a silk handkerchief, worn by London costermongers.
|Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 115: The new term for handkerchiefs is a Billy, for which pickpockets have peculiar terms known only in the trade.|
|Magistrate’s Assistant (3rd edn) 444: A silk handkerchief. A billy.|
|,||Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.|
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|
|Dundee Courier 4 July 7/4: His headgear — he had a soft ‘billy’ tied round his head.|
a pickpocket who specializes in stealing silk handkerchiefs.
|(con. 1820s) True Hist. of Tom and Jerry 158: Billy Buzman. – A class of pickpockets who confine their attention exclusively to silk pocket handkerchiefs.|
|Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|