Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cuffin n.

[? cove n.]

1. a man, a fellow.

[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 1: The word Coue, or Cofe, or Cuffin, fignifies a Man, a Fellow, &c. But differs something in his propertie, according as it meetes with other wordes : [...] a Churle is called, a Quier Cuffin; Quier signifies naught, and Cuffin (as I said before) a Man: and in Canting they term a Justice of peace, (because he punisheth them belike) by no other name than by Quier cuffin, that is to say a Churle, or a Naughty man.
[UK]Dekker Canting Song O per se O O3: This cuffin, getting glimmer I’ th’ prat, so cleymed his jockey.
[UK]Dekker Canters Dict. Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 48: Cuffin, A Man.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Cove, or Cofe, Coffin or Cuffin, a Man, a Fellow.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 209: He taught his Pupil a deal of canting Words, telling him [...] Cuffin, a Man.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 31: Cuffin, a Man.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.

2. (UK Und.) a judge; a magistrate [backform. f. queer cuffin under queer adj.].

[UK]Hell Upon Earth 5: Cuffin, a Justice.
[UK]J. Hall Memoirs (1714) 12: Cuffin, a Justice.

3. (UK Und.) a prison warder.

[UK] in Punch ‘Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug’ 31 Jan. n.p.: In the dayrooms the cuffins we queers at our ease, / And at Darkmans we run the rig just as we please.

In compounds

cuffin-queer (n.) (also cuffin-quere, cuffin-quire, cuffin quier) [var. on queer cuffin under queer adj.]

a magistrate.

[UK]Dekker ‘Canters Dict.’ Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK] ‘The Beggars Curse’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 14: If we [...] dup the Giger of a Gentry Coves Ken, Straight to the cuffin quire we bing.
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Cuffin Quier, a Justice of Peace.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 194: The Ruffin nab the Cuffin-quere, and let the Harmanbeck trine with his Kinchins about his Coloquaron .
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 31: Cuffin Queere, Justice of Peace.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Cuffin queers magistrates.
[UK]Flash Dict.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]A. Thornton Don Juan in London II 236: Two [songs] were particularly well received, viz. Bang up Yard-spinners [...] and Bad luck to Cuffin Queers.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 23: Cuffin queers Magistrates.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 21 Sept. n.p.: Mr Clarvoe ‘run the bloke’ before the ‘cuffin-quere’ in short order where he was obliged to give $500 bail.
[UK](con. 17C) ‘Canter’s Holiday’ in W.H. Logan A Pedlar’s Pack of Ballads 142: Hang all Harmanbecks, we cry, / We the Cuffin-queeres defy.
[US]Cairo Bull. (Cairo, IL) 5 Nov. 2/3: [from The Graphic, London] I have no fears of cuffin-queers / Nor bobbies on the vew.