The Dunmowe Flitch of Bacon

3-5 July 1701   We have been desired to publish the following account, which we have complied with, in hopes that it is a real truth, and that no Gentleman will so far forget his character, as to impose a false account upon the civility of any man.

On Friday June 27, at Dunmowe Priory in Essex, at a Court there holden by the Steward, and a jury of young ladies, (who supplied the places of monks and nuns), came 2 men with their wives, who after they were found, and presented by the jury to be persons qualified for the Bacon of Dunmowe, they claimed the same, and took the oath according to the ancient custom and solemnity, and each couple had a gammon of bacon delivered unto them. It is observable there hath not been a precedent of this nature these hundred fourscore and ten years last past, and never but 3 before. [Post Man]

4-7 July 1701   There is an account that on Friday, June 27. a Court was holden by the Steward at Dunmow Priory in Essex, in pursuance of an ancient custom, of which the ingenious Dr. T. Fuller gives the following relation; that this priory was founded by Juga a noble Lady for black nuns in the year 1111. but the property was after altered into a male nunnery; and the friers [sic] were in a merry humour when they ordained, that if any person would come and kneel upon 2 stones, yet to be seen at the church door before the convent, he might demand a flitch of bacon, which should be freely given him.

You shall swear by the custom of our confession,
That you never made any nuptial transgression:
Since you were married man and wife,
By houshold brawls, or contentious strife.
Or otherwise in bed or at board,
Offended each other in deed or word.
Or since the Parish Clerk say’d Amen,
Wished yourselves unmarried again.
Or in a twelvemonth and a day,
Repented not in thought any way.
But continued true, and in desire,
As then you join’d hands in holy quire.
If on these conditions, without all fear,
Of your own accord you will freely swear.
A flitch of bacon you shall receive,
And carry it hence with love and free leave.
For this is our custom at Dunmow well known,
Tho’ the sport be ours, the bacons your own.

It appears by the old record, that Rich. Wright of Norfolk 1465. and John Samuell of little Easton 1467, and Tho. Lee of Coxhall in Essex, 1511, took this oath, and received their bacon. And our intelligence says that two men and their wives came at the time abovementioned to the said Court, and having taken the said oaths, each couple had a flitch of bacon presented to them, and ’tis to be hoped they did not forswear themselves to obtain the same. [English Post]

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "The Dunmowe Flitch of Bacon", 18 November 2001, updated 28 November 2001 <>

Return to list of Newspaper Reports

Go to Rictor Norton's Homepage/Sitemap