James Edward Vaux
This anec-dote is not very reliable historically, but is nonetheless important as it suggests the flexible rapper was in use by around 1830, and and is thus provides the earliest date known for the introduction of the rapper.
The late Rev. E. L. Blenkinsopp told me that some seventy years ago at Christmas, all up Tyneside, men used to dress themselves fantastically, one always called “The Bessy,” in woman’s clothes; another was dressed as a clown, and, if possible, there was an attempt at a band. One half of the men had swords, which were flexible iron, with a handle at each end. Two would hold this, and perform sundry evolutions. At certain changes in the music one of them leaped over the sword, and then continued the dance da capo. I do not know if this usage is still continued.
James Edward Vaux, Church Folk Lore, London, 1902, p. 291