The Bacon Family
John Mackenzie Bacon entered Cambridge University in 1865 and later went into partnership with his brother Maunsell coaching students through exams. "The Bacons soon acquired a reputation for steering even the stupidest and idlest of their pupils through the quicksands of the dread examinations." One of their methods was to condense discourse into rhymes that were adapted to the popular tunes of the day.
He was ordained deacon in 1870 and married Gertrude Myers in 1871. For the next five years they lived at 12 Parkside, Cambridge where a son, Francis, was born (and died aged 18 months). Bacon contracted a pulmonary disease which caused haemorrhages (his best friend Frederic Myers had died of tuberculosis in 1871) and after a daughter Gertrude was born in 1874, his wife suffered a mental breakdown.
They left Cambridge and went to live at Sunnyside, Coldash, Newbury, Berkshire in 1876 where his health improved and Gertrude "was entirely herself again". Frederic Bacon was born Dec 28 1880 and Gertrude's mental illness returned; "A complete breakdown ensued, and although the acute stage passed quicker than on the previous occasion, yet afterwards, during the whole of the rest of her life, did she ever fully recover her mental balance."
Bacon became the clerical assistant to the Rector of Shaw, performing clerical duties for seven years until he resigned after publishing a controversial pamphlet in which he challenged the attitude of the Church towards scientific knowledge and warned that teachings of the Church must move with the times. He was unconventional, in that he taught his children himself, with the emphasis on maths, science, astronomy, chemistry, botany and physics. History, geography and grammar were left to look after themselves. "His aim was to teach his children to think for themselves, to implant in their young minds the desire for knowledge as more important than knowledge itself."
On 20 Aug 1888 he took his first balloon flight with Captain Dale of the Crystal Palace Company cheered on by 20,000 people at a temperance demonstration "the most noteworthy feature of which seemed to be the very large number of intoxicated people taking part." In his amusing account he describes the flight over London landing in Hatfield; Just westwards of Blackfriars Bridge we shot across the Thames, and sailed above the chimney pots of Ludgate Hill close over St Paul's, whose cross was dwarfed to the humble level of the streets. There was no haze nor trace of smoke that lovely summer evening, and every detail of the great capital lay mapped out below us ...
In two respects the appearance of the streets was remarkable. They were not nearly so closely crowded as to passengers they seem to be, and the traffic what there was seemed to scarcely moving. But one could grasp as never before what were the lungs of London and what her arteries. For Oxford Street had lost its title to the name; it was the Oxford highway now. The Northern tramways were the ways towards York and Cambridge, and Picadilly was the Bath Road. And there were those great arteries that carry England's life-blood to and from her heart. We struck them now, three at once, over Euston, St Pancras, and King's Cross, along which latter line one of the company's splendid trains, going north, was trumpeting.
At length we were out over open country...rich pastures everywhere, chequered with the last of a late hay harvest; on all sides country houses with extensive parks. We could trace the plan of their lawns and gardens as we passed over. From one of these the barking of a dog came up with strange distinctness. After some skilful manoeuvring we landed in a field ...then shouts were heard, and in a moment several rustics burst through the hedge and made for us, some in their shirt sleeves, one with a pitchfork, all intensely excited. Their leader, a man upwards of sixty, was simply beside himself. He had run as fast as the youngest, and was still out of breath to the point of collapse. Still with his hand to his chest he rattled on in broken sobs, "Who ever knowed a thing like this! To think of my living to see this happen on my farm! Lor, what a sight you was to be sure!" But our Captain had an eye for business, and cut in, "Look here; you've a horse and cart somewhere, and I must have it. What will you want?" "Ah! you may well ask. I'm broken-winded now for life, and you'll have to pay for that; then there's my hayrick getting wet, that'll be another five shillings"; and so on.
Bacon had an inventive personality. He instituted the Coldash Cottage Show which started as a competition to give incentive to the cultivation of cottage gardens and allotments and continued for another 20 years, each year with added attractions such as cats, donkeys, cooking demonstrations, a lemonade fountain, domestic handcrafts, bee keeping and a bell ringing competition. He made the tents, set up the printing press, made and tuned his own bells and even made the fireworks for the finale. The 1892 Coldash Show culminated with a staged "archaeological discovery". It was rumoured there was an ancient battlefield of the Plantagenet era and digging began in an area of unbroken soil. Implements and bones were unearthed, further digging produced the exclamation "There be summat alive down there" and Friar Tuck emerged from the hole demanding a mug of ale, followed by a harp playing Blondel who rescued Richard the Lionheart. Bacon had set this ruse up a year before, excavating a cavern and then building an observatory over the entrance, with a final long sloping passage to within 1-2 feet of the surface some distance away.
His other interests included microscopy, photography, astronomy, he conducted experiments on magnetism, he and his 12 year old son installed electric lights in the house. After his wife, Gertrude, died in 1894 he took his two children on a cycle tour of Belgium then in 1896 they travelled to Norway to view the total eclipse of the sun. They repeated their observations seventeen months later in India and in 1900 in Wadesborough, USA. Ballooning was still his passion and he turned this hobby to practical use conducting many scientific experiments on acoustical phenomena. It was a rather dangerous pastime; they descended on telegraph wires, were nearly blown over a cliff into the sea at Hastings and in an 1899 flight to observe the Leonid meteor shower, the balloon was unable to descend. As dawn broke the balloon rose higher, drifting over the Bristol Channel, finally crash landing in Wales after a ten hour flight just 1½ miles short of the Atlantic ocean.
Bacon financed his ballooning with lecture tours and writing articles for the press. In 1901 he published "By Land and Sky" and in 1902 "The Dominion of the Air". He devised balloon versus cycle races with the aim of illustrating how balloons could be used in warfare as a means of escape (the siege of Mafeking had occurred in South Africa). One of these races ended in a tragic death after a man was lifted by an untethered balloon and fell 40 feet from the trail rope. In 1902 he was the first to cross the Irish Sea in a balloon and demonstrated to the navy how underwater objects were more visible from a height. He patented an portable hot air balloon for military photography.
In 1903 he married Stella Valintine, the niece of his brother's wife, who was thirty years younger than him. Their daughter, Stella Mary was born Nov 1904 but his health was failing and he died on Dec 25 of that year,aged 59. He is buried at Swallowfield, near Reading, the grave marked with a plain granite cross and the text "The Heavens declare the Glory of God".
Source: Bacon G. The Record of an Aeronaut, London: John Long, 1907.
Additional Bacon Family information supplied by Marcus Whitaker © 2016
For further details contact Marcus
Photos from Elizabeth Medley Wallwork collection.
Generation No. 1
1. JOHN1 BACON was born November 24, 1740 in Southwark, and died August 04, 1799. He married (1) ELIZABETH WADE. She was born 1740, and died 1784. He married (2) MARTHA HOLLAND.
Notes for JOHN BACON:
Received the first gold medal for sculpture awarded by the Royal Academy in 1769.
Sculpted monuments to Pitt in Guildhall and Westminster Abbey; to Dr Johnson and to Howard in St Paul's Cathedral;
to Blackstone at All Souls College, Oxford; the bronze statue of George III in Somerset House.
When modelling the head of the King, Bacon felt it would be unseemly to spit on the clay, and had a little silver syringe made for the purpose.
This elegant behaviour found favour with the King who gave him many commissions.
Children of JOHN BACON and ELIZABETH WADE are:
2. i. JOHN2 BACON, b. 1777; d. 1859.
ii. THOMAS BACON. Notes for THOMAS BACON: Sculpted the statue of William III in St Jame's Square
Generation No. 2
2. JOHN BACON was born 1777, and died 1859. He married SUSANNA SOPHIA TAYLOR September 08, 1801. She was born 1782, and died Aft. 1831.
Notes for JOHN BACON:
Also a sculptor of note. Won the Royal Academy gold medal at age seventeen.
When his father died he completed many of his works in progress.
There are six of his monuments in St Paul's Cathedral and some in Westminster Abbey.
Children of JOHN BACON and SUSANNA TAYLOR are:
i. SUSANNA SOPHIA BACON, b. December 15, 1802; d. Abt. September 20, 1835.
3. ii. MARY ANN BACON, b. February 12, 1804; d. Aft. 1824.
4. iii. CHRISTIANA BACON, b. December 25, 1806, London; d. April 30, 1841, Exeter.
iv. ELIZABETH BACON, b. 1807; d. 1813.
5. v. Revd JOHN BACON, b. March 25, 1809; d. February 28, 1871.
vi. HARRIET BACON, b. July 04, 1810; d. August 23, 1834; m. EDWARD VIVIAN, December 12, 1832, Salcombe Regis, Devon; b. 1808; d. 1893.
vii. EMMA BACON, b. February 23, 1812; d. July 19, 1822.
viii. THOMAS BACON, b. August 11, 1813; d. February 19, 1892.
ix. ELIZABETH BACON, b. August 10, 1815; d. February 12, 1867.
6. x. AUGUSTA MARIA BACON, b. August 25, 1824; d. 1849.
Generation No. 3
3. MARY ANN BACON was born February 12, 1804, and died Aft. 1824. She married EDWARD THORNTON March 13, 1823. He died 1859.
Child of MARY BACON and EDWARD THORNTON is:
i. AUGUSTA THORNTON.
4. CHRISTIANA BACON was born December 25, 1806 in London, and died April 30, 1841 in Exeter. She married JOHN MEDLEY 1826 in Salcombe Regis, Devon. He was born December 19, 1804 in Grovesnor Pl, London, and died September 09, 1892 in Fredericton, Canada.
Notes for JOHN MEDLEY:
Hon. LL.D., 1889. [Only s. of George, of London. B. there Dec. 19, 1804.] Matric. from Wadham College, Oxford, Nov. 15, 1822; B.A. (Oxford) 1826; M.A. (Oxford) 1830; D.D. (Oxford) 1845. Ord. deacon (Exeter) 1828; priest, 1829; C. of Southleigh, Devon, 1828-31. V. of St John's, Truro, 1831-8. V. of St Thomas, Exeter, 1838-45. Preb. of Exeter Cathedral, 1842-5. First Bishop of Fredericton, New Brunswick, 1845-92, and Metropolitan of Canada, 1879-92. Hon. D.D., Durham, 1889. Author, religious. Died Sept. 9, 1892, at Fredericton. Boase, II. 830; Al. Oxon.; D.N.B.)
Children of CHRISTIANA BACON and JOHN MEDLEY are:
i. EMMA SIMCOX MEDLEY, b. 1828; d. 1843.
ii. JOHN BACON MEDLEY, b. 1831; d. 1907.
iii. CHRISTIANA ELIZABETH MEDLEY, b. 1832; d. 1836.
iv. THOMAS FISHER MEDLEY, b. 1834; d. 1839.
v. CHARLES STEINKOFF MEDLEY, b. 1835; d. 1889; m. CHARLOTTE BIRD, 1864.
vi. SPENCER MANSEL MEDLEY, b. 1837; d. 1893; m. MARY CATHERINE TAYLOR, December 16, 1863, St Paul's, Putiki, Wanganui, NZ; b. 1835; d. 1922.
vii. EDWARD SHUTTLEWORTH MEDLEY, b. 1838; d. 1910; m. (1) ALICE COSTER; m. (2) KATHERINE HANSELL.
7. viii. CHRISTIANA ELIZABETH MEDLEY, b. 1840; d. 1870.
5. JOHN BACON was born March 25, 1809, and died February 28, 1871. He married MARY LOUSADA April 01, 1834. She was great grand-daughter of Baron D'Aguilar, financier and confidant of Maria Theresa, and born Abt. 1811, and died 1912.
Notes for REVD JOHN BACON:
BA 1831 26th Wrangler, MA 1834 Cambridge
Ordained deacon 1834 Priest 1835
Curate of Culstock Cornwall 1835-7
Vicar of Lambourn Woodlands Berkshire 1837-63
Vicar of Wymondham Leics 1863-71
Children of JOHN BACON and MARY LOUSADA are:
8. i. MAUNSELL JOHN BACON, b. October 26, 1839; d. April 29, 1924, Barton House, Pooley Bridge, Penrith.
9. ii. FRANCIS BACON, b. 1841.
10. iii. HARRY VIVIAN BACON, b. 1844.
11. iv. JOHN MACKENZIE BACON, b. June 19, 1846, Woodlands, St Mary Berkshire; d. December 25, 1904, Coldash.
v. ARTHUR HIPPISLEY BACON, b. 1847; d. 1847.
6. AUGUSTA MARIA BACON was born August 25, 1824, and died 1849. She married JOHN COKE FOWLER 1844.
Children of AUGUSTA BACON and JOHN FOWLER are:
i. JOHN BACON FOWLER.
ii. WILLIAM WARDE FOWLER.
iii. ALICE FOWLER.
iv. HERBERT FOWLER.
Generation No. 4
7. CHRISTIANA ELIZABETH MEDLEY was born 1840, and died 1870. She married HENRY JOHN LANCASTER 1864.
Child of CHRISTIANA MEDLEY and HENRY LANCASTER is:
i. CHRISTIANA MARGARET5 LANCASTER, b. 1865.
8. MAUNSELL JOHN BACON was born October 26, 1839, and died April 29, 1924 in Barton House, Pooley Bridge, Penrith. He married ALICE BEAN.
Notes for MAUNSELL JOHN BACON:
BA 1874, MA 1877.
Previously in the War Office 1859-70
Maintained himself at college by entering into a coaching partnership with his younger brother JM Bacon
Ordained deacon, priest 1874
Vicar of Newton-cum-Hauxton, Cambs 1874-81
Vicar of Swallowfield, Berks 1881-1922
Children of MAUNSELL BACON and ALICE BEAN are:
i. ROGER BACON.
ii. ALICE BACON.
iii. ARTHUR BACON.
iv. DOROTHY BACON.
v. JOHN MAUNSELL BACON, b. September 13, 1866.
Notes for JOHN MAUNSELL BACON:
Studied at the Sorbonne Paris. BA 1888, MA 1898
Master at St Mark's School Windsor for two years
Headmaster of Winton House Military Prep School, Cargate,Aldershot 1896-1913
Afterwards at the Board of Trade
9. FRANCIS BACON was born 1841. He married M LANGLEY.
Children of FRANCIS BACON and M LANGLEY are:
i. ANNIE BACON.
ii. CARA BACON.
iii. LIZZIE BACON.
iv. ALBAN BACON.
v. FRANK BACON.
vi. JOAN BACON.
10. HARRY VIVIAN BACON was born 1844. He married MARIE IVANOVA DOLBESHOFF July 31, 1878. She was born in Russia.
Children of HARRY BACON and MARIE DOLBESHOFF are:
i. EUSTACE BACON.
ii. HAROLD BACON.
iii. MARJORIE BACON.
11. JOHN MACKENZIE BACON was born June 19, 1846 in Woodlands, St Mary Berkshire, and died December 25, 1904 in Coldash. He married (1) GERTRUDE MYERS April 11, 1871, daughter of CHARLES MYERS and MARY WARD. She was born February 15, 1849, and died January 19, 1894. He married (2) STELLA VALINTINE October 07, 1903.
Notes for Revd JOHN MACKENZIE BACON:
BA 1870 MA 1873 Cambridge University
Ordained Deacon 1870, priest 1871
Curate of Harston Cambs 1870-5
Settled at Coldash Berks 1875. Curate of Shaw 1882-9
Challenged the attitude of the clergy to scientific knowledge in a pamphlet entitled "The Curse of Conventionalism"
Gave up clerical work and devoted himself to study of astronomy and aeronautics.
FRAS 1888. After experimenting in kite-flying, turned to ballooning and engaged in acoustic and meteorological researches. First balloon ascent made from Crystal Palace Aug 20 1888. Experimented from his balloon with wireless telegraphy. Crossed the Irish Channel in a balloon Nov 1902.
Achieved success as a lecturer on his work and experiences.
Author of "By Land and Sky" & "The Dominion of the Air".
Children of JOHN BACON and GERTRUDE MYERS are:
i. FRANCIS BACON, b. January 23, 1872; d. July 08, 1873.
ii. GERTRUDE BACON, b. April 19, 1874; d. December 22, 1949; m. THOMAS FOGGITT, 1929; d. 1934.
Notes for GERTRUDE BACON:
Assisted and accompanied her father in his aeronautical and scientific work, and in the three Eclipses Expeditions to Lapland, India & America.
The first woman to make a "right away" voyage in an airship and among the first Englishwomen to ascend in an aeroplane.
Published; "Balloons, Airships and Flying Machines"
"The Record of an Aeronaut" (Biography of her father JM Bacon)
"How Men Fly"
"All about Flying"
"Memories of Land and Sky"
12. iii. FREDERIC BACON, b. December 28, 1880; d. August 23, 1943.
Child of JOHN BACON and STELLA VALINTINE is:
iv. STELLA MARY BACON, b. November 16, 1904, d. 1988.
Generation No. 5
12. FREDERIC BACON was born December 28, 1880, and died August 23, 1943. He married MARION FENNER July 12, 1911.
Notes for FREDERIC BACON:
BA 1902, MA 1907.Served in various engineering works including Messrs Yarrow, of Poplar, and the British Westinghouse and Manufacturing Co, Manchester1902-5.
Demonstrator and lecturer in Applied Mechanics and Electrical design at Royal Naval College, Greenwich 1905-13
Lecturer at University College, London 1910-12
Professor of Engineering at University College Cardiff 1913
During the war Lieut RNVR, employed as technical expert at the Admiralty 1916-19 (experimental development of anti-mine and anti-submarine devices)
Professor of Engineering at University College, Swansea 1920-39
Child of FREDERIC BACON and MARION FENNER is:
i. VALERIE MAY BACON, b. November 14, 1921, d. 2001.