William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley

William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley KG PC (13 September 1520  4 August 1598) was an English statesman, the chief adviser of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State (1550–1553 and 1558–1572) and Lord High Treasurer from 1572. In his description in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, Albert Pollard wrote, "From 1558 for forty years the biography of Cecil is almost indistinguishable from that of Elizabeth and from the history of England."[1]

William Cecil

Lord High Treasurer
In office
July 1572  4 August 1598
MonarchElizabeth I
Preceded byThe Marquess of Winchester
Succeeded byThe Earl of Dorset
Lord Privy Seal
In office
MonarchElizabeth I
Preceded bySir Francis Walsingham
Succeeded bySir Robert Cecil
In office
MonarchElizabeth I
Preceded bySir Nicholas Bacon
Succeeded byThe Lord Howard of Effingham
Secretary of State
In office
22 November 1558  13 July 1572
MonarchElizabeth I
Preceded byJohn Boxall
Succeeded byThomas Smith
In office
5 September 1550  19 July 1553
MonarchEdward VI
Preceded byNicholas Wotton
Succeeded byJohn Cheke
Personal details
William Cecil

13 September 1520
Bourne, Lincolnshire
Kingdom of England
Died4 August 1598(1598-08-04) (aged 77)
Cecil House
Westminster, London
Kingdom of England
Resting placeSt Martin's Church
Stamford, Lincolnshire
United Kingdom
52°38′56″N 0°28′39″W
Spouse(s)Mary Cheke (d. 1543)
(m. 1546; died 1589)
ChildrenThomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter
Frances Cecil
Anne Cecil, Countess of Oxford
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Elizabeth Cecil-Wentworth
ParentsSir Richard Cecil
Jane Heckington
ResidenceBurghley House
Cecil House
Theobalds House
Quartered arms of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, KG
Coat of arms of William Cecil as found in John Gerard's The herball or Generall historie of plantes (1597)

Cecil set as the main goal of English policy the creation of a united and Protestant British Isles. His methods were to complete the control of Ireland, and to forge an alliance with Scotland. Protection from invasion required a powerful Royal Navy. While he was not fully successful, his successors agreed with his goals.[2] In 1587, Cecil persuaded the Queen to order the execution of the Roman Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, after she was implicated in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth.

He was the father of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and founder of the Cecil dynasty (Marquesses of Exeter and of Salisbury) which has produced many politicians including two Prime Ministers.