Born on 22 January 1561, Francis Bacon lived at York Housenear the Strandin London. His father was Sir Nicholas Bacon (Lord Keeper of the Great Seal). Francis's mother was Anne Bacon, the daughter of the noted Renaissance humanist Anthony Cooke. His mother's sister was married to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, making him Bacon's uncle.
Biographers believe that Francis was educated at home in his early years because of poor health, which plagued him throughout his life. Bacon received tuition from John Walsall, who was a graduate of Oxford with a leaning toward Puritanism. In 1573 at the age of 12, he attended Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, where he lived for three years, together with his older brother Anthony Bacon under the personal tutelage of Dr. John Whitgift, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in the future. Bacon's education was mostly held in Latin and followed the medieval curriculum. A philosopher was also educated at the University of Poitiers. At Cambridge, he met Queen Elizabeth, who was impressed by Francis's bright intellect, and called him "The young lord keeper."
- His studies brought him to the conclusion that the methods and results of science as then practiced were inaccurate and utterly wrong. However, his admiration for Aristotle conflicted with his rejection of Aristotelian philosophy, as he considered it barren, disputatious, and wrong in its objectives.
- In 1576, he and his brother entered de "societate magistrorum" at Gray's Inn. A couple of months later, Bacon went abroad with Sir Amias Paulet, who was the English ambassador in Paris. At the same time, Anthony continued his studies at home. The state of government and society in France under Henry III afforded valuable political instruction for Francis. During the next three years, the philosopher visited Poitiers, Blois, Tours, Spain, and Italy. During these travels, Bacon was studying language, statecraft, civil law, and performing routine diplomatic tasks at the same time. On at least one occasion, he passed diplomatic letters to England for Burghley, Walsingham, and Leicester, as well as for the Queen.
- In 1579, the sudden death of his father caused the prompting of Bacon's return to England. Sir Nicholas managed to save a considerable sum to buy an estate for his youngest son but died before doing so. Because of it, Francis was left with only a fifth of that money. Having borrowed money, Francis got into debt. Bacon needed to support himself, so he took up his residence in law at Gray's Inn.