Nathaniel Bacon was the only son of James Bacon and Martha Bacon. His father, who also had three daughters by this or another marriage, was rector of Burgate in the county of Suffolk, England. Bacon was born probably at his paternal grandfather’s Suffolk seat, Friston Hall, and he was christened on August 29, 1620, in the Parish of Saint Mary’s, Bury Saint Edmunds, Suffolk. He was distantly related to the philosopher Francis Bacon.
Little is known about Bacon’s youth, but he visited France in 1647 before settling in Virginia by the spring of 1653. He lived first in Isle of Wight County, but by 1656 he had moved to York County. Sometime before March 1655 he married the twice-widowed Ann Bassett Smith Jones. She died shortly thereafter, and he married another widow, Elizabeth Kingsmill Tayloe, about 1656 or 1657. Through his marriages and acquisitions of land in his own right he speedily became a prosperous man of consequence in York County, and he began a long career in politics in March 1656 when he represented the county in the House of Burgesses. By December 1656 he had become a member of the governor’s Council, on which he served until sometime in 1659, when he was againto the House of Burgesses. On an unrecorded date before August 26, 1660, he was again named to the Council, and he remained a member until his death. By January 1682 he was the senior member, but for reasons that are not clear he yielded seniority to Nicholas Spencer, who served as president and acting governor for nine months beginning in May 1683. Bacon served as president and acting governor on three occasions, during the absences from Virginia of Governor , between June and September 1684 and July and September 1687, and between Effingham’s departure from the colony in March 1689 and the beginning of ‘s term on June 3, 1690. Bacon was also auditor of the royal revenue in Virginia from May 1675 until he resigned in favor of (1652–1704) effective June 20, 1688. The auditor saw that money due to the Crown was collected and sent to London and in return earned a commission that yielded approximately £250 a year.
Bacon’s father had an affinity with the, but if Bacon shared it it did not hinder his rapid rise in Virginia politics and society, nor did he have difficulty adjusting to the from the Commonwealth back to royal government in 1660. In spite of being a kinsman of Nathaniel Bacon (the rebel), he remained fiercely loyal to the government of Governor in 1676 and was reported to have offered his relative “a considerable part of his Estate” on the condition that “hee would lay downe his Armes, and become a good subject to his Majestie, that that colony might not be disturbed or destroyed, nor his owne Family stained with soe foule a Blott.” The rebels occupied his plantation on King’s Creek and caused damage estimated at £1,000.
Nathaniel Bacon had no children. His principal heir was a niece, Abigail Smith Burwell, who was living in Gloucester County at the time of his death. She and her children inherited Bacon’s landholdings consisting of King’s Creek plantation of 1,200 acres of land, 1,775 acres in Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties, 300 acres in New Kent County, 3 acres on Jamestown Island, and a lot in Yorktown. His personal estate was valued after his death at almost £1,200, in addition to £575 in cash legacies specified in his will. Nathaniel Bacon died on March 16, 1692, and was buried at his residence on King’s Creek in York County.