BACON, Sir Edmund, 2nd Bt. (1569-1649), of Redgrave, Suff. and Thornage, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

bap. 17 Feb. 1569,1 1st s. of Sir Nicholas Bacon†, 1st bt., of Culford, Suff. and Anne, da. and coh. of Edward Butts of Thornage. educ. Eton c.1580; Corpus, Camb. 1584; G. Inn 1586; travelled abroad 1595-6 (Venice). m. by 22 July 1593, Philippa (d. 1 Oct. 1626), da. of Edward Wotton, 1st Bar. Wotton of Marley, s.p. kntd. ?11 May 1603; suc. fa. 13 Nov. 1624. d. 10 Apr. 1649.2

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Suff. 1624-6,3 subsidy, 1625-6, 1641-2;4 col. militia ft., Suff. 1625-at least 1628, capt. at d.;5 j.p. Norf. and Suff. 1626-at least 1641,6 commr. Forced Loan, Norf. and Suff. 1626-7, Bury St. Edmunds, Suff. 1627,7 piracy, Suff. 1627, inquiry, lands of Robert Rookwood, Suff. 1628,8 knighthood compositions, Norf. 1631-2,9 oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1631-42, Suff. 1644,10 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Suff. 1633;11 sheriff, Suff. 1633-4;12 commr. swans, Essex and Suff. 1635, sea-breaches, Norf. and Suff. 1638,13 array, Suff. 1642,14 propositions 1642; dep. lt. Suff. 1642;15 commr. to raise money for the Scottish army 1643,16 assessment 1643-d., execution of ordinances 1643, defence of Eastern Assoc. 1643,17 scandalous ministers 1644,18 gaol delivery 1644, Bury St. Edmunds liberty 1664, Bury St. Edmunds bor. 1644, oyer and terminer and gaol delivery, Suff. 1645;19 elder, Eye classis, Suff. 1645;20 commr. New Model Ordinance 1645, militia, Suff. 1648.21


Bacon has frequently been confused with his uncle Edward†. An ‘Edward’ Bacon was knighted at James’s Coronation on 11 May 1603, but since he was never subsequently referred to as a knight it seems likely that the man dubbed was actually this Member; he was certainly a knight by 1605.22 Bacon was the grandson and godson of Sir Nicholas Bacon†, a lawyer of Suffolk yeoman origin who acquired the Suffolk manor of Redgrave in 1545 and sat in two Henrician Parliaments before becoming lord keeper on Elizabeth’s accession.23 Bacon’s father, also Sir Nicholas, represented the county in 1572, and formed with Sir Robert Jermyn†, Sir John Heigham* and Sir Robert Gardener* a puritan cĂ´terie that dominated the county in the early years of the seventeenth century.24

In 1606 Bacon, along with other prominent members of his family, such as his uncles Sir Francis* and Nathaniel*, was the dedicatee of a work by Robert Allen, the recently deprived Suffolk puritan minister, who described him and his kinsmen as ‘all lovers of piety and justice, and friends to the Church of God’.25 However, the dedication almost certainly owed more to Allen’s longstanding relationship with Bacon’s father than it did to Bacon’s own views, which probably coincided with those of his Calvinist conformist friend Joseph Hall, subsequently bishop of Norwich, with whom Bacon travelled to the Spanish Netherlands in 1605.26

By 1611 Bacon had sufficient income, presumably from his father, to be assessed to pay £10 towards the Privy Seal loan.27 Three years later his father made over the bulk of the family estates, worth £3,000 p.a., to Bacon’s use.28 However, Bacon held no local office during his father’s lifetime, partly, perhaps, due to a lack of interest in public affairs. Hall addressed an epistle on ‘the benefit of retiredness and secrecy’ to Bacon, in which he stated that ‘I nowhere know so excellent parts shrouded in such willing secrecy. The world knows you and wants you, and yet you are voluntarily hid’. Bacon’s principal interests seem to have been scientific; he mentioned a laboratory in his will and Hall refers to his ‘philosophical cell’ and the ‘lively, honest, and manly pleasure, which arises from the gain of knowledge in the deep mysteries of nature’. However, Bacon was not cut off from the world: Hall states he was ‘full of friends’, and the correspondence of one friend in particular, Sir Henry Wotton*, kept Bacon informed of political events, such as the failure of the Addled Parliament. Moreover, Bacon’s possession of a medal commemorating the Synod of Dort suggests that he accompanied Hall, who formed part of the English delegation, in 1618.29 He received a licence to travel abroad again in 1621, although it is not clear whether he used it.30

On his father’s death in late 1624, Bacon inherited the premier baronetcy of England and a lawsuit in the Exchequer concerning money due to the Crown from Suffolk, which Sir Nicholas was accused of embezzling. Proceedings were delayed by the demise of James I, and when a Parliament was summoned to meet in 1625 Bacon may have concluded that his position would be strengthened were he to obtain a seat in the Commons.31 Subsequently returned for the county, he welcomed the postponement of Parliament as affording him an opportunity to survey his Norfolk estate.32 He made no speeches, and his only committee, on 2 Aug., was to consider the bill against simony.33 There is no evidence that he sought re-election.

Bacon compounded for his father’s debt to the Crown with a payment of £3,100 in 1628. ‘Though it be a good sum of money’ he wrote, ‘yet, all things considered, I complain not of the bargain’.34 An old friend of Sir Thomas Wentworth* before the Civil War, he nevertheless took the side of Parliament, possibly under the influence of his cousin Nathaniel†, chairman of the Eastern Association.35 He made his will on 2 Oct. 1648 and died the following April, when he was buried at Redgrave. Out of a personal estate inventoried at £6,000, he provided generously for his servants, besides endowing a lecture at the neighbouring market town of Botesdale. The next member of this branch of the family to sit was the 6th baronet, who represented Norfolk as a Tory both before and after the Hanoverian succession.36

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Soc. Gen. Redgrave par. reg.
  • 2. CB, i. 1-2; Eton Coll. Reg. comp. W. Sterry; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; SO3/1, unfol. (28 May 1595); T. Birch, Memoirs of Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1754), i. 453; Letters of Philip Gawdy ed. I.H. Jeayes, 74; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 105.
  • 3. C181/3, ff. 122v, 201v.
  • 4. Harl. 305, f. 296v; Letters from Redgrave Hall ed. D. MacCulloch (Suff. Rec. Soc. l), 113; SR, v. 66, 156.
  • 5. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 443; Add. 39245, f. 140v; Wills and Inventories from Reg. of Commissary of Bury St. Edmunds and Adn. of Sudbury ed. S. Tymms (Cam. Soc. xlix), 216.
  • 6. C231/4, ff. 197v, 206v; C66/2859.
  • 7. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144; C193/12/2, ff. 40v, 55, 76v.
  • 8. C181/3, ff. 232, 238v.
  • 9. HMC 3rd Rep. 272; E178/5520, f. 22.
  • 10. C181/4, f. 69; 181/5, ff. 218, 232.
  • 11. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 15.
  • 12. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 132.
  • 13. C181/5, ff. 28, 103.
  • 14. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 15. LJ, v. 245, 342.
  • 16. Suff. and Gt. Rebellion ed. A. Everitt (Suff. Recs. Soc. iii), 60-1.
  • 17. Ibid. 658; A. and O. i. 168, 242, 293, 537, 639, 975, 1093; ii. 43.
  • 18. Suff. Cttees. for Scandalous Ministers ed. C. Holmes (Suff. Recs. Soc. xiii), 25.
  • 19. C181/5, ff. 232v-3v, 256v.
  • 20. W.A. Shaw, Hist. of Eng. Church during Civil Wars and under Commonwealth, ii. 427.
  • 21. A. and O. i. 624, 1243.
  • 22. Oxford DNB sub Bacon, Sir Nathaniel; HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 373; C142/369/158; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, iii. 173.
  • 23. A. Simpson, Wealth of the Gentry, 46; HP Commons, 1509-58, i. 358-60; Letters from Redgrave Hall, 32.
  • 24. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 382; Rushbrook Par. Regs. ed. S.H.A. Hervey, 153.
  • 25. R. Allen, Doctrine of the Gospel (1606), sig. *3; Oxford DNB sub Allen, Robert.
  • 26. Works of Rt. Rev. Joseph Hall, ed. P. Wynter (1863), i. pp. xxviii-xxxiii; vi. pp. 160-2; vii. p. 486.
  • 27. East Anglian, n.s. viii. 292.
  • 28. PROB 11/144, f. 335; Simpson, 95.
  • 29. Works of Rt. Rev. Joseph Hall, vi. 160-1; Wills and Inventories from Reg. of Commissary of Bury St. Edmunds and Adn. of Sudbury, 217; Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton ed. L. Pearsall Smith, ii. 36-8, 460.
  • 30. APC, 1621-3, p. 60.
  • 31. Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, vii. 535; HP Commons, 1559-1603, i. 382.
  • 32. Private Corresp. of Jane Lady Cornwallis ed. Lord Braybrooke (1842), p. 162.
  • 33. Procs. 1625, p. 378.
  • 34. Private Corresp. of Jane Lady Cornwallis (1842), pp. 162, 190, 193; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 571.
  • 35. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, ii. 141.
  • 36. Top. and Gen. ii. 164; Simpson, 54; Wills and Inventories from Reg. of Commissary of Bury St. Edmunds and Adn. of Sudbury, 211-19.