Bacon’s Rebellion, The Bruton Parish Church, and the true Arcadia of Virginia.
Authors Note. This is a selection from my last book "Oak Island and the Arcadian Mysteries. Oak Island, Rennes le Chateau, and Shugborough Hall. This article examines how and why Mrs. Marie Bauer Hall wife of famous mystic and Masonic philosopher Manly P. Hall had supposed that an important vault consisting of the papers of Sir Francis Bacon had been brought to the New World by Nathaniel Bacon a member of the same Bacon family as Sir Francis. Along the way many historical truths are exposed that may show connections to other mysteries that involve what this author terms Arcadian imagery. -Thank you, Cort.
The following analysis is based on many facts exposed by researcher Marie Bauer Hall the wife of famous Masonic mystic and New Age figure Manly P. Hall. Her books “Foundations Unearthed” and “Quest for the Bruton Parish Vault” contain some good observations but in the opinion of this author is clouded by a kind of New Age mysticism that was popular in the early twentieth century. These same concepts would also place a veil of confusion over similar events that occurred in California in the nineteenth century that include the many New Age myths and legends of Mt. Shasta and Frenchman’s Tower as discussed.
There is no evidence that something is being obscured though this may be true. There are aspects of American history that seem to be overlooked in favor of a more secular view of historical events that in fact involved people of the various Christian faiths applying a kind of mystery school initiation to things that had their basis of importance in the ideals of those who created the United States. Manly P. Hall does discuss this concept in detail in his work. The United States has always been a place where those with different ideas about religion and mysticism are free to even make up whatever they would like to believe. Many of the hidden or Rosicrucian overtones of secret societies were also utilized by intelligence services for many different reasons. The philosophies of Sir Francis Bacon have been spun in many different ways to support different points of view including many common tenets of what may be referred to as the New Age.
Mrs. Marie Bauer Hall seems to have applied many overtones to Williamsburg and the Bruton Parish Church and are of her invention alone. Many of her thoughts on history seem to involve a kind of thought that is similar to the “I Am Activity” of Guy Ballard developed in part due to his experiences at Mt. Shasta California. In previous work I have discussed Ballard’s possible relation to two import groups of early colonial families including those of Hartford Connecticut and Jamestown Virginia.
Mrs. Hall seems to be the first source stating that there is a vault of Sir Francis Bacon’s papers stashed at the Bruton Parish Church. Though there are rumors of this legend prior to Mrs. Hall’s observations none of this folklore is documented to date. No one before her had applied New Age overtones to any historical happenings in colonial Virginia. Her views on this aspect of the mystery were very popular at the time as applied to other aspects of history that may have been a more modern interpretation of the “New Atlantis” visions of Sir Francis Bacon. It is almost as if we are viewing these historical events through New Age goggles that somewhat distort certain facts and events that may lead to the assumption that a mystery school did exist that may have suggested the influence of Sir Francis Bacon in colonial Virginia. It may be that Thomas Jefferson, other future Presidents, and influential early colonists had all been aware of a secret path of initiation that involved Bacon’s vision in what would become the United States of America. In some ways we are seeing how the “New Jerusalem” array of architecture we see in Williamsburg is a distant echo of the arrangement of architecture seen on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem today. Mrs. Hall’s assumptions and theories do resemble many other older stories of lost treasure, hidden vaults, and vital hidden information. The famous Temple Mount treasure of Jerusalem may be the historical basis for many of these myths that have been crafted in a similar form.
The builders of the Bruton Parish Church and Powder Magazine may have sought to align these two structures in the design of Williamsburg as a kind of homage to Jerusalem. On the surface the form of the Powder Magazine may be pointed to by others as representative of the Holy Sepulcher but in truth this represents the Dome of the Rock in which they may have believed that Constantine had once been interred in a crypt beneath. The later interpretations involving this array of architecture of Mrs. Hall and other New Age figures may have been an attempt to coopt the New Jerusalem concept and turn it into a New Atlantis in the mold of their vision of Sir Francis Bacon. If Williamsburg was created as New Jerusalem there may have also been a more hidden element of colonists that considered it their New Atlantis. One of the directions on the globe suggested by the octagonal form of the Powder Magazine creates an arc on the globe that extends not only to the Bruton Parish Church but also to the foundations of the old church just a few feet away from the Grave of Truxton Beale.
Many of these concepts were applied for the first time in the event of what is known as “Bacon’s Rebellion” in the colony of Virginia. Mr. Bacon was distantly related to Sir Francis Bacon and this is stated on his tombstone that is now displayed in the tower of the Bruton Parish Church. This is indeed suggestive of “Bacon’s Vault” right in the tower of the Church as told in the work of Mrs. Hall.
The entire story of many of the other places discussed in this book includes the involvement of later Bacon family members in the establishment of Hartford, Connecticut, Denver, and Chico California. Both places are part of the New Jerusalem and New Atlantis of America. Other prominent allies of the Bacon family do also go all the way back to Jamestown and England in association. The first families of all the colonies would go on to establish many educational and industrial institutions of the early country and beyond. This includes later railroad owner’s including Samuel Hill who was involved in building the Maryhill Stonehenge and Art Museum and the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Mr. Hill included Lawrence Washington and Rev. Jones of the Bruton Parish Church in his ancestry. People such as Mr. Hill and Truxtun Beale may show how all these secrets were known of by later family members of the First Families.
As we may see the historical event of Bacon’s Rebellion will also lead us in a very real and tangible way to the mythical land of the utopia of Arcadia. Nathaniel Bacon the leader of this revolt is also pointed to by Mrs. Hall and others as having been the person who had brought a valuable stash of documents to America thus leading to the construction of a vault first in the Jamestown Church and eventually an additional vault in the Bruton Parish Church. Mrs. Hall came to these conclusions from coming to believe that certain portions of Withers Book of Emblems (1635) held encoded and metaphorical clues that led one to Bruton Parish in Williamsburg.
The concepts of Sir Francis Bacon’s “New Atlantis” and those of Arcadia are very similar. Both places suggest a kind of utopian existence free of the trappings of the modern world. This may have included a vision that the monarchy would have rule over this utopian paradise and be able to create a place that was ideal. The French concept of the ancient regime also has many suggestions of these ideals. As the story progresses we may see that the New Atlantis faction’s version of utopia would include a representative democracy in the form of the Republic of the United States of America. This point may represent a cross over in reality between those with a more New Age view and those with a practical view of history and culture.
Mrs. Hall’s largest victory or validation of her theories came as she noted how the location of the church on an early map of Williamsburg seemed to place the church somewhat north and west of the location of the current Church. To figure this Mrs. Hall used a map known as the “Bland Map” and distances she found encoded on the tombstone of one James Nicolson (Nicholson in other references). The dates of Mr. Nicholson’s birth and death matched distances in feet to the old church foundation when measured from Wren Hall. Wren Hall was said to have been designed by famous Masonic architect Sir Christopher Wren who designed many critically acclaimed structures after a great fire in London. The image of Sir Wren will surface again in this tale in an odd way.
Mrs. Hall’s analysis of Mr. Nicholson’s tombstone was not revealed in Withers Book of Emblems but she noted the similarity between the dates on the stone and the distances from Wren Hall to the foundations that she would find just a little later in the story. The Nicolson tomb is still in the Bruton Parish Churchyard today and is aligned with the tower of the newer church which supports Mrs. Hall’s assumptions that this tombstone may hold clues as to the location of the original church which were not revealed in Withers book but from her own observations. Mr. Nicolson was born in 1722 and died on Jan. 22, 1773. Mrs. Hall also viewed his date of death as significant as January 22 is the birthdate of Sir Francis Bacon. These dates when turned into distances in feet seem to match the front and back of the old church foundations when measured from the front of Wren Hall to the west.
Amazingly the Mr. Nicolson noted on the tombstone was associated with Thomas Jefferson. James Nicolson is described as the steward and gardener of the College of William and Mary. Part of his duties as gardener allowed him to sell seeds to other planters and gardeners in the colony. Among these people were Thomas Jefferson who was an avid botanist and had extensive gardens at his properties Monticello and Poplar Forest.
Amazingly there is a record of Thomas Jefferson giving James Nicolson an undisclosed amount of money in 1772 just a year before his passing. Though this date matches the construction date range of Monticello it is interesting that Jefferson was associated with Mr. Nicolson. He may have also known Nicolson from his days as a student at William and Mary when he actually attended the Bruton Parish Church. There is a pew in the church marked as Thomas Jefferson’s with a plaque. James Madison and James Monroe also hold the distinction of having memorial plaques within the church marking their pew. Both men attended the same church during the same era. Jefferson would also attend the church while governor of Virginia.
Is it possible that Jefferson had given Nicolson money towards the purchase of his tombstone? If true then this would be a validation of Mrs. Hall’s theory that something important is to be found at the Bruton Parish Church. This discovery even if in metaphor may show one a more in depth history of colonial Virginia leading up to the concepts of freedom and liberty in the future United States of America. The Episcopalian faith may have played somewhat of a role in the propagation of these ideas that seem to have been later coopted by people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in what may considered a more “New Age” point of view.
A simple examination of the names involved in this story reveals aspects of American history that may not otherwise be noted in the eyes of the seeker. St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City and St. Paul’s Church in Edenton North Carolina may also be home to “mysteries” that are in the end meant to inform one of neglected aspects of colonial history. By following the lives and associations of characters involved in each place some amazing stories come to light. As part of this story we may also see the involvement of a man named Robert Honeyman who started the first Episcopal Church in Newport Rhode Island right at about the same time the mystery of the Newport Tower was starting to be given “Norse” overtones.
The notation in Jefferson’s papers simply notes a payment to Nicholson and does not specify what this payment was for or the amount involved. If not for seeds this may illustrate how Jefferson was involved in planting the seed of a notion that there was something special about the Bruton Parish Church or more precisely the old foundations of the former church. The fact that his dates of birth and death match the distance from Wren Hall to the old foundations may support this notion. Who better than land surveyor Thomas Jefferson to have noted this and valued it thus compelling him to arrange these numbers on the tombstone of Mr. James Nicolson? As we may see this clue may have come from Jefferson, Mr. Nicolson, or his possible relative early Virginia Governor Francis Nicholson who also attended the church and was a stalwart supporter. Jefferson as part of all of this would have been aware of the works of Shakespeare, Sir Francis Bacon and all of the intrigue surrounding everything they did.
Here’s the part of the story which links the Bruton Parish Church to the story of Bacon’s Rebellion and “Arcadia” on the Eastern Shore of Virginia!
James Nicolson’s name is spelled alternately “Nicholson” in other matters recording his presence and vocation at the College of William and Mary. This name is a very important name in the history of early Virginia as one of early colonial governors was named Francis Nicholson. Nicholson is a Scottish name that also spread throughout England over time. Francis Nicholson is also interesting in that his name may be mentioned in the legend of the Bland map that Mrs. Hall used to figure the distances from Wren Hall to the old Bruton Church foundations. The name “Nicolson” appears in the legend of this map that appears to have been added to the map at a later date. Earlier in history we do see an individual named Bland being executed for his role in Bacon’s Rebellion on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. While Mrs. Hall speculates that this name is from the gardener Nicolson this may also infer that Francis Nicholson was also privy to whatever secrets are being told if any. If one is looking for clues that will tell you about the history of Colonial Williamsburg Francis Nicholson is an important figure. The 1699 date of the production of this map also matches the time of Governor Nicholson in Williamsburg.
Francis Nicholson has many interesting connections to his replacement the later governor of Virginia Alexander Spotswood. Spotswood was in turn acting governor in the place of Earl of Orkney George Hamilton. When Nicholson was early into his military career he was stationed in Tangiers. This was during the same period during which Alexander Spotswood was growing up in Tangiers attached to the same diplomatic and military posting that Nicholson was a part of. It is noted that the two knew each other. Spotswood would be the next governor of Virginia after Nicholson’s temper had gotten the best of him one to many times and he was asked to leave. Francis Nicholson amazingly would go on to be the Governor of Nova Scotia or in other terms Arcadia! Is it possible that Governor Nicholson was aware of the legacy of Acadia and how Philip Sidney’s book named “Arcadia” had inspired tale of lost treasures in Nova Scotia? Nicholson represents yet another compelling link between Nova Scotia and Virginia in addition to the legacy of the Alexander family.
The newer Bruton Parish Church and the Powder Magazine were built right at the time Spotswood and George Hamilton’s influence may have had some bearing on the geographic qualities of this mystery. Hamilton was an Earl of Orkney who may have been privy to the importance of the meridian created by the alignment of the Orphir Round Kirk on Orkney and the famous Rosslyn Chapel. Both structures are due north and south of each other. William Sinclair the builder of Rosslyn may have built Rosslyn in this specific tradition to create a talismanic meridian that displayed the legacy of the Earls of Orkney.
The Earls of Orkney involvement here may also be associated with England’s right to claim the east coast even though France and Spain also had legitimate claims. Their Norwegian heritage may have inspired their ownership of this region as they may have argued that their Norse ancestors had claimed it long before France or Spain. The establishment of the Powder Magazine in 1715 along with this new church also coincides with the first Jacobite revolution in Scotland and England. After the Jacobite rebels lost many of them were exiled in the colonies thus adding them to the disaffected population of Cavaliers that had already been exiled during the time of Charles I and II.
The establishment of the Powder Magazine in the tradition of the Tower of the Winds of Athens and the Orphir Kirk may have been meant to establish a temporally sensitive meridian of their own in their new holdings in Williamsburg. Just after this time in England we begin to see architectural follies of the Tower of the Winds being built on English estates using the same mystery school concepts that had been applied to the Powder Magazine earlier. (See Shugborough and West Wycombe chapters). All of these Jacobite sympathies in some ways would have dove tailed with the sensibilities of personal freedoms and liberties first exposed during Bacon’s Rebellion. In this way it may be that the octagonal powder magazine “points to” or is “pointed to” by other significant places in the colonies. Indeed, the Powder Magazine may have been emulating the original purpose of the Newport Tower in Rhode Island. All of the Arcadian mysteries include a tower and array of representative architecture and art that may tell a metaphorical story that has some basis in hidden facts. The Powder Magazine does suggest an arc on the globe that transects very close to the Newport Tower.
These phenomena are an amazing possible connection between Williamsburg and the Oak Island treasure. It appears that either Francis Nicholson or James Nicolson had been the one’s to include the legend on the Bland map that tipped Mrs. Hall off to the similarities in the dates of birth and death and the distances from the datum of Wren Hall’s front porch. This may be true though Nicholson was active in Williamsburg from the late seventeenth century to 1705 when he lost the governorship. Given this it is more likely that the Nicolson referred to in the map was James Nicolson the gardener of William and Mary.
Though there is no way of telling if Francis and James Nicholson were related this too is possible. In fact the Nicholson name leads us to a young woman named Arcadia Nicholson on the Eastern Shore whose family legacy links us directly to Verrazano’s naming of the exact region of her home “Arcadia.” Arcadia Nicholson is likely related to one or both of these other men and is the fourth woman named Arcadia in this family lineage. It is via Arcadia Nicholson that Virginia’s association with the Arcadian concept will link it to the other mysteries discussed in this book. This may also establish the notion that these types of architectural mysteries had been in use long before those of Rennes le Chateau or other popular examples such as Shugborough Hall.
It appears Arcadia Nicholson’s parents were aware of the region’s designation to this name as applied by Verrazano. In turn Ms. Arcadia Nicholson was related to the Custis and Lee families that are very important in Virginia history. Her family also included a direct association with powerful people including Charles I and II and James I. It is amazing how two early cartographers used this name to describe both Nova Scotia and Virginia and that the influence of Charles I and his Cavaliers are seen there. There is a distinct Scots influence via this entire story and this may be due to parts of Scotland once being termed Arcadia as far back as the thirteenth century.
The fact that Francis Nicholson had once been governor of these two places is amazing. At one point during his governorship of Nova Scotia Nicholson was also made governor of what had been French Placentia or in other words Newfoundland. Newfoundland is of course the site of the Cupid’s Colony of which Sir Francis Bacon was an investor as he was at Jamestown. A Newfoundland stamp from the 1930’s points this out and even alludes to the “Colonization Scheme” of Sir Francis Bacon.
The way Arcadia gained this first name includes the story of her great great grandmother named Arcadia Toft. Arcadia Toft was the daughter of Anne Toft via her affair with a man known as Colonel Edmund Scarborough (Scarburgh). Other Nicholson’s related to Francis and James had made their home on the eastern shore and Arcadia had married into this family. It is suspected that Arcadia Toft and her two sisters were indeed the offspring of this illicit affair as the Colonel was married at the time. Anne and Arcadia Toft as well as Colonel Scarborough were alive during Bacon’s Rebellion which saw a great deal of action on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Twice Bacon forced Colonial Governor Berkeley to retreat to the Eastern Shore area were Anne Toft and Colonel Scarborough lived. One of the battles between the forces of Bacon and Berkeley even took place at the Arlington estate of the Custis family that would later serve as the inspiration for naming their estate which is now Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C.
Colonel Scarborough had arranged for Anne Toft and her children to profit from head rights bringing new people to the colonies and gifted them large swaths of property included in the head right. A head right is earned when one financed the passage of a new colonist who then signed the rights to their property over to the benefactor and also served a term of indentured servitude. The concept of indentured servitude would be one of the factors contributing to Bacon’s Rebellion later in this tale. One of Scarborough’s direct kin William Scarborough would be hung for his part in Bacon’s Rebellion.
Colonel Scarborough was a staunch supporter of Charles I and his views had alternately gotten him in trouble and praise for this stance. Of course, from our earlier studies we know that Charles I last words were from Philip Sidney’s “Arcadia” in the form of “Pamela’s Prayer.” Had this association been the reason Scarborough and Ms. Toft had named their Child “Arcadia?” A person with an allegiance to Charles I such as Colonel Scarborough may have been privy to the importance of the Arcadian concept and it does appear as if he were aware that he lived in the region named Arcadia by Verrazano. Arcadia Toft not only lived in the region named Arcadia by Verrazzano but was the daughter of a staunch supporter of Charles I and his association with “Arcadia.”
Anne Toft’s estate in Accomac County Virginia was known as “Gargaphia.” In Greek mythology Gargaphia is a sacred grove of the goddess Diana and her nymphs. The use of this obscure name from Greek mythology may tip us off as to the extent that the name Arcadia would also have been valued. Here we may also be seeing yet another reference to hidden aspects in the text of Sidney’s work. Here we may conjure the vision of Arcadia Toft and her sister Attlantia frolicking at Gargaphia. Arcadia and Attlantia’s other sister was named Annabel possibly after Anne Toft. Both sisters Arcadia and Attlantia have names that seem to invoke the mysteries of both Sidney and Sir Francis Bacon. Arcadia may refer to Sidney’s “Arcadia” and Attlantia may refer to Sir Francis Bacon’s “New Atlantis.” Though more obscure the name Arcadia had been used by descendants of Byzantine Emperor Arcadius until the time of Justinian I. (I explore the connections between Arcadius and Merovingian’s in my book “The Geographic Mysteries of Sir Francis Bacon.”)
Colonel Scarborough’s brother Sir Charles Scarborough was a physician to both Charles II, James II, and King and Queen William and Mary. He was also one of the eminent mathematicians of his day and is known in the same vein as Sir Issac Newton and others. He was a brilliant man. Here we have a very strong and powerful link between the Scarborough’s directly to the throne. Amazingly Sir Charles Scarborough served as a tutor for a then young Sir Christopher Wren who is said to have designed the Wren building on the campus of the College of William and Mary. Though distant this is an amazing link to the story of Mrs. Hall and how the dates on Nicolson’s tombstone matched the distances to the original Bruton Church foundations as measured from Wren Hall.
Though it is not stated Colonel Scarborough was likely in league with the exiled bodyguard or Cavaliers of Charles I. Many of them including Thomas Beale had come to the colony after Charles’ loss of the crown. It may be that Scarbourough was associated with this group of highly organized men whose sympathies would not have lain with the Parliament. Thomas Beale is included as part of a memento mori on the tombstone of Truxtun Beale in the Bruton Parish Churchyard. At about the time of the construction of the Powder Magazine a many refugees from the Jacobite rising in Scotland and England made their way to Virginia. These refugees would have a great deal in common with the Cavalier exiles that were already established in Virginia.
All of this would add up later in American history as an interpretive appreciation of the Jacobite cause and the hidden role of the Catholic and Episcopalian churches in the establishment of the Republic. It is possible that these men left metaphorical and mystery school oriented clues that would uncover this lost history and the truth it infers. Many of these people may have also been part of family fraternities and church groups such as the Corpus Christi of All Saints Maidstone in England. The details of colonial history may unveil many of the hidden history overtones of the colonial era extending to the creation of the United States. It may be that Freemasonry also played a secretive role in the establishment of the Republic.
Along the way many classic Greek and biblical references may have taken on alternate secret meanings in these people’s quest for freedom and liberty as they defined it. The somewhat contrived and initiatory overtones of the “Quest for the Bruton Parish Vault” may have later been applied to a kind of New Age Baconian milieu that it was never intended to be. These same concepts may have eventually led to the design of Washington D.C. and the kind of mythological and biblical imagery that is seen in many monuments and works of art there. The cliché explanation of why there is so much representative art and architecture in Washington D.C. is many times answered with an explanation that includes the fact that the Greeks invented democracy thus inspiring patriots. In fact this is not too far from the truth which may be a little more complex.
We may be seeing much of this mystery through a veneer of thought that was developing in the early twentieth century influenced by people like Manly P. Hall and his paramour Mrs. Bauer Hall. Some of the new age overtones put forth by Mrs. Hall may have obscured real historical facts that were left in secret by patriots and those that wished to keep their associations a secret during the pre-revolution era of Virginia. This would include the overtones of Arcadia that fit nicely with the philosophies of Bacon and his “New Atlantis” as valued by people during different eras. In addition, these hidden associations in the colonies would support the deposed kings of Scotland, England, and Ireland while opposing the parliamentarian authority of the Hanoverian regime of German Stuart’s who had taken the place of the original Stewart rulers at the behest of parliament.
It may be that many of the more cryptic aspects of what is observed during this era were included as part of an intelligence gathering service or apparatus. Members of the opposition to the Hanoverians may have used all this symbolism to recognize each other and communicate basic ideas about their loyalties. Some aspects of Freemasonry during these eras may have also been put to good use in this vein during the revolution. Some scholars also speculate that the exiled Jacobite Stewarts also used or created a kind of freemasonry that worked in this manner.
Thomas Jefferson would have held a social position in the gentry of Williamsburg to have been initiated into these ideas while a student at William and Mary. Ultimately this knowledge on the part of Jefferson would lead to his construction of Monticello and Poplar Forest both of which have much in common including an octagonal element similar in function and form to the Powder Magazine in Williamsburg. During his time in France he would have already been aware of arrays of architecture like the Axe Historique of Paris and more. It does appear that Jefferson had been aware of this concept prior to his time in France.
This will in turn bring us to the Beale Treasure and why Truxton Beale is interred in the Bruton Parish Churchyard. The use of the Declaration of Independence in the Beale Ciphers and Jefferson’s association with the Page family of Rosewell where he wrote the draft of that document may be telling. Both Nathaniel Bacon and Jefferson had written statements termed as declaration. Both documents plead for fairness and state independence. Though Bacon’s Rebellion is told as a war that involved repelling encroaching Native Americans it is also clear that slaves and indentured servants sided with the Rebel Bacon in an effort to gain more liberty and fair treatment and the hands of their owners. Bacon’s Rebellion did happen at a time when England was going through a crisis as to how to accommodate the wishes of parliament in relation to the opposing views of the monarchy. The exile of James II and subsequent Jacobite cause would forever now be related to American history. The Jacobites seeing that they had lost the British Empire would now attempt to coopt North America and make it their own domain.
Mrs. Bauer Hall was on the right track and seemed to be a very genuine person when reading her accounts of adventures in Williamsburg and beyond. How had this notion come to her if not via the Withers book and her studies at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles? This is where she first obtained the Withers book she insisted led her to Williamsburg. In truth her association with an English scholar named Cunningham had first exposed her to the notion that something was hidden in the Withers book and that Sir Francis Bacon was involved.
In reality none of her assumptions seem to directly apply to anything in Williamsburg. Most of her interpretations are open ended and are just that; interpretations that may or not be correct. As stated in the case of the Nicolson tombstone she simply noted the similarity in the numbers in the dates to the position of the church in relation to Wren Hall as noted on an old map she found while researching. This had nothing to do with any interpretation of the Wither’s book. The fact that a tombstone was even involved at all had likely been suggested by Mr. Cunningham. The story of the Service stone could have easily been known of by a person like Mr. Cunningham. The Service Stone of Stirling Castle uses a Book of Emblems by Quarles for its design (see Stirling Castle chapter).
When unboxed this whole scenario may point to Mr. Cunningham somehow being sent to influence her views or that of Mr. Manly P. Hall. Is it possible that someone had been sent to influence people who they knew would discover these things while putting them in a context that obscured the real source of these mysteries? These two would then automatically put all of this in a context of the kind of mystical new age views that they obviously held and obviously believed.
The entire mystery may have been meant to have been interpreted using the values of the Episcopal Church. An examination of all of the characters involved here point to the fact that they were members of this church and that everything they did reflected their value of the church in the context of patriotism and the American way. None of this had anything to do with Sir Francis Bacon or anyone else being an “ascended master.” It is clear that the imagery and writing of Sir Francis Bacon was valued by a faction of colonists that wanted to make his New Atlantis a reality. Some members of the Bacon family seem to be involved in instances of the application of this imagery throughout American history. Beyond that there is no indication on the part of Sir Francis Bacon or his subsequent family members that there were any beliefs with regard to Ascended Masters or many of the concepts applied to him later in history. In fact all of these mysterious goings on seem to revolve around the Episcopal Church and the Patriots that were members of the Church.
It may be that either way Mr. Cunningham had played an important role in motivating Mrs. Hall to go to Williamsburg in the first place. It may be that this was all planned by others who influenced her in this regard. As part of this they would have recognized the context she put all of this in as matching a New Age point of view that would actually hide the truth of what was going on. Though hard for many to image the application of these later more modern ideas to the history of Williamsburg and the United States at large may have been implemented to hide obscure. the truth of these secrets.
If Thomas Jefferson was aware of a story saying something was hidden in the old Bruton Parish Vault then may he have woven another similar story using the same framework that involved “The Beale Treasure?” Is it possible that Oak Island and Shugborough Hall were also other places where the truth of this concept is laid bare?
Thomas Jefferson and the legacy of Sir Francis Bacon
To this point we have established a complex story that seems to center around the notion that Sir Francis Bacon’s papers may have been brought to Virginia by the elder Nathaniel Bacon and hidden in a vault first in the Jamestown Church and eventually at the first Bruton Parish Church that Mrs. Hall played a hand in discovering. The entire point of the reality or folklore of this mystery leads one to Bruton Parish Church where Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe once worshipped.
One of Thomas Jefferson’s most admired people was said to have been Sir Francis Bacon. In the tower room of the Bruton Parish Church we see today is the tombstone of Nathaniel Bacon of Bacon’s Rebellion. The tombstone notes that Nathaniel is descendant of the same Bacon family that Sir Francis Bacon came from. For such a Bacon fan this must have made quite an impression on Jefferson when he was a student at the College of William and Mary.
No doubt some of his studies may have even included the works of Shakespeare and Sir Francis Bacon. It is also possible that Jefferson and his cohorts were also exposed to Philip Sidney’s “Arcadia” during their time at William and Mary. During this time people had already speculated and studied the reasons why they think Sir Francis Bacon was involved in the production of the works of Shakespeare. Our point here is not to belabor that theory but supply reasons why this all would have had an impact on Thomas Jefferson throughout his life. At the same time the legacy of Bacon may be the reason there is any “mystery” at the Bruton Parish Church at all. It is possible that one is simply to find the church and decipher its interesting associations and history.
Is it possible that Thomas Jefferson had something to do with Nicolson’s tombstone that seems to point out not only the Bruton Parish Church but the foundations of the old Church? In turn had this led Jefferson to admire the exploits of Nathaniel Bacon in his quest to change the social and moral climate of the colony in a way that does resemble the concepts of liberty and freedom seen in the Revolution? We have seen how the Declaration of Independence penned by Jefferson seems to be involved in the story of the Bruton Parish Church and the Beale Treasure.
There may be two other sources of information available in early Virginia families that can help us to understand these questions. The first family is of course the Bacon family and their descendants through Virginia and United States history. The other is a family from Albemarle County near Monticello that also made an impact on Williamsburg at about the time the newer Bruton Church was being built. The Gilmer family would be closely associated with the Jefferson family and Dr. George Gilmer would even serve as Thomas Jefferson’s physician through most of his life. The Gilmer family were not associated with the Bruton Parish Church but do hold a close association to the family of later President Tyler that were members of the church.
Members of the Gilmer family were indeed involved in both the establishment of the College of William and Mary and Henry Gilmer had actually layed out the street plan of Williamsburg in 1699. This was during the same era that Francis Nicholson was Governor of Virginia! The Gilmer’s had also provided the land for the Colonial Governor’s Mansion. This family was intimately involved in setting up the linear orientation of the colonial capitol in a manner that was very popular in Europe during this era. They had likely been associated with the Bland map that Mrs. Hall had used to surmise the presence of the older Bruton Church foundations. Henry Gilmer would have obviously created and worked from plans of what he was creating in the form of the street plan of Williamsburg.
Eventually members of the Gilmer family would move to Albemarle County and be neighbors of the Jefferson’s living only about six miles from where Monticello would be later located.
Amazingly the Gilmers are related to both the family of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark! The very same relation also links us to a man named Louis de La Tour that we have discussed prior as having lived in Lynchburg Virgina and having descended from the first French governor of Nova Scotia Charles de La Tour! Louis de La Tour’s wife was Alicia Gilmer of the very same Gilmer family. Again the de La Tours only lived a few doors away in Lynchburg from Morriss’ boarding house which is the very building from which the Beale Papers associated with the Beale Treasure had come from!
Louis de La Tour’s daughter would marry into the Clark family descendant of William Clark the famous explorer! Other elements of the Gilmer family are also directly related to Meriwether Lewis! This association links both the mysteries of Bacon’s Vault in Williamsburg, The Beale Treasure, and the mystery of Rennes le Chateau as involving the de La Tours!! It appears that the Jefferson and Bacon factors in this entire saga also includes the overtones of Arcadia as noted all along this trail of curious intrigue. The Marquis de Lafayette with his family’s associations with the de La Tours may be a common factor in this saga. All along the way people who drew maps seem to have been involved in the arrangement of these mysteries.
What other factors may exist that link Thomas Jefferson not only to the legacy of Sir Francis Bacon and his New Atlantis but to Nathaniel Bacon of Bacon’s Rebellion? Note again that Bacon’s Rebellion is a central theme put forth in the notion that there is a secret vault of Sir Francis Bacon’s papers at Bruton Parish Church. Nathaniel’s tombstone is present in the church. Many researchers feel the hand of Bacon was at work in the creation and development of the United States.
Two generations of the Bacon family directly related to Nathaniel Bacon had a direct association with President Jefferson over the entire span of the construction and his occupation of Monticello near Charlottesville. Originally William Bacon was the overseer of operations at Monticello. In short Bacon managed the estate for Jefferson including all the day to day operations including the slave population of the estate. After a time William was replaced by his son Edmund Bacon who seemingly is named for the earliest Bacon family member in Virginia.
There is little doubt that Thomas Jefferson was aware of these men’s relation to the same Bacon family of Sir Francis Bacon. Jefferson had attended the church in Williamsburg where this relation is told of on the tombstone of Nathaniel Bacon! Jefferson had a unique admiration for Sir Francis Bacon and also seems to have adhered to some version of Bacon’s vision for a New Atlantis in his great works that helped to define the United States at this early time. Jefferson’s art collection even included a portrait of Sir Francis Bacon in a reflection of his great admiration for the man. It must have been something for both William and Edmund Bacon to see a portrait of their forebear in the home of the third President of the Untied States of America; The New Atlantis!!
We may consider that all of these facts could add up to Jefferson’s involvement in the propagation of all of these mysteries. Had Jefferson created the entire legend of the Bruton Parish Church Vault and left it behind as a kind of initiatory quest that teaches how all of this hidden history is related? Or had he been acting on an older legend that stated Bacon’s papers had been brought to America? We can see how Jefferson was exposed to all of these ideas during his time in France if not before. In many ways it does appear as if these things had been taught to Jefferson at a younger age before his time as a diplomat possibly while he was a student at William and Mary. There is no evidence to date that William and Edmund Bacon had played a hand in any of this though their association with Jefferson may indicate this possibility.
Is it possible that some version of Sir Francis Bacon’s supposed secret society the Knights of the Helmet existed in Virginia? This could be true but we may also be seeing members of the Bacon family along with people like Jefferson expressing themselves in a speculative manner with regard to this philosophy. The image of Sir Francis Bacon through time has taken on many forms including the notion of the Ascended Masters and other forms of New Age belief. Bacon is both central to those that view the world in a spiritual and practical manner. Are we seeing the eighteenth century view of an interpretation of Sir Francis Bacon’s legacy? William and Mary is also home to several secret societies including the Flat Hat Club and Nicholson Society of which very little information is available.
As time went on elements of the story could have been expanded to include features that would teach one about the Declaration of Independence as well as the legacy of Bacon’s Rebellion in the Virginia Colony. Both of these events and documents may have been created with the spirit of the New Atlantis in mind. This would also match how and why the tombstone of James Nicolson contains his dates of birth and death that also seem to match the distance to the church from Wren Hall on the campus of William and Mary. Perhaps any mystery that had been left at Bruton Parish had also been put there by the Beale family? There are also many tenets of the Beale mystery that suggest it was a later addition to some kind of folklore that had already been in place. On the other hand Thomas Beale did attend the church long before Bacon’s Rebellion so anything is possible.
As people enacted these kind of landscape mysteries it follows that these secrets may have become part of the hidden tradition of many of these associated colonial families over time. We may see this concept displayed by the Carter/Hill family over time that seems to include the Kensington Rune and Maryhill Stonehenge and Art Museum. All across America displays of art and architecture that are part of the civic fabric may contain allusions to the very same concepts at play in the establishment of the first linear capitol in North America in the from of Williamsburg Virginia. As time went on each family may have been eager to add a kind of talismanic clue to the quest using similar imagery and stories that would lead one to the ingenious works of Sir Francis Bacon. Bacon’s name continually surfaces in other observations of everything from Oak Island to the mysterious Winchester House in San Jose California. In each instance a specific piece of architecture many times a tower would help to clue the seeker that something was there to be found.
One thing is for sure. When you look into all of this it is easy to see that a pathway of learning has been intentionally left for one to follow. In this case it leads us via the Bacon family to both the mystery of the Bruton Parish Church Vault and the famous Beale Treasure Legend. Many of these places and treasures are among the ones that occupy a great part of the imagination on the part of the public.
Does any of this solve the mystery or help to locate hidden relics or treasure? Maybe but what is sure is that a whole new view of all of these mysteries emerges when all the big picture is viewed thus making all of the associations that will solve them. Much of this imagery has a Scottish and French connection that is exposed as one searches. It may be that a pathway was left that will help one understand how the desires and philosophies of Sir Francis Bacon were woven into the early character of the United States of America and beyond.