William Cecil (1736 dictionary entry)

William Cecil, Baron Burghley, a biography entry from 1736


William Cecil, Baron Burghley married twice.  By his first wife Mary Cheeke, daughter of Peter Cheeke of Pirgo, co Essex he had one son Thomas.


A General Dictionary, Historical and Critical: in which a New and Accurate Translation of that of the celebrated Mr Bayle with the Corrections and Observations printed in the late edition at Paris, is included; and interspersed with several thousand Lives never before published.

The whole containing the History of the most illustrious Persons of all Ages and Nations, particularly those of Great Britain and Ireland, distinguished by their Rank, Actions, Learning and other Accomplishments.  With reflections on such passages of Mr Bayle as seem to favour Scepticism and the Manichee system.

By the Reverend Mr John Peter Bernard; The Reverend Mr Thomas Birch, M.A. and F.R.S. Mr John Lockman; and other Hands.  And the articles relating to Oriental History by George Sale, Gent.

Volume IV. London.  Printed by  James Bettenham. MDCCXXXVI (1736)

CECIL WILLIAM Lord Burghley or Burleigh Lord High Treasurer of England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth was descended from an antient and good family [A], and son of Richard Cecil Esq; Groom of the Robes to King Henry VIII (a), by Jane, daughter and heiress of William Heckington (b) of Bourn in the County of Lincoln Esq. He was born at Bourn September the 13th 1521 (c), and educated in the schools of Grantham and Stamford. At the age of fourteen in May 1535 he was sent to the University of Cambridge, and admitted into St John's College, where he pursued his studies with such application, that he hired the Bell-ringer to call him up every morning at four a-clock. He was Reader of the Sophistry-Lecture, when he was but sixteen years old, and afterwards read the Greek Lecture there, as a Gentleman for his exercise without pension, before he was nineteen years of age (d)

When he had proceeded Master of Arts, and continued at the University about six years, May the 6th 1541 he removed to Grays-Inn, where he made a considerable progress in the Common Law (e), and his company was extremely valued on account of his agreeable and facetious disposition [B]. About the latter end of King Henry VIII's reign paying a visit to his father at at Court he met in the Presence Chamber two Priests, Chaplains to O'Neale, and talking long with them in Latin, he fell into a dispute with them, in which he shewed so much learning and wit, that the Priests were entirely foiled and went away in great indignation. The King being told that young Mr Cecil had confuted both O'Neale's Chaplains, sent for him, and after a long discourse with him, being highly pleased with his answers, directed his father to find out a proper place for him; upon which he solicited for a reversion of the Custos Brevium Office in the Common Pleas, which the King readily granted (f).

August the 8th 33 H VIII he married Mary Cheeke, sister to Sir John Cheeke, a Gentleman of distinguished learning (g) [C], who lived with him not above a year and a quarter, by whom he had Thomas (b) afterwards Earl of Exeter, Dec the 21 8 H Vlll he married for his second wife Mildred Cooke, one of the daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, a Lady excellently skilled in the Latin and Greek Tongues [D]; by whom he had Robert, afterwards Earl of Salisbury, Anne, married to Edward Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth to William heir of the Lord Wentworth, and three other children, who all died young (i).

In the first year of King Edward VI the Duke of Somerset, then Lord Protector appointed him Master of the Requests; and the same year he attended the Duke to Musselborough Field against the Scots, where he was like to have been killed, but saved by a person, who putting out his arm to thrust Mr Cecil out of the level of the Cannon, had it struck off. In the second year of King Edward he was committed to the Tower upon the Duke of Somerset's being first called in question, but after a quarter of a year's confinement was set at liberty. The Duke perceiving the King's esteem for Mr Cecil, preferred him to be Secretary of State and Privy Counsellor (k) [E] October the 11th 1551 he received the honour of Knighthood (I)

The Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland endeavoured to engage him in their interests by great offers and presents, which he refused, and though with difficulty, carried himself even to them both all the King's reign, upon whose death he was threatened by the Duke of Northumberland for opposing the conveyance of the Crown from the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth to the Lady Jane Grey [F], though he was of the number of those who subscribed it (m). When Queen Mary ascended the Throne, she granted him a general pardon, and offered him the post of Secretary of State and Privy Counsellor, if he would change his Religion; which he refused [G]; but made his court to the Lady Elizabeth who made use of him as a necessary instrument whilst she was a private person (n), which exposed him to the malice of his enemies, though he defeated it by his prudence and dexterity.

However the Queen sent him in the second year of her reign to Brussels with the Lord Paget to bring over Cardinal Pole (o).  Upon Queen Elizabeth's accession to the Throne he was advanced to be Secretary of State, and was the first person sworn of her Privy Council at Hatfield (p). He had the principal hand in the settlement of Religion, and the alteration of the coin; and in the second year of her Majesty's reign, was sent Embassador into Scotland to treat of peace, which by his management was concluded (q). January the 10th the year following (r), upon the death of Sir Thomas Parry, he was made Master of the Wards [H]  In 1569 there was a design formed by several of the Nobility to ruin him; but it was defeated [I].

The same year by his prudence and care, though he was Secretary alone, he suppressed the rebellion in the North without any battle, blood, or danger to the honour of the Queen or safety of the Realm (s). In 1570 he was sent with Walter Mildmay to treat with the Queen of Scots at Chatsworth in Derbyshire (t); and on February the 25th 1570/1 was created Baron Burgley (u). In 1572 he was invited with the Earl of Leicester to Paris to the marriage of the King of Navarre with Margaret, sister to the King of France, in order that those two Noblemen might be cut off in the massacre on St Bartholomew's Day (w). In June the same year he was made Knight of the Garter (x), and July the 15th following Lord High Treasurer of England, upon the death of William Powlet, Marquis of Winchester (y). This post he discharged with great fidelity and applause [K], and considerably augmented the public purse, and his own private estate, tho' he abhorred the base and corrupt methods of amassing riches; for he seldom or never suffered any thing to be expended, but for the Queen's honour, the security of this Nation, or the support of some