Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Newgate n.

[the first Newgate prison was built near the New Gate in the old City Wall in the 12C, poss. earlier. A gaol stood on the site until the last one was demolished to make way for the Old Bailey in 1901. The original prison was rebuilt by Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington; this one was burned down during the Great Fire (1666) and rebuilt again in 1672 (it included a statue of Whittington plus cat in its ornamentation). This in its turn was demolished and again rebuilt in 1770–1. This version was destroyed during the Gordon Riots of 1780, and a final Newgate was put up in 1781. Public hangings took place in the street outside until 1868]

1. any prison.

[UK]Hickscorner Aiv: In Newgate we dwelled togyder For he and I were bothe shakeled in a fetter.
[UK]Cocke Lorelles Bote Bii: Fraunces flaperoche, of stewys captayne late, With gylys vnyeste mayer of newgate, And lewes vnlusty the lesynge monger; Here also baude baudyn boiler, And his brother copyn coler.
[UK]Interlude of Youth line 253: riot. The Mayor of London sent for me Forth of Newgate for to come For to preach at Tyburn.
[UK]J. Heywood Sixt Hundred of Epigrams (1867) 217: With warde, within warde, that the rattes were as fast, / As though they with theeues in newgate had bene cast.
[UK]Nashe Pierce Pennilesse 39: [Note] Newgate, a common name for al prisons, as homo is a common name for a man or woman.
[UK]Dekker Devil’s Last Will and Testament E: I giue toward the mending of the High-waies betweene New-gate and Tyburne.
[UK]R. North Examen 258: Soon after this he was taken up and Newgated.
[UK]Trial of Charles Drew 9: He fled to London [...] carried before a Justice, and committed to Newgate.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. : Newgate—a house of entertainment for rogues of every description, detained for trial at the Old Bailey, London and Middlesex sessions, ? or for ultimate transportation. The name has itself been transported to, and naturalised in, Dublin, as also in Manchester, where the sessions-house is modernized into New Bailey.

2. (UK Und.) the inside jacket pocket.

[UK] ‘Eng. Und. Sl.’ in Variety 8 Apr. n.p.: In the Newgate or benjamin—Inside vest pocket.

In compounds

Newgate bird (n.) [bird n.1 (1)]

a prisoner, esp. a sharper (not necessarily imprisoned in Newgate); also attrib.

[UK]Dekker Jests to Make you Merrie in Grosart Works (1886) II 343: Our Newgate-bird ... spreading dragon-like wings, ... beheld a thousand Synnes.
[UK]Rowley, Dekker & Ford Witch of Edmonton IV ii: They be as fine New-gate birds as she.
[UK]Otway Cheats of Scapin I i: Newgate-bird, Rogue, Villain, what a Trick hast thou play’d me in my Absence?
[UK]Poor Robin n.p.: A most plentiful crop [...] of hectors, trepanners, gilts, pads, biters, prigs, divers, lifters, filers, bulkers, droppers, famblers, donnakers, cross-biters, kidnappers, vouchers, millikers, pymers, decoys, and shop-lifters, all Newgate-birds, whom the devil prepares ready fitted for Tyburn, ready to drop into the hangman’s mouth [N].
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 293: One Whitwood a Thief-Taker [...] had gained such an Ascendancy over the whole Gang of Newgate-birds that infested the Town in his Time.
Ozell Miser I iii : Out of my House, thou sworn Master-Catpurse, true Newgate-bird .
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 16 Apr. 77/2: She owned she had a Guinea, though she said she would not give it in that Newgate-Bird-Son-of-a-Bitch's House.
[UK]T. Gray Candidate 2: His lying, and filching, and Newgate-bird tricks.
Dervy Mercury 9 Feb. 2/2: These Directions seem to have been the Result of a Knowledge of the Practice of Prisons, and which no Newgate-Bird could have schemed better.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Newgate Bird, a Thief or Sharper, frequently Caged in Newgate.
[UK]Morn. Post (London) 9 Nov. 3/3: If you out in calculations like de Newgate bird, you is de peoples dat should suffer.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]T. Hood ‘Last Man’ Works (1862) I 241: ‘Come down,’ says he, ‘you Newgate-bird, / And have a taste of my snaps!’.
[Aus]Examiner 21 Feb. 4/1: Of one character think highly: viz. that of the case-hardened Newgate bird.
[UK](con. 1715) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 106: Come along, my Newgate bird!
[UK] ‘The Honour of the Family’ Town Talk 10 July 111: Why, I took you for that Newgate-bird, Tom Snapper!
[UK]W.H. Smyth Sailor’s Word-Bk (1991) 497: Newgate Birds. The men sent on board ship from prisons.
[UK]Western Dly Press 12 Mar. 6/2: If instead of a Newgate-bird I may be allowed to be a bird of the Muses [...] I sing very loudly in my cage.
[UK]W. Besant Orange Girl II 125: ‘Gaol-bird!’ he cried, banging his fist on the table and talking thickly. ‘Newgate-bird—what do you want? Money?’.
Newgate collar (n.) (also Newgate frill, ...fringe) [its being fancifully reminiscent of the hangman’s noose]

a collar-like beard worn under the chin.

Sharpe’s London Mag. 27 Dec. 133/2: His great fat face was fringed with a full-set beard, continued under his chin, after that fashion which is called a Newgate frill .
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 369: A Newgate frill [...] no whiskers, but an immense protuberance of bristly black hair, rising like a wave above his kerchief.
[UK]Sheffield Indep. 14 Jan. 9/5: My neck was encircled by what is called the Newgate colar on the lower part of the beard.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 180: NEWGATE FRINGE, or frill, the collar of beard worn under the chin. [Ibid.] 242: tyburn collar, the fringe of beard worn under the chin - See newgate collar.
[UK]Reading Mercury 12 Jan. 8/3: He may sport a Newgate frill with impunity.
[UK]Royal Cornwall Gaz. 31 May 7/4: Off I slunk, removing the treacherous goatee, and brushing over the bare spot [...] and a busy Newgate frill which luckily still kept its place.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Belgravia 175: He wore a bushy grey Newgate collar about the jaws and under his shaven chin.
[UK]Cornhill Mag. Sept. 259: Some of them beardless, others with a fringe of hair around their faces, such as the English call a Newgate frill .
[US]Scribner’s Mag. I 329/2: He stood with his back to the fire, pulling at his whiskers, which formed what was earlier known as a Newgate collar, with his right thumb and forefinger.
[UK]Tit-Bits 19 Mar. 421/2: The frill round the chin... called the Newgate frill, and the sweep’s frill, would, I imagine, have made the Antinous, or the Apollo Belvedere, look undignified and slovenly [F&H].
[UK]York Herald 7 Jan. 4/6: A rather cunning-looking old man, with a Newgate frill, large flat ears, and a red nose.
[UK]Guardian Weekend Mag. 10 Jan. 31/3: He [...] grew a u-shaped strip of beard under his chin, reaching up to his ears – a style known as the Newgate fringe.
Newgate drops (n.)

a form of hairstyle worn by those adjudged (potentially) criminal.

[UK]Nat. Standard I 355/1: Their coats are of various fashions; they wear generally three kerchiefs round the neck, of different colours; their hair is arranged in Newgate drops, and a round tile tops their nob.
[UK]J. Overs Evenings of a Working Man 184: The masculine carries his nose over a short pipe; his hair in ‘Newgate drops’.
Newgate hornpipe (n.) [hangings were conducted outside Newgate prison; the victim would dance v. (2) as they choked to death]

a hanging.

[UK] ‘Pickpocket’s Chaunt’ (trans. of ‘En roulant de vergne en vergne’) in Vidocq IV 262: Tramp it, tramp it, my jolly blowen, Or be grabbed by the beaks we may; And we shall caper a-heel-and-toeing, [...] A Newgate hornpipe some fine day.
[UK]Fraser’s Mag. July 47/2: He stands a very good chance of [...] dancing a Newgate hornpipe at the foreyard-arm.
Newgate knocker (n.) [joc. use of SE + ? implication that those who sported such a style tended to criminality]

1. a lock of hair shaped like the figure 6 and twisted from the temple back towards the ear; thus phr. flash as/right as the knocker of Newgate.

[UK]Kentish Gaz. 14 July 2/2: In my good neighbour [...] the pompous grizzle has been laid aside for the spruce club [...] indelicately stiled a Newgate knocker.
[UK]Bell’s Wkly Messenger 21 Oct. 3/2: The prisoner assuring him that upon his return ‘he would find him as right as the knocker at Newgate’.
[UK]Sam Sly 26 May 1/3: [N]ot to go to the barber’s every time he goes on duty, to get those nasty, greasy, Newgate knockers curled.
[UK]H. Mayhew London Labour 1 40/2: As for the hair, they say it ought to be long in front, and done in ‘figure-six’ curls, or twisted back to the ear ‘Newgate-knocker style’.
[UK]W. Phillips Wild Tribes of London 108: The long, greasy hair and Newgate-knocker curls of Cautious Jemmy.
[Aus]W. Burrows Adventures of a Mounted Trooper 53: There they are with their [...] well greased thieves’ curls, or, as some of the flash gentry call them, ‘Newgate knockers’.
[UK]R. Nicholson Rogue’s Progress (1966) 83: Jem was what would have been designated [...] as ‘flash as the knocker of Newgate’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 9/2: Hair dark and turned in at the sides, a la ‘Newgate knockers’.
[UK]J. Greenwood In Strange Company 203: His hair was long and lank, and so beautifully oiled as to defeat the young man’s intention to ‘curl it under,’ after the approved ‘Newgate knocker’ fashion.
[UK]Daily News 1 Dec. n.p.: Visions of Bill Sykes, with threatening look and carefully-trained Newgate knockers, are almost inevitably suggested in the mind of the recipient [F&H].
[UK]Aberdeen People’s Jrnl 28 Apr. 2/2: The face of this man had an evil cast, which was not improved by [...] a couple of ‘Newgate Knockers,’ carefully oiled and plaster flat in front of his ears.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 3/2: Aggeravators, Hagrerwaiters (Costermongers). Side-curls still worn by a few conservative costermongers. Of two kinds – the ring, or ringlet (the more ancient), and the twist, dubbed, doubtless in the first place by satirists, ‘Newgate Knockers.’.

2. used of a woman’s hairstyle.

[UK]Dundee Courier 17 Nov. 3/5: The present mode in which ladies dress their hair — two broad plaits behind looped up and tied with a ribbon [...] street slang dubs it ‘The Newgate Knocker’.
Newgate necklace (n.)

(UK Und./prison) the hangman’s noose.

[UK]‘Billy Bighead’ in Cove in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 227: No felon could take his fare worse, / That did in a neat Newgate’s necklace groan!
Newgate nob (n.) (also Newgate stallion) [nob n.1 (1)]

a criminal type of person.

[UK]London-Bawd (1705) 103: Cou’d you get none to serve you, but some Newgate-Stallion; One that us’d to Break up Houses, and Pick open Locks!
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 10 Feb. 115: A natty-looking young gentleman came up, displaying a head and countenance of that peculiar and interesting description which we have heard most aptly designated by some one, somewhere, as a Newgate nob. ‘Vot’s the matter, Bet?’ said the gentleman of the Old Bailey visage.
[UK]Berkshire Chron. 20 Dec. 7/1: The jolly Convicts [...] Newgate nobs in jovial ring.
Newgate saint (canonized at the Old Bailey) (n.)

a prisoner under sentence of death.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues V 32/1: Newgate-saint = a condemned criminal.
Newgate solicitor (n.) (also Old Bailey solicitor)

a second-rate lawyer who hangs around prisons (including but not invariably Newgate) in the hope of picking up work.

[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 194: He apply’d himself to base means to procure money; such as a Newgate Sollicitor, a retainter to Clippers [...] or any thing that was villainous.
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 3: Barbers as bust as Newgate Sollicitors at an Old Baily Sessions in embellishing their Customers.
[UK]Derby Mercury 14 Jan. 3/2: ‘List of Officers which are established in the most notorious Gaming Houses [...] An Attorney, a Newgate Solicitor.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 21 July 154/2: I gave all my Money to one Mac - something, a Newgate Solicitor, to manage my Cause, and he is run away with the Money and has done nothing.
[UK]Fielding Jonathan Wild (1824) 76: [He] was then a Newgate solicitor, and a bawdy-house bully.
[UK]‘Roxana Termagent’ Drury Lane Jrnl 23 Jan. 30: Delectable scenes and transactions of low life, where whores, rogues, gaol-keepers and Old Bailey sollicitors are the most shining characters.
[UK]Derby Mercury 14 Jan. 3/2: The notorious Dennis Currin (who pracitised as a Newgate solicitor).
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Newgate Sollicitor. A Pettyfogging & Rogueish Attorney, who attends the Goals [sic] to assist prisoners in evading Justice.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: Newgate Solicitor. A petty fogging and roguish attorney, who attends the gaols to assist villains in evading justice.
[UK]T. Morton Way to Get Married in Inchbold (1808) XXV 66: I’m a Newgate solicitor; and for fifty pounds will undertake to prevent gibbeting, at least.
Choleric Man in British Drama 1038: Why, this sot would fain have me believe that a Newgate solicitor will refuse a suit upon motives of humanity: a likely tale indeed!
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1788].
W.H. Curran Life of J.P. Curran 135: If indeed I was bred a pettifogger or a Newgate solicitor, I should be the better enabled to follow the learned gentleman through the variety of matter which he has introduced to the house.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1788].
[US]Knickerbocker Mag. Sept. 227: There was, about forty years since, in Dublin, a low Newgate solicitor, of the name of Timothy Brecknock.
J. Adolphus Hist. Eng. IV 74: A Newgate solicitor, he was persuaded, would have been ashamed of such a low, scandalous deception.
H.B. Dawson Sons of liberty in NY 49: The Commission was then given to Nathaniel Jones, ‘a Newgate Solicitor,’ whose wife, Lady Oliphant, lived in adultery with Lord Chief Justice Welles,.
C.H. Hunt Life of E. Livingston 170: Made of such stuff as are the arguments of a Newgate solicitor in defence of a felon caught in the manour.
[UK]A. Griffiths Chronicles of Newgate 208: A dunner to recover sums lost; a waiter to snuff candles and fill in the wine; and an attorney or ‘Newgate solicitor’.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
Newgate tackle (n.)

(UK Und.) a watch and chain.

[Ire]Eve. Herald (Dublin) 9 Dec. 4/6: A ‘screwsman’ going to his ‘fence’ would inquire ‘What price a pair of “gypsy gauns,” a “red kettle,” a “white kettle,” a “Newgate tackle” and a “prop”. The ‘screwsman’ is asking what the ‘fence’ will pay for two single stone diamond rings, a gold watch, a silver watch, , or gold watch and chain and a tiepin.
Newgate tree (n.)

(UK Und.) the gallows.

[UK]Morn. Post (London) 8 Nov. 3/4: A Beggar’s Opera. Crispin Heeltap— ‘Tis lucky that I and this company / Have not grac’d Newgate tree.
Newgate University (n.)

Newgate prison.

[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 12 Dec. 7: Joseph Foster was convicted for Burglary and Fellony [...] being a notorioos [sic] offender that had often commenc’d in Newgate University [...] he now received sentence of Death.

In phrases

dance the Newgate hornpipe (v.)

see under dance v.