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The Abraham-men were a class of beggars claiming to be lunatics allowed out of restraint, in the Tudor and Stuart periods in England.

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Google previewA Glossary and Etymological Dictionary (1834)

Of Obsolete and Uncommon Words, Antiquated Phrases, and Proverbs Illustrative of Early English Literature, Comprising Chiefly Those Not to be Found in Our Ordinary Dictionaries; with Historical Notices of Ancient Customs and Manners by William Toone

ABRAHAM-MEN, a cant term for idle and thievish vagabonds, who formerly went about the country half naked, or drest in fantastical attire, pretending. to have been mad and discharged from Bethlem. Hospital. A person pretending sickness is still said β€œto sham Abraham.” These Abraham-men be those ...

Google previewDictionary of obsolete and provincial English (1857)

by Thomas Wright

Abraham-men. The slang name of a class of beggars in the sixteenth century. Nares thinks the phrase " to sham Abraham " has some connection with it.

Google previewDictionary of Obsolete and Provincial English, Containing Words from the English Writers Previous to the Ninetheenth Century which are No Longer in Use ... [etc.] (1857)

by Thomas Wright

ABRAHAM-MEN. The slang name of a class of beggars in the sixteenth century. Nares thinks the phrase,β€œ to sham Abraham ” has some connection with it. An Abraham-man is ...

Google previewChamber's Encyclopaedia (1870)

A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the People

ABRAHAM-MEN, a class of sturdy beggars who simulated lunacy, and wandered about the country in a disorderly manner; at one time working ...

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