Brewer's: An Abbey Laird
An insolvent debtor sheltered by the precincts of Holyrood Abbey.
“As diligence cannot be proceeded with on Sunday, the Abbey Lairds (as they were jocularly called) were enabled to come forth on that day to mingle in our society.” —R. Chambers.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894