The phrase appears in a 1632 book by J. Morgan Gent and a 1655-1656 exchange between Thomas Hobbes and John Bramhall. Though its precise origin is unclear, the earliest English appearances of the phrase date back to the 17th century.
Some experts date the origins of the phrase back even further, to Greek and Roman mythology and the story of Icarus and Daedalus, who constructed wings to escape from the Labyrinth in Crete. Daedalus is said to have obtained the feathers used to make the pair's famous wings by killing two birds with a single stone. Another common theory attributes the phrase to the Roman poet Ovid.