From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gaberlunzie /ɡæbərˈlʌnji/ is a medieval Scots word for a licensed beggar. The name may derive from the wallet that such people carried,[1] but there is no other known derivation. The word appears in several of Sir Walter Scott's books.

Gaberlunzies were also known as King's Bedesmen or blue gouns (the gowns were part of the alms given by the monarch). Scott gives an account of the customs and of particular Bedesmen he knew in the introduction to The Antiquary.

Scotsman Donald Farfrae uses the word in Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge: "There are not perpetual snow and wolves at all in it!—except snow in winter, and—well—a little in summer just sometimes, and a 'gaberlunzie' or two stalking about here and there, if ye may call them dangerous."[2]

The word also makes an appearance in novels in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series - Treason's Harbour and The Hundred Days.[clarification needed]

It can be spelled gaberlunyie, since the z was originally a yogh.[citation needed]

There is a Scottish folk duo of the same name, who have performed since the early 1970s.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Wood, James, ed. (1907). "Gaberlunzie". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.
  2. ^ Hardy, T. (1886), The Mayor of Casterbridge, Chapter 8.
  3. ^ "Gaberlunzie". Retrieved 13 July 2017.

External links[edit]