To eat Dunmow bacon. To live in conjugal amity, without even wishing the marriage knot to be less firmly tied. The allusion is to the institution of Robert Fitzwalter. Between 1244 and 1772 eight claimants have been admitted to eat the flitch. Their names merit immortality.
1445. Richard Wright, labourer, Bauburgh, near Norwich.
1467 Steven Samuel, of Little Ayston, Essex.
1510. Thomas Ley, fuller, Coggeshall, Essex.
1701. William and Jane Parsley, butcher, Much-Easton, Essex. Same year, John and Ann Reynolds, Hatfield Regis.
1751. Thomas Shakeshaft, wool-comber, Weathersfield, Essex.
1763. Names unknown ! !
1772. John and Susan Gilder, Tarling, Essex.
The attempt to revive this “premium for humbug” is a mere “get-up” for the benefit of the town.
Ah, madam: cease to be mistaken; Few married fowl peck Dunmow bacon.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894