from clogs to clogs is only three generations

Said to be a Lancashire proverb. Similar to from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. The clog, a shoe with a thick wooden sole, was commonly used by factory and other manual workers in the north of England. Cf. 1700 DRYDEN Wife of Bath in Fables Ancient & Modern 493 Seldom three descents continue good. 1721 J. KELLY Scottish Proverbs 312 The Father buys, the Son biggs [builds], The Grandchild sells, and his Son thiggs [begs].

1871 Notes & Queries 4th ser. VII. 472 ‘From clogs to clogs is only three generations.’ A Lancashire proverb, implying that, however rich a poor man may eventually become, his great-grandson will certainly fall back to poverty and ‘clogs’.

1938 R. G. COLLINGWOOD Principles of Art v. But the poor, who are always the last guardians of a tradition, knew that the curse of God rested on idleness, and spoke of three generations from clogs to clogs.

1993 ‘C. AIRD’ Going Concern (1994) vii. 51 Claude Miller, Chairman and Managing Director of Chern-woods’ Dyestuffs, was a living exemplification of the old saw about it being ‘only three generations from clogs to clogs.’ His father hadn’t been the man his father was and, worse still, Claude Miller wasn’t even the man his father had been.

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