minstrel: Bedlam (Mad Tom of, etc.)

Rockall Herald/Auntie Jen elp003 at bangor.ac.uk
Wed Apr 2 05:34:04 PST 1997

A very late addendum.

Ran into someone doing her PhD on Bedlam at a conference recently.  Up 
until post-Restoration and post-Fire of London, the largest Bedlam got 
was thirty inmates, both male and female.  All inmates were fully 
sponsored, most by family, occasionally by parish, and, failing that, 
aldermen.  Bedlam actually held quite a bit of land, which made it a bit 
of a bone of contention between the London Aldermen and the King; people 
did go there expecting cure, and wre not booted out.  There is apparently 
*no* evidence whatsoever for any popular show of lunatics, though as ever 
those with rank and privilege had different rules.  The Bedlam archives 
are very complete and have been accessible since 1967.

Most of the popular views on Bedlam originate well out of our period, 
when Bedlam moved from its original Bishopsgate site (I'm told you can 
visit if you go to the SW corner of Liverpool St. station and commune) to 
a *much* larger site I-forget-where.  It then moved again to its last 
place, which is now the Imperial War Museum.

The ballad as I think someone acknowledged is from the 1560's, comes from 
coney-catching literature (she escaped before I could force a pen into 
her hand to get the exact refs--I'm chasing her down), and stems from 
various fraud practices.


Sela Mac'a'Phearsoin, called That Damned Scot.

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