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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

149 John Heywood 1497?-1580? John Bartlett

AUTHOR:John Heywood (1497?–1580?)
QUOTATION:By hooke or crooke. 1
ATTRIBUTION:Proverbes. Part i. Chap. xi.
Note 1.
This phrase derives its origin from the custom of certain manors where tenants are authorized to take fire-bote by hook or by crook; that is, so much of the underwood as may be cut with a crook, and so much of the loose timber as may be collected from the boughs by means of a hook. One of the earliest citations of this proverb occurs in John Wycliffe’s Controversial Tracts, circa 1370.—See Skelton, Quotation 5. Francis Rabelais: book v. chap. xiii. Du Bartas: The Map of Man. Edmund Spenser: Faerie Queene, book iii. canto i. st. 17. Beaumont and Fletcher: Women Pleased, act i. sc. 3. [back]