanbeck.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 93: Harman — a constable: Harman-beck, a beadle.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 17: Harman – a constable.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US] ‘Scene in a London Flash-Panny’ Matsell Vocabulum 98: They were spotted by the harmans, and so we walked Spanish.
[UK] ‘Canter’s Holiday’ in W.H. Logan A Pedlar’s Pack of Ballads 142: Hang all Harmanbecks, we cry.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 405: Land him in chokeechokee if the harman beck copped the game.

2. a beadle.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Harman-beck c. a Beadle.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Beck or harman – a beadle.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.

3. a sheriff.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum.