1797, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). An earlier form of it was colloquial ampassy (1706). The distinction is to avoid confusion with & in such formations as &c., a once-common way of writing etc. (the et in et cetera is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) sometimes were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as words.
The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures) attested in Pompeiian graffiti, and not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, a different system of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro. It used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et. This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, in whose works a symbol resembling a numeral 7 indicates the word and.
In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s the word ampersand had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."
lawn game played with balls, mallets, hoops, and pegs, 1851, from French, from Northern French dialect croquet "hockey stick," from Old North French "shepherd's crook," from Old French croc (12c.), from Old Norse krokr "hook" (see crook (n.)). The game originated in Brittany and was popularized in Ireland c. 1830 in England c. 1850 and was very popular in the latter place until 1872.
Qui est-ce qui a inventé le croquet? On l'ignore. On sait qui a imaginé l'imprimerie, qui a découvert la vapeur, et l'on ne connaît pas l'inventeur du croquet. O ingratitude! A moins, pourtant, qu'enfant de la nature et sorti tout entier de la main du Créateur, comme Ève de la côte d'Adam, il ne se soit inventé tout seul. [Jacques Boucher de Perthes, "Hommes et Choses; Alphabet des Passion et des Sensations," Paris, 1850]