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Sir Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount Saint Albans
In the registry of Saint Martin’s will be found this entry: Mr. Franciscus Bacon 1560 Jan 25 (filius D’m Nicho Bacon Magni Angliæ sigilli custodis)." Rawley in his "Life of the Honourable Author" says: "Francis Bacon, the glory of his age and nation, was born in York House or York Place, in the Strand, on the two and twentieth day of January in the year of our Lord 1560." He relates that "His first and childish years were not without some mark of eminency; at which time he was endued with that pregnancy and towardness of wit, as they were pressages of that deep and universal apprehension which was manifest in him afterward." "The Queen then delighted much to confer with him, and to prove him with questions and maturity above his years that Her Majesty would often term him ‘Her young Lord Keeper.’ Being asked by the Queen how old he was he answered with much discretion, being then but a boy* that he was two years younger than Her Majesty’s happy reign, with which answer the queen was much taken." In the "Lives of the Statesmen and Favourites of Queen Elizabeth" there is reference to the early development of his mental and intellectual faculties. The author writes:--"He had a large mind from his Father and great abilities from his Mother; His parts improved more than his years, his great fixed and methodical memory, his solide judgement, his quick fancy, his ready expression, gave assurance of that profound and universal comprehension of things which then rendered him the observation of great and wise men; and afterwards the wonder of all." The historian continues:--"He never saw anything that was not noble and becoming," "at twelve his industry was above the capacity and his minde beyond the reache of his contemporaries."
Francis Bacon, Birth: Jan. 22, 1561, Death: Apr. 4, 1626. Phliosopher, essayist and politician. Lord Chancellor of England. Alleged unwarrantably by some to have been the writer of Shakespeare's plays. Notable works include 'On the Advancement of Learning' , an early attempt at an encyclopaedia. Died after catching bronchitis when stuffing a chicken with snow to see whether it would be preserved, thus anticipating frozen food. The Latin inscription on the statue base begins (in translation): "Francis Bacon, first Baron Verulam and Viscount St. Albans, better known as the Light of Knowledge and the Law of Eloquence, used to sit thus. In the year of Our Lord 1626, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, after he had unravelled every secret of the natural world and of the world of man, he fulfilled the decree of nature that whatosever things have been joined together must be sundered."
Burial: Trinity College, Cambridge, England, Plot: Chapel (he is buried at the Church of St. Michael, St. Albans, UK).
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban KC QC (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, and author. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. He is also known as a catalyst of the scientific revolution. His most celebrated works included his The New Atlantis. Bacon was knighted in 1603, created Baron Verulam in 1618, and created Viscount St Alban in 1621; without heirs, both peerages became extinct upon his death.
Biographers believe that Bacon was educated at home in his early years owing to poor health (which plagued him throughout his life), receiving tuition from John Walsall, a graduate of Oxford with a strong leaning towards Puritanism. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, on 5 April 1573 at the age of twelve, living for three years there together with his older brother Anthony under the personal tutelage of Dr John Whitgift, future Archbishop of Canterbury. Bacon's education was conducted largely in Latin and followed the medieval curriculum. He was also educated at the University of Poitiers. It was at Cambridge that he first met the Queen, who was impressed by his precocious intellect, and was accustomed to calling him "the young Lord Keeper.
His studies brought him to the belief that the methods and results of science as then practiced were erroneous. His reverence for Aristotle conflicted with his loathing of Aristotelian philosophy, which seemed to him barren, disputatious, and wrong in its objectives.
On 27 June 1576, he and Anthony entered de societate magistrorum at Gray's Inn. A few months later, they went abroad with Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador at Paris. The state of government and society in France under Henry III afforded him valuable political instruction. For the next three years he visited Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Italy, and Spain. During his travels, Bacon studied language, statecraft, and civil law while performing routine diplomatic tasks. On at least one occasion he delivered diplomatic letters to England for Walsingham, Burghley, and Leicester, as well as for the queen.
The sudden death of his father in February 1579 prompted Bacon to return to England. Sir Nicholas had laid up a considerable sum of money to purchase an estate for his youngest son, but he died before doing so, and Francis was left with only a fifth of that money. Having borrowed money, Bacon got into debt. To support himself, he took up his residence in law at Gray's Inn in 1579. He made rapid progress. He was admitted to the bar in 1582, he became Bencher in 1586, and he was elected a reader in 1587, delivering his first set of lectures in Lent the following year.
Bacon's threefold goals were to discover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. Seeking a prestigious post would aid him toward these ends. In 1580, through his uncle, Lord Burghley, he applied for a post at court, which might enable him to pursue a life of learning. His application failed. For two years he worked quietly at Gray's Inn studying law, until admitted as an outer barrister in 1582. The Hall, Gray’s Inn, 1892, by Herbert Railton
In 1584, he took his seat in parliament for Melcombe in Dorset, and subsequently for Taunton (1586). At this time, he began to write on the condition of parties in the church, as well as philosophical reform in the lost tract, Temporis Partus Maximus. Yet, he failed to gain a position he thought would lead him to success. He showed signs of sympathy to Puritanism, attending the sermons of the Puritan chaplain of Gray's Inn and accompanying his mother to the Temple chapel to hear Walter Travers. This led to the publication of his earliest surviving tract, which criticised the English church's suppression of the Puritan clergy. In the Parliament of 1586, openly, he urged execution for Mary Queen of Scots. About this time, he again approached his powerful uncle for help, the result of which may be traced in his rapid progress at the bar. In 1589, he received the valuable appointment of reversion to the Clerkship of the Star Chamber, although he did not formally take office until 1608 - a post which was worth £16,000 per annum.
In 1592, he was commissioned to write a response to the Jesuit Robert Parson's anti-government tract entitled 'Certain observations made upon a libel' identifying England with the ideals of Republican Athens against the belligerence of Spain.
Bacon soon became acquainted with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1567–1601), Queen Elizabeth's favourite. By 1591, he acted as the earl's confidential adviser. Bacon took his seat for Middlesex when in February 1593 Elizabeth called a Parliament to investigate a Roman Catholic plot against her. Bacon's opposition to a bill that would levy triple subsidies in half the usual time offended many people. Opponents accused him of seeking popularity. For a time, the royal court excluded him. When the Attorney-Generalship fell vacant in 1594, Lord Essex's influence was not enough still to secure Bacon's candidacy into the office. Likewise, Bacon failed to become solicitor in 1595. To console him for these disappointments, Essex presented him with a property at Twickenham, which he sold subsequently for £1,800, the equivalent of around £240,000 in 2006.
Memorial to Francis Bacon, in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge In 1596, Bacon became Queen's Counsel, but missed the appointment of Master of the Rolls. During the next few years, his financial situation remained bad. His friends could find no public office for him, and a scheme for retrieving his position by a marriage with the wealthy and young widow Lady Elizabeth Hatton failed after she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man. Years later, Bacon still wrote of his regret that the marriage to Elizabeth had never taken place. In 1598 Bacon was arrested because of his debts. Afterwards however, his standing in the queen's eyes improved. Gradually, Bacon earned the standing of one of the learned counsels, though he had no commission or warrant and received no salary. His relationship with the queen further improved when he severed ties with Essex, a shrewd move because Essex was executed for treason in 1601.
With others, Bacon was appointed to investigate the charges against Essex, his former friend and benefactor. Bacon pressed the case hard against Essex. To justify himself, Bacon wrote A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons, etc., of ... the Earl of Essex. He received a gift of a fine of £1200 on one of Essex's accomplices.
The accession of James I brought Bacon into greater favour. He was knighted in 1603. In another shrewd move, Bacon wrote Apologie (defence) about his proceedings in the case of Essex, as Essex had favoured James to ascend to throne. The following year, during the course of the uneventful first parliament session, Bacon married Alice Barnham. In 1608, Bacon began working as the Clerkship of the Star Chamber. In spite of a generous income, old debts and spendthrift ways kept him indebted. He sought further promotion and wealth by supporting King James and his arbitrary policy.
Bacon gained reward with the office of Solicitor in June 1607. In 1610 the famous fourth parliament of James met. Despite Bacon's advice to him, James and the Commons found themselves at odds over royal prerogatives and the king's embarrassing extravagance. The House dissolved in February 1611. Through this, Bacon managed to stay in favor of the king while retaining the confidence of the Commons.
In 1613, Bacon became attorney general, after advising the king to shuffle judicial appointments. As attorney general, Bacon prosecuted Somerset in 1616. The parliament of April 1614 objected to Bacon's presence in the seat for Cambridge and to the various royal plans which Bacon had supported. Although he was allowed to stay, parliament passed a law that forbade the attorney-general to sit in parliament. His influence over the king inspired resentment or apprehension in many of his peers. Bacon continued to receive the King's favour. In 1618, King James appointed Bacon to the position of Lord Chancellor.
Bacon's public career ended in disgrace in 1621. After having fallen into debt, a Parliamentary Committee on the administration of the law charged him with twenty-three separate counts of corruption. To the lords, who sent a committee to inquire whether a confession was really his, he replied, "My lords, it is my act, my hand, and my heart; I beseech your lordships to be merciful to a broken reed." He was sentenced to a fine of £40,000, remitted by King James, to be committed to the Tower of London during the king's pleasure (his imprisonment lasted only a few days). More seriously, parliament declared Bacon incapable of holding future office or sitting in parliament. Narrowly, he escaped being deprived of his titles. Thenceforth the disgraced viscount devoted himself to study and writing. Historians such as Nieves Mathews believe Bacon may have been innocent of the bribery charges; Bacon himself said that he pleaded guilty by force deliberately so to save the king from a worse political scandal, stating:
"I was the justest judge that was in England these last fifty years. When the book of all hearts is opened, I trust I shall not be found to have the troubled fountain of a corrupt heart. I know I have clean hands and a clean heart. I am as innocent of bribes as any born on St Innocents Day." Biographers continue to debate about Bacon's sexual inclinations and the precise nature of his personal relationships. When he was 36, Francis engaged in the courtship of Elizabeth Hatton, a young widow of 20. Reportedly, she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man. Years later, Bacon still wrote of his regret that the marriage to Elizabeth had never taken place.
At the age of forty five, Bacon married Alice Barnham (1592–1650), the fourteen year old daughter of a well-connected London alderman and M.P. Bacon wrote three sonnets proclaiming his love for Alice. The first sonnet was written during his courtship and the second sonnet on his wedding day, 10 May 1606. The third sonnet was written years later "when by special Warrant of the King, Lady Bacon was given precedence over all other Court ladies" when Bacon was appointed "Regent of the Kingdom": Let not my Love be call'd Idolatry. Reports of increasing friction in his marriage to Alice appeared, with speculation that some of this may have been due to financial resources not being as readily available to her as she was accustomed to having in the past. Alice was reportedly interested in fame and fortune, and when reserves of money were no longer available, there were complaints about where all the money was going. Alice Chambers Bunten wrote in her Life of Alice Barnham that, upon their descent into debt, she actually went on trips to ask for financial favours and assistance from their circle of friends. Bacon disinherited her upon discovering her secret romantic relationship with John Underhill. He rewrote his will, which had previously been very generous to her (leaving her lands, goods, and income), revoking it all.
Several authors, such as A .L. Rowse, author of Homosexuals in History, believe that Bacon was either bisexual or homosexual. In 1996, the Journal of Homosexuality published Masculine Love, Renaissance Writing, and the New Invention of Homosexuality: An Addendum in which Charles R. Forker PhD, Professor of English, Department of English at Indiana University explores the "historically documentable sexual preferences" of both King James and Bacon in addition to those of dramatist Christopher Marlowe and of Bacon's brother Anthony - all of whom Forker believed were oriented to "masculine love", a term that "seems to have been used exclusively to refer to the sexual preference of men for members of their own gender."This conclusion has been disputed by other authors, such as Nieves Mathews, author of Francis Bacon: The History of a Character Assassination, who consider the sources to be questionable and the conclusions open to interpretation.
In April 1626, Sir Francis Bacon came to Highgate near London, and died at the empty (except for the caretaker) Arundel mansion. A famous and influential account of the circumstances of his death was given by John Aubrey in his Brief Lives. Aubrey has been criticized for his evident credulousness in this and other works; on the other hand, he knew Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher and friend of Bacon. 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 and 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, he happened to contract a fatal case of pneumonia. He then attempted to extend his fading lifespan by consuming the fowl that had caused his illness. 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 Earle of Arundel's house at Highgate, where they put him into ... a damp bed that had not been layn-in ... which gave him such a cold that in 2 or 3 days as I remember Mr Hobbes told me, he died of Suffocation."
Being unwittingly on his deathbed, the philosopher wrote his last letter to his absent host and friend Lord Arundel: "My very good Lord,—I was likely to have had the fortune of Caius Plinius the elder, who lost his life by trying an experiment about the burning of Mount Vesuvius; for I was also desirous to try an experiment or two touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting as I know not whether it were the Stone, or some surfeit or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three. But when I came to your Lordship's House, I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me, which I assure myself your Lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it. For indeed your Lordship's House was happy to me, and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it. I know how unfit it is for me to write with any other hand than mine own, but by my troth my fingers are so disjointed with sickness that I cannot steadily hold a pen."
He died at Lord Arundel's home on 9 April 1626, leaving assets of about £7,000 and debts to the amount of £22,000.
This account appears in a biography by William Rawley, Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain: "He died on the ninth day of April in the year 1626, in the early morning of the day then celebrated for our Saviour's resurrection, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, at the Earl of Arundel's house in Highgate, near London, to which place he casually repaired about a week before; God so ordaining that he should die there of a gentle fever, accidentally accompanied with a great cold, whereby the defluxion of rheum fell so plentifully upon his breast, that he died by suffocation."
At his April 1626 funeral, over thirty great minds collected together their eulogies of him. It is clear from all these eulogies that he was not only loved deeply, but that there was something about his character which led men even of the stature of Ben Jonson to hold him in reverence and awe. A volume of the 32 eulogies was published in Latin in 1730.
Bacon did not propose an actual philosophy, but rather a method of developing philosophy. He wrote that, although philosophy at the time used the deductive syllogism to interpret nature, the philosopher should instead proceed through inductive reasoning from fact to axiom to law. Before beginning this induction, the inquirer is to free his or her mind from certain false notions or tendencies which distort the truth. These are called "Idols"(idola), and are of four kinds: "Idols of the Tribe" (idola tribus), which are common to the race; "Idols of the Den" (idola specus), which are peculiar to the individual; "Idols of the Marketplace" (idola fori), coming from the misuse of language; and "Idols of the Theatre" (idola theatri), which result from an abuse of authority. The end of induction is the discovery of forms, the ways in which natural phenomena occur, the causes from which they proceed.
Derived through use of his methods, Bacon explicates his somewhat fragmentary ethical system in the seventh and eighth books of his De augmentis scientiarum (1623). He distinguishes between duty to the community, an ethical matter, and duty to God, a religious matter. Bacon claimed that any moral action is the action of the human will, which is governed by belief and spurred on by the passions; good habit is what aids men in directing their will toward the good; no universal rules can be made, as both situations and men's characters differ.
Regarding faith, in De augmentis, he writes that "the more discordant, therefore, and incredible, the divine mystery is, the more honour is shown to God in believing it, and the nobler is the victory of faith." He writes in "The Essays: Of Atheism" that "a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion." Bacon contrasted the new approach of the development of science with that of the Middle Ages. He said:
"Men have sought to make a world from their own conception and to draw from their own minds all the material which they employed, but if, instead of doing so, they had consulted experience and observation, they would have the facts and not opinions to reason about, and might have ultimately arrived at the knowledge of the laws which govern the material world." Bacon's works include his Essays, as well as the Colours of Good and Evil and the Meditationes Sacrae, all published in 1597. His famous aphorism, "knowledge is power", is found in the Meditations. He published The Proficience and Advancement of Learning in 1605. Bacon also wrote In felicem memoriam Elizabethae, a eulogy for the queen written in 1609; and various philosophical works which constitute the fragmentary and incomplete Instauratio magna (Great Renewal), the most important part of which is the Novum Organum (New Instrument, published 1620); in this work he cites three world-changing inventions: "Printing, gunpowder and the compass: These three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world; the first in literature, the second in warfare, the third in navigation; whence have followed innumerable changes, in so much that no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these mechanical discoveries."
In 1623 Bacon expressed his aspirations and ideals in The New Atlantis. Released in 1627, this was his creation of an ideal land where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit" were the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of Bensalem. In this work, he portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge. The plan and organization of his ideal college, "Solomon's House", envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure science. The Novum Organum is a philosophical work by Francis Bacon published in 1620. This is a reference to Aristotle's work Organon, which was his treatise on logic and syllogism. In Novum Organum, Bacon details a new system of logic he believes to be superior to the old ways of syllogism. In this work, we see the development of the Baconian method consists of procedures for isolating the form nature, or cause, of a phenomenon, including the method of agreement, method of difference, and method of concomitant variation.
Sir Francis Bacon's letters first mention Alice Barnham on July 3, 1603 - an Alderman's daughter, an handsome maiden to my liking. She was then only 11. They were engaged for three years before they were finally married. Bacon appears to have owed his success in wooing Alice, in some degree, to the earl of Salisbury (Bacon's Works, vol xii., p. 63) and lady Ellesmere (vol xii., p. 106).
On May 10, 1606 Alice Barnham, daughter and heiress of Lady Packington and Benedict Barnham, Sheriff of London, married Sir Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount Saint Alban, at the Parish Chapel, Marylebone High Street, London [the 2nd parish church, built in 1400 to replace the 1st church of 1200 at the junction of Marylebone Lane and (present) Oxford Street.] There was a pre nuptial agreement; she brought to the marriage an income of £220 a year from her father's estate, and expected more after the death of her mother.
Francis dressed all in purple, a color that had been forbidden to all but royalty. (He was 46 years old, she was a few days shy of 14). This was a childless marriage and he may have felt obliged to embark on it for career and social reasons and, some said, to advance his career by sublimating his rumored homosexuality. Had the evidence against Bacon been any more conclusive, he might have suffered the fate of his brother-in-law, who shared similar tastes. Mervyn Touchet, second Earl of Castlehaven, and two of his servants were executed for homosexuality on 14 May 1631 - the master beheaded on the scaffold and the servants hanged on the gallows. Alfred Dodd, in Francis Bacon's Personal Life-Story (Rider & Company: London, 1949) said: "The bar-sinister of [Bacon's] Tudor birth (he was rumored to have been an illegitimate child of Queen Elizabeth by Lord Burleigh) had hung like a millstone round his neck in the days of Elizabeth and Burleigh. It dragged him down again, dangerously so, in the days of [King] James, and of Burleigh's son, Robert Cecil, the Secretary of State.
Bacon had saved himself three years previously from being excommunicated altogether from the public service by his readiness for an engagement with a child of eleven years (Alice Barnham), a commoner. He was now going to open the door to State offices by his marriage to the "handsome wench" of thirteen, according to his bargain with the King and Cecil. He therefore sent a reminder to the Secretary of State on the eve of his marriage, when the Government was in difficulties, that he wanted the Solicitorship, which implied that he was definitely about to wed and thus become properly qualified for the position.
Christened 25 Jan 1561 at Saint Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, England.
He died childless.
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On 12 Jan 2015 at 15:58 GMT Mags Gaulden wrote:
Francis is 17 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 11 degrees from Lucrezia Borgia, 18 degrees from Emma MacBeath, 21 degrees from Charles Schulz and 15 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.