|The Bacons of Woburn|
As the Balls and the
Pierces had been part of the Watertown scene from its first English beginnings, just so the Bacons were counted among the early settlers of Woburn, located about five miles to the east and three to the north, first so called in 1640 as a precinct of Charlestown.
This fragment of the official Woburn Town Record for 1645 addresses the
impingement of a new highway upon land of “Michall Bacon.” It also lists “Danill Bacon” among those required to pay a “Cuntary Rate” for, I gather, the support of the local militia. “Michall Bacon” appears later in this list.
Our Michael Bacon (1639-1707), the principal villain of this piece, was the third to bear the name in the town; like his father Michael (circa 1608–1688) and his grandfather Michael (d. 1648), he was apparently born in England.* With them, he emigrated to the New World as a small child. He married Sarah Richardson (another prominent Woburn name that ties into our family) in 1661, about age 20. Abigail, their third daughter, arrived in the household in the same year that our Grandma Mary became a servant there. Since he was a toddler at the time of this (pictured) record, we must suppose that this earlier “Michall Bacon” was either his father or his grandfather. His uncle Daniel Bacon plays a couple of offstage bit parts in our present drama.
We must acknowledge, despite familial partisanship for Mary Ball, that she bore a share of responsibility for the adultery/fornication that set their shared miseries in motion. Yes, she was legally a child, and Michael was ten years older than she, and married, and her guardian, responsible for her well-being, and should have known better. But the letter she wrote him leaves her fully entangled, at least eventually, as an enthusiastic co-conspirator. No, I label him villain, not on account of that primary piece of wickedness and foolishness, but because his subsequent pattern of documented behavior was that of an ill-tempered, contentious jerk, willing persistently to visit on others the consequences of his own misbehavior.
* Bacon, Leon Brooks, “Michael Bacon and His Descendants”. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 56:364, however, has Michael “…born in 1640, probably at Charleston [sic], before his father settled in Woburn.”
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Updated Sep 2021
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