Abigail

Definition

Theater

  • A traditional name for a lady's maid, deriving from the playThe Scornful Lady (1616) by Beaumont and Fletcher, in whichAbigail is a 'waiting-gentlewoman'. The authors probably had in mindthe biblical Abigail, who frequently refers to herself as "thinehandmaid" (I Samuel xxv, 24 - 28).

    The character was enormously popular and the forerunner ofa whole race of superior women servants, invariably named Abigail,in works by Swift, Fielding, Smollett, and many others. The equivalentname for a valet or manservant was Andrew.

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