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|Earl of Exeter|
|Tenure||4 May 1605 – 8 February 1623|
|Predecessor||William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley|
|Successor||William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Exeter|
|Other titles||2nd Baron Burghley|
|Born||5 May 1542|
St Mary the Great, Cambridge, England
|Died||8 February 1623|
Westminster Abbey, London, England
|Residence|| Exeter House |
|Issue|| William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Exeter |
Lucy Cecil, Marchioness of Winchester
Sir Richard Cecil
Edward Cecil, 1st Viscount Wimbledon
Mary Cecil, Countess of Norwich
Dorothy Cecil, Lady Alington
Elizabeth Cecil, Lady Hatton
Frances Cecil, Countess of Thanet
|Parents|| William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley |
Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, KG (5 May 1542 – 8 February 1623), known as Lord Burghley from 1598 to 1605, was an English politician, courtier and soldier.
Thomas Cecil was the elder son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, by his first wife, Mary Cheke (d. February 1543), daughter of Peter Cheke of Cambridge, Esquire Bedell of the University from 1509 until his death in 1529 (and sister of Sir John Cheke). He was the half-brother of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, Anne Cecil, and Elizabeth Cecil.
William Cecil declared the young Thomas to be like, "a spendyng sott, mete to kepe a tenniss court" (a spendthrift soak, suited merely to govern a tennis court),although the same source notes that "Thomas Cecil became an improved character as he advanced in life". Whilst Thomas's career may have been overshadowed by those of his illustrious father and half-brother, he was a fine soldier and a useful politician and had a good deal of influence on the building, not only of Burghley itself, but also two other important houses: Wothorpe Towers and Wimbledon Palace.
Cecil was educated privately and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1558, being admitted to Gray's Inn in the same year.In 1561–62 he was sent with a guardian to Europe to improve himself, at first to Paris, where he applied himself more to social pleasures than to his studies. Eventually, he was removed from this environment first to Antwerp and then to Germany, and might have proceeded to Italy but for the death of his stepbrother William, which led to his being recalled to England.
He served in government under Queen Elizabeth I of England, sitting in the House of Commons first for Stamford, Lincolnshire, in the parliaments of 1563, 1571 and 1572.He was knighted in 1575 and appointed High Sheriff of Northamptonshire for 1578. He accompanied Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester to the Dutch Republic, where he was distinguished for his bravery. In 1584 and 1586 he was Member of Parliament for Lincolnshire, and in 1585 was appointed governor of Brielle – an English Cautionary Town. He did not have good relations with Dudley, but he was very loyal to Sir John Norreys. In 1588, Cecil completed the building of Wimbledon Palace in Wimbledon Park, London, a leading example of the Elizabethan prodigy house. He returned again to the Commons as member for Northamptonshire in 1592 and 1597.
His father's death, later in 1598, brought him a seat in the House of Lords, the 2nd Lord Burghley, as he then was, served from 1599 to 1603 as Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire and Lord President of the Council of the North, an office based at the King's Manor in York. It was during this period, that Queen Elizabeth I made him a Knight of the Garter in 1601.
After the death of Elizabeth in 1603, James VI and I became King of England at the Union of the Crowns. Thomas Cecil, now Lord Burghley, sent his son to Edinburgh to talk about the King's journey to England, and soon after the courtier Roger Aston came to York to speak with him.He wrote to Sir Robert Cecil that he had moved out of King's Manor in York, so that King James could stay there on his journey south to London. The house was empty of furnishings and "quite out of order". Lord Burghley stocked the wine cellars and larders. King James came to the "Manor of St Mary's" on 16 April 1603 and stayed in York for three days. Lord Burghley quarrelled with George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland over precedence and the right to carry a sword of office.
The king's wife, Anne of Denmark, came to York in June. Lord Burghley wrote to Sir Robert Cecil that Catholic ladies from Lancashire and other counties planned to come to York to ask the new queen to help establish toleration of religion. Lord Burghley thought that "she is wise enough how to answer them".After meeting Anne of Denmark, he wrote, "she will prove, if I be not deceived, a magnifical prince, a kind wife and a constant mistress".
During the early reign of King James I of England, he was created Earl of Exeter on 4 May 1605, the same day his younger half-brother, Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cranborne, was created 1st Earl of Salisbury. Unlike his brother, however, he did not become a government minister under King James's rule.
He attempted to build up a family alliance with one of King James's leading ministers, Sir Thomas Lake, by marrying his grandson, William Cecil, 16th Baron de Ros, to Lake's daughter, Anne Lake, in 1615, but the marriage collapsed amidst a welter of allegations and counter-allegations of adultery and incest. The ensuing scandal fascinated the Court and dragged on for years, until in 1621, the Star Chamber found that Anne, her mother, and other members of the Lake family, had fabricated all of the original allegations.
The Cecil family fostered arts; they supported musicians such as William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, and Thomas Robinson. The latter, in his youth, was in the service of Thomas Cecil.
In 2019 Deborah Defoe proposed Thomas Cecil as a candidate in the Shakespearean authorship question in her book Behind the Arras: Thomas Cecil as Shakespeare.
Thomas Cecil married, firstly, Dorothy Neville, the daughter of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer and Lady Lucy Somerset, daughter of Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester; and, secondly, Frances Brydges, the daughter of William Brydges, 4th Baron Chandos and Mary Hopton, and the widow of Thomas Smith, Master of Requests.
By his first wife, Thomas Cecil had ten children who survived to adulthood:
His second wife Frances (d. 1663), the widow of Sir Thomas Smith, was around 30 when she married Cecil in 1609, he was 70. Ben Jonson alluded to their age difference in the masque The Gypsies Metamorphosed .Their daughter, Georgiana, was born in 1616. She was baptised at St Mary's Church, Wimbledon on 13 July 1616, with Queen Anne, wife of King James I, as godmother.
The Earl of Exeter died on 7 February 1623, and was buried in the chapel of St John the Baptist, Westminster Abbey, London.
Wimbledon Palace - The house Sir Thomas Cecil built
Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House. British History Online: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers.
Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Most Honourable the Marquess of Salisbury, K.G., Preserved at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. London: HMSO, 1883. https://openlibrary.org.
Croft, Pauline, ed. Patronage, Culture and Power: the Early Cecils 1558-1612. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-30009-136-6
Defoe, Deborah. Behind the Arras: Thomas Cecil as Shakespeare. Kingston, ON: Perroblanco Press, 2019. ISBN 978-1-77136-670-0
Milward, Richard. “Cecil, Thomas, first earl of Exeter (1542-1623)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4981 accessed 2 Aug 2010].
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley was an English statesman, the chief adviser of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572. In his description in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, Albert Pollard wrote, "From 1558 for forty years the biography of Cecil is almost indistinguishable from that of Elizabeth and from the history of England."
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury,, was an English statesman noted for his direction of the government during the Union of the Crowns, as Tudor England gave way to Stuart rule (1603). Lord Salisbury served as the Secretary of State of England (1596–1612) and Lord High Treasurer (1608–1612), succeeding his father as Queen Elizabeth I's Lord Privy Seal and remaining in power during the first nine years of King James I's reign until his own death.
Marquess of Salisbury is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1789 for the 7th Earl of Salisbury. Most of the holders of the title have been prominent in British political life over the last two centuries, particularly the 3rd Marquess, who served three times as Prime Minister in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Marquess of Exeter is a title that has been created twice, once in the Peerage of England and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The first creation came in the Peerage of England in 1525 for Henry Courtenay, 2nd Earl of Devon. For more information on this creation, which was forfeited in 1538, see Earl of Devon.
Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford, known as the Lord Grey of Groby from 1614 to 1628, was an English nobleman and military leader. He was the eldest son of Sir John Grey and Elizabeth Nevill. His mother was probably a daughter of Edward Nevill, 8th Baron Bergavenny and his wife Rachel Lennard.
Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, of Audley End House in the parish of Saffron Walden in Essex, and of Suffolk House near Westminster, a member of the House of Howard, was the second son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife Margaret Audley, the daughter and eventual sole heiress of Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden, of Audley End.
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset was an English statesman, poet, and dramatist. He was the son of Richard Sackville, a cousin to Anne Boleyn. He was a Member of Parliament and Lord High Treasurer.
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Elizabeth, Lady Coke, was an English court office holder. She served as lady-in-waiting to the queen consort of England, Anne of Denmark. She was the daughter of Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, and Dorothy Neville, and the granddaughter of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. She was the wife of Sir William Hatton and later of Sir Edward Coke.
Robert Ker, 1st Earl of Roxburghe was a Scottish nobleman.
William Alleyne Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Exeter PC, styled Lord Burghley between 1825 and 1867, was a British peer and Conservative politician. He served as Treasurer of the Household between 1866 and 1867 and as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms between 1867 and 1868.
Brownlow Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Exeter, styled Lord Burghley until 1804, was a British peer, courtier, and Tory politician. He held office under the Earl of Derby as Lord Chamberlain of the Household in 1852 and as Lord Steward of the Household between 1858 and 1859.
William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Exeter,, known as the third Lord Burghley from 1605 to 1623, was an English nobleman, politician, and peer.
The King's Manor is a Grade I listed building in York, England, and is part of the University of York. It lies on Exhibition Square, in the city centre.
Cecil House refers to two historical mansions on The Strand, London, in the vicinity of the Savoy. The first was a 16th-century house on the north side, where the Strand Palace Hotel now stands. The second was built in the early 17th century on the south side nearly opposite, where Shell Mex House stands today.
Sir Richard Cecil was an English nobleman, politician, courtier, and Master of Burghley (Burleigh) in the parish of Stamford Baron, Northamptonshire. His father Sir David Cecil, of Welsh ancestry, rose in favour under King Henry VIII of England, becoming High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1532 and 1533, and died in 1541.
Henry Cecil, 1st Marquess of Exeter, known as Henry Cecil from 1754 to 1793 and as The Earl of Exeter from 1793 to 1801, was a British politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1774 and 1790 and succeeded to the peerage as Earl of Exeter in 1793.
Brownlow Henry George Cecil, 4th Marquess of Exeter, styled Lord Burghley between 1867 and 1895, was a British peer and Conservative politician. He served as Vice-Chamberlain of the Household between 1891 and 1892.
Edward Cecil, 1st Viscount Wimbledon was an English military commander and a politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1601 and 1624.
Susan Herbert, Countess of Montgomery, was an English court office holder. She served as lady-in-waiting to the queen consort of England, Anne of Denmark. She was the youngest daughter of Elizabethan courtier, and poet Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.