E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A poor or vagabond parson. The use of hedge for vagabond, or very inferior, is common; as hedge-mustard, hedge-writer (a Grubb Street author), hedge-marriage (a clandestine one), etc. Shakespeare uses the phrase, hedge-born swain as the very opposite of gentle blood. (1 Henry VI., iv. 1.)