Richard Cecil

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Richard Cecil (d. 19 Mar 1553)

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Contents

Biography

Richard Cecil was a resident of Burleigh in the parish of Stamford Baron St Martin, Northamptonshire. His father David, had land in Lincolnshire. In their book, The Great Governing Families of England, authors Townsend and Sanford state that David founded a chantry at St George's there in the 22nd year of the reign of Henry the Seventh (1506/7). David rose in favor under King Henry VIII. David was appointed bailiff of Whittlesey Mere and Keeper of the Swans in 3H8. In 5H8 David was made one of the King's Sergeants-at-Arms and "...thus obtained for his son Richard the office of page". David became High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1529 and 1530, and was three times an alderman of Stamford. David was also in 1535 Bailiff of Tinwell, a post also taken up by his son Richard and grandson William. David died in 1536, his only known wife was Jane Dichons, daughter and heiress of John Dichons of Stamford by Margaret, heiress of John Sewark.

Richard too was a courtier. I have found no document yet which gives me an age, birthyear or birthdate for Richard Cecil, however in 1517 he was a royal page; in 1520 he was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold; he rose to be groom of the robes and constable of Warwick Castle. He was High Sheriff of Rutland in 1539, and was one of those who received no inconsiderable share of the plunder of the monasteries. When Henry VIII died, Richard received the grant of the lordship and manor of Tinwell and the advowson of the rectory, where his father David (now deceased) had been bailiff. Richard married Jane Heckington, daughter and heiress of William Heckington of Bourne, Lincolnshire. He had only one son, William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520-1598), but three daughters.

He sent his son William to the grammar schools of Stamford and Grantham, and in 1535 William entered St. John's College, Cambridge. Academically a success, William ran afoul of his father, when his heart was lost to Mary Cheke, daughter of a local widow, with only a fortune of 40 pounds to recommend her. William was immediately removed before he could take his degree, and was entered as a student at Gray's Inn in 1541. If the motive was to prevent a marriage, it failed. Two months after he came up to London, William married Mary, probably secretly. We know the date Aug 8, 1541, from William's own diary entry.[1] Thomas, the future Earl of Exeter and only fruit of this union was born at Cambridge on 5 May 1542, therefore presumably at his grandmother's house. The marriage was so distateful to Richard, that he is said to have altered his will, or at any rate, to have intended to do so. But the young wife did not live long, dying on 22 Feb 1544, after which William married again in 1545 to the much better received Mildred Cooke, a lady of some learning, and family connections.

When Richard died 19 Mar 1552/3[2], he left an ample estate behind him in the counties of Rutland, Northamptonshire and elsewhere. He died at his house in Cannon Row and was buried at St. Margaret's, Westminster.

Richard's widow Jane died in 10 March 1587/8. [3]

Richard and Jane have a wall monument in the Cecil Chapel of St Martin's, Stamford, Lincolnshire, with the effigies of themselves and their three daughters.

Family

Richard and Jane had four children, the order of the daughters is not known to me, but from the ages of their children, it was probably Anne, Elizabeth, Margaret, in that order.

See also Descendents of Richard Cecil and Cecil Number

Primary documents

Secondary sources

Further reading

The Cecil Family, by George Ravenscroft Dennis. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1914.

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