| Share
 

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
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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 ...

Related Content


24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring