Robin Hood's pennyworths
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-08. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-12.
The phraseRobin Hood's pennyworths signifies something bought at a much lower price than usual, at a robber's price. This proverb was in vogue from around the middle of the 16th century to the early years of the 18th century.
Collection and lists
- Dobson, R. B., ed.; Taylor, J., ed. Rymes of Robyn Hood: an Introduction to the English Outlaw (London, 1976), p. 291.
- [Walker, William], compil.; [Willis, Thomas], compil. Phraseologia Anglo-Latina or, Phrases of the English and Latin tongue: Together with Paræmiologia Anglo-Latina or, A Collection of English and Latin Proverbs (London, 1672), sig. D4v.
Thus in great glory, plentifully endowed, stood this Monastery little less then 400. years, till that K. H. 8. a person whose sensuall disposition, suting so right with that corrupt age wherein he lived, finding Instruments fit for his sacrilegious purposes, contrived the destruction of it, and all the rest of those pious foundations that his ancestors and other devout persons had made; Of whose subtile practises for effecting that work, I shall in a short Corollary, before I finish this tract make some discovery: Amongst which that generall Survey and valuation, by Commissioners from him, in 26. of his reign, at Robin Hoods penni-worths, did not a little conduce thereto: At which time this Monastery, with all its Revenues, over and above reprises, was certified to be worth CCCii.l. xv.s. iii.d. per an.
And all, both lodgings, chambers, aedifices and gardens [of St Bernard's College, Oxford], were (as I have seen [...] in a roll concerning the perticulars of St. Frideswide's monastery in King Henry VIII raigne) estemed in length and bredth but two acres, and worth if let to ferme but 20s per annum.
By which wee may understand (considering the praemisses) how this place at or about its time of dissolution was soe much (as 'tis here exprest) undervalued. And therfore I verily believe sold, as they used to say, for 'Robin Hood's pennyworths.'
16[.] Many talk of Robin Hood, that never shot in his bow. 16. Non omnes, qui citharam tenant, sunt cithareds. Var.[...]
19[.] Robin Hood's penniworths. 19. Aurea pro Æreis.
- Gilchrist, R. Murray. The Dukeries (London, Glasgow and Bombay, 1913), p. 24.
- Heywood, John; Farmer, John S, ed. A Dialogue of the Effectual Proverbs in the English Tongue concerning Marriage (London, 1906), p. 191.
- Turner, J. Horsfall. The History of Brighouse, Rastrick, and Hipperholme; with Manorial Notes on Coley, Lightcliffe, Northowram, Shelf, Fixby, Clifton and Kirklees (Bingley, Yorkshire, 1893), p. 203: '"To sell Robin Hood pennyworths," is to sell at half value.'
- Dugdale, William. The Antiquities of Warwickshire Illustrated; from Records, Leiger-Books, Manuscripts, Charters, Evidences, Tombes, and Armes: Beautified with Maps, Prospects, and Portraitures (London, 1656), p. 147.
- Wood, Anthony; Clark, Andrew, ed. Survey of the Antiquities of the City of Oxford, composed in 1661-6 (Oxford Historical Society, vols. 15, 17, 37) (Oxford, 1889-99), vol. II, p. 310.