E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The bedesmen, to whom the kings of Scotland distributed certain alms. Their dress was a cloak or gown of coarse blue cloth, with a pewter badge. The number of these bedesmen was equal to that of the kings years, so that an extra one was added every returning birthday. These paupers were privileged to ask alms through the whole realm of Scotland. No new member has been added since 1833. (See GABERLUNZIE.)