The Biography of Francis Bacon (1561-1628)
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 1, 1909
Written by Dr. S Rawson Gardiner & Rev. Dr. Fowler
BACON, FRANCIS (1561-1628), lord chancellor, born at York House on 29 Jan. 1561, was the son of Lord Keeper Bacon, by his second wife, Ann, second daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, and sister of the wife of Sir William Cecil, better known by his later title as Lord Treasurer Burghley. In April 1573, at the age of twelve years and three months, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, leaving it in March 1576. On 27 June 1576 he was admitted to Gray’s Inn.
Bacon was thus destined to the profession of the law. Few youths of his age, however, are content to look forward to a life of merely professional success; and in Bacon’s case, partly by reason of his own mental qualities, and partly by reason of the influence of the exciting events of the great national straggle in the heart of which he lived, the visions of youth were peculiarly far-reaching. The boy already longed not merely to do something for the defence of protestantism against its enemies, and something for the improvement of the government of his native country, both which thoughts were likely to arise in the mind of Elizabeth’s ‘ young lord keeper,’ as she playfully called him, but also to achieve which was peculiarly his own, to create s new system of philosophy to replace that of Aristotle, not merely for the satisfaction of the cravings of his own speculative reason, but for the practical benefit of humanity at large.
In 1578 young Bacon was attached to the embassy of Sir Amias Paulet to France. He was still abroad when, on 20 Feb. 1679, his father died, leaving him with but a small fortune. On his return to England, which followed soon after he received the bad news, be devoted himself to the study of the law, though he was not without nope of more suitable work. In 1680, at least, he was looking to his uncle, Lord Burghley, to support suit for some kind of preferment, the exact nature of which is unknown. As, however, he did not receive a favourable answer, he continued his legal studies, and on 27 June 1682 was admitted utter barrister.
Bacon’s rise in life was brought about by bis election to the parliament which met on 23 Nov. 1584, in which, no doubt through Burghley’s interest, he sat for the borough of Melcombe Regis. The time was one m which the greatest questions were at issue. The danger arising from the activity of of Mary Stuart was coming to a bead, and at the same time, though the queen and the House of Commons were completely atone in their desire to establish the national independence by keeping the catholics in ebea, there was a envision of opinion between them on the form of religion to be maintained in the country, the commons wishing to see the established religion modified in the direction of Calvinistic puritanism, and the queen wishing to preserve the worship of the Prayer-book intact.