For the first half of the 20th century, at least, it was considered lucky to touch the hump of a humpbacked person. The first known reference is in The People (11 June 1899, quoted in N&Q 9s:3 (1899), 486), but here it is implied that the belief is much older. Two other 20th-century references in Opie and Tatem make it clear that people disabled in this way could play on the superstition by charging money for the service at race-meetings and the like.
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 206.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.


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