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A corruption of Bethlehem, applied to the Hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem, in Bishopsgate, London, founded as a priory in 1247, which became a hospital for lunatics. From Bedlam are derived such expressions as Tom o'Bedlam and Bess o' Bedlam for wandering lunatics, or beggars posing as lunatics.

Subjects: History — Literature.

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