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Beggar's Daughter

Bessee, the beggar's daughter of Bednall Green. Bessee was very beautiful, and was courted by four suitors at once- a knight, a gentleman of fortune, a London merchant, and the son of the inn-keeper at Romford. She told them that they must obtain the consent of her father, the poor blind beggar of Bethnal Green. When they heard that, they all slunk off except the knight, who went to ask the beggar's leave to wed the “pretty Bessee.” The beggar gave her 100 to buy her wedding gown. At the wedding feast he explained to the guests that he was Henry, son and heir of Sir Simon de Montfort. At the battle of Evesham the barons were routed, Montfort slain, and himself left on the field for dead. A baron's daughter discovered him; nursed him with care, and married him; the fruit of this marriage was “pretty Bessee.” Henry de Montfort assumed the garb and semblance of a beggar to escape the vigilance of King Henry's spies. (Percy: Reliques.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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