Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bacon, Ann
BACON, Lady ANN (1528–1610), mother of Francis Bacon, was the second daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke [q. v.]. Her mother was Ann, daughter of John Cawnton, of London, esquire. Her eldest sister was Mildred, second wife of William Cecil, Lord Burghley; of three younger sisters, Katharine became the Avife of Sir Henry Killegrew; Elizabeth, the wife of (1) Sir Thomas Hoby, (2) Lord Russell, son of Francis, earl of Bedford: and Margaret married Sir Ralph Rowlett 27 June 1558.
Ann was born in 1528, and had the same liberal education as her elder sister Mildred, and indeed all the remarkable household, under the vigilant eyes of a father 'eminent in the whole circle of arts and learning.' When her father was appointed tutor to young Edward VI, Ballard and subsequent authorities allege that his daughter Ann was associated with him as governess. She very early won repute for learning, being reported to read Latin, Greek, Italian, and French 'as her native tongue.' It was probably in 1556-7 that she married Sir Nicholas Bacon. Anthony, the first child of this marriage, was born in 1558; the younger son, Francis, was born on 22 Jan. 1560-1.
Lady Bacon's religious faith grew with her years, and all her extant letters testify to her puritan fervour. Before her marriage, she is believed to have translated into English some sermons of Bernardine Oçhine; and the little volume entitled 'Foureteene Sermons of Barnardine Ochyne . . . translated ... in to oure natyue tounge by A. C.' (1550?), and dedicated to the translator's mother, has been attributed to Ann Cooke. The fourteen sermons were reprinted in the collection of Ochine's sermons issued by John Day, the printer. In 1564 Lady Bacon was occupied with a translation from the Latin of Bishop Jewel's 'Apologie of the Church of England.' She received permission from the author to publish the work (1564), and benefited by the assistance of her husband's friend, Archbishop Parker. The 'Apologie' was reprinted in 1600. Theodore Beza, who learned of her piety and ability from her son Anthony, dedicated to her his 'Meditations.'
It is as a letter-writer that Lady Bacon appears in her most attractive light. Most of her extant letters are addressed to her sons Anthony and Francis, and have been printed in Spedding's 'Life of Bacon.' Of her solicitude for the spiritual welfare of her sons, and of the jealousy with which she regarded her authority over them long after they had reached manhood, they all give ample proof. She is always fiercely rebuking them for disregard of her wishes, and seeking to keep herself informed of all the details of their daily life. Plays and masques were abominations to her; the nonconformists she admired, and in one long letter to Lord Burghley she prayed that they might be treated fairly. All her letters are interspersed with lavish quotations from Greek and Latin. Her mind gave way during the later years of her protracted life. 'She was but little better than frantic in her age,' writes Bishop Goodman in his 'Court of James I,' i. 285 (cf. Spedding's Life, iv. 217). But she lived on little noticed until 1610. A letter from Bacon, dated 27 Aug. 1610, invites Sir Michael Hicks to 'the mournful occasion' of her funeral (Spedding's Letters and Life, iv. 216-18). When her illustrious son drew up his own last will, its second clause ran: 'For my burial, I desire it may be in St. Michael's Church, near St. Albans — there my mother was buried' (ibid. vii. 539).
[Kippis's Biogr. Britannica, iv. 96-8; Ballard's Memoirs of British Ladies, 126-32 (2nd edit.); Birch's Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth; Spedding's Life of Bacon, vols, i.-iv.; Goodman's Court of King James the First, i. 285.]