Open main menu


FAUNT, NICHOLAS (fl. 1572–1608), clerk of the signet, was a native of Norfolk. A person of the same names, who was mayor of Canterbury and M.P. for the city in 1460, played a prominent part in Warwick's rebellion of 1471, actively supported the Bastard of Fauconberg [q. v.] in his raid on London, and was beheaded at Canterbury by Edward IV's orders in May 1471 (Warkworth, Chron. pp. 20, 21, 67). The clerk to the signet matriculated as a pensioner at Caius College, Cambridge, in June 1572, and was admitted a scholar of Corpus Christi College in the same university in 1573. In the interval he visited Paris, witnessed the St. Bartholomew massacre, and was one of the first to bring the news to England. About 1580 he became secretary to Sir Francis Walsingham, and was engaged in carrying despatches to English agents abroad and sending home ‘intelligence.’ In August 1580, while in Paris, he met Anthony Bacon [q. v.], who became his intimate friend. Early in 1581 he spent three and a half months in Germany, and was at Pisa, Padua, and Geneva later in the same year. He came from Paris in March 1582 and returned in February 1587–8. His many letters, sent home while on the continent, show him to have been an assiduous collector of information and a trustworthy public servant. On 23 Nov. 1585 he became M.P. for Boroughbridge. When settled in England Faunt was very friendly with both Anthony and Francis Bacon, and, as an earnest puritan, was implicitly trusted by their mother, Ann, lady Bacon, who often wrote to her sons imploring them to benefit by Faunt's advice. He met Anthony on his return from the continent early in 1592, and conducted him to his brother Francis's lodgings in Gray's Inn. ‘He is not only an honest gentleman in civil behaviour,’ wrote Lady Bacon at the time, ‘but one that feareth God indeed, and as wise withal, having experience of our state, as able to advise you both very wisely and very friendly’ (Spedding, Life of Bacon, i. 112). In 1603 Faunt was clerk of the signet, an office which he was still holding on 20 Sept. 1607. In March 1605–6 there was talk of his succeeding Winwood as ambassador at the Hague. In 1594 Faunt obtained a grant of crown lands in Yorkshire; in 1607 the reversion to Fulbrook Park, Warwickshire, and in the same year a promise from Sir Robert Cecil to obtain some of the land belonging to the see of York. He married (before 1585) the daughter of a London merchant. He wrote ‘A Discourse touching the Office of Principal Secretary of State,’ 1592 (unprinted), in Bodleian Library, Tanner MS. 80, f. 91.

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 477, 555; Winwood's Memorialls, vol. i.; Birch's Memoirs of Queen Elizabeth, vols. i. and ii.; Spedding's Life of Bacon, vol. i.; Ayscough's Cat. of MSS.]

S. L. L.