Caveat for Cut-purses.


Caveat for Cut-purses.


With a warning to all purse-carriers: Shewing the confi-
dence of the first, and the carelesnesse of the last; With necessary admonitions for them both, lest the Hangman get the one, and the Begger take the other. To the tune of, Packingtons pound.


A warning to the listener to beware of cutpurses - often sung while cutpurses would steal from unaware listeners of the ballad-singer. Ballad-singer asks not to be put in same category as thieves.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

British Library - Roxburghe, Shelfmark: C.20.f.8.46-47; EBBA 30274

Set to tune of...


MY Masters and friends and good people draw near and look to your purses, for that I do say.
And though little mony in them you do bear,
it cost more to get then to lose in a day: you oft have been told both the young and the Old, and bidden beware of of the Cut-purse so bold: Then if you take heed not, free me from the curse,
Who both give you warning, for and the Cut-purse.

Youth, youth thou hadst better been starvd by thy Nurse
Then live to be hangd for cutting a purse.

It hath been upbraided to men of my Trade, that oftentimes we are the cause of this crime,
Alack and for pitty, why should it be said? as if they regarded or places or time, Examples have been Or some that were seen of Westminster hall yea the pleaders between: Then why should the Judges be free from this curse,
More then my poor self is for cutting the Purse,

Youth youth, etc.

At Worster, tis known well and even in the Jale, a Knight of good worship did there shew his fa[ce] Against the foule sinners in zeale for to raile, and so lost, ipso facto, his purse in the place: Nay once from the Seat Of judgement so great a Judge there did lose a fair purse of Velvet, Oh Lord for thy mercy how wicked or worse
Are those that so venture their necks for a purse!

Youth youth, etc.

At Playes and at Sermons, and at the Sessions, tis daily their practice such booty to make, Yea under the Gallows at Executions, they stick not the stare-abouts purses to take. Nay one without grace At a better place at Court and in Christmas, before the Kings fa[ce.] Alack then for pitty must I bear the curse,
That only belong to the cunning Cut-purse.

Youth youth thou hadst better been starved by th[y Nurse]
Then live to be hangd for cutting a pu[rse.]

BUt oh! you vile Nation of Cutpurses all, Relent and repent, and amend and be sound,
And know that you ought not by honest mens fall advance your own fortunes to dye above ground.
And though you go gay In Silks as you may, It is not the highway to Heaven as they say,
Repent then repent you for better for worse
And kiss not the Gallows for cutting a purse,

Youth youth thou hadst better been starvd by thy Nurse
Then live to be hangd for cutting a purse.

The Players do tell you in Bartholmew Faire what secret consumptions and Rascals you are,
For one of their Actors it seems had the fate by some of your Trade to be fleeced of late, Then fall to your prayers You that are way-layers,
theyre fit to chouse all the world, that can cheat Players
For he hath the Art, and no man the worse,
Whose cunning can pilfer the pilferers purse.

Youth youth etc.

The plain Country man that coms staring to London if once you come near him he quickly is undone,
For when he amazedly gaz[e]th about one treads on his toes, an[d] the other pulst out, Then in a strange place Where he knows no face, his mony is gone tis a pittiful case.
The Divel of hell in his trade is not worse
Then Gilter, and Diver, and Cutter of purse,
Youth etc.

The poor servant maid wears her purse in her placket
A place of quick feeling and yet you can take it,
Nor is she aware that you have done the feat
Untill she is going to pay for her meat. Then she cryes and rages Amongst her Baggages, and swears at one thrust she hath lost all her wa-ges
For she is ingaged her own to disburse,
To make good the breach of the cruel Cut-purse
Youth etc.

Your eyes and your fingers are nimble of growth.
But Dun many times he hath been nimbler then both
Yet you are deceived by many a slut,
But the Hang-man is only the Cut-purses cut, It makes you to vex When he bridles your necks and then at the last what becomes of your tricks
But when you should pray, you begin for to curse
The hand that first shewd you to slash at a purse,
Youth, etc.

But now to my hearers this Counsel I give,
And pray friends remember it as long as you live,
Bring out no more cash in purse pocket or wallet,
Then one single penny to pay for the Ballet, For Cut-purse doth shrowd Himself in a Cloud, theres many a purse hath been lost in a crowd
For hes the most rogue that doth crowd up & curses
Who first cryes my Masters beware of your purses.
Oh youth thou hadst better been starvd by thy Nurse
Then live to be hanged for cutting a purse.

Method of Punishment





Printing Location

Printed for W. Gilbertson.




“Caveat for Cut-purses.,” Execution Ballads, accessed May 30, 2024,

Output Formats