Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BLUE GOWN, n. A licensed beggar whose badge of office was a blue gown. (See quots.) Arch. Sc. 1818  Picken Dict. Sc. Lang. 18:
Blue Gown, a beggar who every King's birthday receives a blue cloak, a tin badge with the inscription “pass and repass” which he wears on the front of his cloak, a shilling Scots for every year of the Sovereign's age, a pair of gloves, and a dinner.
Sc. 1899  H. G. Graham Social Life 18th Cent. I. 234:
The method had been prescribed by a law dating as far back as James VI. A license was given to a certain number of beggars yearly to ply throughout each parish. . . . These ‘blue gowns,' as they were called, or ‘gaberlunzies' — from the wallet they carried — were not allowed to beg beyond their own parish.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie iv.:
For lack of other company, often, on the roadside, [he] fell into discourse with travelling tinklers, blue-gowns, or old soldiers. attrib.
Edb. 1773  R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 12:
Sing likewise, Muse, how blue-gown bodies, Like scar-craws new ta'en down frae woodies, Come here to cast their clouted duddies And get their pay.

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"Blue gown n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jan 2020 <>



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