E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Kick the Bucket (To).
A bucket is a pulley, and in Norfolk a beam. When pigs are killed, they are hung by their hind-legs on a bucket or beam, with their heads downwards, and oxen are hauled up by a pulley. To kick the bucket is to be hung on the balk or bucket by the heels.