The occupation of a footpad.--Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1901
[From] foodpad, an unmounted highway robber whose boots were originally padded so as to deaden the sound of his approach.--Albert Hyamson's Dictionary of English Phrases, 1922
On this date in 1708, highwayman Jack Ovet was hanged. Alexander Smith's History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads, Shoplifts, and Cheats (1791) offered this anecdote: "On the road [between Nottingham and London] he had the good success of robbing a gentleman of £20 who, being one of great courage, told Ovet that if he had not come upon him unaware, he should have given him some trouble before he parted with his money. Quoth Ovet then, 'I have ventured my life once already in committing this robbery; however, if you have the vanity to think yourself a better man than me, I'll venture my life once more, for here's your money.' The gentleman accepted the proposal, and making use of their swords on foot, Jack Ovet had the fortune to kill his antagonist."