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Abraham-Men

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ABRAHAM-MEN, the nickname for vagrants who infested England in Tudor times. The phrase is as old as 1561, and was due to these beggars pretending that they were patients discharged from the Abraham ward at Bedlam. On his discharge the genuine Bedlamite, provided he wore a badge, was allowed to roam the country, soliciting alms. This humane privilege was grossly abused, and thus gave rise to the slang phrase "to sham Abraham."