Inspiring Purpose

Sir Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon was born in London, the younger son of Sir Nicholas Bacon , and nephew of William Cecil, Lord Burghley. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at Gray's Inn, being called to the Bar in 1582. He became an MP in 1584 and courted the favour of the 2nd Earl of Essex , from whom he accepted a gift of land at Twickenham. However, when Essex was tried for treason Bacon helped to secure his conviction.

He was knighted by James I (1603), to whom he had professed his loyalty and whom he supported in parliament. Among his schemes was one for the union of England and Scotland, as a result of which he was made a commissioner for the union.

In 1607 he was appointed Solicitor-General, and in 1613, Attorney-General. In 1616 he prosecuted the Scottish courtier Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset (c.1590-1645), with whom he was intimate, for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury (1581-1613), who had been poisoned in the Tower. In the same year Bacon became a privy councillor, in 1617 Lord Keeper, and in 1618 Lord Chancellor. He was raised to the peerage as Lord Verulam, and created viscount in 1621. However, complaints were made that he accepted bribes from suitors in his court, and he was publicly accused before his fellow peers, fined, imprisoned, and banished from parliament and the court. Although soon released, and later pardoned, he never returned to public office, and died deeply in debt. He earned a reputation for obsequiousness, which was often justified. In March 1626 he caught cold while stuffing a fowl with snow, in order to observe the effect of cold on the preservation of flesh, and died. He was buried in St Michael's Church, St Albans.

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