Green’s Dictionary of Slang

high-toby n.

1. (also main toby) the highway, the main road.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘A Flat Enlightened’ Life in the West I 1: Thus they appeared , in no time, upon the ‘high Toby,’ upon the grand look-out for fresh flats.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 62: MAIN-TOBY, the highway, or the main road.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 237: ‘High toby,’ the turnpike road.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]J. Worby Spiv’s Progress 110: He was an old-timer of the high toby [...] an aristocrat of the tinkers, a commercial traveller in penny knick-knacks .

2. highway robbery; also fig. (see cit. 1906).

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK] ‘The Song of the Young Prig’ in C. Hindley James Catnach (1878) 172: Perhaps a tip-top cracksman be, / Or go on the high toby.
[UK]H.M. Milner Turpin’s Ride to York I ii: Come lads a stirrup-cup at parting, and then hurrah for the game of high-toby.
[UK] in Punch ‘Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug’ 31 Jan. n.p.: That long over Newgit their Worships may rule / As the high-toby, mob, crack and screeve model school.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 115: Their tame and feeble delineations of the ancient game of ‘high Toby’.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville Katerfelto 109: High Toby’s a good game for the winner, but it’s best to play it out before the moon gets up.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 198: We can do a touch now and then, as well as you grand gentlemen, on the ‘high toby,’ as they call it where I come from.
[UK]Manchester Courier 30 Mar. 16/2: The Government has no intention of allowing the funds of its bitterest opponents to be replenished by ‘High Toby’ methods.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 117: hightoby To commit highway robbery.

3. a highwayman.

[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Bell’s Life in London 17 July n.p.: There was not above two hundred persons present, including ‘the high Tobys’ [...] the usual strong muster of pick pockets and members of the swell mob.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

In compounds

high toby cove (n.)

a highwayman.

[UK]Essex Newsman 1 Feb. 3/4: Who can tell where a high toby cove is at this time of night.
high-toby gloak (n.) (also high-tober-gloak, high-toby gloque) [gloak n.; Andrewes, Dict. Slang & Cant (1809), like Sinks of London (1848), erroneously omits ‘toby’]

a mounted highwayman .

[UK]H. Potter New Dict. Cant n.p.: high tober gloak a highwayman well dressed and mounted.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: high tober gloak highwayman well dressed.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 245: high-toby-gloak: a highwayman.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 96: High toby – gloak, a highway-robber, well mounted.
[UK]W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 55: A trio of famous High-Tobygloaks.
[UK]Egan ‘The Bould Yeoman’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 137: Then the High-toby gloque drew his cutlass so fine; / Says he to the farmer, ‘you or I for the shine!’.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 111: High gloak, well-dressed highwayman.
[UK]C. Whibley ‘Gentleman Harry’ A Book of Scoundrels 217: No longer was the high toby-gloak a ‘gentleman’ of the road; he was a butcher, if not a beggar on horseback.
high-toby man (n.)

1. a highwayman.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 118: It ain’t no credit to be acquainted with high tobymen, that’s a fact.
[UK]‘A Harassing Painsworth’ in Yates & Brough (eds) Our Miscellany 26: Where is D'Olyndais, where the high tobyman lounged elbow to elbow with the peer of the realm.
[UK]Morn. Post 18 Dec. 3/3: Let your flimpers and fakers match if they can / The deeds of my bold High-toby-man!
[Aus]M. Clarke Old Tales of a Young Country 12: In his late profession of high toby man, Mr. James had become acquainted with that useful creature, a ‘fence’.

2. (US und.) a bank robber.

[US]A. Trumble Crooked Life in Nat. Police Gaz. 6 May 6/1: Burglars are divided [...] into three great classes. The first of these is the ‘high tobyman’ [...] It is to this exalted rank that the bank burglar belongs.
high-toby spice (n.) (also high-spice toby, high-toby splice)

the highway; highway robbery.

[UK] ‘The Dog & Duck Rig’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 80: On the high [toby-splice] flash the muzzle / In spite of each gallows old scout.
[UK]Byron Don Juan canto XI line 147: Who in a row like Tom could lead the van, [...] Who queer a flat? Who (spite of Bow-street’s ban) On the high-toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
[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.
Egan Bk Sports 14: The following is a stanza of a song which was very popular, at least in my early days: — ‘On the high toby-spree flash the muzzle in spite of each gallows’.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 4: Halting for a few hours at mid-day during the heat in the ‘high spice-toby,’ as we used to call the main road.

In phrases

on the high-toby

living the ‘high’ life, usu. of a gambler.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 96: ‘On the High-toby,’ ? high fellows who spend much money, but care little how ‘tis got,’ generally gamblers.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple I 246: ‘High Toby,’ which, in ancient robber slang, meant the mad revelry and [...] reckless indulgence [of] those bold blades who took to the road and went for a short life and a merry one.
ride the high toby (v.)

to live as a highwayman.

[UK]Manchester Courier 2 Mar. 3/3: Galloping Dick is one of the most dashing figures in picaresque fiction [...] as he expresses it, ‘to ride the high toby’ has its obligations as well as its privileges.