Wednesday 16 August 2017

(305) Bacon of Burton Latimer Hall

Bacon of Burton Latimer
In about 1620, Edward Bacon bought the manor of Burton Latimer and built Burton Latimer Hall. His origins are a little obscure. He was living at Kettering (Northants) immediately before the purchase, but from his coat of arms he is thought to have been descended from the Bacon family of Hessett in west Suffolk, who are recorded in that parish as early as 1286 and who bought the manor there at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. He was probably a younger son of Edmund Bacon of Hessett, although a contemporary herald's visitation gives his father's name as Edward. His age is also uncertain: if he was Edmund's son, he was probably born in the 1570s, when the Hessett parish register is defective. It is unlikely but not impossible that (as some sources claim) he was eighty years of age at his death in 1627. By his second wife he produced three sons and one daughter who survived to adulthood. His heir and successor was Thomas Bacon (1601-42), whose Puritan and Parliamentarian sympathies are apparent from his friendship with the Puritan diarist, Robert Woodforde, and his long-running feud with the Arminian vicar of Burton Latimer, the Rev. Robert Sibthorpe. The feud culminated petition and counter-petition to the Privy Council over Thomas' objections to the 'Ship Money' tax imposed by Charles I in 1635. Thomas claimed that he objected to an an unjust assessment and not to the principle of the tax, but there is little doubt that in commissioning an independent assessment of how the tax should be distributed he was seeking to muddy the waters to such an extent that the tax would be impossible to collect.

Thomas Bacon was succeeded in turn by his sons Edmund Bacon (1632-84) and Henry Bacon (1638-1710), one of whom made the first alterations to their grandfather's house at Burton Latimer. Edmund was survived only by daughters, and Henry, who only married in his fifties, had no children at all. On Henry's death, the estate passed to his widow and her second husband, and when they died, it reverted to Edmund's daughter, Ann Dickinson (d. 1744), who was a widow by the time she inherited. Her sons both predeceased her, so her heir was her daughter Ann, the wife of Samuel Rastall of Newark-upon-Trent, an apothecary who was several times mayor of Newark. Rather than leave the Burton Latimer estate to Ann outright, which would have seen the property pass into the ownership of her husband, Ann Dickinson chose to appoint trustees to hold the property and to split the income from it between her daughter, Ann and her granddaughter of the same name, until Samuel Rastall was dead. There may or may not have been any particular animus against Samuel in this: Ann Dickinson may simply have been concerned to keep the estate separate from Rastall's affairs, so that if he became bankrupt her daughter would have something to live on. In the event, Samuel died in 1748 and Ann Rastall seems to have settled the Burton Latimer property on her own daughter Ann and her husband, William Steer. They eventually sold the estate in 1764.

Burton Latimer Hall, Northamptonshire

Burton Latimer Hall: north front in 2008.
An agreeable and fairly complex house which remains essentially the gabled Jacobean manor house, consisting of a hall range flanked by cross-wings projecting slightly to the north and more to the south, which was constructed in about 1620 for Edward Bacon. This house in turn is thought to have incorporated an earlier building, perhaps of the 15th or early 16th century, of which evidence has been found in the roof timbers and when plaster has been removed from internal walls. Bacon's reconstruction no doubt made the house larger, and has a mix of cross-windows and mullioned and transomed windows. Inside, the early 17th century staircase remains, with balusters with Ionic heads. A late 17th century remodelling, either for Edmund Bacon (d. 1684) or his successor Henry (d. 1709) is evidenced by the first-floor window in the south end of the east wing, which is a variation on the 'Ipswich window' typical of this date. The doorways by the staircase with carved frames, and the large fireplace in the hall, also appear to be of this period. In the 18th century, presumably after the house was acquired by the Harpur family in 1764, the west side facing the road was refronted as five bay, two storey block with a hipped roof and a pedimented doorway; another, similar, doorway was added to the north front at the same time. 

Burton Latimer Hall: the north and west fronts in 1870, before the additions reputedly made by J.O. Scott in 1872-73.
Burton Latimer Hall: the house from the south in the early 20th century, with the addition of 1872-73 on the left.

In the mid 19th century, the house was occupied for many years by the Rev. Latimer Harpur, a semi-invalid, who neglected the maintenance of the property. When he died in 1872, the house was in poor condition, and in 1872-73 his son, Henry Harpur, carried out repairs and added a small new block onto the south end of the west range; this has its roof ridge at right-angles to the main building and therefore presents a gable end to the street, next to the Georgian west front. According to family tradition, the architect of these works was a young John Oldrid Scott (1841-1913), but there seems to be no available documentary evidence of this. The present garden layout seems to have been created at the same time. A further campaign of restoration, including re-roofing and the reconstruction of the Jacobean staircase, was carried out by Richard Harpur after he inherited the house in 1959.

Burton Latimer Hall: the house from the east, 2011. Image: Marion Phillips. Some rights reserved.

Descent: sold 1605 to Francis Mulsho; who sold c.1620 to Edward Bacon (c.1547-1627); to son, Thomas Bacon (1601-42); to son, Edmund Bacon (1632-84); to brother, Henry Bacon (1638-1709); to widow, Dorothy Bacon, who married Dr. Perkins; to sister-in-law, Anne Dickinson (d. 1744); to Trustees, who eventually released to her granddaughter Ann (1723-1815) and her husband, William Steer (1722-97); sold 1764 to George Udny; who sold 1764 to John Harpur (d. 1800); to distant cousin, Joseph Harpur of Kidderminster (Worcs), draper; to son, Henry Richard Harpur (1799-1870) who allowed his brother, Rev. Latimer Harpur (1800-72), to occupy the house; to son, Rev. Henry Harpur (1830-1904), who let to Mrs. Villiers and later to Col. George Harrison Champion de Crespigny; to son, Thomas Wilfred Harpur (c.1863-1934) returned to the house in 1917; to son, Capt. John Latimer Harpur (1889-1959); to son, Richard Latimer Harpur (1926-2004); to son, Philip H.L. Harpur (b. 1965).

Bacon family of Burton Latimer

Bacon, Edward (d. 1627). Possibly the son of Edmund Bacon of Hessett (Suffk) and his wife [forename unknown] Osborne. He married 1st, [forename unknown] Fielding and 2nd, 30 January 1598, Elizabeth (b. 1578), daughter of George Poulton of Desborough (Northants), and had issue:
(2.1) Thomas Bacon (1601-42) (q.v.);
(2.2) Edmund Bacon (d. 1661); said to have had an MA degree, but does not appear in the lists of alumni from Oxford or Cambridge; married Mary [surname unknown] (d. 1665); buried at Burton Latimer, 10 November 1661;
(2.3) George Bacon; died without issue;
(2.4) John Bacon (d. 1656); buried at Burton Latimer, 22 November 1656;
(2.5) Ann Bacon; married Rev. William Noke, rector of Lamport and Great Addington (both Northants) (deprived during Civil War).
He purchased the manor of Burton Latimer after 1605.
He was buried at Burton Latimer, 6 March 1626/7, aged 80. His first wife died before 1598. His widow's date of death is unknown.

Bacon, Thomas (1601-42). Eldest son of Edward Bacon (d. 1627) and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of George Poulton of Desborough (Northants), born 1601. A Puritan in religion, he was an opponent of the King's extension of Ship Money to the inland counties, and was accused by the vicar of Burton Latimer of seeking to avoid payment of the tax, but he argued that he disputed the local assessment, not the principle of the tax. He married 1st, Margaret (d. 1627), daughter of George Franklin of Bolnhurst (Beds), and 2nd, 13 February 1631/2 at Watford (Northants), Elizabeth (1601-48), daughter of Richard Watkins of Long Buckby (Northants), and had issue:
(1.1) Margaret Bacon (b. & d. 1627), born and died January 1626/7 and was buried in the chancel of Burton Latimer church;
(2.1) Edmund Bacon (1632-84) (q.v.);
(2.2) Elizabeth Bacon (1635-97), baptised at Long Buckby (Northants), 6 January 1635/6; married, 10 February 1661/2, Rev. George Becke (d. 1676), rector of Burton Latimer, 1662-76 and had issue one daughter and another child who died in infancy; buried at Burton Latimer, 14 May 1697;
(2.3) Henry Bacon (1638-1710) (q.v.);
(2.4) Ann Bacon (1642-86), baptised at Burton Latimer, 28 September 1642; died unmarried and was buried at Burton Latimer, 17 July 1686.
He inherited the Burton Latimer Hall estate from his father in 1627.
He was buried at Burton Latimer, 25 May 1642. His first wife died in childbirth and was buried at Burton Latimer, 30 January 1626/7, where she is commemorated by a monument. His second wife died in 1648; her will was proved 23 January 1648/9.

Bacon, Edmund (1632-84). Elder son of Thomas Bacon (1601-42) and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Watkins of Long Buckby (Northants), baptised at Long Buckby, 17 January 1632/3. He was ophaned at the age of fifteen and brought up by his uncles John and Edmund. He married, 14 July 1653 at Great Addington (Northants), Mary (d. 1687), daughter of Thomas Vincent of Thingdon (now Finedon) (Northants), and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Bacon (d. 1685); buried at Burton Latimer, 24 July 1685;
(2) Thomas Bacon (b. 1665), baptised at Burton Latimer, 8 May 1665; probably died young;
(3) Ann Bacon (1672-1744) (q.v.);
(4) Frances Bacon (b. 1673), baptised at Burton Latimer, 11 September 1673; married Robert Williamson (fl. 1722) of Allington (Lincs); living in 1738.
He inherited the Burton Latimer Hall estate from his father in 1642 and came of age in 1653. At his death the estate passed to his brother Henry.
He was buried at Burton Latimer, 9 April 1684; administration of his goods was granted at Northampton, 1684 (goods appraised at £270). His widow was buried at Burton Latimer, April 1687.

Bacon, Henry (1638-1710). Younger son of Thomas Bacon (1601-42) and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Watkins of Long Buckby (Northants), baptised at Long Buckby, 14 August 1638. He was orphaned at the age of nine, and brought up by his uncles John and Edmund. Trustee of Rothwell Free School, 1703-09. He married, 2 June 1691 at Great Gransden (Hunts), Dorothy (b. 1663), only daughter of Charles Caesar of Great Gransden, but had no issue.
He inherited the Burton Latimer Hall estate from his brother in 1684. At his death it passed to his widow, and on her death to his niece, Ann Dickinson.
He was buried at Burton Latimer, 21 January 1709/10; administration of his goods was granted at Northampton, 1709/10. His widow married 2nd, 13 July 1711 at Burton Latimer, Dr. Thomas Perkins; her date of death is unknown.

Bacon, Ann (1672-1744). Daughter of Edmund Bacon (d. 1684) and his wife Mary, baptised at Burton Latimer, 26 January 1671/2. She married 1st, [forename unknown] Williamson and 2nd, 20 June 1698 at Allington (Lincs), as his second wife, Edmund Dickinson (c.1665-1727) of Claypole (Lincs) and Newark (Notts), son of John Dickinson, and had issue:
(2.1) Anne Dickinson (c.1698-1772) (q.v.); 
(2.2) Edmund Bacon Dickinson (1705-33), baptised at Newark, 3 August 1705; apprenticed to Robert Heron, attorney, of Newark, 1723;  buried at Burton Latimer, 17 January 1732/3; will proved at York, August 1733;
(2.3) Charles Dickinson (1712-21), baptised at Newark, 21 February 1711/2; died young and was buried at Claypole (Lincs), 27 March 1721.
She inherited the Burton Latimer Hall estate on the death of Dorothy Perkins. At her death it passed to Trustees, who released it to her daughter after 1748.
She died at Burton Latimer, 19 January 1743/4 and was buried at Claypole (Lincs), 24 January 1743/4; her will was proved in the PCC, 23 April 1744*. Her husband died 20 April and was buried at Claypole, 22 April 1727.
*Her will includes a bequest 'to my daughter, Elizabeth Stow, late wife of Thomas Stow of Newark... esquire', but Elizabeth seems to have been her stepdaughter, baptised at Claypole on 30 April 1691 and married at Hougham (Lincs), 2 September 1718.

Dickinson, Anne (c.1698-1772). Elder daughter of Edmund Dickinson of Newark-upon-Trent and his wife Ann, daughter of Edmund Bacon of Burton Latimer, born about 1698. She married, 30 June 1721 at Winkburn (Notts), Samuel Rastall (fl. 1744), mayor of Newark-upon-Trent and had issue:
(1) Charles Rastall (b. 1722), baptised at Newark, 19 May 1722; died in infancy;
(2) Anne Rastall (1723-1815), baptised at Newark, 13 July 1723; her mother gave her the Burton Latimer estate sometime after 1748; married, 18 May 1744 at Easton-on-the-Hill (Northants), William Steer (1722-97) of Newark-on-Trent, surgeon, son of Joseph Steer, and had issue two sons and eight daughters; died at Bath (Somerset) aged 91 and was buried at Bathwick (Somerset), 16 February 1815; will proved in PCC, 24 July 1815;
(3) Rev. William Rastall (1724-88), born August and baptised at Newark, 7 September 1724; educated at Eton and Jesus College, Cambridge (admitted 1742; BA 1746; MA 1749; DD 1766); Fellow of Peterhouse, 1747; ordained deacon, 1748 and priest, 1750; rector of Waltham-le-Wolds (Leics) 1750-88; rector of Cromwell (Lincs), 1765; prebendary and vicar-general of Southwell Minster, 1760-88; married Mary, daughter of Maj. Allgood of Branton (Northbld), and had issue one son; died 4 November and was buried at Claypole, 20 November 1788; will proved in the PCC, 5 March 1800;
(4) Charles Dickinson Rastall (b. 1727), baptised at Newark, 24 February 1726/7; probably died young;
(5) Mary Frances Rastall (b. 1740), baptised at Newark, 27 November 1740; living in 1743.
On her mother's death, the Burton Latimer estate was passed to trustees who were to pay her an annuity from the estate until the death of her husband. She came into possession after 1748 and then gave the property to her daughter Anne and her husband, who sold it in 1764.
She was buried at Claypole, 30 April 1772, aged 74. Her husband was buried at Newark, 3 October 1748; his will was proved in the PCY, April 1749.


B. Bailey, Sir N. Pevsner & B. Cherry, The buildings of England: Northamptonshire, 3rd edn., 2013, p. 150;;

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive. Property deeds are no doubt among the papers of the Harpur family of Burton Latimer at Northamptonshire Archives [H(BL)].

Coat of arms

Argent, a fess engrailed, between three escutcheons gules as many mullets or pierced azure.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.

  • This family seems to have left an unusually light footprint in the genealogical and historical record. If anyone can add additional information from original sources I should be very pleased to hear from them. In particular, it would be useful to know when Dr. Thomas Perkins and his wife Dorothy died.
  • Can anyone supply portraits of members of this family?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 16 August 2017.

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