Sir Nicholas Bacon

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Bacon, Sir Nicholas (1510–79). Statesman. Nicholas Bacon, a great work-horse of Elizabeth's government, owed his rise in part to college friendship. He came from Suffolk and was at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, with Matthew Parker, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. Later, he formed a friendship with William Cecil (Burghley), whose wife's sister he married in 1553. He read law at Gray's Inn and was employed on the dissolution of the monasteries: though his suggestion of an academy for statesmen was not followed up, he managed to acquire a number of estates for himself. He served as MP for Westmorland (1542) and for Dartmouth (1545). From 1540 to 1547 he was solicitor to the Court of Augmentations and from 1547 to 1561 attorney to the Court of Wards. Though a protestant, sympathetic towards puritanism, he survived Mary's reign without disaster. Bacon's boat came in, with that of his two friends, at Elizabeth's accession. Cecil was reappointed secretary of state in November 1558, Bacon became keeper of the great seal in December 1558, and Parker archbishop of Canterbury in 1559. Bacon was capable of offering independent advice and increasingly hostile towards Mary, queen of Scots. He received Elizabeth frequently at his house at Gorhambury, completed in 1568. Fat and cheerful, he was also efficient and honest. Elizabeth's reluctance to grant peerages presumably deprived Bacon of that honour, though he was knighted in 1558. His son Francis Bacon, lawyer and scholar, was created Baron Verulam in 1618 and Viscount St Albans in 1621.

J. A. Cannon

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Sir Nicholas Bacon, 1509–79, English jurist. Called to the bar in 1533, he was made attorney of the court of wards and liveries in 1546 and, although a staunch Protestant, held this office through the reign of Mary I. On the accession (1558) of Elizabeth I, he was appointed lord keeper of the privy seal, possibly through the influence of William Cecil, later Lord Burghley (whose wife's sister Bacon married). In 1559 he was authorized to exercise the jurisdiction of the lord chancellor. He regarded Mary Queen of Scots as a menace to English peace and opposed any measure of compromise with her. He was the father of Francis Bacon.