- a vagabond, such as were driven to beg about the country after the dissolution of the monasteries.—_See_ BESS O’ BEDLAM, _infra_. They are well described under the title of _Bedlam Beggars_.—_Shakspeare’s K. Lear_, ii. 3. “And these, what name or title e’er they bear, Jarkman, or Patrico, Cranke, or Clapper-dudgeon, Frater, or ABRAM-MAN; I speak to all That stand in fair election for the title Of king of beggars.”—_Beaumont and Fletcher’s Begg. Bush._ II. 1. It appears to have been the practice in former days to allow certain inmates of Bethlehem Hospital to have fixed days “to go begging:” hence impostors were said to “SHAM ABRAHAM” (the Abraham Ward in Bedlam having for its inmates these mendicant lunatics) when they pretended they were licensed beggars in behalf of the hospital.
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