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Tom oʹBedlams


A race of mendicants. The Bethlem Hospital was made to accommodate six lunatics, but in 1644 the number admitted was fortyfour, and applications were so numerous that many inmates were dismissed half-cured. 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 oʹBedlam.”

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Tom Fool’s Colours
Tom Foolery
Tom Long
Tom Raw
Tom Tailor
Tom Thumb
Tom Tidler’s Ground
Tom Tug
Tom and Jerry—i.e
Tom, Dick, and Harry
Tom oBedlams
Tomb of Our Lord
Tommy Atkins (A)
Tommy Dodd
Tommy Shop
To morrow never Comes
Tongue of the Trump (The)