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An Abraham Man
From the Century Cyclopedia of Names 1895
Originally a mendicant lunatic from Bethlehem Hospital London. The wards in the hospital were named after saints or patriarchs. The one named after Abraham was devoted to a class of lunatics, who on certain days were permitted to go out begging. They bore a badge and were known as Abraham-men. Many, however, assumed the badge without right, and beggedm feigning lunacy. Hence the more common usage of the term to mean an imposter who wandered about the country seeking alms, under the pretence of lunacy.

Posted 2002-2003
London, County of London


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