Green’s Dictionary of Slang

toby n.2

[Shelta tobar or Rom. tober, the road, ? ult. Irish bothar, road. Note police jargon toby, an area, a police division]

1. (US Und.) highway robbery; as low toby, on foot, and high toby, mounted robbery.

[UK]Sessions Papers Feb. 133/1: He..asked me if I had any objection of being in a good thing...I asked him when and [...] he replied it was low toby, meaning a fotpad [sic] robbery .
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 274: toby: to toby a man, is to rob him on the highway; a person convicted of this offence, is said to be done for a toby. The toby applies exclusively to robbing on horseback; the practice of footpad robbery being properly called the spice, though it is common to distinguish the former by the title of high-toby, and the latter of low-toby.
[UK]Life and Trial of James Mackcoull 57: I have no doubt that Mackcoull tried his luck at low tobby [sic].
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

2. a robbery (other than on the highway).

[UK]Newcastle Courant 25 Nov. 6/5: ‘It would be a grand game if it could be managed; but it can’t yer see, and cant’s a word wot blocks the toby.’ ‘Cant’s a word as has nothing to do with a good cracksman’.

3. (also tober) the road, the highway, esp. as a place where robbers and highwaymen can find their victims.

[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford III 113: You are a capital fellow [...] the bravest and truest gill that ever took to the toby.
[UK]Edinburgh Rev. July 484: Cadgers on the fly are those who beg as they pass along the tober (road). Cadging on the fly is a profitable occupation in the vicinity of bathing-places and large towns.
[UK]Lancaster Gaz. (Lancs) 24 May 2/5: Cadgers on the fly are those who beg of ladies and gentlemen as they pass along the ‘tober’ (road).
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 324: Toby the road. The highwayman or swell robber was in old days said to be on the high toby, from the high or main road, while those meaner fellows, the footpad and the cutpurse, were but ‘low toby-men,’ from their frequenting the by-ways.
Derbys. Advertiser 2 Dec. 25/4: ‘For 40 years [...] I’ve padded the ’oof on the toby’.
[UK]Leamington Spa Courier 20 Sept. 7/1: ‘Hoppy Bet isis one of the best all-round ‘gaggers’ [...] Bet has no equal on or off the ‘toe-be’ (road).
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 5: The road is our mother most benign, and we are her sons who travel thereon: Sons of Toby. [Ibid.] 117: By the Toby you are to understand [...] At the base period of its coining it stood for stand and deliver, highwaymen, men with low ways.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 56–7: There was no sense in going on to the Great North Road. The coppers were hotter along that toby than anywhere else in England.

4. (also tobyman) a tramp; the life of tramping.

[UK]E. Blair letter 4 Sept. in Complete Works X (1998) 228: As to new words, here are some [...] Toby, a = a tramp (Also ‘to toby’, etc.).
[UK]‘George Orwell’ Down and Out in Complete Works I (1986) 176: These (omitting the ones that everyone knows) are some of the cant words now used in London: [...] A toby – a tramp.
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 106: Two other Tobymen were also there.
[UK]J. Worby Other Half 221: ‘That’s the best meal I’ve had since I came off the toby twelve years ago,’ he said. ‘You can’t beat cooking in a drum.’.

5. an area of responsibility, e.g. a police beat (equivalent to manor n.

[UK]B. Hill Boss of Britain’s Underworld 56: And to add insult to injury [...] last night he left a stolen drag on my tobey.

In compounds

toby-cove (n.)

(US Und.) a street robber.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 90: tobby [sic] coves Fellows that in the night walk the streets near a river. They stun their victim by striking him with a bludgeon; they then rob him and tumble him into the river. If the body is found, it is difficult to say that the man was not accidentally drowned.
toby-gill (n.) [gill n.1 (2)]

a highwayman.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: The toby gill clapped his bleeders to his galloper and tipped the straps the double. The highwayman spurred his horse and got away from the officers.
[UK]Vaux Memoirs in McLachlan (1964) 77: Our society was increased by several new chums before the sessions, and as these persons were some degrees above the common class of thieves, I found much satisfaction in their conversation. There were indeed among them some of the first characters upon the town, leading men in the various branches of prigging they professed; both toby-gills, buz-gloaks, cracksmen, &c., but from their good address and respectable appearance, nobody would suspect their real vocation.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 6 Feb. 8/2: Among them [were] leading men in the various branches of prigging [...] toby-gills, buz-gloaks, cracksmen.
[UK](con. 1800s) Leeds Times 7 May 6/6: [Vaux] was sent to the new Clerkenwell prison, where he sent seven week sin very cheerful society [...] first-class ‘family men’ (thieves) and ‘prigs’, [and] ‘toby gills’ (highway men.
toby-gloak (n.) [gloak n.]

a highwayman.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 162: The prince of the high-tobygloaks.
[UK]Egan ‘The Bould Yeoman’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 138: Hand up the pewter, farmer, you shall have a share / A kindness, for a toby gloque, you must say is rare.
toby lay (n.) (also toby concern) [lay n.3 (1)/SE concern]

1. highway robbery.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 176: Toby-lay – robbery in road or street. Low toby-lay – footpad robbery.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 76: I heered as ’ow Long Ned started for Hampshire this werry morning on a toby consarn!
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 109: TOBY CONSARN, a highway expedition.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[US]Dly Dispatch (Richmond, VA) 1 Nov. 3/3: A ‘toby lay’ is robbing on the highway.

2. the highway [a poss. misreading by Lexicon Balatronicum (and the presumably plagiaristic Buntline) which ignores the use of lay n.3 (1)].

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Toby Lay. The highway.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 116: The Highway.
tobyman (n.)

1. a highwayman.

[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 28: Go not with fine tobymen, who burn out like a candle wot has a thief in it, – all flare, and gone in a whiffy!
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 164: Jack Hall, a celebrated tobyman of his day.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 237: That unequalled feat has rendered him King of the Tobymen.
[UK]‘A Harassing Painsworth’ in Yates & Brough (eds) Our Miscellany 27: Your true toby man has ever a passion for effect.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 199: A resort well known to the police as a halting-place for prominent English thieves, high Tobey-men, and members of the swell mob.

2. a street or house robber.

[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 205: The sign [of the tavern] [...] was emblematical of the high-spiced Toby-men who frequented the place, chanticleer betokening one of the principal instruments used in a burglary – the crow-bar.
[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 317/1: Tobyman, [...] one who robs by knocking down.
[UK]Illus. London News 20 Dec. 951/3: I am a-looking anxiously for a tobyman that has wickedly robbed a lady .

3. see sense 3 above.

In phrases

grand toby racket (n.)

highway robbery.

[UK]Metropolitan Mag. XIV Sept. 333: He and I [...] always swore that we would have a shy at the grand toby-racket, when we got upon our pins, or rather, into our stirrups again.