Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon was born in Suffolk, England on 2nd January, 1647. A dispute with his wife's family persuaded him to emigrate to North America. With the financial support of his father, he purchased two estates along the James River in Virginia.

William Berkeley appointed Bacon to his governing council but the two men soon fell out about the development of the colony. Berkeley favoured a policy of containment, whereas Bacon wanted to expand into areas controlled by Native Americans.

In 1676 Bacon organized his own expedition. Fearing a large-scale war with Native Americans, Berkeley turned his forces against Bacon and his men. Bacon captured Jamestown and William Berkeley was forced to flee to the Eastern Shore. However, Nathaniel Bacon died of fever in October, 1676, and without his leadership, the rebellion quickly collapsed.

Frequent complaints of bloodshed were sent to Sir William Berkeley from the heads of the rivers, which were as often answered with promises of assistance. These at the heads of James and York rivers (having now most people destroyed by the Indians) grew impatient at the many slaughters of their neighbours and rose or their own defence, who choosing. Bacon for their leader, sent oftentimes to the Governor, humbly beseeching a commission to go against those Indians at their own charge.

Mr. Bacon, with fifty-seven men, proceeded until the fired the palisades, stormed and burned the fort and cabins, and (with the loss of three English) slew 150 Indians.

General Bacon marched with 1,000 men into the forest to seek the enemy Indians; and, in a few days after, our next news was that the Governor had summoned together the militia of Gloucester and Middlesex counties, to the number of 1,200 men, and proposed to them to follow and suppress the rebel Bacon.

Bacon stormed it (Jamestown) and took the town, in which attack were twelve men slain and wounded, but Governor Berkeley, with most of the followers, fled back down the river in their vessels. Here, resting a few days, they agreed to the burning of the town. Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Drumond, owning the two best houses save one, set fire each to his own house, which example the soldiers following laid the whole town (with church and statehouse) in ashes, saying the rogues should harbor no more there.

Mr. Bacon returned from his expedition sick of a flux; without finding any enemy Indians, having not gone far by reason of the vexations behind him. Nor had he one dry day in all his marches to and fro in the forest while the plantations had a summer so dry as stinting the Indian corn and tobacco, etc. In a while Bacon died and was succeeded by his lieutenant general, Ingram.


Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677)

Bacon’s Rebellion, fought from 1676 to 1677, began with a local dispute with the Doeg Indians on the Potomac River. Chased north by Virginia militiamen, who also attacked the otherwise uninvolved Susquehannocks, the Indians began raiding the Virginia frontier. The governor, Sir William Berkeley , persauded the General Assembly to adopt a plan that isolated the Susquehannocks while bringing in Indian allies on Virginia’s side. Others saw in the Susquehannock War an opportunity for a general Indian war that would yield Indian slaves and lands, and would give vent to popular anti-Indian sentiment. They found a leader in Nathaniel Bacon , a recent arrival to Virginia and a member of the governor’s Council . Bacon demanded a commission to fight the Indians when none was forthcoming, he led “volunteers” against some of Virginia’s closest Indian allies. This led to a civil war pitting Bacon’s followers against Berkeley loyalists. The conflict was often bitter and personal—at one point, Berkeley bared his chest and dared Bacon to kill him—and involved the looting of both rebel and loyalist properties. Berkeley expelled Bacon from the Council, reinstated him, and then expelled him a second time. After the governor fled Jamestown for the Eastern Shore, he returned, only to be chased away by Bacon’s army, which burned the capital. Bacon died suddenly in October 1676, but bitter fighting continued into January. The Crown dispatched troops to Virginia, which arrived shortly after the rebellion had been quelled. The causes of Bacon’s Rebellion have long been disputed. Today it is generally regarded as part of a general crisis in Virginia’s social, economic, and political arrangements. The argument that it should be seen as a revolt against English tyranny and a precursor to the American Revolution (1775–1783) has been discredited.


Bacon’s Rebellion

“…mutinous and rebellious practices…” -nathaniel bacon, 1676

What started as a dispute between settlers and Indians on the Virginia-Maryland border in the fall of 1675 quickly erupted into a full scale rebellion by Nathaniel Bacon against Governor Sir William Berkeley, a wealthy planter, and his government the following year.

In the late 1600s, elite planters in Virginia relied on indentured servant labor. After their service ended, these individuals moved farther inland from the Tidewater region, often coming into conflict with Native Americans as they pushed into the Piedmont. Fearful of increasing Indian raids and frustrated by years of low tobacco prices and high taxes, the settlers gathered behind Nathaniel Bacon.

Bacon, Governor Berkeley’s cousin by marriage, was a well-connected gentleman recently arrived in the colony. Bacon defied Berkeley’s attempts at brokering peace between the settlers and the Native tribes. He and his followers sought to acquire more land by driving Native peoples out of Virginia completely.

Violence escalated quickly. Faced with the continuing loss of their lands, the Doeg tribe attacked the European settlements. The settlers retaliated, yet attacked the peaceful Susquehannock tribe by mistake, which led to further conflicts. The raids, often led by Bacon himself, led to the killing of many Native peoples. According to historical records, the Pamunkey tribe, led by their queen Cockacoeske, fled into marshlands where they would be harder for the rebels to track.

Throughout these months, Governor Berkeley tried and failed to broker peace. He eventually ordered the building of new forts and restricted trading with Native peoples. However, these decisions were seen as further limiting the power of poor whites and increasing their taxes (funds needed to pay for the new fortifications). Bacon, a newly-appointed member of the Virginia Council, appealed to the people in August 1676 in a searing critique of Berkeley’s rule and corruption of the wealthy elite. Berkeley in turn declared Bacon a rebel and gathered forces to oppose him.

On July 30, Bacon and his 600 followers sent out the “Declaration of the People of Virginia” stating that Berkeley “abused and rendred contemptable the Magistrates of Justice, by advanceing to places of Judicature, scandalous and ignorant favorites.” On September 19, they marched into the capital of Jamestown and burned it as Berkeley fled. The following month, Bacon died of the “Bloody Flux” (dysentery). Without its charismatic leader, the rebellion lost momentum. Berkeley’s loyalists defeated the rebels by January of 1677.

Bacon’s Rebellion was the most serious challenge to royal authority before the American Revolution. Historians often connect this event to the decline of indentured servitude and the corresponding rise of slavery within the British American colonies.


Bacon's Rebellion: America's First Armed Insurrection

Bacon's Rebellion was a conflict that started like a lot of disagreements — with a drunken argument. But this short-lived uprising in 17th century Colonial America is considered to have had long-term consequences for Colonial settlements, policies toward Native Americans and concepts of race in North America.

The incident took place in Colonial Virginia from 1676 to 1677, and because it was 100 years before the American Revolution, Bacon's Rebellion was once posited as a sort of precursor to overthrowing tyranny. In fact, Thomas Jefferson considered rebellion leader, Nathaniel Bacon, a patriot.

But contemporary historians view Bacon's Rebellion in light of the conflict between colonists and Native Americans, as well as for the effects it had on the way ideas about race developed in the American Colonies.

Bacon was a relative newcomer to Virginia when he launched the rebellion. So how did he manage to rally enough support to spark a conflict that would change the course of history?

Nathanial Bacon the Man

Born in Suffolk, England in 1647, Bacon had been packed off to the Virginia colony by his father because he had attempted to defraud a 16-year-old neighbor, according to James Rice, Walter S. Dickson professor and chair, department of history, Tufts University, who says Bacon was considered a "very unpleasant fellow."

This seems to be the general consensus about the historical figure. The National Park Service website says "Bacon was a troublemaker and schemer whose father sent him to Virginia in the hope that he would mature."

Personality notwithstanding, things got off to an auspicious start for Bacon. He arrived in Virginia in 1675, and thanks to his connections — he was related to Governor William Berkeley by marriage — Bacon received both a land grant and a seat on the Governor's Council, according to the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. However, his arrival coincided with a crisis in Virginian's economic, social and political order in which he would soon become embroiled.

Trouble in Virginia

Virginia's tobacco planters had experienced falling tobacco prices in a colony with economic disparity between the larger landowning planters and small planters, poor immigrants and freed slaves. Most of the locals were not involved in political life and non-landowners could not vote. In addition to these challenges to stability, Virginia colonists had varying opinions about how to manage relations with the native peoples and local tribes.

At the same time, war had erupted between the Susquehannock Indians and the colonists, which started with a "petty trading dispute," Rice said in "Bacon's Rebellion in Indian Country," a 2014 piece he wrote for Journal of American History. There were two ideas about how to respond.

Gov. Berkeley thought the best course of action would be to wage war against the Susquehannock but remain at peace with other neighboring tribes. Others, including Bacon, disagreed and felt that the conflict presented an opportunity to exterminate all the natives, period.

And it wasn't just Bacon, Rice says. Some of the area's wealthy planters also wanted to go further than the governor's plan of limited warfare. Bacon took control of an encampment of volunteer militiamen to fight the Susquehannock and other tribes.

Who were these militia? It's hard to know, according to Rice. He says there has been a myth that Bacon's rebels comprised poor Western (frontier) planters against rich Eastern planters that it was an uprising from the bottom up. However, the socioeconomic status of the militia is difficult to pin down, and there is evidence of rich planters from the frontier, like Bacon himself and William Byrd, who was one of the men who recruited him, among them.

The historiography has focused on a civil war between Virginians, and the Indians have been pushed the margins of the story, Rice says. But Bacon's Rebellion was really about fighting the Indians more than a disagreement between poor and rich colonists.


Inventing Black and White

In Virginia in the 1600s, Anthony Johnson secured his freedom from indentured servitude, acquired land, and became a respected member of his community. Elizabeth Key successfully appealed to the colony’s legal system to set her free after she had been wrongfully enslaved. By the 1700s, the laws and customs of Virginia had begun to distinguish black people from white people, making it impossible for most Virginians of African descent to do what Johnson and Key had done.

This 1905 painting by Howard Pyle depicts the burning of Jamestown in 1676 by black and white rebels led by Nathaniel Bacon.

Why did Virginia lawmakers make these changes? Many historians point to an event known as Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 as a turning point. Nathaniel Bacon was a wealthy white property owner and relative of Virginia’s governor, William Berkeley. But Bacon and Berkeley did not like each other, and they disagreed over issues pertaining to how the colony should be governed, including the colony’s policy toward Native Americans. Bacon wanted the colony to retaliate for raids by Native Americans on frontier settlements and to remove all Native Americans from the colony so landowners like himself could expand their property. Berkeley feared that doing so would unite all of the nearby tribes in a costly and destructive war against the colony. In defiance of the governor, Bacon organized his own militia, consisting of white and black indentured servants and enslaved black people, who joined in exchange for freedom, and attacked nearby tribes. A power struggle ensued with Bacon and his militia on one side and Berkeley, the Virginia House of Burgesses, and the rest of the colony’s elite on the other. Months of conflict followed, including armed skirmishes between militias. In September 1676, Bacon’s militia captured Jamestown and burned it to the ground.

Although Bacon died of fever a month later and the rebellion fell apart, Virginia’s wealthy planters were shaken by the fact that a rebel militia that united white and black servants and slaves had destroyed the colonial capital. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes:

The events in Jamestown were alarming to the planter elite, who were deeply fearful of the multiracial alliance of [indentured servants] and slaves. Word of Bacon’s Rebellion spread far and wide, and several more uprisings of a similar type followed. In an effort to protect their superior status and economic position, the planters shifted their strategy for maintaining dominance. They abandoned their heavy reliance on indentured servants in favor of the importation of more black slaves. 1

After Bacon’s Rebellion, Virginia’s lawmakers began to make legal distinctions between “white” and “black” inhabitants. By permanently enslaving Virginians of African descent and giving poor white indentured servants and farmers some new rights and status, they hoped to separate the two groups and make it less likely that they would unite again in rebellion. Historian Ira Berlin explains:

Soon after Bacon's Rebellion they increasingly distinguish between people of African descent and people of European descent. They enact laws which say that people of African descent are hereditary slaves. And they increasingly give some power to independent white farmers and land holders . . .

Now what is interesting about this is that we normally say that slavery and freedom are opposite things—that they are diametrically opposed. But what we see here in Virginia in the late 17th century, around Bacon's Rebellion, is that freedom and slavery are created at the same moment. 2

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first appearance in print of the adjective white in reference to “a white man, a person of a race distinguished by a light complexion” was in 1671. Colonial charters and other official documents written in the 1600s and early 1700s rarely refer to European colonists as white.

As the status of people of African descent in the British colonies was challenged and attacked, and as white indentured servants were given new rights and status, the word white continued to be more widely used in public documents and private papers to describe the European colonists. People of European descent were considered white, and those of African descent were labeled black. Historian Robin D. G. Kelley explains:

Many of the European-descended poor whites began to identify themselves, if not directly with the rich whites, certainly with being white. And here you get the emergence of this idea of a white race as a way to distinguish themselves from those dark-skinned people who they associate with perpetual slavery. 3

The division in American society between black and white that began in the late 1600s had devastating consequences for African Americans as slavery became an institution that flourished for centuries. Lawyer and civil rights activist Bryan Stevenson explains:

[S]lavery deprived the enslaved person of any legal rights or autonomy and granted the slave owner complete power over the black men, women, and children legally recognized as property . . .

American slavery was often brutal, barbaric, and violent. In addition to the hardship of forced labor, enslaved people were maimed or killed by slave owners as punishment for working too slowly, visiting a spouse living on another plantation, or even learning to read. Enslaved people were also sexually exploited. 4

Leaders and scientists from the United States and around the world would increasingly rely on the supposed differences between the black and white races to justify the brutal and inhuman treatment of slaves.


The many lives of Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon, 1647-1676 This apparently is not Nathaniel Bacon the rebel. Sorry for the mistake.

One of the most powerful insights Edmund Morgan offered us over his long and illustrious career was that Bacon’s Rebellion, its context, and its aftermath provide an early roadmap for the history of race relations and its intersection with class politics in American history.(1) Unfolding a story of opportunities lost, Morgan suggested that Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 marked a turning point in the history of slavery in Virginia and the southern colonies more broadly.

Up till then slavery was not yet the central institution it would later be, as both indentured servants and slaves formed the underclass of early Virginia. In the wake of Bacon’s Rebellion, instead of forming a cross-racial alliance that would challenge the rule of the gentlemen class, white men struck a faustian bargain across class lines on the backs of black folks, defining freedom as a white person’s privilege and slavery as the default status of people of African descent. Thus slavery became the favored labor regime in the south, indentured servitude dwindled, and blackness and whiteness became entrenched in law and custom.

At the center of this early Virginia insurgency stood a familiar American specimen, the demagogue Nathaniel Bacon. Inciting hatred of Indians and plumbing festering resentments against Virginia elites, Bacon found himself at the head of an open rebellion after a convoluted series of events. Much like our contemporary twenty first century populist, Bacon did not have a clear design and plunged into populism without much of a plan. What he did do very well however, was foment the hatred of a particularly volatile group of white men first and foremost against Indians, but also against the leadership of the colony that many perceived as both corrupt and soft on the “savages.” Again, similar to our president-elect, Bacon was himself part of the aristocracy of the colony, who nonetheless struck the right tone with a growing disgruntled bloc of white folk.

More striking than the particulars of the rebellion itself, the context for the rebellion’s eruption and the resolution of social tensions in Virginia in its wake proved to be harbingers of things to come. Virginia towards the end of the 17th century was a society quickly spiraling out of an earlier established “equilibrium” that hinged on high mortality rates and the availability of lucrative tracts of land wrested by force from local Indians. Until midcentury the colony’s economic boom relied primarily on extracting labor from indentured servants who were lured to the colony with promises of both freedom and land, once they performed their designated period of unfree labor. This proved “viable” so long as death rates were high and prime tobacco growing lands abundant. In this fashion, many of those who outlived their servitude periods could join the planter class as free men and social tensions remained in check.

However, during the second half of the 17th century, as people lived longer and the prime tobacco growing lands were taken by large planters and land speculators, the ranks of former servants swelled, and fewer and fewer “freedmen” became financially established. As a result, the disparity of wealth between freedmen and well-to-do planters widened and the prospects of social mobility grew dim. This was a recipe for social unrest.

According to Morgan, Nathaniel Bacon’s success in fomenting hatred against Indians as a means of shoring up popular support foreshadowed things to come. Though Bacon died quite quickly after assuming command of the colony, and after his death the rebellion was easily put down by royal authorities, the specter of popular revolt by the “many” against the “few” prompted elites in Virginia to recalibrate the social order. They too employed racial anxieties as a means to shore up popularity and solidarity across class lines, but instead of Indians they turned to ‘others’ of African descent as their chosen scapegoats.

In this vein, slavery augmented by a hardened racial alignment emerged as the preferred form of unfree labor in the wake of Bacon’s Rebellion. This also relieved the anxiety generated by the growing ranks of volatile men in the colony, for as slavery waxed and servitude waned, fewer unfree laborers achieved freedom and threatened the social order. “Slaves,” as Morgan noted “proved in fact less dangerous than free or semi-free laborers.” As opposed to white men “slaves were unarmed,” and—since the former could be counted on to uphold the social order—slaves “did not have to be armed.”(2) White men would now unite both against the threat of Indians and of an insurrection of slaves.

The pestering question that seems to repeat itself over and over, and over again, in American history is who is to blame for the sinister covenant that brought us the white patriarchy as we know it in American history. It is telling that in his concluding remarks regarding the social realignment in Virginia Morgan applied the passive voice when discussing the status of lower-class white men after the rebellion. “[T]hey [small planters],” asserts Morgan, “were allowed not only to prosper but also to acquire social, psychological, and political advantages that turned the thrust of exploitation away from them and aligned them with the exploiters [my italics].” Similarly, he sketched the tripartite social organization of Virginia by the second quarter of the eighteenth century: “a slave labor force isolated from the rest of society by race and racism a body of large planters, firmly committed to the country, who had become practiced in politics and political maneuvering and a larger body of small planters who had been persuaded that their interests were well served by the leadership of their big neighbors [my italics].”(3)

For Morgan, as it has been for many others, the “exploiters” were the big men of Virginia, while lower class whites were only erstwhile historical agents in this affair. Numerous brilliant studies have shed light on this problem without offering a full resolution for this gnawing question. First, of course, was W.E.B. Du Bois in his masterful Black Reconstruction in America (1935). A few years later, in 1938, C. Vann Woodward continued this tradition with his path-breaking interpretations of Populism and the New South that begun with Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel and continued in his later work. In The Name of War (1998) and Our Savage Neighbors (2008), Jill Lepore and Peter Silver traced how white settlers joined forces with genocidal consequences for Indians during King Phillip’s War and the Seven Years War, respectively. Published just this year, Robert Parkinson mirrored such analyses in his exhaustive study of race and nationalism during the American Revolution: The Common Cause (2016). And David Roediger and Alexander Saxton made a similar case for the Jacksonian and antebellum periods with The Wages of Whiteness (1991) and The Rise and Fall of the White Republic (1990), respectively.

The dynamics of racism in American history are clear: the “wages of whiteness,” as David Reodiger framed Du Bois’ conceptualization, have proven time and again more enticing than material benefits. White common folks consistently prioritized racial identity over any other form of allegiance in forging a collective dedicated to freedom. Usually there were also some material benefits involved for most whites—though never a fundamental restructuring of the economy.

Nathaniel Bacon had many lives: he appeared to us as Andrew Jackson, Tom Watson, Father Coughlin, and now Donald Trump. Yet perhaps more important than the particular legacy of the various individuals who rose to prominence by exploiting racial animus and antiauthoritarian resentment, we are left once more with an uneasy choice. Should we regard common white men as full agents in this many-times-told American tale, or should we voice our frustration at the ever-elusive demon of false consciousness and lay all the blame on white elites? The most productive way forward probably lies somewhere in the middle. On one thing, I hope, enough people can agree, we must fundamentally challenge the capitalist and racist order that has resulted in the immiseration of most everyone else.

[1] This was at the center of his book American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: Norton, 1975).


Nathaniel Bacon (2 January 1647 – 26 October 1676) was a colonist of the Virginia Colony, famous as the instigator of Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, which collapsed when Bacon himself died from dysentery.[1]

Bacon was born on January 15, 1647 in Friston Hall in Suffolk, England to wealthy merchant parents Thomas Bacon and wife Elizabeth Brooke Bacon. Nathaniel was the only son of their many children, and received an education at Cambridge University. He went on a grand tour of Europe under the tutelage of John Ray, as well as studied law at Gray's Inn. However, Nathaniel married Elizabeth Duke, the daughter of Sir Edward Duke, without permission. After accusations that Nathaniel cheated another young man of his inheritance, Thomas Bacon gave his son the considerable sum of � and the young man sailed into exile across the Atlantic.[2]

Upon arriving in Virginia, Nathaniel Bacon bought two frontier plantations on the James River. Since his cousin was a prominent militia colonel and friend of governor William Berkeley, Bacon settled in Jamestown, the capital. Soon Bacon was himself appointed to the governor's council.[3] Berkeley's wife, Frances Culpeper, may also have been Bacon's cousin by marriage.[4]

Before the "Virginia Rebellion," as it was then called, began in earnest in 1674, some freeholders on the Virginia frontier demanded that Native Americans, including those in friendly tribes living on treaty-protected lands, be driven out or killed.[3] They also protested corruption in the government of Governor Berkeley, which historian Stephen Saunders Webb called "incorrigibly corrupt, inhumanely oppressive, and inexcusably inefficient, especially in war."[5] Following a raid by Indians in Stafford County, Virginia, that killed two white men associated with trader Mathews whom a later report found regularly "Cheated and abused" Indians, a group of Virginia militiamen raided settlements of the Doeg and Susquehannock tribes, including across the Potomac River in Maryland. Maryland Governor Calvert protested the incursion, and the Susquehannock retaliated. Maryland militia then joined Virginia forces, and attacked a fortified Susquehannock village. After five chiefs had accepted the Maryland leader's invitation to parley, they were slaughtered, an action that provoked later legislative investigations and reprimands.[6][7] The Susquehannocks retaliated in force against plantations: killing 60 settlers in Maryland and another 36 in their first assault on Virginia soil. Then other tribes joined in, killing settlers, burning houses and fields and slaughtering livestock as far as the James and York Rivers.[8]

Seeking to avoid a larger war akin to King Philip's War in New England, Berkeley advocated containment, proposing the construction of several defensive fortifications along the frontier and urging frontier settlers to gather in a defensive posture. Frontier settlers dismissed the plan as expensive and inadequate, and also questioned it as a possible excuse to raise tax rates.[3]

In the meantime, Bacon, whose overseer on a James River plantation had been killed by Indian raiders, emerged as a rebel leader.[9] When Berkeley refused to grant Bacon a military commission to attack all Indians, Bacon mustered his own force of 400-500 men and moved up the James River to attack the Doeg and Pamunkey tribes. Although both had generally lived peaceably with the colonists, and had not attacked the frontier settlements, their cultivated lands were valuable. In March, Berkeley had attempted to secure warriors from the Pamunkey tribe to fight hostile tribes pursuant to earlier treaties. The Pamunkey queen Cockacoeske passionately reminded the Governor's Council of the deaths 20 years ago of her husband and 100 warriors who provided in a similar situation. The chairman had ignored her complaint, instead continued to demand more warriors (and receiving a promise in return to supply a dozen). Berkeley did arrest Bacon and remove him from the Council, but Bacon's men quickly secured his release, and forced Berkeley to hold legislative elections. Meanwhile, Bacon's men continued their offensive against the Pamunkeys, who fled into Dragon Swamp. When the friendly Occoneechee managed to capture a Susquehannock fort, Bacon's forces demanded all the spoils, although they had not assisted in the fighting. They then attacked the Oconeechee by treachery, killing men, women and children.[10]

Despite Bacon's outlaw status, voters of Henrico County elected him to the recomposed House of Burgesses. That body enacted a number of sweeping reforms, limiting the governor's powers and restoring suffrage rights to landless freemen.[3] They also made the sale of any arms to any Indian subject to the death penalty. Bacon's followers were unmollified, accusing Berkeley of refusing to authorize retaliation against natives because of his own fur trading investments and monopolies granted to his favorites. After a number of verbal alterations, including a quarrel in a Jamestown street, Berkeley retreated to his plantation and signed the military commission Bacon demanded.[11] Scouting parties accordingly set out to requisition supplies, as well as to kill and enslave Indians, prompting protests from citizens of Gloucester County subjected to the militia's exactions.[12] Bacon's forces retreated to Middle Plantation (later renamed Williamsburg).

On July 30, 1676, Bacon and his makeshift army issued a Declaration of the People of Virginia,[7] which criticized Berkeley's administration, accusing him of levying unfair taxes, appointing friends to high positions, and failing to protect outlying farmers from Indian attack. They also issued a 'Manifesto' urging the extermination of all Indians, charging that they did not deserve legal protections because they "have bin for these Many years enemies to the King and Country, Robbers and Thieves and Invaders of his Majesty's Right and our Interest and Estate."[13] Months of conflict ensued, including a naval attempt across the Potomac and in Chesapeake Bay by Bacon's allies to capture Berkeley at Accomac. Bacon himself focused on the Pamunkey in Dragon Swamp his forces seized 3 horse loads of goods, enslaved 45 Indians and killed many more, prompting the queen (who narrowly escaped with her son) to throw herself on the mercy of the Governor's Council. Berkeley raised his own army of mercenaries on the Eastern Shore, as well as captured Bacon's naval allies and executed the two leaders. Bacon's forces then turned against the colony's capital, burning Jamestown to the ground on September 19, 1676.[7][14]

Before an English naval squadron could arrive, Bacon died of dysentery on October 26, 1676. Although Joseph Ingram took control of the rebel forces, the rebellion soon collapsed. Governor Berkeley returned to power, seizing the property of several rebels and ultimately hanging twenty-three men, many without trial.[3] After an investigative committee returned its report to King Charles II, criticizing both Berkeley and Bacon for their conduct toward friendly tribes, Berkeley was relieved of the governorship, returned to England to protest, and died shortly thereafter.[7] Charles II later supposedly commented, "That old fool has put to death more people in that naked country than I did here for the murder of my father." This is, however, likely to be a colonial myth, arising about 30 years later.[15]

  • BACON, Thomas (c.1620-97), of Friston, Suff. and Wandsworth, Surr.
  • b. c.1620, o.s. of Nathaniel Bacon of Friston by Anne, da. of Sir Thomas Le Gros of Crostwick, Norf. educ. Corpus Christi, Camb. 1637 G. Inn 1640, called 1651, ancient 1658. m. (1) Elizabeth (d. 2 Jan. 1649), da. of Sir Robert Brooke† of Cockfield Hall, Yoxford, Suff., 1s. d.v.p. 1da. (2) Martha, da. of Sir John Reade of Wrangle, Lincs., wid. of Edward Empson of Boston, Lincs., 1da. suc. fa. 1644.1
  • Offices Held
    • Commr. for assessment, Suff. 1644-52, 1657, Aug. 1660-80, j.p. 1645-53, 1657-87 elder, Saxmundham classis 1647 commr. for militia, Suff. 1648, Mar. 1660, scandalous ministers 1654, recusants 1675.2

    Nathaniel Bacon was born in Suffolk, England on 2nd January, 1647. A dispute with his wife's family persuaded him to emigrate to North America. With the financial support of his father, he purchased two estates along the James River in Virginia.

    William Berkeley appointed Bacon to his governing council but the two men soon fell out about the development of the colony. Berkeley favoured a policy of containment, whereas Bacon wanted to expand into areas controlled by Native Americans.

    In 1676 Bacon organized his own expedition. Fearing a large-scale war with Native Americans, Berkeley turned his forces against Bacon and his men. Bacon captured Jamestown and William Berkeley was forced to flee to the Eastern Shore. However, Nathaniel Bacon died of fever in October, 1676, and without his leadership, the rebellion quickly collapsed.

    Nathaniel, born in England and resident of Suffolk, came to Virginia in 1676 he was a General. He was the hero of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia. See John Fisk's "Old Virginia and Her Neighbors" Vol II Sparks Library Am.

    General Nathaniel Bacon was of an old family of Suffolk England. His father Thomas Bacon of Triston Hall was a cousin of the great Lord Bacon and his mother was the daughter of Sir Robert Brooke Kt. He studied at Cambridge, read law at Grays Inn and after extensive travel on the continent came to America bringing with him his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward and sister of Sir John Duke of Benhill Lodge, Suffolk. Historians are not agreed as to the year of his birth, they range from 1644 to '48, the former is probably correct. Though less than thirty years of age when he arrived in Virginia such were his character and abilities that he was at once given a seat in the Council. He is described as "an impetuous youth, brave, cordial, fiery at times and gifted with a persuasive tongue". He was tall, lithe, of swarthy complexion, melancholy eyes and had a somewhat lofty demeanor. In addition to the estate upon which he lived at Curl's Wharfe (Richmond) he owned another further up on the site marked in the city of Richmond by the name "Bacon Quarter Branch". There had after his settlement for some time been much trouble on the border from the Indians but Governor Berkeley had refused to send troops against them or to permit the people to organize companies to punish them. "If the red skins meddle with me" quoth the fiery young man "damn my blood but I'll harry them!" This threat he had soon to make good. One morning in May 1676 news came to Curl's Wharfe that the Indians had attacked his upper estate and killed his over-seer and one of his men. A crowd of men at once assembled (planters on horseback) and offered to march under Bacon's lead. Making then an eloquent speech he accepted the command and sent a courier to Gov. Berkeley for a commission. Berkeley answered evasively. Bacon sent him a polite note thanking him for the promised commission and started on his campaign. He had not gone many miles before a proclamation from the governor overtook him, ordering the party to disperse. A few obeyed. Bacon and the rest kept on their way and inflicted a severe defeat on the Indians. This was the beginning of the trouble between Bacon and Governor Berkeley, which resulted in what is called "Bacon's Rebellion" an account of which is to be found in almost every history of the U.S. The anxieties and exposure of his Indian campaigns, of which there were several, and his war with the governor undermined his health and this pioneer of the rights of the people in America passed away in early manhood (he died in 1676) his work remaining to be accomplished just a hundred years later by that greatest Virginian George Washington.

    References - Bancroft's History U.S. Vol. 1

    John Fiske. Old Virginia & her neighbors

    Sparks Library Am. Biography

    Mills Va. Carolurum - Va. Magazine etc.

    No one knows for certain when he was born. An earlier attribution of him as the Nathaniel Bacon born in 1646 or 1647 appears to be spurious, based on no firm foundation, although widely repeated in later literature including Encyclop๭ia Britannica. The 1922 edition of the Dictionary of National Biography does not give him a specific birthdate but does say he was "of Friston Hall". Although, from a contemporary document, his father is said to be "Thomas Bacon", his mother is Elizabeth Brooke.


    Nathaniel Bacon - History

    Economic and social power became concentrated in late seventeenth-century Virginia, leaving laborers and servants with restricted economic independence. Governor William Berkeley feared rebellion: “six parts of Seven at least are Poore, Indebted, Discontented and Armed.” Planter Nathaniel Bacon focused inland colonists’ anger at local Indians, who they felt were holding back settlement, and at a distant government unwilling to aid them. In the summer and fall of 1676, Bacon and his supporters rose up and plundered the elite’s estates and slaughtered nearby Indians. Bacon’s Declaration challenged the economic and political privileges of the governor’s circle of favorites, while announcing the principle of the consent of the people. Bacon’s death and the arrival of a British fleet quelled this rebellion, but Virginia’s planters long remembered the spectacle of white and black acting together to challenge authority.

    1. For having, upon specious pretenses of public works, raised great unjust taxes upon the commonalty for the advancement of private favorites and other sinister ends, but no visible effects in any measure adequate for not having, during this long time of his government, in any measure advanced this hopeful colony either by fortifications, towns, or trade.

    2. For having abused and rendered contemptible the magistrates of justice by advancing to places of judicature scandalous and ignorant favorites.

    3. For having wronged his Majesty’s prerogative and interest by assuming monopoly of the beaver trade and for having in it unjust gain betrayed and sold his Majesty’s country and the lives of his loyal subjects to the barbarous heathen.

    4. For having protected, favored, and emboldened the Indians against his Majesty’s loyal subjects, never contriving, requiring, or appointing any due or proper means of satisfaction for their many invasions, robberies, and murders committed upon us.

    5. For having, when the army of English was just upon the track of those Indians, who now in all places burn, spoil, murder and when we might with ease have destroyed them who then were in open hostility, for then having expressly countermanded and sent back our army by passing his word for the peaceable demeanor of the said Indians, who immediately prosecuted their evil intentions, committing horrid murders and robberies in all places, being protected by the said engagement and word past of him the said Sir William Berkeley, having ruined and laid desolate a great part of his Majesty’s country, and have now drawn themselves into such obscure and remote places and are by their success so emboldened and confirmed by their confederacy so strengthened that the cries of blood are in all places, and the terror and consternation of the people so great, are now become not only difficult but a very formidable enemy who might at first with ease have been destroyed.

    6. And lately, when, upon the loud outcries of blood, the assembly had, with all care, raised and framed an army for the preventing of further mischief and safeguard of this his Majesty’s colony.

    7. For having, with only the privacy of some few favorites without acquainting the people, only by the alteration of a figure, forged a commission, by we know not what hand, not only without but even against the consent of the people, for the raising and effecting civil war and destruction, which being happily and without bloodshed prevented for having the second time attempted the same, thereby calling down our forces from the defense of the frontiers and most weakly exposed places.

    8. For the prevention of civil mischief and ruin amongst ourselves while the barbarous enemy in all places did invade, murder, and spoil us, his Majesty’s most faithful subjects.

    Of this and the aforesaid articles we accuse Sir William Berkeley as guilty of each and every one of the same, and as one who has traitorously attempted, violated, and injured his Majesty’s interest here by a loss of a great part of this his colony and many of his faithful loyal subjects by him betrayed and in a barbarous and shameful manner exposed to the incursions and murder of the heathen. And we do further declare these the ensuing persons in this list to have been his wicked and pernicious councilors, confederates, aiders, and assisters against the commonalty in these our civil commotions.

    John West, Hubert Farrell, Thomas Reade, Math. Kempe

    And we do further demand that the said Sir William Berkeley with all the persons in this list be forthwith delivered up or surrender themselves within four days after the notice hereof, or otherwise we declare as follows.

    That in whatsoever place, house, or ship, any of the said persons shall reside, be hid, or protected, we declare the owners, masters, or inhabitants of the said places to be confederates and traitors to the people and the estates of them is also of all the aforesaid persons to be confiscated. And this we, the commons of Virginia, do declare, desiring a firm union amongst ourselves that we may jointly and with one accord defend ourselves against the common enemy. And let not the faults of the guilty be the reproach of the innocent, or the faults or crimes of the oppressors divide and separate us who have suffered by their oppressions.

    These are, therefore, in his Majesty’s name, to command you forthwith to seize the persons above mentioned as traitors to the King and country and them to bring to Middle Plantation and there to secure them until further order, and, in case of opposition, if you want any further assistance you are forthwith to demand it in the name of the people in all the counties of Virginia.

    General by Consent of the people.

    Source: "Declaration of Nathaniel Bacon in the Name of the People of Virginia, July 30, 1676,"Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 4th ser., 1871, vol. 9: 184󈟃.


    Nathaniel Bacon - History

    Bacon in most incens'd manner threatens to be revenged on the Governor and his party, swearing his soldiers to give no quarter and professing to soorne to take any themselves, and so in great fury marches on towards James Towne, onely halting a while about New Kent to gain some fresh forces, and sending to the upper parts of James River for what they could assist him with.

    Having increased his number to about 300 in all, he proceeds direcdy to towne, as he marcheth the people on the high wayes coming forth praying for his happiness and railing ag't [against] the Governour and his party, and seeing the Indian captives which they led along as in a shew of tryumph, gave him many thankes for his care and endeavours for their preservation, bringing him forth fruits and victualls for his soldiers, the women telling him if he wanted assistance they would come themselves after him.

    Intelligence coming to Bacon that the Governour had good in towne a 1000 men well arm'd and resolute, "I shall see that," saith he, "for I am now going to try them.".

    In the evening Bacon with his small tyr'd body of men comes into Paspahayes old Fields and advancing on horseback himselfe on the Sandy Beech before the towne commands the trumpet to sound, fires his carbyne, dismounts, surveys the ground and orders a French worke to be cast up.

    All this night is spent in falling of trees, cutting of bushes and throwing up earth, that by the help of the moone light they had made their French worke before day, although they had but two axes and 2 spades in all to performe this work with.

    About day-break next morning six of Bacons soldiers ran up to the pallasadees of the Towne and fired briskly upon the guard, retreating safely without any damage at first (as is reported). [T]he Governor gave comand that not a gun should be fir'd ag't Bacon or his party upon paine of death, pretending to be loath to spill bloode and much more to be beginner of it, supposing the rebells would hardly be so audacious as to fire a gun against him, But that Bacon would rather have sent to him and sought his reconciliation so that some way or other might have bin found out for the preventing of a warr, to which the Governour is said to have shewne some inclination upon the account of the service Bacon had performed (as he heard) against the Indian enemy, and that he had brought severall Indian prisoners along with him, and especially for that there were several! ignorant people which were deluded and drawne into Bacon's party and thought of no other designe than the Indian warr onely, and so knew not what they did.

    But Bacon (pretending distrust of the Governor) was so fair from all thought of a Treaty that he animates his men against it, celling them that he knew that party to be as perfidious as cowardly, and that there was noe trust to be reposed in such, who thinke it noe Treachery by any wayes to Suppresse them, and for his tendernesse of Shedding Blood which the Governor pretends, and preventing a warr, sayes Bacon, "There are some here that know it to be no longer since than last weeke that hee himself comanded to be Fired against us by Boats which the Governor sent up and downe to places where the country's Provisions were kept for mainteinance of the Indian Warr, to fetch them away to support a warr amongst ourselves, and wounded some of us (which was done by Sorrell) which were against the designe of converting these stores to soe contrary a use and intention of what they were raised for by the People." Bacon moving downe towards the Towne and the Shipps being brought before the Sandy Beach the better to annoy the enemy in case of any attempt of theirs to storme the Palassadoes, upon a signall given from the Towne the Shipps fire their Great Gunns, and at the same tyme they let fly their Small-shot from the Palassadoes. But that small sconce that Bacon had caused to be made in the night of Trees, Bush and Earth (under w'ch they lay) soe defended them that the shott did them noe damage at all, and was return'd back as fast from this little Fortresse. In the heat of this Firing Bacon commands a party of his men to make every one his Faggott and put it before his Breast and come and lay them in order on top of the Trench on the outside and at the end to enlarge and make good the Fortification, which they did, and orders more spades to be gott, to helpe to make it yet more defensible, and the better to observe their motion [Bacon] ordered a constant sentinel in the daytime on top of a brick chimney (hard by) to discover from thence how the men in Towne mounted and dismounted, posted and reposted, drew on and off, what number they were, and how they moved. Hitherto their happen'd no other action then onely firing great and small shott at distances.

    But by their movings and drawings up about towne, Bacon understood they intended a sally and accordingly prepares to receive them, drew up his men to the most advantageous places he could, and now expected them (but they observ'd to draw off againe for some tyme) and was resolved to enter the towne with them, as they retreated, as Bacon expected and foretold they would do. In this posture of expectation Bacons forces continued for a hour till the watchman gave notice that they were drawne off againe in towne, so upon this Bacons forces did so too. No sooner were they all on the rebells side gone off and squandered but all on a sudden a sally is made by the Governors party,. . . But we cannot give a better account, nor yet a truer (so far as we are informed) of this action than what this Letter of Bacons relates.

    ". Yesterday they made a sally with horse and foote in the Van they came up with a narrow Front, and pressing very close upon one anothers shoulders that the forlorne might be their shelter our men received them so warmly that they retired in great disorder, throwing downe theire armes, left upon the Bay, as also their drum and dead men, two of which our men brought into our trenches and buried with severall of their armes. They shew themselves such pitifull cowards, contemptable as you would admire them. It is said that Hubert Farreii is shot in the belly, Hartwell in the legg, Smith in the head, Mathewes with others, yet as yet we have no certaine account. "

    After this successless sally the courages and numbers of the Governors party abated much, and Bacons men thereby became more bold and daring in so much that Bacon could scarce keepe them from immediately falling to storme and enter the towne but he (being as wary as they rash) perswaded them from the attempt, bidding them keepe their courages untill such tyme as he found occasion and opportunity to make use of them, telling them that he doubted not to take the towne without losse of a man, and that one of their lives was of more value to him than the whole world.

    Having planted his great guns, he takes the wives and female relations of such gentlemen as were in the Governors service against him (whom he had caused to be brought to the workes) and places them in the face of his enemy, as bulworkes for their battery, by which policy he promised himself (and doubdess had) a goode advantage, yet had the Governors party by much the odds in number besides the advantage of tyme and place.

    But so great was the cowardize and baseness of the generality of Sir William Berkeley's party (being most of them men intent onely upon plunder or compell'd and hired into his service) that of all, at last there were onely some 20 gende-men willing to stand by him, the rest (whom the hopes or promise of plunder brought thither) being now all in haste to be gone to secure what they had gott so that Sir Wm. Berkeley himselfe who undoubtedly would rather have dyed on the place than thus deserted it, what with importunate and resisdess solicitations of all, was at last over persuaded, now hurryed away against his owne will to Accomack and forced to leave the towne to the mercy of the enemy.

    Bacon haveing early intelligence of the Governor and his party's quitting the towne the night before, enters it without any opposition, and soldier like considering of what importance a place of that refuge was, and might againe be to the Governor and his party, instandy resolves to lay it level with the ground, and the same night he became poses'd of it, sett fire to towne, church and state house (wherein were the country's records which Drummond had privately convey'd thense and preserved from burning). The towne consisted of 12 new brick houses besides a considerable number of frame houses with brick chimneys, ail which will not be rebuilt (as is computed) for fifteen hundred pounds of tobacco.

    Now those who had so lately deserted it, as they rid a little below in the river in the shipps and sloop (to their shame and regret) beheld by night the flames of the towne, which they so basely forsaking, had made a sacrifice to ruine.

    1 (1677). In Charles M. Andrews, ed., (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915), pp. 129-36. A True Narrative of the Rise, Progresse, and Cessation of the Late Rebellion in Virginia, Most Humbly and Impartially Reported by His Majestyes Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the Affaires of the Said Colony Narratives of the Insurrections, 1675-1690


    Mattocks Family Heritage Resources

    Source: Charles Hervey Townshend, “The Bacons of Virginia and Their English Ancestry,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 37[1883].

    Grimbaldus, a Norman gentleman, it is said, came into England at the time of the Conquest in company with William DE WARREN, Earl of Surry, to whom he was related, and was granted lands at Letheringsete,* near Holt, in the County Norfolk, and had issue three sons, Radulph, Edmund and Ranulf, and here he founded a church, appointing for its parson his second son Edmund.**

    His younger son Ranulf, or Reynold, resided at Thorp, Norfolk, and took the name of BACON and as there were several Thorps, this place was called Bacons-Thorpe,*** as Reynold was Lord of the town, and from him sprang this illustrious family, many members of it being distinguished for talent and brilliancy of mind. This Ranulf was father of George, whose son Roger BACON released to his own sister Agnes all the lands belonging to this family in Normandy, and from him down through many generations descended the BACONs of Drinkstone and Hessett in the County Suffolk.****

    [* See Note I. At the end of this article. – EDITOR]

    ** See Blomefield’s Norfolk, Kimber and Johnson’s Baronetage. The history of Grimbaldus and his immediate descendants, which we here repeat, needs investigation.

    Of this (the Hessett) family, we find a John BACON, who married Cecilly HOO, sister of John HOO or HOWE, perhaps of Hessett, who with his brother in law John BACON were probably the builders of the beautiful church there, as proved by evidence still extant on the exterior and interior of this edifice, as shown in heliotype by the Rev. Canon COOKE in his introductory history of HESSETT, published in the “Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archæology and Natural History.”

    He had sons John and Nicholas BACON. Nicholas was chaplain of Hessett. John of the same place married Hellen GEDDING, and had issue another John BACON, who married for first wife Hellena, daughter of Sir George TILLOTTS, of Rougham, and secondly, Julian, daughter of —- BARDWELL. From this first marriage came Sir Nicholas BACON (the Lord-Keeper and father of the great Lord BACON), and from the second marriage the BACONs of Hessett, who flourished there more than five hundred years, when the male line ended in Henry BACON, the son of Edmund and Elizabeth (CORNWALLYS) BACON, who died without issue there in 1651, and the estates were all parcelled out among his sisters, viz.: Elizabeth, wife of Calibut WALPOLE Frances, wife of George TOWNSEND Katherine, wife of William COLEMAN Susan, wife of Henry LAMB Anne, wife of John ALDRICH Cordelia, wife of —- HARRIS, of Maldon, and Abigail, wife of John GRIGBYE.

    His father Edmund BACON, son of John BACON of Hessett, and grandson of Edmund BACON by wife Elizabeth, daughter of John PAGE of Westley, Suffolk, of which family perhaps Philip PAGE, father of Robert PAGE, Lord of the Manor of Gedding, and whose marriage to Alice HOO is recorded at Hessett, July 21, 1545, is interesting to note. This John BACON, son of Edmund and Elizabeth (PAGE) BACON aforesaid, married first, Barbara, sister of Sir Ambrose JERMYN of Rushbrook, Knt., and secondly, Katherine PERIENTE, sister of Elizabeth PERIENTO (Lady Style) mother of Henry TOWNSEND of Bracon Ash, Norf. And Gedding, Suff., and by her had a son Captain Robert BACON, who married the Lady Cordilia, daughter of John GYLL or GILL, and widow of Sir Thomas HARRIS, Knt.*

    We now return to John BACON, son of John and Helena (TILLOTTS) BACON, who married Margery THORPE, daughter and heir of John, son of William and grandson of Sir William THORPE by the daughter and heir of Sir Roger BACON, a celebrated commander in the wars, temp. Edward II. and Edward III., and lineally descended from Grimbald, the patriarch of this family.

    The said John BACON was father of Edmund BACON of Drinkstone, whose son John by wife Agnes COKEFIELD had son Robert BACON who was buried at Hessett with Isabella his wife, daughter of John CAGE of Pakenham in Suffolk, and by whom he had three sons and two

    * These families, the DRURYs, BACONs, PAGE, TOWNSENDs, HOW or HOO, were all connected and interested in early settlements in Virginia and New England, as the records show.

    daughters, viz.: 1st, Thomas BACON of Northaw in Hertfordshire, who married the daughter of Mr. BROWN, but died without issue. 2nd, Sir Nicholas BACON, the Lord Keeper. 3d, James BACON, Esquire, Alderman of London, who died June 15, 1573, and was buried in the Church of St. Dunstans in the East, London and had by first wife Mary, daughter of John GARDINER of Grove Place, county Bucks, an only son and three daughters, all dying young except Anne, wife of John REVETTS,* Esquire, of Brandiston, who died 1616, aged 77. His second wife was Margaret, daughter of William RAWLINS, of London, and widow of Richard GOULDSTON, Salter, by whom he also had issue, William BACON, second son, of —-, Essex, and a son and daughter who died young, also his eldest son Sir James BACON, of Friston Hall, Suffolk, who was knighted at White Hall in 1604, and died at Finsbury, London, January 17, 1618, and buried in St. Giles Church on the 11 February, 1618.

    This worthy Knight, by Elizabeth, daughter of Francis and Anne (DRURY**) BACON of Hessett, had two sons, Nathaniel and James and three daughters, the latter all dying young. The eldest son, Nathaniel BACON, Esq., of Friston, “son and heir and of full age,” January 17, 1644, by Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas LE GROSS of Crostwick, Norfolk, Knt., had a daughter Anne who died unmarried, and also Elizabeth, wife of Nathaniel, second son of Sir Nathaniel BARNARDISTON of Kelton, Knt., also a son Thomas BACON, who by first wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert BROOKE of Cockfield Hall, Yoxford, Knt., who died January 2, 1647, aged 25, and was buried at Friston, Suffolk, had issue Elizabeth, wife of Mr. HOVENER of London, and a son and heir, Nathaniel BACON, Esq., who emigrated to Virginia as early as 1670, where his father’s cousin,*** Colonel Nathaniel BACON (the governor****) resided, being possessed of large landed estates in York, Nanceymond and other counties bordering on the James River. The first Nathaniel BACON became so notorious in Virginia history on account of the conspicuous part he took in opposing Governor BERKELEY that he acquired the cognomen of “The Rebel.”***** A quarrel between the settlers and natives caused the former to choose BACON their general, and disregarding the

    * See pedigree in The Brights of Suffolk, where this gentleman connects with numerous New England families.

    ** See pedigree of the DRURY family of Rougham, co. Suff., in Cullum’s History of Hawstead. John NEWGATE’s (of Boston, N.E.) grandfather Walter HOO or HOWE, leased from the DRURYs Rougham Hall, and of this family was William DRURY, LL.D., whose widow Mary SOUTHWELL married Robert FORTH, LL.D., grandfather of Thomas TOWNSEND. See TOWNSEND family of Lynn, in Old and New England.

    **** He may have held the courtesy title of governor, as an English pedigree has it. He was of the Council, and in 1688 was its presiding officer and acting governor. His cousin Nathaniel BACON the general was a delegate from Henrico Plantation, where he held an estate near the Falls of the James River.

    ***** Gent. Mag. Oct. 1816, vol. lxxxvii, p. 124 Burke’s Hist. Virg. Vol. ii. Barber’s Hist. Coll. Virg. Campbell’s Hist. Virg. As early as 1663 we find Nathaniel BACON, “a hopeful young gentleman,” one of the company of RAY, who sets out on his travels in foreign parts in company with Mr. WILLOUGHBY and Sir Philip SKIPPON. Gen. BACON’s father seems to have objected to his marriage to Elizabeth, a sister of Sir John DUKE of Benhall Lodge, near [footnote continued on next page]

    orders of the governor, who refused him a commission, he put himself at the head of a company of colonists and punished the Indians. For this act the governor in May, 1676, proclaimed him a rebel, and soon after arrested him at Jamestown, where he was tried before the Governor and Council, but acquitted and promised a commission, which the governor refused to sign. BACON therefore raised a regiment of six hundred men and compelled the governor to grant the commission. After prosecuting the Indian war with success, he was again proclaimed a rebel. He then turned his forces against the governor, whom he defeated, and burnt Jamestown, and was following up his advantages, when he died suddenly, October 1, 1676. He was very popular in the colony, and subsequent historians seem to justify the part he took as “rebellion in good cause.” […]

    [footnote continued from previous page] Saxmundham, co. Suff., and so he emigrated to Virginia where his cousin Col. BACON resided. After Gen. BACON’s death his wife married second Mr. JARVIS, a merchant, and thirdly Mr. MOLE. Some writers say BACON died of brain fever, others of a disease contracted in the trenches before Jamestown. There was another Nathaniel BACON who has often been confused with Col. BACON the Councillor and Gen. BACON the “Rebel,” or “Patriot,” as called by some. He was Recorder of Ipswich, co. Suff., and wrote several books. His work, “Of the Uniformity of the Governments of England,” published in 1647, was far in advance of his time, and his publishers were prosecuted and fined, and hundreds of copies seized and burnt.

    These three Nathaniel BACONs had also a cousin Sir Nathaniel BACON of Culford, Suff., who excelled in landscape painting (whose uncle Sir Nathaniel BACON of Stiffkey, Norfolk, who died Nov. 7, 1622, had daughter Anne, wife of Sir John TOWNSEND of Raynham, Knt., who was also buried the same day as her father Sir Nathaniel, in Stiffkey Church [see Stiffkey Register], who died 1627), and gave his estate to Lady Jane his wife, who was buried at Culford, May 8, 1659, aged 79. His son Nicholas BACON died sans issue, 1660, and this property went to his half brother Frederick Lord CORNWALLYS, son of Lady Jane by her first husband, Sir William CORNWALLYS, and ancestor of Charles Earl CORNWALLYS, who by wife Elizabeth TOWNSHEND (aunt to George Marquis TOWNSHEND, to whom Quebec capitulated upon the death of Gen. WOLFE) was father of Charles, first Marquis CORNWALLIS, whose surrender of his army at Yorktown, Va., to General WASHINGTON, brought to a close the struggle for American independence.

    There was also a Nathaniel BACON living in New England as early as 1661 (see Savage), and in the New Haven Records there are three depositions, taken October 17, 1661, and recorded by the secretary, James BISHOP. The first by John FLETCHER of Milford, second by Mary FLETCHER of Milford, and the third by John WARD of Branford, which last we copy verbatim, and print at the end of this article. The first two mention the family of BACON living in Stretton, and moving to Clipsam, co. Rutland.

    Michael BACON, of Dedham, Mass. (see Will, REGISTER, vol. vii. p. 230-1), and ancestor of the late Leonard BACON, D.D., LL.D., of New Haven, came from the neighborhood of Ipswich, co. Suffolk, Eng., perhaps Barham, Suffolk. Tradition says he held the office of captain of a company of yeomanry there.

    N.B. – Monument in Barham Church says Ellen, daughter of Thomas LITTLE, married Edward BACON, third son of the Lord Keeper. They are said to have had 19 sons and 13 daughters, [See Note V. – ED.] This family held 22 manors, besides lands in 19 parishes in co. Suffolk. This Edward BACON’s daughter Jane married Francis STONER, whose mother Mabel was daughter of Roger HARLAKENDEN, whose family were also interested in New England settlement. – Bury St. Edmunds and Environs, p. 81. […]

    DEPOSITION OF JOHN WARD OF BRANDFORD. – [N. Hav. (Ct.) T. Recs.]

    Know all men whom it may concern y t I John WARD of Brandford in ye Colony of New Haven in New England and aged about thirty Six yeares doe declare & upon my knowledge testify on oathe that I well knew for ye space of six or seven yeares one Henry BACON of Clipsam in ye County of Rutland within ye realme of England & One William BACON brother to ye sayd Henry BACON in the same county of Rutland abouvesayd, and I never knew or heard of any brother or bretheren more y t they had by ye fathers side and I doe further testify y t I well knew Thomas BACON sonne of Henry BACON & Nephew to Sayd William BACON & I never knew or heard the sayd Henry BACON had any other child but only the sayd Thomas BACON whoe I have heard went to the Barbadoes and died there and further I the sayd John WARD upon Certaine knowledge doe testify, y t I well knew Nathaniel BACON to be the eldest son of William BACON, brother to the sayde Henry BACON, and the sayd Nathaniel BACON is now liveing in New England & was p’sent at my attesting hereoff and further sayth not.

    This is a true record of the originall P’ JAMES BISHOP, secret.

    NOTES BY JOHN COFFIN JONES BROWN, ESQ., OF BOSTON.

    Note I. – Letheringsete was not granted to Grimbaldus, but was one of the many manors granted to the veteran soldier Walter GIFFARD, formerly Lord of Longueville, afterward first Earl of Buckingham, and one of the commissioners who superintended the compilation of the Domesday Boke.

    The name of GIFFARD comes from “fat-cheeks,” and, in the slang of the Normans, cooks were called “Giffardi” in reference to their popular representation as fat and rubicund.

    Grimbaldus 1 was undoubtedly an early tenant, and the history of his descendants furnishes a key to the method of obtaining patronymics, if a changeable family name could be so styled. Edmund, 2 who is usually called the third son, took the name of his abode for a surname, and so did Ranulph, 2 whose son Gilbert 3 DE LARINGSETA had a son Jordan 4 DE LARINGSETA, whose son Adam, 5 in accordance with another custom, signed his name as Adam-FITZ-JORDAN (or Adam, son of Jordan), while his son Peter 6 assumed again the name of the location, and in 1268 held an eighth of the fee, of the Earl of Clare, into whose possession Walter GIFFARD’s family estates had passed.

    Note II. – The word Thorp is Saxon for village. Becuns-Thorp means Beach-tree Village and in such a one the remaining son of Grimbaldus undoubtedly located, and was known by his place of residence as Ralph 2 DE BACONS-THORP. The early monumental brasses of the family have effigies under trees, an evident allusion to the origin of the name. A Sir William BACON or Sir Roger BACON is taken notice of, among knights bearing banners, as well Norman as of other provinces, in the reign of Philip III. of France, and bore for his arms a beech-tree. Roger 3 DE BACONSTHORP, son of Ralph, 2 was father of Robert, 4 who assumed the name of BACON and to make his identity clear, during the change of patronymic, was styled Robert-FITZ-ROGER. He was a person of great power and cousin of Jeff RIDEL, Bishop

    of Ely in 1174. He was father of Reginald, 5 who was father of Richard, 6 who having five sons, one of them, the fifth son, Sir Henry 7 BACON of Letheringsete, a justice itinerant, or Circuit Judge, would seem by the affix to his name to be in possession of the estate of his distant cousin Peter 6 DE LETHERINGSETE.

    Note III. – Mr. TOWNSHEND has given attention to the later part of the family history. The early history is in a state of bewilderment, which is hardly worth clearing up for general readers. Joseph FOSTER, one of the most eminent genealogists of the world, says “the early descent of this family, which was very widely spread through Suffolk, is variously set forth, as may be seen on reference to Davy’s MS. Collections relating to the County. In “Collectanea Genealogica” he has given a long list of the MS. Pedigrees in the British Museum, which are of importance to students of this family history. To show the variety in pedigrees, the best guide would be the QUAPLADDE quartering, of which the family is proud, derived from Margaret QUAPLADDE, an heiress in Dethrick’s Grant of 1568, preserved by the family, she is stated to be the wife of Edmund BACON, about the time of Edward II., and eight generations are given between her and Sir Nicholas, the Lord Keeper, while Playfair finds that she did not marry a BACON direct, but was wife of William THORP, a grandson of Roger (12th generation from Grimbaldus) BACON, and that her grandchild Margaret THORP was the wife of John 16 BACON, of Drinkston, the great-great-grandfather of Sir Nicholas, Dethrick giving eight generations between them, while Playfair gives but five. Playfair gives the line of descent from George 3 as follows: Roger, 4 Robert, 5 Reginald, 6 Richard 7 (he was the first to bear the arms, Gu. on a chief. Ar. two mullets sa), Reginald, 8 Richard, 9 Sir Henry, 10 Sir Henry 11 (he married Margaret LUDHAM, who bore 3 inescutcheons), Sir Roger 12 (whose daughter Beatrix 13 was wife of Sir William THORP, their son William 14 THORP, married Margaret QUAPLADDE, whose arms, barry of six or. and az. a bend gules, are generally quartered with descendants of the Drinkston line – John 15 THORP, whose daughter Margaret 16 THORP married John BACON of Drinkston. He was the John 4 of Mr. TOWNSHEND’s pedigree, which begins with John, 1 married Cicilly HOO.

    The Hessett line from John, 3 by his second marriage with Julian BARDWELL, bore different arms, viz.: Ar. on a fesse engrailed between three inescutcheons gu. three mullets or. I think these inescutcheons came from Margaret LUDHAM, wife of Sir Henry 12 BACON, instead of the D’AVILIERs, to whose connection with the BACON family they have sometimes been attributed.

    Note IV. – It will be seen in Mr. TOWNSHEND’s article that the great-grandfather of Nathaniel BACON of Virginia, the rebel, was first cousin to the celebrated Lord BACON, from whom Nathaniel 5 BACON, the leader of the rebellion, was fifth in descent through Sir James, 2 Nathaniel, 3 and Thomas 4 his father. Sir James 2 had another son, Rev. James, 3 who was father of Col. Nathaniel 4 BACON of Virginia, who, I suppose, may, in Mr. SHATTUCK’s nomenclature (REG. i. 355-9), be termed the cousin-uncle of his namesake.

    The numbers indicating generations in this and the following note, begin with the Lord Keeper Nicholas and his brother James.

    Note V. – Foster, in the “Register of Admissions to Gray’s Inn, 1521-1881,” p. 29, states that Edward 2 BACON “was one of five sons, who with his five sons were all members of Gray’s Inn.” The first Nathaniel 2 of the family was his brother, Sir Nathaniel 2 BACON of Stiffkey, Knight, whose first wife was Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas GRESHAM of London, Knight, the founder of the Royal Exchange. Another brother, Sir Nicholas 2 BACON of Redgrave, Bart., was the first Baronet ever created in England, May 22, 1611. The cost of this honor was £1095. Simple knighthood had become a pretence for the exaction of penalties and fees, yet the title was eagerly sought for by men of wealth, and conferred so generally that persons of high character preferred the payment of fines for non-acceptance of the honor! The names of BACON and TOWNSHEND can be found in such a list. James I. knighted 240 while on his way from Scotland to England, July 23, 1603 he knighted 400 in one day, 900 the first year, and 2333 during his reign. This Sir Nicholas 2 BACON, Bart., was father of Nathaniel 3 BACON, the artist of Culford. Edward’s 2 half brothers were Anthony 2 and Sir Francis 2 BACON, the Philosopher – usually styled Lord BACON, but whose real title was Francis, Baron Verulam and Viscount St. Albans. These were the five sons of Sir Nicholas 1 BACON, the Lord Keeper.

    Edward 2 BACON’s third son Nathaniel 3 was recorder of Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, and was the distinguished republican writer of CROMWELL’s time, whose principal work is referred to by Mr. TOWNSHEND. […]


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