Green’s Dictionary of Slang

moon-raker n.

[‘It is said that some men of that county, seeing the reflection of the moon in a pond, endeavoured to pull it out with a rake’ (Grose, 1796). However, the OED notes, ‘in Wiltshire a more complimentary turn is given to the story: the men were caught raking a pond for kegs of smuggled brandy, and put off the revenue men by pretending folly’]

1. a native of Wiltshire.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Wiltshire Men, because as it is said some men of that Country, seeing the reflection of the Moon in Water, endeavoured to pull it out with a Rake’.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[Aus]Examiner 25 Aug. 14/2: He was himself a moon-raker (a Wiltshire man).
[UK]Salisbury & Winchester Jrnl 8 June 3: My Old Heart and Titus Trueman, against My Old Moonraker, and Toby Tosspot.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 121: A regiment of moon-rakers from Wiltshire.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK] ‘Derbyites, Dizzyites and Adullamites’ in C. Hindley Curiosities of Street Lit. (1871) 78: Lowe the Adullamite, surnamed the moonraker.
[UK]Luton Times 12 July 7/5: Wiltshire — ‘Wiltshire moonrakers’.
[UK]D.W. Barrett Life and Work among Navvies 51: Why a Welshman should be termed a ‘Mountain-pecker,’ and a Wiltshireman a ‘Moon-raker,’ I must leave my readers to guess.
[UK]J. Payn Glow-Worm Tales I 182: In Wiltshire we are not fond of strangers; we are a simple race – some people even call us moon-rakers.
[Aus]G. Seagram Bushmen All 103: Giles [...] late of Wiltshire a moonraker.
[UK]Western Dly Press 28 Dec. 5/5: "Moon-Rakers’ [...] We have long believed that the above name applied only to the inhabitants of Wiltshire.
[UK]Western Gaz. 18 Apr. 5/5: [headline] Dorset v. Wilts. ‘Moonrakers’ Defeated.
[UK]Gloucester Citizen 21 Aug. 4/1: The Moon-rakers [i.e. The 1st Wiltshire regiment] have a battle history in the best tradition of the English Regiments.

2. a smuggler.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of Vulgar Tongue (3 edn).
[UK]Chester Chron. 29 June 12/6: The subject was to be the Moon Rakers, a story peculiar to Wiltshire. It is jocosely related that a custom house officer once observed a party of Wiltshire men raking a pond [...] which was only the moon in the water [...] The painter was instructed to add [...] a smuggler with two kegs of brandy on his shoulder.