Green’s Dictionary of Slang

scamp n.

[Scot. scamp, to wander, to shirk; note late 16C scampant, a burlesque ‘coat-of-arms’, modelled on SE rampant and illustrating ‘a roge in his ragges’ (OED)]

1. highway robbery.

[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 28 June [Internet] For (said he) I can hang five for the Scamp; that is, for Robberies on the Highway; and he mentioned one or two, that he had been concerned in, in Stepney Fields.
implied in on the scamp
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving 29: [heading] The bold Adventure, called the Scamp.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 263: […] Done for a scamp signifies convicted of a highway robbery.

2. (also scamp cull) a highwayman.

[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account 7 Apr. [Internet] I alighted to go into the Ditch, and a Man rode up to Easter, and demanded his Money. I [...] made what Haste I could to his Assistance, when he told me he was in Danger of being robb'd; I said to the Man, I believe you are but a Scamp Cull.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account 16 May [Internet] They therefore told him their Thoughts, and said, if he was a Brother Scamp* he might as well own it. *Scamp is the Cant Word for a Thief or Robber.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 38: The bold Adventurer called the Scamp.
[UK]Cheats of London Exposed 2: Highwaymen or Scamps. When Mr. Scamp comes, he calls for a bottle or bowl, and asks, what news!
[UK]J. Messink Choice of Harlequin I viii: Ye scamps, ye pads, ye divers, and all upon the lay.
H. Lemoine ‘Education’ in Attic Misc. 117: And from the start the scamps are cropp’d at home.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. XVI 26/2: Ye scamps, ye pads, ye divers, / You’re all upon the lay.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK] ‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ Egan Boxiana III 622: [as 1791].
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 168: A rank scamp!
[UK] ‘The Youth of the Garden’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 159: The youth of the garden is turn’d scamp on the road.
[UK]‘A Harassing Painsworth’ in Yates & Brough (eds) Our Miscellany 27: ‘He's a rank scamp,’ said one — a gentleman sitting near to the chairman. ‘A wicked dummy hunter,’ said a second. ‘A fly mizzler!’ said a third.

3. a cheat, a swindler.

[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 612: Scouts, Scamps, Lords, Loungers and Lacqueys [...] completely lined the road.
[UK] in Egan Bk of Sports 146: I’m company for scamps and prigs, / Sometimes for men of cash.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Scamps of London I i: That’s the biggest Scamp on town – he’s the principal partner in all the silver hells at the West-end, and the managing director of half the swindling societies in London.
[UK]Western Times 7 Aug. 8/1: But that same scamp I’ll smash, He’ll pay two thousand pounds.
[UK]E. Eden Semi-Attached Couple (1979) 234: ‘The scamp,’ as he calls Mr. Lorimer.
[US]Cambria Freeman (Edensburg, PA) 17 Oct. 3/3: Two scamps were arrested [...] and placed in durance vile.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 15 Apr. 3/5: Ah King, a Chinese scamp employed by city officers, and, in the slang of his Asiatic countrymen, such a spy is called a ghost.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 87: Then this scamp came about her.
[US]Brooklyn Dly Eagle (NY) 14 Aug. 8/3: The Democratic candidate can always be elected, even if he should be ‘the biggest scamp that ever went unhung’.
[Aus]‘Steele Rudd’ On Our Selection (1953) 20: The scamp [...] to leave me just when I wanted help.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 2 Mar. 339: It turned out that Monslow was a thorough scamp.
[US]F. Crissey Tattlings of a Retired Politician 365: A certain trio of choice scamps from the city hall gang would make a strong committee that could skunk the enemy [DA].
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 101: I’ve got a regular ‘lead pipe cinch’ on the grabbing of the onery scamps.

4. (UK Und.) a footpad; a thief.

[UK] ‘Vocabulary’ in W. Perry London Guide xii: Scamps, ragged street thieves.
[Ire]Tom and Jerry; A Musical Extravaganza 55: Scamp, a footpad.
[UK]Paul Pry 30 Sept. 182/4: A poor person having to pledge a mahogany table for five shillings, (quarter of its value) at this scamp’s [pawnbroker’s] shop, went [...] to pay the interest.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Jan. 12/1: I’ll teach you to lie, to steal, and smoke, and use profane language! […] I’ll teach you, you young scamp!

In derivatives

scamperer (n.) (also scamper)

a street thug.

[US]R. Steele Spectator No. 276 3: A very gay [...] old Man...who has been, he tells me, a Scowrer, a Scamperer, a Breaker of Windows [etc.].
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 126/2: ‘You scampers,’ he muttered, trying to get at his staff. ‘I’ll pay you when I gets you.’.

In compounds

scampsman (n.) (also scampman)

a highwayman.

[UK]Mr Thompson Female Amazon 10: She received advice [...] that her scampsman was under sentence of deat at Kingston.
‘The Highway Man’ in Highway Man 6: Bold boys a thieving never go, / To bring the Scamp-man’s act so low.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. XVI 26/1: If anything is done by scampsmen on the Fulham road, send the traps to pull up Bounce and Blunderbuss, two forties at least.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK] ‘The Trotting-Horse’ in Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 238: If a scampsman bold should come, or a kiddy on the hop.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Heart of London II i: Cracksmen, buzmen, scampsmen, we [...] On the spice gloak high toby / We frisk so rummy, / And ramp so plummy.
[UK]Egan ‘The By-Blow of the Jug’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 145: A scampsman, you know, must always be bold.

In phrases

foot-scamp (n.) (also scamp-foot)

(UK Und.) a highway robber.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 83: foot scamp. Men not having horses, who are on the Foot-pad Rig, but whose behaviour is correspondent with that of those who are on the Royal Scamp.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 156: Scamp. Scamp, is going upon the highway: a foot scamp is a low fellow that stops you with a bludgeon, cutlass, or knife and ill treats you.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Scamp-foot a street robber, a foot pad, spicer.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 29: Scamp foot – a street robber.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 86: A royal-scamp was a highwayman, whilst a foot-scamp was an ordinary thief with nothing but his legs to trust.
foot scamper (v.)

(UK Und.) to work as a highway robber; also as n.

[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 18: He [...] sat swearing he would never part with such Company, to go upon the Foot Scamper. [Ibid.] 59: Adieu to stopping Coaches, and adieu to all the hurry-scurry of Foot-Scampering.
foot scamperer (n.)

(UK Und.) a highway robber who works on foot.

[UK]C. Hitchin Regulator 19: The Foot-Scamperer, alias Foot-Pad.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxvii: The Foot Scamperer A Foot Pad.
on the scamp (also upon the scamp)

working as a highwayman.

[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account 14 Mar. [Internet] He asked me if I would not go with him, and some more of our Countrymen upon the Scamp; I did not understand what he meant by the Scamp, but he explained himself.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 5: He could help us to about five or six hundred Pounds, if we were both willing: I said How, John? He answered on the Scamp.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 14 Sept. [Internet] while he was drinking it came in Lydia Cox , who talked to him about his going on the scamp, and the lay, cant words used among thieves for going a thieving.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account 8 July [Internet] Those youths that venture on the scamp, / You’ll say are much to blame; / But since they all do respites get, / Makes more follow the same.
[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 36: The celebrated Hawke,[...] being one day out on the scamp, saw a man lamenting loudly.
[Ire] ‘Swaggering Jack’ in Luke Caffrey’s Gost 2: A thieving then he scorned to tramp, / So hir’d a Pad and went on the scamp.
[UK] ‘A Song, How a Flat became a Prigg’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 21: He napped a pred, went out on the scamp, / For longer on diving he scorn’d to tramp.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 109: scamp to go upon the scamp.
royal scamp (n.) [the highwayman of romantic fiction rather than of the recorded type]

a highwayman who specializes in robbing rich victims and in causing them no physical harm.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 36: Royal Scamp is the term appropriated to those Highwaymen who rob without using ill; they never shoot or maim.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: Royal scamp; a highwayman who robs civilly; royal foot scamp, footpads who behave in like manner.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 86: A royal-scamp was a highwayman, whilst a foot-scamp was an ordinary thief with nothing but his legs to trust.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].