CECIL, William (1566-1640), of London, Newark Castle, Notts.; later of Burghley House, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. Jan. 1566, s. of Thomas Cecil by his 1st w., and bro. of Richard and Sir Edward. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1578; travelled abroad 1585; G. Inn 1589. m. (1) 1589, Elizabeth, s.j. Baroness Ros (d.1591), da. and h. of Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Drury of Hawstead, Suff., 3da. Kntd. Apr. 1603; KG 1630; styled Lord Burghley 1605; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Exeter 1623.

Offices Held

J.p.q. Notts. by 1594, Northants. 1601, Lincs. by 1619; commr. musters, Notts. 1596; jt. high steward, honour of Bolingbroke 1598; jt. chief forester, Rockingham forest 1603; keeper, Kirby park, Lincs. by 1604; custos rot. Notts. 1603, Lincs. 1619; ld. lt. Northants. from 1623; PC 1626.


After Cambridge, where he was entered on the books at the age of 12, Cecil embarked on his tour abroad, but instead of studying at Paris he went to Italy, and incurred the anger of his father and grandfather by visiting Rome. He was expected back in England in the summer of 1587, but a correspondent told Burghley that he ‘does but dally and is loath to come home’. He kept bad company ‘and worse perchance than I know of, as he never keeps that of any English, and changes his lodging so often that no one knows where to find him’. It was said that he became a Catholic at about this time. However this may be he was back in England in time to be returned, while still under age, for a family borough to the Parliament of 1586-7. He is not mentioned in the records of that or of the following Parliament, when he again represented Stamford. His name was, however, put on the books of Gray’s Inn while the 1589 Parliament was in session, but whehter he ever studied there is doubtful. It was