The fooling tradition may have come to Britain from France during the 16th century. There, April Fools' is known as poisson d' avril or 'April fish', poisson being a corruption of the word for passion and a reference to the mocking and tormenting of Jesus by the Romans on the day of his Crucifixion, remembered around this time of year.
One of the earliest known references to April Fooling in England comes in notes made in the 1680s by the antiquarian John Aubrey. A notorious practical joke involved a bogus 'Ceremony of Washing the White Lions'. In 1860 many Londoners were sent 'official' invitations to witness this ceremony at the Tower of London. They were to enter by the non-existent White Gate and many cab drivers repeatedly drove the length of Tower Hill looking for it. A similar trick is said to have been played at the Tower in 1698.