Fonds BL/BC - Bradfer-Lawrence Collection: Bacon of Stiffkey

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Bradfer-Lawrence Collection: Bacon of Stiffkey


  • 1556-1621 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

4 files, 6 gatherings, 2 volumes, 10 parchments, 26 papers, 165 papers

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in King's Lynn in 1887. He became a land agent and worked in Norfolk until 1935 when he was appointed managing director of Hammond's brewery in Yorkshire. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1924 and published a number of works connected with the history and archaeology of Norfolk. From his youth, he was an avid collector of books and manuscripts. His successful career as a businessman enabled him to make substantial purchases from the leading London dealers, and to build up a massive and important collection by the time of his death in 1965. According to his wishes, his executors deposited those manuscripts relating to Norfolk in the Norfolk Record Office in 1967, a similar gift of his Yorkshire manuscripts being made to the Yorkshire Archaeological Society at the same time. Died 1965.

Name of creator

(14th century-19th century)

Biographical history

Name of creator

(? 1546-1622)

Biographical history

Second son of Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon and first wife Jane, daughter of Thomas Ferneley. Had two brothers Nicholas and Edward and two half-brothers Anthony and Francis, sons of Sir Nicholas and second wife Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke. In 1569 married Anne, illegitimate daughter of Sir Thomas Gresham and Mistress Dutton. Children: Anne, Winifred and Elizabeth and two sons who died in infancy. Wife Anne died in 1595. Married in 1597 second wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir Arthur Hopton. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and Gray's Inn, London. He lived at Norwich from 1569, Cockthorpe from 1573 and Stiffkey Hall, from 1578. He was JP in Norfolk from 1574, MP successively for Tavistock (Devon), 1571-1572, Norfolk, 1584, 1593 and 1604, and Lynn, 1597. Sheriff of Norfolk, 1599 and another unknown year, knighted, 1604. Puritan and close connections through his family with leading figures at Court.
For an attempt to re-create his archive, see the Norfolk Record Society volumes of 'The Papers of Nathaniel Bacon of Stiffkey'.

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Scope and content

This small collection consists of letters and papers of Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510-1579), lord keeper of the great seal, and his son Sir Nathaniel Bacon (?1546-1622) of Stiffkey, mainly concerning Norfolk county administration and estate matters. Most of those papers written between 1556 and 1602 have been transcribed and published as 'The Papers of Nathaniel Bacon of Stiffkey I-IV', Norfolk Records Series, volumes XLVI, XLIX, LIII, and LXI, with further volumes planned. The page references to these transcripts are given in the calendar below.

The papers of Nathaniel Bacon passed to his descendants, the Townshends of Raynham. The introduction to 'The Papers of Nathaniel Bacon of Stiffkey I', by A. Hassell Smith, contains details of the life and career of Sir Nathaniel Bacon, and also a detailed breakdown of the various sales which resulted in the dispersal of much of the Townshend archive. Harry Bradfer Lawrence acquired these papers piecemeal - some came from the King's Lynn antiquary Edward Milligen Beloe, and others from various dealers.

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