Is Oak Island Really the New Atlantis of Francis Bacon? Randall Sullivan Says His "Best Guess" Based on "Things I've Heard" Is Yes!
I hadn’t written much about this week’s episode of Curse of Oak Island, mostly because I find it hard to gin up much enthusiasm for watching construction equipment move earth. If I wanted to see that, I can watch it live at the dozens of construction sites around town. Plus, I was busy this week with more interesting things to do. Anyway, I eventually got around to taking a look at the episode, and it turns out that they had a crazy conspiracy this week, offered by another in the parade of know-nothing pseudo-experts who pretend to have vast insights that they can never quite back up.
Our guest expert this week was Randall Sullivan, a onetime Rolling Stone journalist who flipped over to the fringe side of things. Sullivan spent time as a “miracle detective” for the Oprah Winfrey Network TV series of that name. I don’t suppose that it will surprise anyone to discover that Sullivan has a new book coming out this summer called The Curse of Oak Island, from the Atlantic Monthly Press. As the title suggests, it is a spinoff product of the History Channel series, though it is not clear if it is authorized by the network or the producers (who promote it nonetheless), but which serves up a history of Oak Island and an account of the Lagina Brothers’ so far fruitless quest to find secret treasure under the island. It gives me no confidence that Sullivan—described here as an “Oak Island historian”—claims on air that his book is a “best guess” based on “things I’ve heard.”
Sullivan presents a remarkable and strange hypothesis (“the one theory that really connected with me”), but one that is the inevitable outgrowth of previous Oak Island hypotheses. Sullivan states that Sir Francis Bacon was the true author of the plays of William Shakespeare, and his original manuscripts are possibly hidden on Oak Island. But that’s not all. Bacon, he wrongly says, “founded” the Rosicrucian brotherhood, and therefore had a close connection to the remnants of the Knights Templar, whose occult ideology is somehow preserved by the Rosicrucian order. Therefore, the Jewish Temple treasures that the Templars are alleged to have taken may be down there with the manuscripts of Shakespeare. What’s more: Sullivan also states that Bacon’s allegory of the perfect society known as The New Atlantis really described the miniscule spit of uninhabited land known as Oak Island.
Nothing much comes of the speculation on the show, but it’s probably worth noting that Sullivan isn’t the originator of it.
At the grossest level, Francis Bacon’s connection to the Rosicrucian brotherhood is a long-established if largely evidence-free hypothesis, which occurs as far back as the Victorian writings of William Francis C. Wigston, stemming from the coincidence that the first Rosicrucian text was dated 1616, the date Shakespeare died, as well as from a conflation of Baconian philosophy with Rosicrucian beliefs and Freemasonic ideals. Some modern scholars (notably Frances Yates) have tried to maintain that the brotherhood running the New Atlantis of Bensalem was modeled on the Rosicrucians, but Bacon never once referred to the Rosicrucians or their publications in his own writings. They are unnecessary to explain Bacon’s book, and Bacon dismissed most occult societies as so much fantasy. In no wise did Bacon “found” the Rosicrucian order, whose key texts emerged in the Holy Roman Empire at any rate, regardless of whether you believe there was a real cult of Rosicrucians.
I see that in 1996 David Hatcher Childress wrote about it in his book Lost Cities of Atlantis, where he seems to have stumbled into the claim by accident. Describing the allegations by Andrew Sinclair and Michael Bradley that the medieval minor noble Henry Sinclair and the (long-disbanded) Knights Templar colonized Oak Island in the name of Jesus’ secret children (and/or the Freemasons or Rosicrucians), Childress begins to speculate about whether, if America were Atlantis, that means that Oak Island would be the New Atlantis, the place where Henry Sinclair started the occult wonderland of ancient Atlantis anew:
The fascinating concept of the Knights Templar taking the Holy Grail to the New World in order to found the New Jerusalem takes us directly into Atlantis studies. It is possible that the exploits and desires of Prince Henry influenced Sir Francis Bacon who, around the year 1600, published his unfinished utopian romance entitled The New Atlantis.
Childress offers no evidence, nor does he specifically identify the new Atlantis of Bensalem with Oak Island. Instead, he fancifully speculates that the Grail Dynasty and its secret paradise of Jesus’ descendants provided the model for Bacon’s lost Pacific island.
Three years later, in The Lost Treasures of the Knights Templar, Steven Sora discusses the claim that Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare and hid them, relating this to the Invisible College and the occult activities of John Dee, whom he suspects of being connected to Bacon in some unspecified way. Sora also connects the Invisible College with Rosicrucianism, following Yates and Wigston.
The complete version shown on Curse of Oak Island is a bit of a gross simplification and flattening of a number of different ideas, smashed together into a single claim. So far as I can find, Childress was the first to link The New Atlantis to Oak Island, but in 1987 we see references to Francis Bacon’s alleged Shakespearean manuscripts being secreted on Oak Island, as per Penn Leary’s The Crypotgraphic Shakespeare, based on speculation going back decades. We see it in 1969’s Treasure and Treasure Hunters, and in 1973, when the same claim was published in Esquire magazine, and 1977 when Business Week repeated the speculation. All of this, however, seems to be an outgrowth of Thomas P. Leary’s book The Oak Island Enigma, the 1953 work identifying the treasure of Oak Island as “the lost manuscripts of Sir Francis Bacon,” which were of course Shakespeare’s plays along with other scientific materials. However, because I haven’t read the book, I have no idea if Leary connected Oak Island with the New Atlantis. The lack of references between 1953 and 1996 suggests not.
In short, however, we’re still recycling old, unproven material and remixing it into ever more baroque combinations.
1/8/2017 10:01:12 am
Oh boy another pot boiler that completely neglects to put the Oak Island "Treasure" into its proper local historical context. Most of these "mysteries" are solved by looking at local history and Oak Island is no exception. Conveniently ignored in favor of Templars and Knights. There are gold deposits adjacent to Oak Island and we all wonder where the treasure is......??
1/9/2017 02:34:14 am
No gold deposits near Oak.
1/8/2017 10:10:30 am
"At the grossest level, Francis Bacon’s connection to the Rosicrucian brotherhood is a long-established if largely evidence-free hypothesis, which occurs as far back as the Victorian writings of William Francis C. Wigston, stemming from the coincidence that the first Rosicrucian text was dated 1616, the date Shakespeare died, as well as from a conflation of Baconian philosophy with Rosicrucian beliefs and Freemasonic ideals."
1/8/2017 12:08:31 pm
According to fringe sources, the first text, while published in 1614, carried a date of 1616. I haven't confirmed that, but it's how they explain the discrepancy.
1/8/2017 04:50:04 pm
Images of the title page of the German edition definitely show the date M.DC.XIV. and I see from good old Wikipedia that a response to the Fama was printed in 1612, based on reading of an early manuscript copy.
2/10/2017 01:15:51 am
Do you believe that Bacon wrote the Shapespear manuscripts?
9/21/2017 10:10:07 pm
1/8/2017 11:08:39 am
I often wonder how many takes they have to make in the "War Room" due to the Lagina's breaking up over the nonsense the parade of con men ushered in by Burns and Co. have espoused.
1/8/2017 01:42:03 pm
"It's Crown Time"
1/8/2017 02:01:30 pm
Before Nolan died, I thought Dave Blankenship would be the 7th to go, due to liver failure.
1/8/2017 11:18:50 am
Tall tale is told of an age old hoax. People show interest. Television producers salivate. Fringe profiteers circle like sharks. That's Oak Island for you.
1/9/2017 02:32:04 am
1/10/2017 03:02:56 pm
I keep hoping something will REALLY develop with the Lagina Bros. but am fairly confident it won't. Then I wonder if the referenced "several million dollars" they've spent is really coming out of their pockets or the History Channel's. If the Laginas are putting it up, how much longer can they go on before they realize they've duped themselves or been duped by the seemingly elaborate hoax that is Oak Island?
2/10/2017 01:19:53 am
Wouldn't Nolan be considered the 7th. After all he was a treasure hunter?
2/10/2017 01:18:00 am
Why watch it then?
1/8/2017 11:39:23 am
I think during the era of Bacon that "Rosicrucian" thought was not organized and was a kind of philosophy or way of looking at things. In addition it harbored a system of interpretive metaphor and allegory that could be used to keep things secret. This is similar to some alchemical concepts as well. Many mistakenly associate this concept w/ the modern Rosicrucian Order (AMORC) in San Jose. Even Shakespeare himself had family ties to those involved in presenting interpretive art to the public that contained "Rosicrucian" overtones. Given the climate of intolerance of Catholics at various times in this period of English history it is only natural that they would have used these concepts in a mystery school manner to maintain their faith at these times. All of their mysteries would then lead you to the same Catholic or Latin Church concepts. Other groups use these same methods to question the church as well.
4/20/2017 03:22:31 pm
Now this a reply I can agree with! Of course they hid their Rosacrucian ties! The Catholic church had already tortured and put to death many many Templars. Even the early Arab nations like Nur el Din were signing treaties with the Pope to secure their safety. Of course!
1/8/2017 11:46:18 am
I wonder if there are any fabled treasures that somebody won't claim are buried at Oak Island.
1/8/2017 01:56:50 pm
Precisely, most of the literature and records of classical Greece and Rome are at present lost to history, perhaps we will find them buried (with that Roman Soldier) on Oak Island. More important are those so incriminating texts found missing from the Vatican Library after Napoleons visit which are the real hidden evidence of something or other, but really, really important.
1/8/2017 04:59:53 pm
The tomb of Genghis Khan?
1/9/2017 12:51:40 am
Thankfully, my "lost" gold crowns (of the dental variety) are safely stashed in an old pill bottle in my medicine cabinet.
4/4/2019 04:55:57 pm
Southcoast, where is your medicine cabinet buried?
1/8/2017 12:07:58 pm
The 'new release' description is already up on Amazon. The description is so grossly generic and repetitive it could be used for almost any book ever written about Oak Island. The first sentence of the description is factually incorrect, so from the starting blocks it appears to be crap research.
1/8/2017 12:27:39 pm
Given what Bacon would have undoubtedly known about the natural deterioration of various materials over time, can anyone seriously believe that he would have buried any kind of box containing paper or parchment manuscripts in a deep hole near the sea?
1/8/2017 06:02:47 pm
The explanation is allegedly he soaked everything in mercury believing it to be a preservative and not knowing the toxic properties at the time. Some bit of something that came out of one of the boreholes supposedly had traces of mercury. Allegedly there is also a dump of broken old mercury flasks somewhere on the island but if true these could have been for attempts at actual gold mining and processing, which did actually exist on the mainland at one time. The island itself has fools gold all over it, no pun intended.
1/9/2017 02:38:03 am
And don't forget wet.
1/9/2017 06:24:39 am
Well said. Don't sweat the petty stuff, always pet the sweaty stuff.
1/9/2017 08:01:43 pm
That would fill with water nonetheless
1/8/2017 05:05:14 pm
Prospectors seek Bacon, find only Hogwash.
1/8/2017 06:03:36 pm
Sounds like he has read/watched Shakespear: The Hidden Truth by Norwegian Petter Amundsen
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/8/2017 09:09:03 pm
Funny enough, Amundsen was as I recall one of the early flavor of the week conspiracies.
9/21/2017 10:12:09 pm
Petter likes it doggy stile
1/9/2017 02:27:40 pm
So this perfect society of New Atlantis...hows come they forgot to build anything, not even houses for themselves?
2/13/2019 11:37:20 pm
Oprah's miracle investigator guy didn't notice the sex slave gang John of God was running. He could've uncovered this guy years ago but didn't. The sex slave, mother murdering, child selling crime ring was rather large.
5/12/2019 02:03:10 pm
"...regardless of whether you believe there was a real cult of Rosicrucians."
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