Letters from Redgrave Hall: The Bacon Family, 1340-1744
The Bacon family fortunes were founded by Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal to Elizabeth I, and father to the philosopher Francis ... Show synopsis The Bacon family fortunes were founded by Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal to Elizabeth I, and father to the philosopher Francis Bacon; among their properties was the now-vanished Suffolk mansion of Redgrave Hall, and it is from here that this fascinating collection of letters originates. The correspondence centres on Francis's half-brother Nicholas, Premier Baronet of England, one of the Puritan gentry who ran the government of Elizabethan and Jacobean Suffolk, and touches on many of the most important issues and events of the period. One important component is a fascinating run of letters describing a failed marriage negotiation for young Nicholas's sister between the Protestant Lord Keeper and the wily guardians of a young Catholic, William Yaxley, in the fragile opening years of Elizabeth I's Protestant religious settlement. It also includes papers of the flamboyant courtier and diplomat Sir Robert Drury, a Bacon relative by marriage (and original inhabitant of 'Drury Lane' in London): he was friend and patron to John Donne, who features in the correspondence. Later letters touch on the Civil War in East Anglia. Overall, the letters reveal a wealth of detail about the lives and preoccupations of English provincial magnates and their often uneasy relationship to the great political figures of the realm. DIARMAID MACCULLOCH is Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford.