One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A pensioner provided for by a benefactor in return for prayers, especially one living in an almshouse.
- ‘As late as Shakespeare's plays we find allusions to medieval ‘beadsmen,’ that is, persons pensioned to ‘pray the beads’ on behalf of a benefactor.’
- ‘In any event, whether the letter came to him or not, the King took pity on his ‘poor ancient servant and beadsman,’ permitting him to be released after only four days in the Tower.’
- ‘Behind the decrepit beadsmen came a long array of Canterbury canons, chaplains and dignitaries in all their robes, followed by pages carrying the maces of Canterbury and York and the cross of Canterbury.’
- ‘For Alfred society was divided three ways; beadsmen prayed, warriors fought and workmen laboured, each a necessary, distinct class.’
- ‘Back then, in the olden times, in England there were beadsmen.’
- ‘Indeed, texts of the time refer to three distinct types of freemen: labourers, soldiers and beadsmen or clergy.’
- ‘They are instead replaced with the beadsman, who represents the cold reception that Keats received previously, as though he were expecting the public to reject this poem as well.’
- ‘At the end of the eighteenth century the rector of the church was still called master of the hospital, and ten beadsmen received ninepence weekly from the funds of the old foundation. (fn. 16)’
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