Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fam n.1

also famm, fem, feme
[abbr. famble n. (1)]

1. a hand.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 32: Famms, Hands.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account of the Malefactors executed at Tyburn 18th March 1740 part II 7: A Gentleman who was a very Rum-muns [...] who had a very handsome Glim Star, (that is, a Ring) upon his Feme, (that is, Hand).
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 42: Tip us your Fam; give us your Hand.
[UK]Bloody Register III 169: [as cit. 1741].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 28: And allowing for delicate fams, which have merely / Been handling the sceptre.
[UK]J. Bruton ‘My Mugging Maid’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 99: The flask that in her fam appeared / The snore that her conk betrayed, / Told me that Hodge’s max had queered / My mugging maid.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 178: Ne’er was there seen such a dashing prig [...] With my fawnied famms, and my onions gay.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 59: Pipe my fams! nanty bano quester!
Man of Pleasure’s Illus. Pocket-book n.p.: ‘If I arn’t got sich thin fams as your nibs, why I must nunk to it’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 36: famms, the hands.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[UK]Newcastle Courant 9 Sept. 6/5: She carried an infant, which the unringed ‘fam’ of the mother [...] indicated would bear no father’s name.
[UK]W.E. Henley ‘Villon’s Good-Night’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 174: With fawneys on your dexter famm – / A mot’s good-night to one and all!
[UK]C. Whibley ‘Vaux’ A Book of Scoundrels 185: A fawney sparkled on his dexter fam.
[US]E. Wittmann ‘Clipped Words’ in DN IV:ii 119: fam, from famble. The hand.

2. a ring.

[UK]Hell Upon Earth 5: Fam, a Ring.
[UK]J. Hall Memoirs (1714) 12: Fam, a Ring.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account 31 July [Internet] [We] found upwards of 15 * Ridges, besides a † Rum Fem upon his Finger [...] † Diamond Ring.
[UK]Life and Character of Moll King 12: I heard she made a Fam To-night, a Rum one, with Dainty Dasies, of a Flat from T’other Side.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions .
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 142: You’ll buy a dozen or two of wipes, dobbin cants, or a fam or a tick, with any rascal, from a melting-pot receiver in Duke’s place, to a fence shop in Field Lane.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.

In derivatives

fammer (n.)

(UK Und.) a pickpocket.

[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 60: cracksman: She’s a dodge above a gonniff, and touches nothing below a cracksman and a swell fammer.

In compounds

fam-grasp (v.)

to shake hands (and make up one’s differences).

[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Famgrasp, c. to agree or make up a Difference. Famgrasp the Cove c. to agree with the Adversary.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 205: [...] Famgrasp, to agree, or make up a difference. Famgrasp the cove, i.e., to agree with the adversary.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 15: To agree with a Man – Famgrasp the Cove.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Famgrasp, to shake hands, (cant) figuratively, to agree or make up a difference; famgrasp the cove, shake hands with the fellow.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 135: Go home to the Mug, and fam grasp the old mort.
[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 68: They had a fam-grasp, made friends.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 31: fam grasp To shake hands. ‘Fam grasp the cove,’ shake hands with the fellow.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
fam-lay (n.) [lay n.3 (1)]

pickpocketing or shoplifting; thus fam-layer, a shoplifter.

[UK]J. Hall Memoirs (1714) 6: Fam. Layers, Such as go into Goldsmiths Shops, with pretence to buy a Ring, and several being laid upon the Counter, they Palm One or Two by means of a little Ale held in a Spoon over the Fire, with which the Palm being daub’d, any Light thing sticks to it.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.:
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) Going on the Fam-Lay. Going into a Goldsmith’s Shop, under pretence of buying a wedding Ring, and palming one or two, by daubing the hand with some viscous liquor.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1786].
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 59: Why, before I’d impose on the public in that ’ere famming fake and do the shisy dodge for scran and dossery, I’d pad the road with barkers and fake the denarley from the stiffum’s cly.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.