| A History
SCLATER BACON MEMORIAL IN LINTON CHURCH
On the floor of the South Aisle, just to the right of the pulpit,
is a small black slab with the following inscription: “Here
under are interred the Remains of Elizabeth Bacon and Peter
Their impressive memorial stands a few feet away, attached to
the outer wall of the Church. The monument was originally positioned
on the south side of the Chancel and completely blocked the
his plans for the Restoration of the Church in 1870, the Reverend
Wilkinson planned to move the marble monument to the east end
of the South Aisle in order to allow easier access to the Chancel.
The plans of the period show that nothing actually happened
and we must infer that the transfer took place sometime later
around 1879, when the Chancel was refurbished during the ministry
of Reverend Hall. It was at this time that the south entrance
door to the Chancel was opened up.
Why was this elaborate memorial placed in the Church? It seems
very strange that Peter Standl(e)y of Paxton Place in Huntingdonshire
should leave £1,000 for the construction of such a grand
structure. It is even more puzzling when one learns from the
learned antiquarian William Cole that Standly was, “a
cripple, deformed in mind and body…he was low, ill bred,
and vulgar in his manner.”
The employment of Joseph Wilton, the principal sculptor of busts
and architectural decorations of the late eighteenth century,
is another surprise.
Wilton was a close friend and associate of Joshua Reynolds and
had sculptured the memorial to General James Wolfe in Westminster
Abbey in 1772-3. The answers to all these questions are revealed
when one studies the history of the Linton lords, the Sclaters
and Sclater-Bacons of Catley Park.
In 1674, Sir Thomas Sclater purchased the Great and Little Linton
estates of the Paris family for the princely sum of £7,793,
and settled at Catley Park where he expanded the earlier house
and also constructed elaborate fruit gardens, which were very
fashionable in the Cambridge region at that time. Sir Thomas
was a Fellow of Trinity College, a contemporary of Isaac Newton
and Christopher Wren and a major contributor to the financing
of the Wren Library. Indeed, Grinling Gibbons carved his coat
of arms which can be seen on the end of one of the library bookcases.
Sir Thomas died childless in 1684 and left his vast fortune
to his great nephew ,the 19 year-old Trinity student Thomas
Sclater. He qualified as a lawyer at Gray’s Inn and then
took up residence at Catley Park. We have already come across
“young Tom” at the Bull Inn where he supped with
his friend Squire John Millicent.
In 1706 he purchased Linton House from the Lone trustees together
with the Rectory lease of the Guildhall. Tom Sclater was a prominent
Tory, a friend of Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford who resided
at Wimpole Hall and John Hyde Cotton of Madingley Hall. They
were all bitter enemies of Sir Robert Walpole. Sclater sat in
the House of Commons as M.P. for Cambridge from 1722-1736 and
is reputed to have left an estate worth £200,000 when
he died in August 1736. By then, he had changed his name to
Tom Sclater was a successful lawyer and had become a close friend
of a London merchant called Josiah Bacon, one of the richest
men in the kingdom. Bacon died in 1703 and Sclater became the
sole trustee of his vast fortune. The two surviving Bacon children,
Josias and Elizabeth were minors, and since Josias would inherit
almost everything Josiah Bacon had added an interesting clause
to his Will.
Elizabeth was to receive a generous income from the age of 12
years until she was 21. On her marriage any husband would be
given an income of £2,500 per year if he agreed to adopt
the surname of Bacon. Elizabeth married Thomas Sclater of Catley
Park in 1716 when she was 21 and he was 51 years of age!
As Thomas Sclater-Bacon he was now much richer, but even more
wealth was to come. Elizabeth’s brother, Josias Bacon
died in 1717 and she then inherited the whole of the Bacon fortune
in her own right. Elizabeth died childless in 1726 and her fortune
was left to her husband only “for the duration of his
Elizabeth’s mother, Mary Bacon had received very little
from her husband’s will in 1703 and had later re-married
to a gentleman called George Standley. They produced three sons;
George, John and Peter Standley, all step brothers to Elizabeth
Sclater–Bacon. Elizabeth’s Will in 1724 stipulated
that her fortune would pass to her step-brothers after Thomas
Sclater-Bacon’s death (he died in 1736).
To leave an estate to step-brothers was fairly unusual, hence
the explanation for Peter Standley’s gratitude. George
died childless in 1737 and John, now a drunkard living with
Peter at Paxton, was dead by 1761. Peter Standley was left as
the sole Bacon heir, all thanks to the generosity of his step
sister Elizabeth. His residence at Paxton Place was part of
the Bacon legacy.
Linton Church monument features a bust medallion of Peter on
the obelisk. On the pedestal is an elegant marble urn, with
the figure of Hope on one side sustained by an anchor. On the
other side, a fine female figure of Faith with a wreath and
olive branch, and a dog crouching at her feet. The inscription
deliberately uses the name Bacon rather than that of Sclater-Bacon
because only the Bacon fortune passed to Peter Standly.
The words inscribed read: “Sacred to the Memory of Elizabeth,
wife of Thomas Bacon, late of Catley Park in this County, Esquire
and her brother Peter Standly, late of Paxton Place in the County
of Hunt. Esq. who by his last Will ordered this Monument to
be erected that he might perpetuate his affection for a beloved
Sister and his gratitude to his benefactress. She died December
16th 1726. He died January 29th 1780 and both were buried in
the same grave near this place."
Why would the leading English sculptor carve the memorial, apart
from monetary considerations? Well, Wilton and Reynolds were
both close friends of the sculptor, John Bacon who died in 1799.
The Bacon surname connection seems to provide the answer although,
as yet, I cannot establish a direct Bacon family link.