English scholar

Portrait of Lady Anne Cooke, 1580. Attributed to George Gower.

Anne, Lady Bacon (née Cooke; 1527 or 1528 – 27 August 1610) was an English lady and scholar. She made a lasting contribution to English religious literature with her translation from Latin of John Jewel's Apologie of the Anglican Church (1564). She was the mother of Francis Bacon.

Early life

Anne or Ann[1] was an English translator and lady of the British court. Though Anne's exact date of birth is not known, it is presumed she was born in or around 1528. Anne was born in Essex, England, one of the five daughters of Anthony Cooke, tutor to Henry VIII's only son Edward. Being an educator, Anthony ensured that all of his four sons and five daughters received a humanist educations, with in-depth studies in languages and the classics. From the success of not just Anne, but Anthony's other daughters, this thorough education is quite evident. Anne was trained in Latin, Italian, French, Greek, and possibly even Hebrew.[2] Her sister the Lady Elizabeth Hoby was trained in languages and is also well known for similar translations and texts. Her family's social status was high, in part because her father worked so closely with the Tudor royal family, and were large landowners as a result. They had an association of some sort with Stratford though what precisely this association was remains unspecified.[3]

Adult life

A deeply religious woman, Anne's main works are religious centred. Anne was passionate about her religion, which can be seen in the letters she wrote to her sons, Anthony Bacon and Sir Francis Bacon. Due to her education, she wrote many letters to clergymen and debated theology with them as well, however, the letters to her sons are more concerned with their well-being both in mind, body, and spirit. At twenty-two, she translated and published Bernardino Ochino's work Ochines Sermons from the Italian. Her translation from the Latin into English of Bishop John Jewel's work of 1564 Apology for the Church of England was a significant step in the intellectual justification of Protestantism in England. The work was a clarification of the differences between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism, and was critical to the support of Elizabeth I's religious policies.


Anne Cooke married Sir Nicholas Bacon, Queen Elizabeth's Keeper of the Great Seal, in 1553 and they had two sons, Anthony and Francis Bacon, the latter later becoming a philosopher and a pioneer of the scientific revolution. For a while, Anne Bacon was a leading Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Her religious views remained strongly Puritan, and she called for the eradication of all Popery in the Church of England.

Anne wrote many letters, fervent with her passion for her Protestant beliefs. Many of her later letters were addressed to her sons, Anthony and Francis. Her letters to her sons are said to express "the jealousy with which she regarded her authority over them long after they had reached manhood,” and being concerned with their spiritual welfare. In the letters she also demands they follow her wishes, scorns them when they disregard her wishes, and expects her sons to update her quite thoroughly on their day-to-day lives. Though these demands she makes are true, sources agree, her main concern was their spiritual welfare, and their religious lives.

In James Spedding's book, The Letters and Life of Francis Bacon, a letter from Anne to Francis is featured. Here Anne addresses her views of the on-goings of the church and the government, speaking knowledgeably and elegantly. She addresses her son, and though the letter is quite formal and written in flowery vocabulary, her emotions and love for her religion and her son come through. She expresses her desires that he be a good man. Others of these letters were addressed to clergymen, amongst them Bishop Goodman. Anne wrote letters thoroughly quoting classic Greek and Latin. In her later years, Bishop Goodman called Anne "frantic in her age" and so it seems she lived somewhat out of the spotlight until her death in 1610. This is a portion of Anne's life where we can find little information. Her later years seem to be somewhat of a mystery, as she wrote few letters, and participated in few events at court.

In her last letter, dated 27 August 1610, Anne wrote to her friend Sir Michael Hicks, inviting him to her funeral. Her exact date of passing is not precisely known, though it is clearly in the days surrounding this letter. She died at about the age of 82 and was entombed in St Michael's Church in St Albans. Her second son, Sir Francis Bacon is buried there as well, per his request to be near his mother.


  • Sermons of Barnardine Ochyne, (to the number of 25.) concerning the predestination and election of god: very expedient to the setting forth of his glory among his creatures.
  • An apologie or answere in defence of the Churche of Englande, with a briefe and plaine declaration of the true religion professed and used in the same.



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