by Cort Lindahl
One of the most interesting legends of Williamsburg comes to us from the 1930’s Golden Age of mysticism and intrigue in the form of the Legend of the Bruton Parish Church Vault or what some may term “Bacon’s Vault.” This legend seems to have been inspired in part by the wife of Masonic philosopher Manly P. Hall, Marie Bauer Hall as well as folklore surrounding the original church at Jamestown. Ms. Hall used the artwork on headstones at the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg and related them to Wither’s Book of Symbols (1635) to infer that there was indeed a hidden vault of what may have been the personal papers of Sir Francis Bacon located there. This legend dictated that a distant relative of Sir Francis Bacon named Nathaniel Bacon had brought a stash of Bacon’s personal effects and papers to the New World in order to preserve them. Though Ms. Hall was involved in certain areas near the Bruton Parish Church being excavated no vault was ever found. Even people as late as the 1990’s had undertaken illegal excavations in the Bruton Parish Church yard searching for this lost vault.
Amazingly this author discovered another similar mystery at Stirling Castle in Scotland involving “The Service Stone” and another book of symbols by Quarles also printed in 1635. Some even speculate the hand of Bacon in the production of both of these books that include elaborate engravings accompanied by poems related to the artwork. This stone was named for stonemason John Service who signed the second stonemason charter with the Sinclair family in Scotland. The Service Stone is covered with Masonic symbols and an illustration from the Quarrels book. This is a similar mystery that existed long before Ms. Hall identified the same phenomena at the Bruton Parish Churchyard that in turn led her to her conclusions about the vault there. Amazingly the Service Stone at Stirling even includes bullet holes that were caused during Bonnie Prince Charlie’s attempt to retake Scotland and his crown in his failed Jacobite invasion. No one had linked the stories of the Service Stone and Ms. Hall’s theories about Williamsburg prior to the publishing of “The Geographic Mysteries of Sir Francis Bacon.”
This story also includes the fact that Nathaniel Bacon had originally hidden valuable items in a vault in the original church in Jamestown Virginia and that they had later been moved to Williamsburg’s Bruton Parish Church when that was designated the colonial capitol later. The story of the vault legend then even goes on to suggest that later individuals such as Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were the last two to see the contents of the vault as they may have found it themselves. Of course many elements of this story may simply add up to folklore and local legends though there may be a thread of truth to this entire story. Some of these stories may have developed in tandem with the Rockefeller family’s involvement in the reconstruction of the the colonial capitol array in Williamsburg in the 1930’s coincidentally the same era in which Ms. Bauer Hall made her assumptions.
In my book “The Geographic Mysteries of Sir Francis Bacon” I discuss how the legend of the Bruton Parish Church vault may indeed add up to being the same phenomena later termed “The Beale Treasure.” The dynamics of the story of California Surveyor General Edward Beale and his son Truxtun have many elements that may point us to the truth of the Beale and Vault legends. The fact that Californian Truxton Beale chose to have himself interred at the Bruton Parish Churchyard on his passing links him to his famous colonial forebear Thomas Beale and his role as one the first Virginia Cavaliers, Sheriff of adjacent York County, and commander of the fort at Old Point Comfort in Hampton Virginia. Truxtun included a memento mori to his ancestor Thomas Beale on his own headstone in the Bruton Parish Churchyard. Here we may see how Thomas Beale may have been privy to the exploits of still another earlier important member of his family whose secrets he may have been hiding. This story may also reveal the object of other important mysteries at Shugborough Hall of the Anson family in England.
Thomas Beale had been a Cavalier bodyguard of Charles I and had fled to Virginia after the demise of the king. We have also seen in past works how the concept of Arcadia is associated with Charles I beheading as his last words were from the work of Phillip Sydney entitled “Arcadia.” Of course Philip Sydney was the brother of Countess of Pembroke Mary Sidney Herbert whose sons funded the First Folio of Shakespeare’s works that has also inspired many mysteries and code decipherments. That factor also leads us to the notion that the famous Shepherd’s Monument of Shugborough Hall in England is a Memento Mori for Charles and even Mary Queen of Scots. What may actually be the Beale Treasure is likely displayed as part of the rendering of Poussin’s “Et In Arcadia Ego” in reverse bas relief on the Shepherd’s Monument itself. This rendering of Poussin includes the addition of a strange casket atop the tomb from the Poussin Work. Otherwise the piece is similar to the original Poussin yet in reverse mirror image. What is in this strange casket? Here this story harkens back to an earlier member of the Beale family that may explain the presence of the strange casket atop the tomb in the Shugborough Poussin rendering.
An earlier member of the Beale family played an important role in the intelligence gathering activities of Queen Elizabeth. Robert Beale was closely associated with many people who would later be identified as spies or “spy masters” of the era of English history. Robert Beale is famous for having been the liaison between Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth during their dispute. Mary Queen of Scots had looked to Elizabeth for refuge from difficulties in Scotland. Eventually it was decided to behead her to eliminate any competition for the crown of England as many felt Mary Queen of Scots had more of a right to the title than Elizabeth I. At this time Robert Beale’s duties led him to having somewhat of a friendship with the condemned Queen as the story even includes her gifting Beale an expensive necklace.
Beale was actually present at the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots. This part of the story may lead us to what the strange casket is atop the tomb in the Poussin rendering at Shugborogh while also explaining what the famous Beale Treasure of Virginia actually is. When Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded her personal belongings and diary were said to have been placed in what is described as an elaborate casket that resembles in description the strange reliquary or casket seen in the Poussin rendering at the Shepherds Monument at Shugborough Hall. Robert Beale is one of the only people who may have originally had access to this casket of Mary Queen of Scot’s belongings so it is not out of the realm of possibility that he had taken this and hidden it.
|The Poussin rendering of the Shepherd's Monument. Note the addition of the strange casket or reliquary.|
This casket would represent a symbol to later Jacobite and Cavalier sensibilities aligned with Stewart Kings who were later beheaded including the Anson family of Shugborough. This may have been a symbol of Jacobite sentiments later regardless of the truth of this legend. Is it possible that the later Cavalier bodyguard of Charles I Thomas Beale had possession of this important Jacobite relic? After his original exile after the death of Charles Thomas Beale returned to England to serve as bodyguard for Charles II when he was made king. At the time of his return to serve Charles the II Beale was commanded in his bodyguard duties by none other than Prince Rupert of the Rhine who also served as first governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. This is but one of many links between Virginia and those that would own and run the HBC including Earls of Orkney and their extended family.
These series of events do suggest Thomas Beale’s involvement with those that may have even possessed these items of Mary Queen of Scot’s. As a bodyguard of the King Thomas Beale had great responsibility and associated with those in the highest echelons of power. Note also that other bodyguards of Charles I and II had come to Virginia and had part of the “Cavalier culture” of colonial Virginia. All of this adds up to Jamestown and Williamsburg being a place of importance in all these legends of the quest. It seems that the story of the Bruton Parish Church Vault, Mystery of Shugborough, and the Beale Treasure Legend may all have a common origin and purpose in the folklore of early Colonial and American history. It seems that the involvement of Sir Francis Bacon is also inferred as being associated with many of these stories and is backed up by the presence of Bacon family members that are part of the extended family of Bacon in Jamestown and later though out the development of the United States.
So where does this leave us with regard to the Legend of “Bacon’s Vault” even if elements of this story have a kind of fairytale quality to them?
We may see some help in understanding these questions in the form of what we are supposed to find inside this hidden vault. These stories infer a great treasure hidden that is worth a great deal of money. What if the treasure is indeed something else? What if the treasure is what is revealed when someone actually searches the original location of the vault in the foundations or environs of the original Jamestown Church? In fact this is actually what has been happening as archaeologists have been excavating the church for the last three years and have found some amazing artifacts and clues that may lead us to the truth of the Bruton Parish Church Vault and many of these other treasure stories.
To date two amazing finds at the Jamestown Church could also comprise what may have been inferred in the intentional development of the Vault and Beale treasure legends. Both the Archer Reliquary recovered in the grave of Captain Archer and the Knights Tombstone of early Governor Sir George Yeardley may be the items we are supposed to find. Both of these objects include symbols and clues that in turn may be linked to the sensibilities of Sir Francis Bacon and later people who meant to continue his legacy while also preserving the Jacobite and Cavalier notions that would later contribute to the American Revolution and associated concepts of liberty and personal freedoms. Both the Archer Reliquary and Knights Tombstone were found at the original location that was said to have included whatever was brought to Virginia by distant Bacon relative Nathaniel Bacon also famous for “Bacon’s Rebellion” in early Virginia. Part of the intrigue of Nathaniel Bacon may also include his association with what is known of as “Bacon’s Castle” near Jamestown.
The Archer Reliquary was discussed in detail in my book “The Geographic Mysteries of Sir Francis Bacon.” This small simple silver reliquary tells the tale of how Captain Archer may have been a “hidden Catholic” in Jamestown. During this era Catholics were persecuted in England as they were slowly given more rights and tolerance under King James I whose mother was Mary Queen of Scots. Previously Elizabeth I had dictated a great deal of persecution and intolerance of Catholics in her realm. This dynamic would continue through history to cause a great deal of turmoil in England that would also extend to the colonies. For the next one hundred years after Elizabeth England would go through a struggle between parliamentarians and the traditional Scottish Kings of England and Scotland that were Catholic. This would lead to the beheading of Charles I and II and the later exile of James II and his sons James III the “old pretender” and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Many of these so called Jacobites would revolt in England and Scotland and after losing many would be sent in exile or escape to Scandinavia and the Colonies. These lost attempts to regain the throne on the part of the exiled Stewarts would lend a great deal to the later American Revolution and provide us with a somewhat overlooked role of the Catholic Church in that struggle.
The short story of the Archer Reliquary is that it may even lead us to the strange and enigmatic Kensington Rune in Minnesota later in History. There is a clear trail of the symbols seen on the reliquary later being present on the Kensington Rune. The symbols etched on the small silver reliquary resemble those later seen in part on the Kensignton Rune. This pathway is marked by a clear trail of the descendants of the first families of Jamestown spreading through the North American continent including Minnesota as the United States expanded westward. Along the way newer references to the older mysteries discussed here were likely left and the Kensington Stone may be one of these symbolic markers left to tell you that a mystery is afoot. Coincidentally the Kensington Stone marks the border between French Louisiana and Rupert’s Land of the Hudson’s Bay Company along with two other “missing stone legends” that seem to also mark this same border at different points.
Even the modern logo of the College of William and Mary seems to include the same symbols that the Archer Reliquary displays including the letter X and the Auspice of Maria symbol which in other forms resembles a Masonic Compass and Square design. The Archer Reliquary may even be associated with a little discussed earlier Jesuit Mission that had been attempted by the Spanish near the site of what would be Jamestown later. It is even possible that Archer knew this reliquary had been one of the missing votive objects from this failed mission that had been eliminated by the local Native Population. This is even backed up by the fact that Archer’s cousin at Holy Cross Monastery in Ireland received a strange communion chalice not long after Archer visited England just before he passed and was interred in the yard of the Jamestown Church where legend tells us “Bacon’s Vault” was located. Could the Archer Reliquary and the clues left by the Beale family at the Bruton Parish Church be the actual treasure we are supposed to find or is there still more to the story?
Yes there is.
Recently archaeologists at Jamestown have been recovering and preserving the amazing “Knights Tombstone” burial slab of early Virginia Governor Sir George Yeardley. Sir Yeardley’s headstone may reveal some surprising links to things I had written in the book about Sir Francis Bacon I wrote mentioned before. The story of Governor Yeardley is worthy of a book of its own as he was an amazing man who took part in military operations against the Spanish in Queen Elizabeth’s struggles against them. It is possible that Yeardley took part in the sacking of Cadiz Spain that seemed to also include other naval and military personnel that would later be instrumental in the early administration of the Virginia Colony and Virginia Company. Note also that Sir Francis Bacon was an investor in both Jamestown and the Cupid’s Colony of Newfoundland. It may be that many of these men were rewarded for their service by being given powerful positions in early Virginia. This would also include others such as Lord De la Warr.
One of the elements of Sir Yeardley’s burial slab will provide us with amazing links to the symbols on the Archer Reliquary, the logo of the College of William and Mary, and finally the Kensington Rune. The burial slab itself is an amazing artifact though it has broken into several pieces at this time. The slab is an approximately 3’ wide by 8’ long crafted piece of stone. One mystery would include how this monument was even brought to Jamestown. It is unlikely that it was produced locally at the time of Yeardley’s passing in 1627. This was still an early date for the colony and suggests that great effort was undertaken to even get this stonework to Jamestown. It must have been brought aboard a supply ship. All of this adds up to what an important person Yeardley was. Governor Yeardley was even made a Knight of the Realm by King James I himself on his last visit to England before he passed.
The burial slab itself was once decorated with elaborate bronze plate decorations that are now missing. These decorative elements displayed a border as well as the Knights Head design that is associated with Sir Yeardley. Past records indicate that Yeardley’s burial slab once included his family arms and this factor may lead us to some amazing connections to the symbols of William and Mary, Archer Reliquary, Kensington Stone, and other families I have discussed in my theories of how all this is connected together in a continuous treasure hunt with possibly no end in sight.
The arms of Sir Yeardley are very revealing. They are quartered with or include the armorial bearings of the Audley family of Staffordshire who have some amazing associations with the mysteries of the Newport Tower, Oak Island, The Kensington Rune, Beale Treasure, and even the mysteries of Chico and Mt. Shasta California. The Audley family developed from the Biddulph family of Staffordshire who inspired the name of Biddulph Moor in Staffordshire. Later the Biddulph’s would be known by the more anglicized name of Bidwell. All of the Biddulph family were said to be the spawn of one Knights Templar Standard Bearer Ormus le Guidon who had served with distinction in the first Crusade. The name Biddulph means “war wolf” and many even credit the Biddulph’s for inspiring the literary classic “Beowulf.”
This Biddulph family group would include the Audley’s whose arms are included in Yeardley’s arms. The Audley’s are famous for Knight James Audley. In turn the famous Eaton family would develop from the Audley family and include the same design in their arms with a change of colors from red and gold to green and gold. The design included in the Audley, Eaton, Yeardley, and Spencer arms includes a diamond shape with an X overlaid. This design infers both the “hooked X” and Auspice of Mary or AVM symbols seem on the Archer Reliquary, logo of William and Mary, and later inferred on the Kensington Rune.
As it turns out Sir Yeardley’s name and family descended from the Audley family thus also making them descendants of Ormus le Guidon and the Biddulph group of families. This is why the arms of Audley are included within Yeardley’s arms. Amazingly Ormus le Guidon is credited with bringing the first “moorish” stonemason’s to England after the Crusade. Ormus was also known to have built two churches in Stafforshire that include the strange Auspice of Maria in inscriptions there. The stonemason’s he brought from the levant went on to build a series of fortresses in Wales to assist King Richard I in his conquest of that region aided by James Audley. This story leads us to distant echoes of some of the themes of Shakespeare’s Richard III that seems to tell hidden truths associated with how Richard subdued Wales and created a series of fallen Welsh Kings. It is amazing that Yeardley’s burial slab is such a well crafted item for this period of history and may reflect his families association with the first real stonemason’s in England.
It appears that Yeardley has a direct family association with a group of families in Staffordshire that would have a hand in many mysteries of the colonies and future United States. This would also include the Stafford family of Newport Rhode Island, The first families of Hartford Connecticut, The Boston Brahmins, and First families of Virginia. The mysteries of Northern California including the strange street plan of Chico and Mt. Shasta are also directly associated with John Bidwell who is descendant of the Biddulph family of England. The connections are also endless to the early settlers of Minnesota from Virginia who may have had knowledge of or even created the Kensington Rune. Kensington incidentally is named for Kensington Palace in London whose first occupants were King and Queen William and Mary. Many of these conundrums also seem to include the influence of the Earls of Orkney with both their Scots and Scandinavian influences.
So how does all this connect us to Sir Francis Bacon?
First of all this entire mystery was framed later as involving a hidden vault of Sir Francis Bacon’s papers. This same legend has been applied by others to the Oak Island treasure legend as well. It is important to note that the association of Sir Bacon was applied to both Oak Island and Williamsburg at later dates in history. None of the Bacon associations with these places seemed to have come to light until the twentieth century and Ms. Hall’s assumptions about the Bruton Parish Church. What is amazing is that in these mysteries and others through different phases of American history is that a member of the Bacon family seems to have been present during their development. The original stories of Oak Island and Jamestown do not include these suggestions until later in history. It may be this association at Oak Island is even much more recent than any Bacon associated “treasure” at Williamsburg.
There are connections to Sir Bacon via the Eaton family that were split off from the Audley’s. This is why their armorial bearings are similar yet with different colors. I have written of the Eaton’s influence in being a Mayflower family, developers of the International Peace Garden, Founders of Yale University, and later early Mayors of Los Angeles. Bacon’s wife was closely related to the Eaton family. In addition we see “the other Sir Francis Bacon” of Norwich England displaying the arms of Eaton on his burial monument. (Sir Francis Bacon II as I call him will also lend us many clues to the associations of Virgo to the streets of Washington D.C. that he is telling us came from the original Bacon!! coming up in part II of this article).
More on the way.
|The Knights Tomb of Jamestown.|
|The arms of Sir Yeardley|
|The arms of Audley|
|The arms of Eaton|