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William Cecil
History's William Cecil.png
Biographical Information
Real Name: William Cecil
Title: Lord William Cecil

The Lord Burghley
1st Baron Burghley

Born: 13 September 1520
Death: 4 August 1598
Age: 77
Religion: Anglican
Gender: Male Male.png
Originally From: Lincolnshire, England
Wife: Mary Cheke

Mildred Cooke

Family: Richard Cecil (Father)

Jane Heckington (Mother)

Children: Thomas Cecil

Francisca Cecil
Anne Cecil
William Cecil (b-d.1559)
William Cecil (b-d.1561)
Robert Cecil,
Elizabeth Cecil

Affiliations: House of Cecil
COD: Stroke / Heart Attack
Burial: St. Martin's Church
TV Character Information
Portrays: William Cecil
Portrayed by: Tom Everett Scott

William Cecil was an English nobleman, chief advisor and close friend with Queen Elizabeth of England until his death when he was 77 years old. His oldest son Thomas, took over after his death.

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Cecil was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, in 1520, the son of Richard Cecil and Jane Heckington. His family was from the Welsh Marches and Lord Burghley himself acknowledged this in his family pedigree had connections with Dore Abbey. His father was Sergeant-of-Arms to King Henry VIII in 1526, Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1532, and a Justice of the Peace for Rutland.

In May 1535, at the age of 14, he attended St John's College, Cambridge, where he was brought into contact with the foremost scholars of the time, and acquired an unusual knowledge of Greek. He also acquired the affections of Cheke's sister, Mary. Four months later Cecil committed one of the rare rash acts of his life in marrying Mary Cheke. The had only one child, Thomas, the future Earl of Exeter, but Mary died the following year. 3 years later he married Mildred Cooke, who was ranked by Ascham with Lady Jane Grey as one of the two most learned ladies in the kingdom.

Life[edit | edit source]

On 5 September 1550 Cecil was sworn in as one of King Edward's two Secretaries of State. In April 1551, Cecil became Chancellor of the Order of the Garter. But had to work under, Warwick, The Duke of Northumberland

To protect the Protestant government from the accession of a Catholic Queen, Duke Northumberland forced King Edward's lawyers to set aside the Third Succession Act on 15 June 1553. The document, barred Elizabeth and Mary, from the throne, in favour of Lady Jane Grey. Cecil resisted, but at King Edward's royal command he signed it.

Years afterwards, he pretended that he had only signed the devise as a witness, but in his apology to Queen Mary I, he did not venture to allege so flimsy an excuse.

Before Queen Mary died he was a member of the "old flock of Hatfield", and from the first, the new Queen relied on Cecil. She appointed him Secretary of State. His tight control over the finances of the Crown, leadership of the Privy Council, and the creation of a highly capable intelligence service made him the most important minister for the majority of Elizabeth's reign.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • William Cecil was Secretary of State for King Edward VI for 3 years before he died.
  • Lord Ruthven wrote to Cecil reminding him of their meetings in England during the reign of King Edward VI.
  • He was not in office during History's Queen Mary Tudor reign, but was asked back 5 years later when History's Queen Elizabeth became Queen.
  • Besides Lady Jane Grey. His 2nd wife Mary Cheke was considered the most educated woman in the Kingdom when they married.
  • He outlived all his children, except his oldest, Thomas.
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