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For the Scottish folk duo, see Gaberlunzie (duo).

Gaberlunzie /ɡæbərˈlʌnji/ is a medieval Scots word for a licensed beggar. The name may derive from the wallet that such people carry, 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."[1]

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]


  1. ^ Hardy, T. (1886), The Mayor of Casterbridge, Chapter 8.

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.