Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Becon, Richard

BECON or BEACON, RICHARD (fl. 1594), Irish administrator and author, was a native of Suffolk, and was educated at Cambridge. He entered St. John's College on 12 Nov. 1567, and proceeded B.A. in 1571 and M.A. in 1575. Admitted a student of Gray's Inn on 19 June 1577, he was called to the bar on 27 Jan. 1584-5. He was appointed 'her majesty's attorney for the province of Munster' on 17 Dec. 1586 at an annual salary of little more than 17l. He was chiefly employed in regulating crown grants of land, and two letters on the subject, dated in the one case 17 Oct. 1587 from Clonmel, and in the other 2 Dec. 1587 from Limerick, addressed by him with other commissioners to Walsingham, are at the Record Office. Beacon himself received grants of land—Clandonnell and Clan Derrnott—in Cork, and of Torcraigh in Waterford, all of which he appears to have sublet to other Englishmen. In 1591 the post of attorney in Munster was conferred on another, but Beacon, although no longer in Ireland, is described as the owner of land there in a visitation of 1611. Beacon was the author of an interesting political pamphlet on Ireland. It is entitled: 'Solon his follie; or a politique discourse touching the reformation of common weales conquered, declined, or corrupted,' Oxford, 1594. It is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, and is in the form of a conversation between Solon, Epimenides, and Pisistratus as to the policy that Athens should pursue towards Salamina. Old manuscript notes in the copies in the Cambridge University and British Museum libraries state that 'for the better understanding of this allegoricall discourse … by Salamina must be understood Ireland, and by Athens England.' Beacon urges on the English government the adoption of strong coercive measures in order to eradicate Irish national feeling.

[Cooper's Athen. Cantab, ii. 174; Foster's Register of Gray's Inn, p. 52; Calendar of Carew MSS. for 1588, 1591, and 1611; Irish series of State Papers for 1589; Beacon's Solon.]

S. L. L.