Where does the word “beachcomber” come from and What does beachcomber mean?

Lives there a man who hasn’t at some time envied the beachcomber, that wastrel who, without a care in the world, strolled some beneficent Pacific isle, taking shelter from sun or storm under a broad tree, and deriving sustenance from plentiful vegetation and marine life, free for the taking?

Such, at least, was the beachcomber of a century back; literally, one who combed the beach in carefree manner.

More recently the term beachcomber has taken on a sinister bent and denotes, perhaps, a person of low character who, on alien shores, makes his living through disreputable means.