Tom o' Bedlams
A race of mendicants. The Bethlem Hospital was made to
accommodate six lunatics, but in 1644 the number admitted was
forty-four, and applications were so numerous that many inmates were
dismissed halfcured. These “ticket-of-leave men” used to wander
about as vagrants, chanting mad songs, and dressed in fantastic
dresses, to excite pity. Under cover of these harmless “innocents,” a
set of sturdy rogues appeared, called Abram men, who shammed lunacy,
and committed great depredations.
“With a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam.”
Shakespeare: King Lear, i. 2.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
More on Tom o' Bedlams from Infoplease:
- Tom o' Bedlams - Tom o' Bedlams A race of mendicants. The Bethlem Hospital was made to accommodate six lunatics, ...
- Bess o' Bedlam - Bess o' Bedlam A female lunatic vagrant. Bedlam is a common name for a madhouse, and Bess is a ...
- Bedlam - Bedlam A lunatic asylum or madhouse; a contraction for Bethlehem, the name of a religious house in ...
- Abram-Man or Abraham Cove - Abram-Man or Abraham Cove A Tom o' Bedlam; a naked vagabond; a begging impostor. The Abraham ...
- Abram-Man - Abram-Man or Abraham Cove A Tom o' Bedlam; a naked vagabond; a begging impostor. The Abraham ...
24 X 7
||24 x 7 Tutor Availability
||Unlimited Online Tutoring