The Battle Abbey Roll. Vol. I.
by
The Duchess of Cleveland.

Prepared by Michael A. Linton
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Bascoun : The name of "P. Bascon" is inscribed on a marble tablet at Mont St. Michel, as one of the hundred and nineteen Norman gentlemen who defended the place against the English in 1423. "We find Bacon or Bacco in the eleventh century in Maine; but this family was Northman. Anchetil Bacon, before the Conquest, made grants at his lordship of Molay to Ste. Barbe-en-Auge (Des Bois): William Bacon, Lord of Molay, in 1082, founded Holy Trinity, Caen; and in 1154 Roger Bacon (who is mentioned as of Vieux-Molay) held estates in Wilts (Rot. Pip.). Robert, William, and Alexander Bacon held four knight's fees of ancient enfeoffment in 1165 from the Barony of Montfichet in Essex (Liber Niger).—The Norman People. The "Sire de Viez Molai," spoken of by Wace at the battle of Hastings, was the William Bacon above-mentioned, who founded, or according to another version, made donations to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity, where his sister had taken the veil. His son or grandson may have been the Richard Bacon, who was a nephew of Ranulph de Meschines, Earl of Chester, and the founder of Roucester Priory, in Staffordshire.

It seems all but self-evident that these Norman Lords of Molai, who came over at the Conquest, must have been the ancestors of the English family that has made their name illustrious. Few among our ancient houses can count up such a succession of eminent men as are shown on the pedigree of the Bacons: "no single cord, but a twisted cable of many together," as Fuller quaintly describes them. There was the Doctor Mirabilis of the thirteenth century, Friar Bacon, whose learning was so far in advance of the age that he was accounted a wizard: John Bacon, the studious and eloquent Carmelite styled the "Resolute Doctor;" Sir Nicholas Bacon, Queen Elizabeth's Lord Keeper, who "was, for judgment, the other pillar of the State;" and above all, his son Francis Lord Verulam, one of the greatest geniuses of his time. Voltaire calls him the father of experimental philosophy: and "his works are, for expression as well as thought, the glory of our nation and of all latter ages." His half-brother Nicholas received the first baronetcy ever conferred in this kingdom, now held
by his descendants.

But the obvious derivation from the Sires de Molai does not commend itself to the family. They "deduce their descent from Grimbald, a cousin of William de Warrenne, whose great grandson, according to their genealogists, assumed the name of Bacon in Normandy."—J. R. Planche. "Why," pertinently asks M. de Prevost, "do the English Bacons choose to deduce their origin from this Grimbald, in preference to the well-known Bacons of Molai?" It is a question that I, at least, am unable to answer. According to Betham's Baronetage, "their pedigree was transcribed out of a book belonging to Binfield Priory, which is at large inserted in the book of evidences concerning this family."

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