One of Falstaff's inferior officers. Falstaff calls him “the knight of the burning lamp,” because his nose was so red, and his face so “full of meteors.” He is a low-bred, drunken swaggerer, without principle, and poor as a church mouse. (Merry Wives; Henry IV , i., ii.)
“We must have better assurance for Sir John than Bardolf's. We like not the security.” —Lord Macaulay.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894