Thomas Jefferson and the Rosicrucian mystery of “Bacon’s Vault.”
What is all this about a vault of Sir Francis Bacon’s papers in Virginia? All of this seems to tie into the fact that Nathaniel Bacon Sr. and Nathaniel Bacon Jr. were first cousins. We have noted how Sr.’s tombstone notes their family relation to Sir Francis Bacon Lord Verulam as it is present in the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg. These two men were not descendant of Sir Francis Bacon himself but of the same family that also included thirteenth century scientist and magi Roger Bacon. In fact many of the values of the famous Sir Francis Bacon seemed to have been a tribute to the philosophy and ideas of Roger Bacon. Undoubtedly Sir Francis Bacon was aware of the great accomplishments of Roger Bacon in many spheres of science of the day. Roger Bacon had even advanced the science of optics as related to astronomy during his life. His life was contemporary with that of famous Scottish magi Michel Scot who worked in the service of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II during that era.
The story of Bacon’s Rebellion includes a group of colonists that were dissatisfied with the edicts of King Charles II as applied to Virginia. Instead of granting the colonists more autonomy Charles II restricted trade to English vessels thus limiting the amount of trade colonists could have with other nationalities. Charles also awarded large tracts of land and business monopolies to some of his closest friends which inflamed the situation. Jefferson and other later patriots viewed Bacon’s Rebellion as a symbolic precursor to the Revolution which happened about one hundred years later. The purpose of Bacon’s Rebellion in part was for the colony to gain some autonomy and control over their destiny within the bounds of still being ruled by the Monarchy.
Later the Revolution would respond to this lack of autonomy and control of destiny by separating entirely with the Monarchy to create a new country the Republic of the United States of America. This is the reason that Thomas Jefferson had not only a great admiration for Sir Francis Bacon but this familial descendant Nathaniel Bacon Jr. There is almost no doubt that as Sir Francis Bacon was one of Jefferson’s three most admired people that this admiration would also extend to Nathaniel Bacon and what he had tried to accomplish in Bacon’s Rebellion. This admiration may have also been the reason he would have valued having William Bacon and Edmund Bacon in his employ at Monticello. In a way the president was looking out for the legacy of the Bacon family and the concept of the New Atlantis in the colonies and later the young United States.
In a very real way all of this leads us back to Marie Bauer Hall and her assumptions about the vault she suspected was in the foundations of the earlier brick church near the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg. Hidden in her theory may be a real rationale as to why anyone would think that Sir Francis Bacon’s papers had been hidden there. We may be seeing a misinterpretation of a historical mystery that did not include any of the papers of Sir Francis Bacon or Shakespeare.
As discussed Mrs. Bauer Hall was the wife of Freemason and mystic Manly P. Hall. Mr. Hall had created a kind of literary salon of his own in Los Angeles in the early twentieth century known as the Philosophical Research Society. The PRS consisted of people who were interested in advancing knowledge of mysticism and philosophy that in that era had been influenced by many theosophical concepts. (I discuss this in more detail in my book and video series about Mt. Shasta). It may be that both Mr. and Mrs. Hall had come to view the Rosicrucian overtones of the colonial era with a more modern new age veneer. Given this the PRS is a group of very intelligent people who may have been able to discern that some kind of mystery school activity had been left in Williamsburg and Jamestown and in a way they put their own more modern spin on this mystery. In short they were smart enough to have perused all the history available at the time and to have made interpretations of their own. Their preoccupation with the works of Lord Bacon may have led them astray.
Mrs. Hall’s interpretations do reference the Rosicrucian ideal but in somewhat of a different way than they were intended. What we may really be looking at is a kind of Man in the Mountain myth that had been left behind by followers of Nathaniel Bacon which had then been seized upon by Thomas Jefferson and expanded into a mystery school lesson about the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. Coincidentally the very same overtones of missing vault and treasure present in the Beale Ciphers and associated legends. There is little doubt that Manly P. Hall and his PRS cohorts would have been capable of seeing that something was afoot and naturally associated it more with Sir Francis Bacon than the later exploits of Nathaniel Bacon who had descended from the same Bacon family in England.
One of the prime tenets of Rosicrucian thought is the story of Christian Rosenkreutz (XP). The story of XP dictates that after a life of many great spiritual and philosophical meanings he was interred in a seven sided subterranean chamber along with valuable important relics and a great library of hidden information. Sound familiar?
Of course there are similar stories applied to the papers and relics of Sir Francis Bacon himself as this is the core folklore to the story of the Bruton Parish Church Vault on the part of Mrs. Hall. It is not too much of a stretch to see how the mere mention of the Bacon name in relation to important colonial history would cause people of this bent to speculate as to the Rosicrucian overtones of what had gone on. This may also be true of the colonial era of Virginia in question as there were likely many fans of the works of both Sir Francis Bacon and Shakespeare in the colonies at that time. Later when the College of William and Mary was established these works and other’s such as Sir Philip Sindey’s “Arcadia” may have also contributed Rosicrucian ideas to colonial life. Of course this would only apply to those that were even aware of what Rosicrucian thought was so there were likely very few people who understood this at first.
The real story of Bacon’s Rebellion ends with one specific event that may have even given birth to the term “Bacons’ Vault” in the first place. This event would also mirror the classic “Man in the Mountain” mythology propagated by Charlemagne himself possibly in response to a similar legend related to Emperor Constantine and the whereabouts of both of these kings remains. I have speculated in the past that Constantine and Charlemagne both left octagonal structure’s as part of a mystery that echoes the story of XP’s vault and associated treasures. These structures are actually meant as pointing devices to lead one to clues or the actual location of the vault of Christian Rosenkreutz. Each of these and many later Man in the Mountain myths have a distinct funerary overlay that is also present in the story of Nathaniel Bacon in Virginia.
Of course the character of Christian Rosenkreutz in this particular drama is played by none other than Nathaniel Bacon! During the back and forth of Bacon’s Rebellion Nathaniel had passed away thus ending the rebellion in many ways. His body was intentionally hidden according to most accounts on the middle neck (Peninsula) in what is today Gloucester County Virginia. Gloucester is of course also home to the Page’s mansion Rosewell where Jefferson is rumored to have penned the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. The very document that is sometimes compared in spirit to the Declaration of Nathaniel Bacon which stated his and other Virginian’s dissatisfaction with the new edicts of Charles II. It is starting to look like the remains of Nathaniel Bacon were hidden thus leading to a popular interpretation of that era based on the Rosicrucian concept of the Man in the Mountain whose remains are hidden away with scant clues as to their location. Even so many Man in the Mountain myths are comprised of initiates being given the clues they need to get started on their quest and may result in the discovery of information or items that had been left as part of this contrived activity.
Bacon’s followers were said to have intentionally hidden his remains so they could not be found. To people like Marie and Manly Hall this may have been correctly interpreted as a clue in a classic Man in the Mountain myth. It is likely that people like Thomas Jefferson and his colonial forebears had a few among them that would also recognize the imagery involved in the whereabouts of Nathaniel’s remains. During colonial times Bacon’s body may have also been hidden to keep his enemies from recovering his skull. It was not uncommon during this era for the remains of pirates and rebels to be publicly displayed as a sign of disrespect. Nathaniel’s remains were likely hidden to prevent either of these things from happening.
In some cases after the flesh had completely rotted from the corpse the skull was kept as a talisman. It is known that some Masonic rituals refer to human remains as a way to compel one to contemplate their mortality. This is also true of the skull motif’s use on the Pirate flag. The story of how Blackbeard’s skull was first displayed on a pike at the entrance to the harbor in Hampton Virginia and then later used as the base of a silver punch bowl illustrates this concept. Though a far out story the saga of Blackbeard’s skull is well documented.
It is in this way that Thomas Jefferson had come to believe that the octagonal Powder Magazine in Williamsburg had been left in the same tradition as the hidden vault of Christian Rosenkreutz. He likely also came to believe that this octagonal structure was associated with the Rosicrucian overtones of Nathaniel Bacon Jr. and his rebellion! In response Jefferson may have had a hand in propagating this mythology and leaving clues such as those Mrs. Hall deciphered on James Nicolson’s tombstone at the Bruton Parish Church. The fact that there is a documented association between Jefferson and James Nicholson may hint as to the truth of this. The date of Nicolson’s passing in 1772 is also an era which saw Jefferson consolidating his political ambitions and soon traveling to France as ambassador thus associating himself with people like the Marquis de Lafayette and Sophie de Grouchy.
There are other later people who may have understood the truth of all of this in Williamsburg history. When the Powder Magazine was restored in 1900 a memorial stained-glass window depicting Nathaniel Bacon was added to the structure! Here it may be suggested in allegory how the octagonal shape echoes the story of both Christian Rosenkreutz, Sir Francis Bacon, and mostly the story of Nathaniel Bacon and his rebellion. Nathaniel had been the cause of a rebellion that would foreshadow the Revolution and later patriots had appreciated the truth of this theory.
Here mixed into one mystery is the octagon of the Powder Magazine that also was likely constructed to mark a prime meridian in the tradition of the Tower of the Winds of Athens as a temporal marker that also defined a domain or territory. Is it possible that the octagonal form of the Powder Magazine actually “points to” the grave of Nathaniel Bacon? We already noted how this octagon points out the Bruton Parish Church and yard as part of its templum. As time went on in different eras patriots that were aware of this scheme may have built structures that either “pointed to” or were “pointed at” by the octagonal form of the Powder Magazine and the directions on the globe inferred by this shape.
The Powder Magazine also points the way to the first North Carolina Capitol and its St. Paul’s Church that seems to be part of an interesting mystery involving the Montgomery Monument now displayed at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City. The orientation of St. Paul’s in New York City in turn “points to” the Powder Magazine in Williamsburg! (Check it on Google Earth yourself!) Is this a coincidence or was it all planned? There is a clear record of a value of the form of the Tower of the Winds on English estates albeit about fifty years later than the construction of the Powder Magazine. Concealed in this rationale may also be the true purpose and history of the Newport Tower in Rhode Island.
Given the overall scheme as seen from afar we may be looking at a kind of quest left by President Jefferson that was both related to his great admiration for Sir Francis Bacon and the Bacon families legacy in the history of Virginia and the United States. Thomas Jefferson may have been adding his two cents to an initiatory legend involving the location of the remains of Nathaniel Bacon in a veneration that would later inspire his desire to make the colonies and independent country free of the yoke of imperial domination. His association and employment of two descendants of the Virginia Bacon family may have also been a result of his fascination with this entire saga.
It is more than possible that Jefferson would recognize the Rosicrucian overtones of the story of Bacon’s Rebellion and how Nathaniel’s remains had never been located. He may have been somewhat prompted by other patriots of the time to learn the truth of this conundrum. His cohorts and elders in Virginia may have recognized his genius and thought that he could find the vault of Nathaniel Bacon thus solving the mystery.
It is even possible that the Page Mansion Rosewell in Gloucester is the site of Bacon’s burial thus explaining later suggestions that the “Holy Grail” had been hidden at Rosewell. Jefferson thus seeing the parallels between his Declaration of Independence and that of Bacon’s had added a portion to an already existing and real mystery that stressed the importance of both Bacon’s Rebellion and the Declaration of Independence. Anyone searching for the vault of Nathaniel Bacon would have to both learn in detail early colonial Virginia history and how the Declaration of Independence came to be as well as where it came to be. Thomas Jefferson had added a memento mori to the story of Nathaniel Bacon in the form of a Rosicrucian mystery very similar to what one see’s in the Shepherd’s Monument of Shugborough Hall earlier and how that may refer to Charles I and Arcadia. As discussed, the story of Bacon’s Rebellion alludes to Arcadia on the Eastern Shore of Virginia where some battles in the confrontation took place.
With all of this in mind it is terribly unlikely that a stash of Sir Francis Bacon’s papers had been brought to Jamestown at all. Lord Bacon had many adherents and followers of his works in England at that time and it would have been folly to send such a treasure to the New World at a time prior to it being a stable environment for such a task. The entire concept of “Bacon’s Vault” had likely been a byproduct of the mystery surrounding the location of the real Bacon’s Vault that included the remains of the famous rebel Nathaniel Bacon whose legacy had helped to inspire the Declaration of Independence and the creation of the United States of America.
It is easy to see why a zealous Rosicrucian or follower of Sir Francis Bacon would come to surmise that all of this was in reference to Sir Francis Bacon when it fact parts of his philosophy and beliefs had been applied by others to what his family member Nathaniel Bacon had done. Jefferson recognized this and the octagonal design of both Monticello and Poplar Forest may also have contributed to his beliefs in these matters.
In the process of our examination of this mystery it is also important to note the importance of the Episcopal Church or Church of England in this story. It does not appear that the Church itself are the ones who created this mystery. Members of the Church who were patriots had been the ones to scheme this all out to teach a valuable history legend that also played on the Rosicrucian ideals of Sir Francis Bacon as applied to his family member. It had been only natural that if one wanted to leave a Man in the Mountain memento mori to Nathaniel Bacon that its funerary overtones would be displayed at the most important colonial church in the region thus leading one to an additional gold mine of little known and discussed colonial history in the form of those interred in the Churchyard. Truxton Beale is a prime example of this concept thus linking us to another possible “addition” to the Legend of the Bruton Parish Church Vault in the form of the Beale Treasure. This folklore may have been added later just as Jefferson may have added some clues of his own!