A Tom o' Bedlam; a naked vagabond; a begging impostor.
The Abraham Ward, in Bedlam, had for its inmates begging lunatics, who used to array themselves “with party-coloured ribbons, tape in their hats, a fox-tail hanging down, a long stick with streamers,” and beg alms; but “for all their seeming madness, they had wit enough to steal as they went along.” —Canting Academy.
See King Lear, ii. 3.
In Beaumont and Fletcher we have several synonyms:—
And these, what name or title e'er they bear, Jackman or Patrico, Cranke or Clapper-dudgeon, Fraier or Abram-man, I speak to all.
—Beggar's Bush, ii. 1.