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Anecdotes: remarkable moments in the life of Lord Bacon


Eric Roberts

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In the same year that Richard II was first performed at The Curtain, 1597, Francis Bacon courted his cousin, recently widowed Elizabeth Hatton, nee Cecil. She declined his proposal and married his arch enemy, Edward Coke, instead. Twenty years later, the same Elizabeth Hatton-Coke shocked her old suitor, Francis, by bursting into his bedroom at York House, demanding that he advise her and use his influence to rescue her daughter, Frances, who had been "kidnapped" by her husband, Edward Coke, in order to prevent her from marrying Henry de Vere, only son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford...!

 

From "Francis Bacon and the Play Richard II" T D Bokenham, 1984 Baconiana, No. 184, pp: 52-59

https://sirbacon.org/archives/baconiana/1984_Baconiana_No.184.pdf

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From "The Curious Case of Lady Purbeck - a scandal of the 17th Century", Thomas Longueville, Longmans, Green & Co., 1909

https://archive.org/details/cu31924027999071/mode/2up?view=theater

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Francis Bacon and his Nemesis Edward Coke

https://sirbacon.org/cokeandbacon.htm

BBC News article from 2001 reporting the exhumation of the bodies of Sir Edward Coke and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Hatton in Holborn.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1640690.stm

Edited by Eric Roberts
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Love this anecdote Eric - something so 'human' about it all. The bedroom scene could almost be something out of one of his comedies - it certainly evokes humorous images. Apparently Elizabeth was quite a woman and her and Francis remained friends throughout his life. I believe she regretted bitterly marrying Coke. Apparently when Coke died she was heard to have said 'We'll never see his like again - praise the Lord!'

Edited by A Phoenix
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3 hours ago, A Phoenix said:

Love this anecdote Eric - something so 'human' about it all. The bedroom scene could almost be something out of one of his comedies - it certainly evokes humorous images. Apparently Elizabeth was quite a woman and her and Francis remained friends throughout his life. I believe she regretted bitterly marrying Coke. Apparently when Coke died she was heard to have said 'We'll never see his like again - praise the Lord!'

 

An interesting pamphlet by Jesse Turner from the American Law Review, 1917, "Concerning Diverse Notable Stirs between Sir Edward Coke and His Lady".

https://archive.org/details/concerningdivers00turn_0/page/n3/mode/1up?view=theater

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FRANCIS BACON - THE COMMEMORATION OF HIS TERCENTENARY AT GRAY'S INN                                                                                                             The Memory of Francis Bacon, A Speech delivered in Gray's Inn Hall                                                                                                                                           at the Tercentenary Celebration by Mr. H. E. Duke, K.C M,P., Treasurer of Gray's Inn, 1908 

I shall not ask you today to visit the gardens of this Inn, but we have included in the little book given to you a facsimile of a page of accounts in which the responsibility of Francis Bacon for the care of the Gardens first appears at some length. The interest of the transcript is that if you read the essay " Of Gardens " side by side with the transcript, you will see how every word of the essay comes from the practical knowledge of Bacon and the application of the practice of his own life.  His chambers overlooked the Gardens. He made them. There had been walks before his time, but no Gardens. He inclosed and laid out the fields of the Society, and for two hundred years at least after Bacon's time, as Charles Lamb tells us, they were a delight to the people of London. Our predecessors were under the necessity of building on material parts of them, and they present little to you to-day of the Gardens as Bacon created them. That they were then beautiful was due to his genius and his care. His association with the Gardens went on for twenty years, up to his treasurership and during his treasurership. It was in the Gardens of Gray's Inn that Bacon chiefly enjoyed the friendship of his numberless friends. Read the "Apophthegms," 32 and you will see how much his everyday life was associated in his mind with the use of the Gardens he had made.                    

https://archive.org/details/francisbaconcom00gray

 

https://sirbacon.org/links/graysinn.html

 

 

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10 hours ago, Eric Roberts said:

 

 

 

FRANCIS BACON - THE COMMEMORATION OF HIS TERCENTENARY AT GRAY'S INN                                                                                                             The Memory of Francis Bacon, A Speech delivered in Gray's Inn Hall                                                                                                                                           at the Tercentenary Celebration by Mr. H. E. Duke, K.C M,P., Treasurer of Gray's Inn, 1908 

 

I shall not ask you today to visit the gardens of this Inn, but we have included in the little book given to you a facsimile of a page of accounts in which the responsibility of Francis Bacon for the care of the Gardens first appears at some length. The interest of the transcript is that if you read the essay " Of Gardens " side by side with the transcript, you will see how every word of the essay comes from the practical knowledge of Bacon and the application of the practice of his own life.  His chambers overlooked the Gardens. He made them. There had been walks before his time, but no Gardens. He inclosed and laid out the fields of the Society, and for two hundred years at least after Bacon's time, as Charles Lamb tells us, they were a delight to the people of London. Our predecessors were under the necessity of building on material parts of them, and they present little to you to-day of the Gardens as Bacon created them. That they were then beautiful was due to his genius and his care. His association with the Gardens went on for twenty years, up to his treasurership and during his treasurership. It was in the Gardens of Gray's Inn that Bacon chiefly enjoyed the friendship of his numberless friends. Read the "Apophthegms," 32 and you will see how much his everyday life was associated in his mind with the use of the Gardens he had made.                    

https://archive.org/details/francisbaconcom00gray

 

https://sirbacon.org/links/graysinn.html

 

 

More regarding Gray's Inn and Francis Bacon

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A key scene from Part 1 of Henry VI is set in the Gardens of the Inns of Court.

https://www.playshakespeare.com/forum/some-baconian-evidence-was-shake-speare-a-lawyer?format=amp

In 1 Henry VI, 2.4, Shake-Speare sets a fictitious scene in the Temple Gardens, with quarrelling aristocratic students studying law, to represent the origin of the Wars of the Roses. A barrister would be more likely than a layman to set the scene thus. One of the students says:

"Within the Temple Hall we were too loud; The garden here is more convenient".

To explain "too loud", Edward James Castle Q.C. in his Shakespeare, Bacon, Jonson and Greene (1897), p. 70, pointed out that Rule viii of the Rules of the Knight-Templars, the first occupants of the Temple, was: "In one common hall or refectory we will that you take your meat together, where, if your wants cannot be made known by signs, ye are softly and privately to ask for what you want". Castle says this convention of quietness in Hall still prevailed in his own day. One doubts whether an Elizabethan non-barrister would have known of it (and Shake-Speare editors seem to have missed it). In 2.4.133 the discussion in the garden ends with one aristocrat saying: "Come, let us four to dinner". This refers to the fact that barristers (like some other professions) dined in "messes" of four (I think three groups of four at each table). Bacon made a passing reference to this in a letter of 1603: "I have three new knights in my mess in Gray's Inn commons".

Note: Shake-Speare does not say whether by Temple Hall he meant the Inner Temple Hall or Middle Temple Hall. If Bacon was Shake-Speare, he probably meant the Inner Temple Hall and Garden because there was a close relationship between Gray's Inn and the Inner Temple. Castle says that by the "temple" members of Gray's Inn meant the Inner Temple. Gray's Inn had no ornamental garden, just two fields, till 1586 when Bacon started to establish a garden.

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  • 1 year later...

Effectively then, Francis Bacon

Bacon, Francis, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626) . . . . As early as 1603 Bacon had mentioned that he had ‘found out an alderman's daughter, an handsome maiden, to my liking’ (Works, 10.80). Almost three years later, on 10 May 1606, he married her at Marylebone chapel. She was Alice (1592–1650), a daughter of Benedict Barnham, a wealthy London alderman. Bacon was forty-five, she was barely fourteen.

THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES PROB 11/97, ff. 216-17

 

I came across this quote by chance and found it very revealing. So Francis fixed his eye on 11 year-old Alice as marriage material? This sounds more like desperation to me. If they married in 1606 and had been courting for 3 years - who arrived on the scene in 1603? The usurper king, James I. This marriage was an act of placation to the new monarch of a (finally) united England and Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

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