A vocabulary worth my pirates too… if the magistrate pays the fiddlers…
Selections from : THE VULGAR TONGUE, Buckish Slang and Pickpocket Eloquence, By FRANCINE PROSE, originally published in 1785
TROTTERS – Feet. To shake one’s trotters at Bilby’s ball, where the sheriff pays the fiddlers; perhaps the Bilboes ball, i.e. the ball of fetters; fetters and stocks were anciently called the bilboes.
Let me see if I can get this straight. Fetters are shackles tethered by a chain for the feet or ankles. Bilboes (always plural) were iron restraints placed on a person’s ankles or wrists. They consisted of a pair of “U”-shaped iron bars with holes in the ends, through which a bolt was inserted. So, are feet only Trotters when they’re clapped in irons? Were they otherwise known as Prancers or Strutters? Maybe even on occasion, Skippers?