BACON, Thomas (c.1505-73 or later), of London.
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Family and Education
b. c.1505, 1st s. of Robert Bacon of Drinkstone and Hesset, Suff., and bro. of Nicholas. m. (1) disp. 26 Feb. 1536, Jane (d.1563), da. of one Mery, at least 1s. 1da.; (2) Elizabeth, da. and h. of Thomas Mery of Hatfield, Herts. suc. fa. Aug./Dec. 1548.1
Auditor, London 1548-50; member of Queen Elizabeth’s household in 1558; j.p. Herts. 1561-?d.; commr. benevolence 1564.2
Thomas Bacon was of yeoman origin, his father being sheepreeve of the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk until the Dissolution. He was the elder brother of Nicholas Bacon, Elizabeth’s first lord keeper, and of James Bacon, alderman of London. By 1532 he was a citizen and salter of London. For a time he traded in partnership with a grocer, Thomas Woolley, and after Woolley’s death bought up his goods, which included white soap, steel, Spanish iron, glass, canvas, madder, herrings and hops.3
Bacon visited Harwich in 1535 and was cited as a witness to the popish inclinations of the curate there. His home was in the London parish of St. Dunstan in the East, where the parishioners were quarrelling with their parson, over the payment of tithes. This particular dispute was remitted to the arbitration of the court of aldermen in February 1545 but the quarrel was not confined to a single parish. In the Parliament which met later in the year the curates of London exhibited a bill against the citizens for tithes: on 10 Dec. 1545 the court of aldermen ordered the two under sheriffs of the city to devise an answer to it ‘by the advice and consent’ of six commoners, including Bacon.4
He was himself a Member of the next Parliament, which opened in November 1547, and there are some traces of his activity in it. On 22 Nov. the court of aldermen heard read a bill prepared for presentation forbidding foreigners to live by the riverside: the bill was then committed to the common serjeant, John Marshe, ‘to be by him, with the advice of Master Bacon, salter, reformed in certain points’, and it was given its first, and only, reading in the House of Commons on 14 Dec. Bacon was also charged by the court of aldermen with preparing an answer to a bill introduced into the Lords in this session concerning the Thames which the city deemed to be against its interests. His services were again in demand during the next session, when the recorder, Robert Broke, and the common serjeant were told to take his advice in their efforts to obtain for the City an Act for the remission of the fee farm. Through his rising brother Bacon doubtless had access to the corridors of power, a situation which may account for the deferential attitude of the court of aldermen towards him, although when in 1550 he applied for the office of chamberlain of London, with letters of support from William Paulet, Earl of Wiltshire and Sir Thomas Wentworth I, 1st Baron Wentworth, his name was eliminated by vote of the aldermen in the preliminaries to the election.5
In 1550 Bacon bought from the Goldsmiths’ Company a messuage, with the shops and cellars belonging to it, in Thames Street and, from the Skinners, a neighbouring quay. In 1560 he obtained a lease of a house at Lewisham belonging to the City on condition that he lived there himself. He seems, however, to have moved soon after to Hertfordshire, where he became a justice of the peace in 1561. He was still alive in April 1573 when James Bacon bequeathed gold rings to him and his wife, but probably died later in 1573 or in 1574, since his name was not included in the commission of the peace issued in the 16th year of Elizabeth’s reign. He was certainly dead by 1580.