Select Bacon Surname Genealogy

The Bacon name appeared early in England after the Norman Conquest. Its root in Norfolk was said to have been buchen or beechen, a beech tree.The word bacon relating to pork products did not come into use until around 1350. Bacon might then have come to mean someone who prepared and sold cured pork. It has been suggested that its prevalence in north Derbyshire is a remnant of the medieval pig farming there.

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England. There were early references to Bacon as a surname in Staffordshire and Somerset.

Norfolk and Suffolk The main sightings, however, were in Norfolk and Suffolk, starting in the 12th century. These Bacons were lords of Baconthorpe in Norfolk and later lived at Drinkstone in Suffolk.

They became nationally important with Sir Nicholas Bacon’s appointment as Queen Elizabeth’s Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. His adopted son, Francis Bacon, was a renowned philosopher of his day, an advocate and practitioner of the scientific method. He also rose to be Lord High Chancellor of England; but later fell from grace amid accusations of bribery. Even so, the Bacon baronetcy was established as the premier baronetcy of England and has continued so until the present day. The current baronet, Sir Nicholas Bacon, runs a 5,500 acre estate at Raveningham near Norwich.

Anthony Bacon’s claimed linkage to Sir Nicholas Bacon and the Suffolk Bacons was probably spurious. He and his brother Thomas started out as tobacco merchants in Maryland. He later became the iron-master and colliery owner who made Merthyr Tydfil the iron-smelting center of Britain in the 18th century. He died in 1786 as one of the richest men of his time. However, none of his sons showed much interest in the business he had created.

Derbyshire The Bacon name has been established in north Derbyshire since the 1600’s, in small villages such as Alfreton, Brassington, and Carsington. Thomas Bacon, a framework knitter, was one of the ringleaders in 1817 of the workers’ uprising in Pentrich. He and his brother John were transported to Australia for life.

George Bacon had left his home in north Wingfield, Derbyshire to start a lead mining and smelting operation at Allendale in Northumberland. The business prospered and the family became wealthy landowners, intermarriying with the landed gentry of the county. John Bacon inherited the estate of Newton Gap in Durham in 1748. However, his offspring were
profligate. William Bacon, burdened by gambling debts, shot himself in 1780:

“He placed the muzzle of his gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger with his foot. The ball, after passing through his neck, made its way through a pane of glass in a staircase window, leaving a round hole the exact size of the bullet.”

The estate was eventually sold off in 1810.

The 19th century distribution of Bacons in England showed them mainly to be found on the eastern side of the country (south Yorkshire, East Anglia, Essex, and London) and in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Early Bacons in America were to be found in  Virginia, New England, and New Jersey.

Virginia Daniel Bacon arrived in Virginia in 1635 and Nathaniel Bacon in 1650. Twenty years later and making much more of a splash was another Nathaniel Bacon. A wealthy young colonist, he was the instigator of Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 to drive the Indians off their land. He died later that year of dysentry and his revolt collapsed. Nathaniel left no offspring. His cousin Edmund who settled in New Kent county did.

New England  Michael Bacon came to New England via Ulster in 1640 and settled in Dedham, Massachusetts. His son Michael built Bacon House in Bedford in 1682. From this family came the missionary David Bacon and his son, the Rev. Leonard Bacon. The family line, connecting back to the Suffolk Bacons, was traced by Thomas Baldwin in his 1915 book Michael Bacon of Dedham and His Descendants.

Others who came were:

  • Nathaniel Bacon who arrived in Barnstable on Cape Cod around 1640. His descendant, Daniel Bacon, was the sea captain who built Bacon Farm in Barnstable on retiring from seafaring in the 1830’s. The house is still standing (although converted recently into a condominium).
  • Andrew Bacon who came to Hartford, Connecticut around
    the same time, with his nephew Nathaniel to Middletown a few years later. A line from here extended to Philadelphia and then to New York where George Bacon and his son Francis grew the Bacon Piano Company in the mid 19th century. Others of this line were doctors in Georgia and Florida.

New Jersey In 1693 a Quaker Bacon family helped buy Burlington, part of the southern tip of New Jersey on the Delaware river near Philadelphia, which became a Quaker town. Quaker Bacons were also to be found in and around Philadelphia. Local historian Margaret Bacon has documented this Quaker history. A ninth generation Quaker was the city planner Edmund Bacon (his son is the actor Kevin Bacon). Prior to the Civil War, a Quaker Bacon family ran an underground railroad station for runaway slaves. These Bacons migrated to Berkeley on the West Coast in 1910.

Canada. Early Bacons to Canada included:

  • Miles and Ann Bacon, who came in 1820 from England via Rhode Island and settled in Caledon township, Ontario.
  • John Bacon, who arrived in 1829 from Ireland and later moved onto Toronto.
  • Joseph and Susannah Bacon, who came in 1835 from England and homesteaded in Bruce county, Ontario.

Joseph’s later letters to his family have subsequently been collated and published by his descendant, Dean Wheaton.

Select Bacon Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

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Roger Bacon, born into a landowning family in Somerset in 1214, was a philosopher, writer, and an early man of science.
Francis Bacon, the adopted son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, was a renowned philosopher of the early 17th century who also had a political career.
Anthony Bacon was the industrialist who was primarily responsible for the emergence of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales as the iron-smelting center of Britain in the 18th century.
Francis Bacon, born in Dublin, was a 20th century figurative painter best known for his bold, austere, and often violent and nighmarish imagery.
Kevin Bacon is a successful American film actor. He hails from Philadelphia.

Select Bacons Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in California).
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).


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