CP, "Burghley", pg 428-30 Barony
William Cecil, s. and h. of Richard C., of Burghley (near Stamford), Northants, sometime Groom of the Wardrobe (who d. 19 Mar. 1552/3), by Jane (d. 10 Mar. 1587/8), da. and h. of William Heckington, of Bourne, co. Lincoln. He was b. 13 Sep. 1521, and bap. at Bourne afsd; ed. at Grantham and Stamford Schools, and May 1535 at St. John's Coll., Cambridge; admitted 6 May 1541 to Gray's Inn. M.P. for Stamford 1547-52; for co. Lincoln 1555 and 1559 (being elected also in 1562); and for Northants 1562-67. He was befriended by the Protector Somerset, whom (as Earl of Hertford) he had attended at the battle of Pinkie 10 Sep. 1547, and by whose influence he was made Master of the Requests, and in 1548 Custos Brevium of the Common Pleas. In 1549, on the Protector's fall, he was deprived of his offices and imprisoned, but was restored in 1551; P.C. 5 Sep. 1550 to 1553, re-sworn 20 Nov. 1558. Sec. of State Sep. 1550 to June 1553, when he resigned. During his tenure of this office he was one of the three Secretaries who signed the letters patent, 16 June 1553, settling the crown on Lady Jane Grey. [fn a] Knighted 11 Oct. 1551; Chancellor of the Order of the Garter, 1552-53. On the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Nov. 1558, he was, for the 2nd time, made Sec. of State, which office he held till July 1572; and for 40 years (during which period took place the trial of the Duke of Norfolk, in 1572, of Mary, Queen of Scots, Oct. 1586, [fn b] the invasion of the Spanish Armada, &c.), was the leading Minister of the Crown; Chancellor of the Univ. of Cambridge 1559 till his death; Master of the Wards, and High Steward of Westm. both 1561 till his death. On 25 Feb. 1570/1, he was cr. Baron of Burghley, [fn c] co. Northampton. Nom. K.G. 23 Apr. and inst. 17 June 1572; Lord High Treasurer, [fn d] 15 Sep. 1572 till his death; Joint Commissioner for the office of Earl Marshal 1590. He m., 1stly, 8 Aug. 1541, Mary, sister of the well-known scholar, his college friend, Sir John Cheke, da. of Peter Cheke, of Pirgo, Essex, an innkeeper, by Agnes, da. of (--) Duffield, of Cambridge. She d. 22 Feb. 1543/4, at Cambridge, and was bur. at St. Mary's there. He m., 2ndly, 21 Dec. 1545 (mar. lic. 21 Nov. 1545 at Fac. Off), Mildred, 1st da. of Sir Anthony Cooke, of Gidea Hall, in Romford, Essex, by Anne, da. of Sir William FitzWilliam, of Milton, Northants. She, who was b. 24 Aug. 1524 (or 1526) at Romford, and was a Greek scholar, d. at Burghley House, Strand, Midx., 5, and was bur. 21 Apr. 1589, at Westm. Abbey. M.I. He d. at Burghley House afsd. 4, and was bur. 29 Aug. 1598, at St. Martin's, Stamford, aged nearly 78. [fn e] M.I. Will dat. 1 Mar. 1597/8, pr. 13 Nov. 1598 [fn f]
footnotes: (a) See, for a list of these note sub Edward, Earl of Derby . (b) For a list of the noblemen composing this Commission for her trial, see note sub Henry, Earl of Derby . (c) "In the patent of the creation of this title it is written Burghley throughout, excepting in the clause which provides that the grantee and his heirs male shall have a seat in Parliament, when it is spelt Burleigh." (Courthope). (d) For this and other great offices of State see Appendix D to this volume. (e) On this family see V.C.H., Northamptonshire Families, by Oswald Barron, pp. 21-39. V.G. (f) A considerable statesman and a very uninteresting man. His first marriage furnishes a solitary touch of romance to his life. "He was cautious, sober, minute, astute, something of the Polonius type, and had a passion for placing everything on record." "He can hardly be called a great man ... He had a cool temper, a sound judgment, great power of application, and a constant eye to the main chance." (Lord Macaulay). V.G.
Thomas (Cecil), Baron Burghley, s. and h. by 1st wife, b. 5 May 1542. On 4 May 1605 he was cr. Earl of Exeter, with which title this Barony continues (1912) united. See "Exeter," Earldom of, cr. 1605.