William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
Overview
 
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (sometimes spelled Burleigh), KG (13 September 1521 – 4 August 1598) was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 for most of her reign
Reign
A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office of monarch of a nation or of a people . In most hereditary monarchies and some elective monarchies A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office...

, twice Secretary of State
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

 (1550–1553 and 1558–1572) and Lord High Treasurer
Lord High Treasurer
The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Act of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third highest ranked Great Officer of State, below the Lord High Chancellor and above the Lord President...

 from 1572. He was the founder of the Cecil dynasty
Marquess of Salisbury
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...

 which has produced many politicians including two Prime Ministers.
Cecil was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire
Bourne, Lincolnshire
Bourne is a market town and civil parish on the western edge of the Fens, in the District of South Kesteven in southern Lincolnshire, England.-The town:...

 in 1521, the son of Richard Cecil
Richard Cecil (courtier)
Richard Cecil was a resident and Master of Burghley in the parish of Stamford Baron, Northamptonshire. His father 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.Richard too was a courtier...

, owner of the Burghley
Burghley House
Burghley House is a grand 16th-century country house near the town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England...

 estate
Estate (house)
An estate comprises the houses and outbuildings and supporting farmland and woods that surround the gardens and grounds of a very large property, such as a country house or mansion. It is the modern term for a manor, but lacks the latter's now abolished jurisdictional authority...

 (near Stamford, Lincolnshire
Stamford, Lincolnshire
Stamford is a town and civil parish within the South Kesteven district of the county of Lincolnshire, England. It is approximately to the north of London, on the east side of the A1 road to York and Edinburgh and on the River Welland...

), and his wife, Jane Heckington.

Pedigrees
Pedigree chart
A pedigree chart is a diagram that shows the occurrence and appearance or phenotypes of a particular gene or organism and its ancestors from one generation to the next, most commonly humans, show dogs, and race horses....

, elaborated by Cecil himself with the help of William Camden
William Camden
William Camden was an English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and officer of arms. He wrote the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.- Early years :Camden was born in London...

 the antiquary, associated him with the Welsh Cecils or Sitsylts of Allt-Yr-Ynys, Walterstone
Walterstone
-External links:* , GENUKI genealogy web portal* ** Please note that most of the sites are on private property and are not open to the public*...

 on the border of Herefordshire
Herefordshire
Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

 and Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire (historic)
Monmouthshire , also known as the County of Monmouth , is one of thirteen ancient counties of Wales and a former administrative county....

, and traced his descent from an Owen of the time of King Harold
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

 and a Sitsyllt of the reign of William Rufus.
Quotations

[Spain seeks to] overthrow the Low Countries, which hitherto have been as a counterscarp|counterscarp to your Majesty's kingdom.

Walter Scott (ed.), A Collection of scarce and valuable tracts: Vol. II (London: 1809), p. 169.

I doubt not but the fire illuminating heaven on Michelmas|Michelmas eve was seen there – such as I never saw for the time more fearful. God sendeth us such signs but for our erudition.

Letter to Sir Francis Walsingham, c. 1573-76.

Their Lordships of the Upper House...are one member of the Parliament; and also that the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of this House representing the whole Commons of this Realm are also another member of the same Parliament; and her Majesty the Head; and that of these three Estates doth consist the whole body of Parliament able to make laws.

Said in 1585.

Encyclopedia
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (sometimes spelled Burleigh), KG (13 September 1521 – 4 August 1598) was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 for most of her reign
Reign
A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office of monarch of a nation or of a people . In most hereditary monarchies and some elective monarchies A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office...

, twice Secretary of State
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

 (1550–1553 and 1558–1572) and Lord High Treasurer
Lord High Treasurer
The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Act of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third highest ranked Great Officer of State, below the Lord High Chancellor and above the Lord President...

 from 1572. He was the founder of the Cecil dynasty
Marquess of Salisbury
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...

 which has produced many politicians including two Prime Ministers.

Early life

Cecil was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire
Bourne, Lincolnshire
Bourne is a market town and civil parish on the western edge of the Fens, in the District of South Kesteven in southern Lincolnshire, England.-The town:...

 in 1521, the son of Richard Cecil
Richard Cecil (courtier)
Richard Cecil was a resident and Master of Burghley in the parish of Stamford Baron, Northamptonshire. His father 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.Richard too was a courtier...

, owner of the Burghley
Burghley House
Burghley House is a grand 16th-century country house near the town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England...

 estate
Estate (house)
An estate comprises the houses and outbuildings and supporting farmland and woods that surround the gardens and grounds of a very large property, such as a country house or mansion. It is the modern term for a manor, but lacks the latter's now abolished jurisdictional authority...

 (near Stamford, Lincolnshire
Stamford, Lincolnshire
Stamford is a town and civil parish within the South Kesteven district of the county of Lincolnshire, England. It is approximately to the north of London, on the east side of the A1 road to York and Edinburgh and on the River Welland...

), and his wife, Jane Heckington.

Pedigrees
Pedigree chart
A pedigree chart is a diagram that shows the occurrence and appearance or phenotypes of a particular gene or organism and its ancestors from one generation to the next, most commonly humans, show dogs, and race horses....

, elaborated by Cecil himself with the help of William Camden
William Camden
William Camden was an English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and officer of arms. He wrote the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.- Early years :Camden was born in London...

 the antiquary, associated him with the Welsh Cecils or Sitsylts of Allt-Yr-Ynys, Walterstone
Walterstone
-External links:* , GENUKI genealogy web portal* ** Please note that most of the sites are on private property and are not open to the public*...

 on the border of Herefordshire
Herefordshire
Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

 and Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire (historic)
Monmouthshire , also known as the County of Monmouth , is one of thirteen ancient counties of Wales and a former administrative county....

, and traced his descent from an Owen of the time of King Harold
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

 and a Sitsyllt of the reign of William Rufus. Sitsylt is the original Welsh spelling of the anglicised Cecil. There is now no doubt that the family was from the Welsh Marches
Welsh Marches
The Welsh Marches is a term which, in modern usage, denotes an imprecisely defined area along and around the border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods...

 and Lord Burghley himself acknowledged this in his family pedigree painted at Theobalds. The family had connections with Dore Abbey
Dore Abbey
Dore Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey in the village of Abbey Dore in the Golden Valley, Herefordshire, England. A large part of the original mediaeval building has been used since the 16th century as the parish church, with remaining parts either now ruined or no longer extant.-History:The...

. However, the move to Stamford provides information concerning the Lord Treasurer's grandfather, David; he, according to Burghley's enemies, kept the best inn in Stamford. David somehow secured the favour of the first Tudor Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, to whom he seems to have been Yeoman of the Guard
Yeomen of the Guard
The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As a token of this venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold uniforms of Tudor...

. He was Sergeant-of-Arms
Serjeant-at-Arms
A Sergeant-at-Arms is an officer appointed by a deliberative body, usually a legislature, to keep order during its meetings. The word sergeant is derived from the Latin serviens, which means "servant"....

 to Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 in 1526, Sheriff of Northamptonshire
High Sheriff of Northamptonshire
This is a list of the High Sheriffs of Northamptonshire.The High Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown. Formerly the High Sheriff was the principal law enforcement officer in the county but over the centuries most of the responsibilities associated with the post have been...

 in 1532, and a Justice of the Peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 for Rutland
Rutland
Rutland is a landlocked county in central England, bounded on the west and north by Leicestershire, northeast by Lincolnshire and southeast by Peterborough and Northamptonshire....

. His eldest son, Richard, Yeoman
Yeoman
Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century. Work requiring a great deal of effort or labor, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as "yeoman's work"...

 of the Wardrobe (d. 1554), married Jane, daughter of William Heckington of Bourne, and was father of three daughters and the future Lord Burghley.

William, the only son, was put to school first at The King's School, Grantham
The King's School, Grantham
The King's School is a British grammar school located in the market town of Grantham, in Lincolnshire, England, and one of the oldest schools in the UK.-History:...

 and then at Stamford School
Stamford School
Stamford School is an English independent school situated in the market town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England. It has been a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference since 1920.-History:...

, which he later saved and endowed. In May 1535, at the age of fourteen, he went up to St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

, where he was brought into contact with the foremost educators of the time, Roger Ascham
Roger Ascham
Roger Ascham was an English scholar and didactic writer, famous for his prose style, his promotion of the vernacular, and his theories of education...

 and John Cheke
John Cheke
Sir John Cheke was an English classical scholar and statesman, notable as the first Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge University....

, and acquired an unusual knowledge of Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

. He also acquired the affections of Cheke's sister, Mary, and was in 1541 removed by his father to Gray's Inn
Gray's Inn
The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns...

, without, after six years' residence at Cambridge, having taken a degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

. The precaution proved useless and four months later Cecil committed one of the rare rash acts of his life in marrying Mary Cheke. The only child of this marriage, Thomas
Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter
Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, KG , known as Lord Burghley from 1598 to 1605, was an English politician and soldier.-Life:...

, the future Earl of Exeter, was born in May 1542, and in February 1543 Cecil's first wife died. Three years later, on 21 December 1546 he married Mildred Cooke
Mildred Cooke
Mildred Cooke, Lady Burghley was an English noblewoman, translator, and poet of the sixteenth century.-Life and work:Mildred was the eldest of the five daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke and Anne Fitzwilliam. She studied Latin and Greek, which she especially enjoyed translating...

, who was ranked by Ascham with Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey , also known as The Nine Days' Queen, was an English noblewoman who was de facto monarch of England from 10 July until 19 July 1553 and was subsequently executed...

 as one of the two most learned ladies in the kingdom, and whose sister, Anne, became the wife of Sir Nicholas (and the mother of Sir Francis) Bacon.

Early career

William Cecil's early career was spent in the service of the Duke of Somerset
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, 1st Earl of Hertford, 1st Viscount Beauchamp of Hache, KG, Earl Marshal was Lord Protector of England in the period between the death of Henry VIII in 1547 and his own indictment in 1549....

 (a brother of the late queen, Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour was Queen of England as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution for trumped up charges of high treason, incest and adultery in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of...

), who was Lord Protector
Lord Protector
Lord Protector is a title used in British constitutional law for certain heads of state at different periods of history. It is also a particular title for the British Heads of State in respect to the established church...

 during the early years of the reign of his nephew, the young Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...

. Cecil accompanied Somerset on his Pinkie
Battle of Pinkie Cleugh
The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, on the banks of the River Esk near Musselburgh, Scotland on 10 September 1547, was part of the War of the Rough Wooing. It was the last pitched battle between Scottish and English armies, and is seen as the first modern battle in the British Isles...

 campaign of 1547 (part of the "Rough Wooing"), being one of the two Judges of the Marshalsea
Marshalsea Court
The Marshalsea Court was a court associated with the Royal Household in England.It was a court of record held by the Steward and Marshal of the Royal Household, to administer justice between the sovereign's domestic servants "that they might not be drawn into other courts and their service lost"...

. The other was William Patten
William Patten (historian)
William Patten was an author, scholar and government official during the reigns of King Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth I.-Early career:...

, who states that both he and Cecil began to write independent accounts of the campaign, and that Cecil generously contributed his notes for Patten's narrative of the Expedition into Scotland.

Cecil, according to his autobiographical
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 notes, sat in Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 in 1543; but his name does not occur in the imperfect parliamentary returns until 1547, when he was elected for the family borough
Borough
A borough is an administrative division in various countries. In principle, the term borough designates a self-governing township although, in practice, official use of the term varies widely....

 of Stamford.

In 1548, he is described as the Protector's Master of Requests, which apparently means that he was clerk or registrar of the court of requests which the Protector, possibly at Hugh Latimer
Hugh Latimer
Hugh Latimer was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, Bishop of Worcester before the Reformation, and later Church of England chaplain to King Edward VI. In 1555, under Queen Mary, he was burnt at the stake, becoming one of the three Oxford Martyrs of Anglicanism.-Life:Latimer was born into a...

's instigation, illegally set up in Somerset House
Somerset House
Somerset House is a large building situated on the south side of the Strand in central London, England, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The central block of the Neoclassical building, the outstanding project of the architect Sir William Chambers, dates from 1776–96. It...

 to hear poor men's complaints. He also seems to have acted as private secretary to the Protector, and was in some danger at the time of the Protector's fall in October 1549. The lords opposed to Somerset ordered his detention on 10 October, and in November he was in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

.

Cecil ingratiated himself with Warwick
John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland
John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, KG was an English general, admiral, and politician, who led the government of the young King Edward VI from 1550 until 1553, and unsuccessfully tried to install Lady Jane Grey on the English throne after the King's death...

, and after less than three months he was out of the Tower. On 5 September 1550 Cecil was sworn in as one of King Edward's two Secretaries of State
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

. In April 1551, Cecil became Chancellor
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 of the Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

. But service under Warwick (by now the Duke of Northumberland) carried some risk, and decades later in his diary, Cecil recorded his release in the phrase "ex misero aulico factus liber et mei juris" ("I was freed from this miserable court").

To protect the Protestant government from the accession of a Catholic queen, Northumberland forced King Edward's lawyers to create an instrument setting aside the Third Succession Act
Third Succession Act
The Third Succession Act of Henry VIII's reign was passed by the Parliament of England in July 1543, and returned both Mary and Elizabeth to the line of the succession behind Prince Edward....

 on 15 June 1553. (The document, which Edward titled "My Devise for the Succession", barred both Elizabeth and Mary, the remaining children of Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, from the throne, in favour of Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey , also known as The Nine Days' Queen, was an English noblewoman who was de facto monarch of England from 10 July until 19 July 1553 and was subsequently executed...

.) Cecil resisted for a while, in a letter to his wife, he wrote: "Seeing great perils threatened upon us by the likeness of the time, I do make choice to avoid the perils of God's displeasure." But at Edward's royal command he signed it. He signed not only the devise, but also the bond among the conspirators and the letters from the council to Mary Tudor of 9 June 1553.

Years afterwards, he pretended that he had only signed the devise as a witness, but in his apology to Queen Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

, he did not venture to allege so flimsy an excuse; he preferred to lay stress on the extent to which he succeeded in shifting the responsibility on to the shoulders of his brother-in-law, Sir John Cheke, and other friends, and on his intrigues to frustrate the Queen to whom he had sworn allegiance.

There is no doubt that Cecil saw which way the wind was blowing, and disliked Northumberland's scheme; but he had not the courage to resist the duke to his face. As soon, however, as the duke had set out to meet Mary, Cecil became the most active intriguer against him, and to these efforts, of which he laid a full account before Queen Mary, he mainly owed his immunity. He had, moreover, had no part in the divorce of Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

 or in the humiliation of Mary during Henry's reign, and he made no scruple about conforming to the Catholic reaction. He went to Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

, confessed
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

, and in no particular official capacity went to meet Cardinal Pole on his return to England in December 1554, again accompanying him to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 in May 1555.

He was elected to Parliament as knight of the shire for Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire (UK Parliament constituency)
Lincolnshire was a county constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons from 1290 until 1832.-History:...

 in 1553 (probably), 1555 and 1559 and for Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire (UK Parliament constituency)
The county constituency of Northamptonshire, in the East Midlands of England was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England, then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832 and was represented in...

 in 1563.

It was rumoured in December 1554 that Cecil would succeed Sir William Petre
William Petre
Sir William Petre was a secretary of state to Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.Educated as a lawyer at Oxford, he became a public servant, probably through the influence of the Boleyns, one of whom, George, he had tutored at Oxford and another of whom, Anne, was married to the king...

 as Secretary of State
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

, an office which, with his chancellorship of the Garter, he had lost on Mary's accession
Accession
Accession has different definitions depending upon its application. In Property law, it is a mode of acquiring property that involves the addition of value to property through labor or the addition of new materials. In English Common law, the added value belonged to the original property's owner,...

 to the throne. Probably the Queen had more to do with this rumour than Cecil, though he is said to have opposed, in the parliament of 1555 (in which he represented Lincolnshire), a bill for the confiscation
Confiscation
Confiscation, from the Latin confiscatio 'joining to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury' is a legal seizure without compensation by a government or other public authority...

 of the estates of the Protestant refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s. But the story, even as told by his biographer, does not represent Cecil's conduct as having been very courageous; and it is more revealing that he found no seat in the parliament of 1558, for which Mary had directed the return of "discreet and good Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 members
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

".

Reign of Elizabeth

The Duke of Northumberland had employed Cecil in the administration of the lands of Princess Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

. Before 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
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

. His tight control over the finances of the Crown, leadership of the Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

, and the creation of a highly capable intelligence service under the direction of Francis Walsingham
Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis Walsingham was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I of England from 1573 until 1590, and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster". Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security...

 made him the most important minister for the majority of Elizabeth's reign.

Foreign policy

Dawson argues that Cecil's long term goal was a united and Protestant British Isles, an objective to be achieved by completing the conquest of Ireland and by creating an Anglo-Scottish alliance. With the land border with Scotland safe, the main burden of defence would fall upon the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, Cecil proposed to strengthen and revitalise the Navy, making it the centerpiece of English power. He did obtain a firm Anglo-Scottish alliance reflecting the common religion and shared interests of the two countries, as well as an agreement that offered the prospect of a successful conquest of Ireland. However his strategy ultimately failed. His idea that England's safety required a united British Isles became an axiom of English policy by the 17th century.

Though a Protestant, Cecil was not a religious purist; he aided the Protestant Huguenots and Dutch just enough to keep them going in the struggles which warded danger from England's shores. But Cecil never developed that passionate aversion from decided measures which became a second nature to Elizabeth. His intervention in Scotland in 1559–1560 showed that he could strike hard when necessary; and his action over the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, proved that he was willing to take on responsibilities from which the Queen shrank. The American international relations theorist Hans Morgenthau
Hans Morgenthau
Hans Joachim Morgenthau was one of the leading twentieth-century figures in the study of international politics...

 claimed Burghley accepted a pension (a bribe) from Spain, although Burghley's biographer Conyers Read has claimed that there is no evidence for this.

Generally he was in favour of more decided intervention on behalf of continental Protestants than Elizabeth would have liked, but it is not always easy to ascertain the advice he gave. He left endless memoranda
Memorandum
A memorandum is from the Latin verbal phrase memorandum est, the gerundive form of the verb memoro, "to mention, call to mind, recount, relate", which means "It must be remembered ..."...

 lucidly (nevertheless sometimes bordering on the ridiculous) setting forth the pros and cons of every course of action; but there are few indications of the line which he actually recommended when it came to a decision. How far he was personally responsible for the Anglican Settlement
Elizabethan Religious Settlement
The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was Elizabeth I’s response to the religious divisions created over the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I. This response, described as "The Revolution of 1559", was set out in two Acts of the Parliament of England...

, the Poor Law
Poor Law
The English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief which existed in England and Wales that developed out of late-medieval and Tudor-era laws before being codified in 1587–98...

s, and the foreign policy of the reign, remains to a large extent a matter of conjecture. However, it is most likely that Cecil's views carried the day in the politics of Elizabethan England. Historian Hillaire Belloc contends that Cecil was the de facto ruler of England during his tenure as Secretary; pointing out that in instances where his and Elizabeth's wills diverged, it was Cecil's will that was imposed.

Domestic politics

His share in the Religious Settlement
Elizabethan Religious Settlement
The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was Elizabeth I’s response to the religious divisions created over the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I. This response, described as "The Revolution of 1559", was set out in two Acts of the Parliament of England...

 of 1559 was considerable, and it coincided fairly with his own Anglican religious views. Like the mass of the nation, he grew more Protestant as time wore on; he was happier to persecute Catholics than Puritans; and he had no love for ecclesiastical jurisdiction. He warmly remonstrated with John Whitgift
John Whitgift
John Whitgift was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 to his death. Noted for his hospitality, he was somewhat ostentatious in his habits, sometimes visiting Canterbury and other towns attended by a retinue of 800 horsemen...

, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

, over his persecuting Articles of 1583. The finest encomium was passed on him by the queen herself, when she said, "This judgment I have of you, that you will not be corrupted with any manner of gifts, and that you will be faithful to the state."

In Parliament

He represented Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire (UK Parliament constituency)
Lincolnshire was a county constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons from 1290 until 1832.-History:...

 in the Parliament of 1555 and 1559, and Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire (UK Parliament constituency)
The county constituency of Northamptonshire, in the East Midlands of England was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England, then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832 and was represented in...

 in that of 1563, and he took an active part in the proceedings of the House of Commons
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain...

 until his elevation to the peerage
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

; but there seems no good evidence for the story that he was proposed as Speaker in 1563. In January 1561, he was given the lucrative office of Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries
Court of Wards and Liveries
The Court of Wards and Liveries was a court established during the reign of Henry VIII in England. Its purpose was to administer a system of feudal dues; but as well as the revenue collection, the court was also responsible for wardship and livery issues....

 in succession to Sir Thomas Parry
Thomas Parry (Comptroller of the Household)
Sir Thomas Parry was a Comptroller of the Household to the English Queen Elizabeth I.He was knighted by Elizabeth at her accession in 1558, and held the offices of royal steward, Cofferer, Privy Counselor, Comptroller of the Household , Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries , Member of...

. As Master of the Court of Wards, Burghley supervised the raising and education of the sons of wealthy aristocrats who had died before their sons had achieved maturity. These included Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, lyric poet, sportsman and patron of the arts, and is currently the most popular alternative candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare's works....

, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton
Henry Wriothesley , 3rd Earl of Southampton , was the second son of Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton, and his wife Mary Browne, Countess of Southampton, daughter of the 1st Viscount Montagu...

,and Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland
Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland
Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland was the son of John Manners, 4th Earl of Rutland.He married Elizabeth Sidney , on 5 March 1599....

. He is widely credited with reforming an institution notorious for its corruption, but the extent of his reforms has been disputed by some scholars.

In February 1559, he was elected Chancellor
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 of Cambridge University in succession to Cardinal Pole; he was created M.A.
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 of that university on the occasion of Elizabeth's visit in 1564, and M.A. of Oxford on a similar occasion in 1566. He was the first Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin
University of Dublin
The University of Dublin , corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin , located in Dublin, Ireland, was effectively founded when in 1592 Queen Elizabeth I issued a charter for Trinity College, Dublin, as "the mother of a university" – this date making it...

 between 1592 and 1598.

On 25 February 1571, Queen Elizabeth elevated him as Baron Burghley. The fact that Burghley continued to act as Secretary of State after his elevation illustrates the growing importance of that office, which under his son became a secretary of the ship of state. In 1572 Burghley privately admonished the queen for her "doubtful dealing with the Queen of Scots." He made a strong attack on everything he thought Elizabeth had done wrong as queen. In his view, Mary had to be executed because her life was a rallying cause for the Catholics and played into the hands of the Spanish and of the pope, who excommunicated Elizabeth in 1570 and sent in Jesuits to organise a Catholic underground. Elizabeth's indecision was maddening; finally in 1587 Elizabeth had Mary executed.

Treasurer

In 1572, Lord Winchester
William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester
Sir William Paulet was an English Secretary of State and statesman who attained several peerages throughout his lifetime: Baron St John , Earl of Wiltshire , and Marquess of Winchester .-Family origins and early career in Hampshire:William Paulet was eldest son of Sir John Paulet of...

, who had been Lord High Treasurer
Lord High Treasurer
The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Act of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third highest ranked Great Officer of State, below the Lord High Chancellor and above the Lord President...

 under Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, died. His vacant post was offered to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, KG was an English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Elizabeth I from her first year on the throne until his death...

, who declined it and proposed Burghley, stating that the latter was the more suitable candidate because of his greater "learning and knowledge". The new Lord Treasurer's hold over the queen strengthened with the years.

Burghley and Theobalds

Burghley House
Burghley House
Burghley House is a grand 16th-century country house near the town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England...

 near the town of Stamford was built for Cecil between 1555 and 1587 and modelled on the privy lodgings of Richmond Palace
Richmond Palace
Richmond Palace was a Thameside royal residence on the right bank of the river, upstream of the Palace of Westminster, to which it lay 9 miles SW of as the crow flies. It it was erected c. 1501 within the royal manor of Sheen, by Henry VII of England, formerly known by his title Earl of Richmond,...

. It was subsequently the residence of his descendants, the Earls and Marquesses of Exeter. The house is one of the principal examples of 16th-century Elizabethan architecture
Elizabethan architecture
Elizabethan architecture is the term given to early Renaissance architecture in England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Historically, the period corresponds to the Cinquecento in Italy, the Early Renaissance in France, and the Plateresque style in Spain...

.

A new Theobalds House
Theobalds House
Theobalds House , located in Theobalds Park, just outside Cheshunt in the English county of Hertfordshire, was a prominent stately home and royal palace of the 16th and early 17th centuries.- Early history :...

 just off the main road north from London to Ware, was built between 1564 and 1585 to the order of Burghley. The Queen visited eight times between 1572 and 1596.

Death

Lord Burghley collapsed (possibly from a stroke or heart attack) in 1592. Before he died, Robert, his only surviving son by his second wife, was ready to step into his shoes as the Queen's principal adviser. Having survived all his children except Robert and Thomas, Burghley died at his London residence, Cecil House
Cecil House
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...

 on 4 August 1598, and was buried in St Martin's Church, Stamford
St Martin's Church, Stamford
St Martin's Church, Stamford is a parish church in the Church of England located in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England. The area of the town, south of the River Welland, was in Northamptonshire until 1889 and is called Stamford Baron or St Martin's.-History:...

.

Descendants

His elder son, Sir Thomas Cecil
Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter
Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, KG , known as Lord Burghley from 1598 to 1605, was an English politician and soldier.-Life:...

, who inherited the Barony of Burghley on his death, was later created Earl of Exeter. His younger son, Sir Robert Cecil
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, KG, PC was an English administrator and politician.-Life:He was the son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Mildred Cooke...

 (later created Baron Cecil, Viscount Cranborne and finally Earl of Salisbury
Marquess of Salisbury
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...

), inherited his political mantle, taking on the role of chief minister and arranging a smooth transfer of power to the Stuart
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

 administration under King James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

. His daughter Anne
Anne Cecil
Anne Cecil, Countess of Oxford was the daughter of statesman William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I of England, and the translator Mildred Cooke. In 1571, she became the first wife of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford...

 became the first wife of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, lyric poet, sportsman and patron of the arts, and is currently the most popular alternative candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare's works....

 in 1571; she served as a Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth before her marriage.

Burghley's descendants include the Marquesses of Exeter
Marquess of Exeter
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...

, descended from his elder son Thomas; and the Marquesses of Salisbury
Marquess of Salisbury
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...

, descended from his younger son Robert. One of the latter branch, Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (1830–1903), served three times as Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 under Queen Victoria and Edward VII.

The line "History teaches; never trust a Cecil!" was quoted with regard to Lord Cranborne
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury
Robert Michael James Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, PC, DL , is a British Conservative politician. During the 1990s, he was Leader of the House of Lords under his courtesy title of Viscount Cranborne...

, a contemporary member of the Cecil family who, in 1998, was dismissed from his Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 office in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 for conducting unauthorised negotiations with the Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 government.

Private life

In contrast to his public unscrupulousness, Burghley's private life seems to have been upright; he was a faithful husband, a careful father and a dutiful master. A book-lover and antiquarian, he made a special hobby
Hobby
A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one's leisure time.- Etymology :A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse...

 of heraldry
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

 and genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

. It was the conscious and unconscious aim of the age to reconstruct a new landed aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 on the ruins of the old, Catholic order. As such, Burghley was a great builder, planter and patron. All the arts of architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 and horticulture
Horticulture
Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic...

 were lavished on Burghley House
Burghley House
Burghley House is a grand 16th-century country house near the town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England...

 and Theobalds
Theobalds House
Theobalds House , located in Theobalds Park, just outside Cheshunt in the English county of Hertfordshire, was a prominent stately home and royal palace of the 16th and early 17th centuries.- Early history :...

 (which his son, Robert, was to exchange with James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 for Hatfield House
Hatfield House
Hatfield House is a country house set in a large park, the Great Park, on the eastern side of the town of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. The present Jacobean house was built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, First Earl of Salisbury and Chief Minister to King James I and has been the home of the Cecil...

). As the Marquess of Winchester
William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester
Sir William Paulet was an English Secretary of State and statesman who attained several peerages throughout his lifetime: Baron St John , Earl of Wiltshire , and Marquess of Winchester .-Family origins and early career in Hampshire:William Paulet was eldest son of Sir John Paulet of...

 (Burghley's predecessor as Lord High Treasurer) had said of himself, Burghley was "sprung from the willow rather than the oak". The interests of the State were his supreme consideration and to that end he felt no hesitation in sacrificing his conscience. He frankly disbelieved in toleration: "That State...could never be in safety where there was a toleration of two religions. For there is no enmity so great as that for religion; and therefore they that differ in the service of their God can never agree in the service of their country." With a maxim
Maxim (philosophy)
A maxim is a ground rule or subjective principle of action; in that sense, a maxim is a thought that can motivate individuals.- Deontological ethics :...

 such as this, it was easy for him to maintain that Elizabeth's — and his — brutal measures were political and not religious. To say that he was Machiavellian is pointless, for every statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

 is so, more or less; especially in the 16th century men preferred efficiency over principle. On the other hand, Burghley may have felt that principles are valueless without law and order
Law and order (politics)
In politics, law and order refers to demands for a strict criminal justice system, especially in relation to violent and property crime, through harsher criminal penalties...

; and that his craft and subtlety prepared a security in which principles might find some scope.

Relations with Elizabethan poets and dramatists

In his capacity as Principal Secretary, Cecil understood the power of the printed word to affect public opinion. He was active in shaping policy regarding publication and employed translators to make continental works available in English which he identified as useful to supporting the Elizabethan Settlement. His utilitarian view of literature, it has long been supposed by many Elizabethan scholars is parodied in the character of Polonius
Polonius
Polonius is a character in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. He is King Claudius's chief counsellor, and the father of Ophelia and Laertes. Polonius connives with Claudius to spy on Hamlet...

 in Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

.

Nicholas White

The most prolonged of Cecil's surviving personal correspondences is with an Irish
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

, Nicholas White
Nicholas White
Sir Nicholas White was an Irish lawyer and government official during the reign of Elizabeth I.-Background and early career:...

, lasting from 1566 until 1590; it is contained in the State Papers Ireland 63 and Lansdowne MS 102, but receives hardly a mention in the literature on Cecil.

White had been a tutor
Tutor
A tutor is a person employed in the education of others, either individually or in groups. To tutor is to perform the functions of a tutor.-Teaching assistance:...

 to Cecil's children during his student days in London, and the correspondence suggests that he was held in lasting affection by the family. In the end, White fell into a Dublin controversy over the confessions of an intriguing priest, which threatened the authority of the Queen's deputised government in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

; out of caution Cecil withdrew his longstanding protection, and the judge was imprisoned in London and died soon after.

White's most remarked-upon service for Cecil is his report on his visit with Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1569, during the early years of her imprisonment by Queen Elizabeth. He may have published an English translation of the Argonautica in the 1560s, but no copy has survived.

In popular culture

William Cecil has been a character in many works of fiction and documentary essay concerned with Elizabeth I's reign. Richard Attenborough
Richard Attenborough
Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough , CBE is a British actor, director, producer and entrepreneur. As director and producer he won two Academy Awards for the 1982 film Gandhi...

  depicted him in the film Elizabeth
Elizabeth (film)
Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, Sir John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant and Richard Attenborough...

. He was a prominent supporting character in the 1937 film Fire Over England
Fire Over England
Fire Over England is a 1937 London Film Productions film drama, notable for providing the first pairing of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. It was directed by William K. Howard and written by Clemence Dane from the novel Fire Over England by A. E. W. Mason. Leigh's performance in the movie...

, starring Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

, Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh, Lady Olivier was an English actress. She won the Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire , a role she also played on stage in London's West End, as well as for her portrayal of the southern belle Scarlett O'Hara, alongside Clark...

, and Flora Robson
Flora Robson
Dame Flora McKenzie Robson DBE was an English actress, renowned as a character actress, who played roles ranging from queens to villainesses.-Early life:...

. Burghley (spelled Burleigh in the film) was played by Morton Selten
Morton Selten
Morton Selten was a British stage and film actor. He was occasionally credited as Morton Selton.It was generally acknowledged that Selten was an illegitimate son of the then Prince of Wales . He began acting in 1878, with stage performances mainly in America. His film career began in the 1920s...

. He also appears in the television miniseries Elizabeth I with Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren, DBE is an English actor. She has won an Academy Award for Best Actress, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Awards.-Early life and family:...

, in which he is played by Ian McDiarmid
Ian McDiarmid
Ian McDiarmid is a Scottish theatre actor and director, who has also made sporadic appearances on film and television.McDiarmid has had a successful career in theatre; he has been cast in many plays, while occasionally directing others and although he has appeared mostly in theatrical productions,...

. He was also portrayed by Ronald Hines
Ronald Hines
Ronald Hines is a British television actor.He has had a lengthy career, but possibly his best known role was as the husband in three of the four series of Not in Front of the Children...

 in the 1971 TV series Elizabeth R
Elizabeth R
Elizabeth R is a BBC television drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson in the title role. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971, through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia and broadcast in America on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre.- Episodes...

.

Cecil, portrayed by David Thewlis
David Thewlis
David Thewlis is an English actor of stage and screen. His most commercially successful role to date has been that of Remus Lupin, in the Harry Potter film series...

, is in Roland Emmerich
Roland Emmerich
Roland Emmerich is a German film director, screenwriter, and producer.His films, most of which are Hollywood productions filmed in English, have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, more than those of any other European director...

's Anonymous
Anonymous (film)
Anonymous is a political thriller and historical drama which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2011. Directed by Roland Emmerich and written by John Orloff, the movie is a fictionalized version of the life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, an Elizabethan...

, which supports the idea that the works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 were written by Edward de Vere
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, lyric poet, sportsman and patron of the arts, and is currently the most popular alternative candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare's works....

. His part largely revolves around his being father-in-law to de Vere, and possibly the model for the character Polonius
Polonius
Polonius is a character in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. He is King Claudius's chief counsellor, and the father of Ophelia and Laertes. Polonius connives with Claudius to spy on Hamlet...

 in Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

.

Cecil appears as a character in the novels I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles
Rosalind Miles
Rosalind Miles is an author born and raised in England and now living in Kent, England. She has written 23 works of fiction and non-fiction. As a child, Miles suffered from polio, and had to undergo several months of treatment. At high school Miles acquired a working knowledge of Latin and Greek,...

 and The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory is an English novelist.-Early life and academic career:Philippa Gregory was born in Kenya. When she was two years old, her family moved to England. She was a "rebel" at school, but managed to attend the University of Sussex...

.

Further reading

  • Alford, Stephen. Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I (Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , 2008)
  • Conyers Read. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth. London: Jonathan Cape, 1955.
  • Conyers Read. Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961.

Primary sources


External links



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