Select Bacon Miscellany

Here are some Bacon stories and accounts over the years:

Bacon Origins

A Grimbaldus came from Normandy at the time of the Conquest and settled in Letheringsete near Holt in the county of Norfolk where he had grants of land.  He had three sons: Rudolf who became the lord of Letheringsete, Ranulf, and Edmund who became the rector at the church in Letheringsete.

Ranulf resided at Thorp in Norfolk.   It has been stated that he was the one who assumed the name Bacon or Bacon-Thorpe, but some authorities attribute this name to his son Roger.  There were several places called Thorp in Norfolk and he added this name to distinguish himself from the other lords of Thorp.

The name Bacon was said to have been taken from the word buchen or beechen, meaning beech tree.  Thorp was the Saxon name for village.  Thus we might call him the lord of the beech tree village.

The Bacon Ancestry in Suffolk

Birth Place
Ralph de Bacon

Ralph de Bacon
Baconthorpe, Norfolk

Roger Bacon
Thorpe, Norfolk
Robert Bacon
Thorpe, Norfolk

John Bacon
Monks Bradfield, Norfolk

John Bacon
Monks Bradfield, Norfolk

John Bacon
Hessett, Suffolk

John Bacon
Hessett, Suffolk

John Bacon
Hessett, Suffolk

Edmund Bacon
Drinkstone, Suffolk
John Bacon
Drinkstone, Suffolk
Robert Bacon
Drinkstone, Suffolk
Nicholas Bacon
Chislehurst, Kent
(Lord Keeper of the Great Seal)

Francis Bacon
(his adopted son)

Among the earliest of these Bacons was Roger Bacon, sometimes called Roger of the Black Art.  He wrote scientific and philosophical pieces.  In 1278 his works were condemned and he was imprisoned for fourteen years.  John Bacon, sometimes called Baconthorp from the name of the village in which he was born, became a learned monk and was known as "the resolute doctor."

Sir Nicholas Bacon was the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  His adopted son Francis was made Lord High Chancellor of England in 1618. 

The Birth of Francis Bacon

The child was registered as "Mr. Franciscus Bacon" in the Church of St. Martins-in-the-Fields in London.  The actual entry was on the first page of the book and ran as follows:

"1560, 25 Januarie Baptizatus fuit Mr. Franciscus Bacon."

Someone in a different handwriting, written a little later in paler ink, had added:

"filius Dm Nicho: Bacon Magni Anglie Sigilli Custodis."

It was significant that the entry was apparently made in the first instance without the name of the parent being declared.  It was only later in the day, and by a different hand, that someone had added: "son of Nicholas Bacon."

One contemporary source suggested that Sir Nicholas was only the foster father to the child.  In fact, on his death in 1579, Sir Nicholas left in his will large sums to his children by his first wife and a sufficient income for his second wife Anne and her son Anthony.  But the name of Francis was not even mentioned.  He didn't leave him a single penny.

How come?  Some have speculated that Francis was in fact the love child of the Queen and Robert Dudley. At the time of Francis's birth,the chief Lady in Waiting to Queen Elizabeth was Sir Nicholas's wife, Lady Anne Bacon.  If such a child were to be born to the Queen and such a child had to be kept for the moment secret, would it not be natural for her to turn to Lady Bacon, ber closest, most intimate, and greatest friend for counsel and advice?

The Death of Francis Bacon
In April 1626, Sir Francis Bacon came to Highgate in London and died at the empty Arundel mansion.  A famous and influential account of the circumstances of his death was given by John Aubrey in his Brief Lives

Aubrey's vivid account, which portrays Bacon as a martyr to experimental scientific method, has him journeying to Highgate through the snow with the King's physician when he is suddenly inspired by the possibility of using the snow to preserve meat:

"They were resolved they would try the experiment presently.  They alighted out of the coach, went into a poor woman's house at the bottom of Highgate hill, and bought a fowl and made the woman exenterate it."

After stuffing the fowl with snow, Bacon happened to contract a fatal case of pneumonia.  Some people, including Aubrey, consider these two contiguous possibly coincidental events as related and causative of his death:

"The snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so extremely ill, that he could not return to his lodging ... but went to the Earl of Arundel's house at Highgate, where they put him into ... a damp bed that had not been lain-in ... which gave him such a cold that, in 2 or 3 days as I remember Mr. Hobbes told me, he died of suffocation."

Bacon's Rebellion

Woodrow Wilson in his History of the American People had the following to say about Nathaniel Bacon and Bacon's Rebellion.

"Here was more than could be endured; and there were men in Virginia who were ready to defy the governor and get their rights by arms.  Nathaniel Bacon had sworn with a hot oath that if the redskins meddled with him he would harry them, commission or no commission, and he kept his threat.

He was of the hot blood that dares a great independence.  He was a great grandson of Sir Thomas Bacon of Friston Flail in Suffolk, cousin to the great Lord Bacon, of whose fame the world has been full these fifty years.  Although he was but nine-and-twenty, study at the Inns of Court and much travel in foreign lands had added to his gentle breeding the popular manners and the easy self-confidence of a man of the world.  He had turned his back upon England and come with his young wife to be a planter on the James river in Virginia. 

In May came news that the Indians had attacked his own upper plantation and had murdered his overseer and one of his favorite servants.  He did not hesitate what to do.  A company of armed and mounted men begged him to go with them against the redskins and he led them forth upon their bloody errand without law or license, member of the governor's council and magistrate that he was. 

Word then came to him that the governor had refused his commission and had proclaimed him and all with him to be outlaws.  It was flat rebellion.  But Bacon's pulse only quickened and Virginia for a while seemed to be his to command."

Captain Daniel Bacon of Barnstable

When the first railroad was built on Cape Cod, the Bacons related that one of the women of the family had such an aversion to its being laid that, when she went out to drive, she carried a large turkey-feather fan to hold in front of her eyes so that she couldn't see the trains go by.  

Life on the Cape was excellent training for the sea and it wasn't at all surprising that a later member of the family, Daniel Bacon, should set out in 1809 on the old family horse to Boston to seek his fortune as a sailor. He shipped before the mast and soon rose in rank to captain ships owned by the prominent Boston merchants of the day.  He spent the latter years of his sailing life as a shipowner and merchant for his own account, trading mainly in the Pacific.  He had built then the famous Gamecock, the first of the speedy California clippers.

A prized family possession was a silver tray service given to Captain Bacon by the underwriters for saving the cargo of his vessel which grounded in a storm at Nantasket.  Young Bacon hired an ox-team and drove back and forth through the icy water until all the cargo was safely onshore.

Bacon Quakers from Pennsylvania to California

These Bacons came from a long line of Quakers who had immigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1632 to escape religious persecution.  The family later bought part of the southern tip of New Jersey on the Delaware River from the Native Americans in 1683 through the offices of William Penn.  Barbara Bacon's grandfather had opposed slavery and worked with the Underground Railroad before and during the Civil War.  Her father Herbert Bacon spearheaded the establishment of Stone Face Park in Berkeley, California.

Barbara herself had been born in Pennsylvania and moved to Berkeley in 1910 when she was three.  Her family had lived in the Claremont district for several years before moving to the Thousand Oaks area in 1916 because they wanted to live in the country.  In the 1930's she started a piano teaching career that would last well into her eighties.  She married Thomas Hinshaw in 1942 and lived onto 2001, passing away just one day after her 94th birthday.

Reader Feedback - The Bacons of Newton Gap

I am a Bacon.  My pedigree line was entered in the records of the College of Arms by my ancestor Charles Bacon in 1810 and I have been able to update my pedigree to the present and maintain my right to the armorial bearings that was granted to my ancestor John Bacon of Newton Gap, county Durham in 1752.

The earliest Bacon, Thomas, came from North Wingfield in Derbyshire where the family had been husbandmen.  Son George moved north to Allendale in Northumberland in the late 1600's to mine and smelt lead.  The Bacons prospered and soon became wealthy landowners, intermarrying with the landed gentry of the county. 

John Bacon was not a descendant of Sir Francis Bacon and you are not correct when you say that John Bacon bought Newton Gap.  John Bacon succeeded his father in 1748 and by his will inherited the capital messuages of Steward, Styford, and Newton Gap.  When the estates of the Forsters devolved to the Bacons, they assumed the additional name of Forster. 

John William Bacon Forster had three sons.  The eldest William shot himself in the old hall at Newton Gap but he had impregnated his wife Frances and a son, William Bacon Forster, was born posthumously.  This account is in The History of Bishop Auckland.

I descend from the second son John Bacon Forster.  Later the Forster name was dropped and we again became just Bacon.

Best wishes
Brian Bacon (

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