Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cony-catcher n.1

also coney-catcher, conny-, cunny-
[conycatch v. (1)]

1. a confidence trickster.

[UK]Greene Notable Discovery of Coosnage in Grosart (1881–3) X 9: The foist, the nip, the stale, the snap, I mean the pick-pockets and cut purses are nothing so dangerous to meet with all, as these cosening Cunny-catchers.
[UK]Greene Blacke Bookes Messenger 1: I had thought to haue joyned with this Treatise, a pithy discourse of the Repentance of a Conny-catcher lately executed out of Newgate.
[UK]G. Wilkins Miseries of an Enforced Marriage Act V: I am gulled, by this hand. An old coney-catcher, and beguiled!
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 30: This Lawrence had beene [...] cast out of seruice, and so was faine to liue among the wicked, sometimes a stander for the padder, sometimes a verser for the cony-catcher, sometimes a stale for a foyst, but most commonly an Apple-squire for a trudging house. [Ibid.] 31: Your idle vagabonds [...] bee robbers by the high waies, cousoners and cony-catchers, that liue by their wits.
[UK]J. Harington Epigrams III No. 36: Thus her good wit, their cunning ouer-matcht, / Were not these conycatchers conycatcht?
[UK]R. Davenport City-Night-Cap (1661) II 11: Ha, ha, ha, now do I see, cuckold-making is as ticklish a profession as Cunny-catching.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Cast over the Water’ in Works (1869) II 155: Gentlemen, I pray you take me not for a common Ferriman to Conicatchers.
[UK]S. Marmion Fine Companion V i: How, I your brother? No, I scorne to have affiance with such a conny-catcher: you sir Nessus, deliver up your theft, or I will play Hercules with you.
[UK]Black Dog of Newgate in Griffiths (1884) 78: He was content to leave his cloak [...] in pawn for the xx shillings, which the coney-catchers took.
[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk II 333: He was a notable cheater and cony-catcher.
[UK](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 282: Marry, thou hast me on the hip there, thou old miserly cony-catcher!
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 224: The ‘conny-catchers’ or ‘card sharps’ were the nucleus of the entire profession of thieves and swindlers.
T. Fischer Observer 6 Jan. [Internet] [Bitcoin’s] retinue has accommodated an incredible rogues’ gallery. There have been old-fashioned cony-catchers, saltimbancos and bubblers who did a runner with other people’s money in the time-honoured manner.

2. ext. in non-criminal context, a plausible, smooth-tongued speaker.

[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 33: With honey words your ears he’d sooth [...] the old coney-catcher spoke.