Cecil, William

Person Key: 
Family Name: 
First Name(s): 
Person Title: 
1st Baron Burleigh
Titular Place: 
Rank In Peerage: 
Division of Peerage: 
Birth Year: 
Death Year: 
Hatfield House

William Cecil was the only son of Richard Cecil of Burleigh in Northamptonshire, and Jane daughter and heir of William Heckington of Bourn in Lincolnshire. His father and his grandfather were both in royal service and had been richly rewarded with gifts of monastic lands. William was educated at St John's College, Cambridge, admitted to Gray's Inn, and studied for a career at the bar. The Protector Somerset made him Master of Requests, and, in 1548, his secretary. The previous year he had been elected Member of Parliament for Stamford. When Somerset fell from power, Cecil was at first sent to the Tower, but was soon released and became one of the Secretaries of State. He was knighted in October 1551. During Mary's reign he was employed on diplomatic missions abroad, and on Elizabeth's accession one of her first acts was to make him her Secretary of State. On 22 February 1571, Cecil was created Baron Burghley and the next year Elizabeth made him a Knight of the Garter. In July 1572 he became Lord Treasurer. He received no further honours from the Queen, but his two surviving sons Thomas and Robert were subsequently created Earls of Exeter and Salisbury. It has sometimes been thought that the different crest and motto on Stamp 2 meant that the stamp was that of Thomas Earl of Exeter, but there is evidence that the stamp was used by Lord Burghley himself. Part of Burghey's library was sold by T. Bentley & B. Walford at the Bear in Ave Mary Lane 21 November 1687. The catalogue was entitled Bibliotheca illustris: sive Catalogus librorum ... viri cujusdam prænobilis ac honoratissimi olim defuncta.

Sale Dates: 
21 November 1687
Seat / Residence(s): 
Hatfield House
Burghley House, Lincolnshire
Auction House: 
T. Bentley & B. Walford
Biographical Sources: 
Dictionary of National Biography
Howard M. Nixon. “A London binding for Lord Burghley 1591 (English bookbindings CI)” in Book Collector xxvi (1977)., 84 5