Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > John-a-Nokes [or Noakes (1 syl.)].

 John-a-Droynes.John Anderson, my Jo. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
John-a-Nokes [or Noakes (1 syl.)].
A simpleton.   1
        “John-a-Nokes was driving a cart toward Croydon, and by the way fell asleepe therein. Meane time a good fellow came by and stole away his two horses. [John] awakening and missing them, said, ‘Either I am John-a-Nokes or I am not John-a-Nokes. If I am John-a-Nokes, then I have lost two horses; and if I am not John-a-Nokes, then I have found a cart.’”—Copley: Wits, Fits, and Fancies (1614).

 John-a-Droynes.John Anderson, my Jo. 


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