BACON, Edmund (?c.1570-1649), of Redgrave, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. ?c.1570, 1st s. of Nicholas Bacon of Redgrave by Anne, da. and h. of Edmund Butts of Thornage, Norf. educ. Corpus, Camb. 1584; G. Inn 1586. m. Philippa (d.1626), da. and event. coh. of Edward, 1st Baron Wotton of Marley, by his 1st w. Hester, da. and coh. of Sir William Puckering, s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. Nov. 1624. Kntd. prob. by Apr. 1614, certainly by July 1624.
J.p.q. Suff. from c.1592; col. for musters 1627-38; dep. lt. Suff. temp. Chas. I.
The date of Bacon’s birth given in the Baronetage, 1570, seems late considering that his parents were married in 1562, though it agrees well enough with his education. His first parliamentary seat, for the nearby borough of Eye, was obtained through local family influence, and it is a measure of the standing of the family that he was elected knight of the shire for the next Parliament while still, probably, in his 20s and before he had succeeded to his estates. Townshend has an entry under 8 Dec. 1597 naming him to a committee to consider a bill for the ‘better staying of corn within the realm’ but as he is not known to have sat in the 1597 Parliament, this must refer to Anthony, Francis or Nathaniel Bacon, unless by some chance he was returned for Minehead, Lancaster or Beverley, where there were vacant seats. In 1593, as knight of the shire for Suffolk he had the opportunity of serving on a subsidy committee (26 Feb.) and a legal committee (9 Mar.).
Bacon apparently did not concern himself with local affairs and administration during Elizabeth’s reign, perhaps already preferring that study of science and literature which occupied him later in life. A wealthy man—an inventory of Redgrave at his death shows the contents of the rooms as worth about £6,000, including jewels and plate—he was able to indulge his studious tastes. Joseph Hall, with whom he visited the Continent early in James I’s reign, wrote:
I nowhere know such excellent parts, shrouded in such willing secrecy. The world knows you and wants you; and yet you are voluntarily hid.
Bacon turned Redgrave into virtually a ‘philosophical cell’, corresponding with his uncle Francis Bacon about their scientific experiments. These intellectual pursuits, together with a knowledge of Europe, were the basis of his friendship with Sir Henry Wotton, whose niece he married. The correspondence between Bacon and Wotton was published in 1661. Little information survives about Bacon’s religion, though he was among those described by Robert Allen, puritan vicar of Culford, as ‘Lovers of piety and justice, and friends to the church of God’. After Bacon’s death, 10 Apr. 1649, Redgrave descended to his brother Robert, who inherited the personal estate also.
GEC Baronetage, i. 2; D’Ewes, 474, 496, 569; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 61; PCC 107 Byrde; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 452; A. Simpson, Wealth of the Gentry, 94-5; Collinson thesis, 873 n 3; Spedding, Bacon, iv. 24, 62; DNB (Bacon, Sir Nicholas; Wotton, Sir Henry); APC, xxxviii. 60; Burke, Peerage and Baronetage, 147. Bacon’s will is printed in Wills and Inventories Bury St. Edmunds (Cam. Soc. xlix), 211-19.