Thursday, 26 December 2019

1st Marquess of Exeter

The first who derived dignity from the city of Exeter was JOHN HOLLAND, Earl of Huntingdon, third son of Thomas de Holland, Earl of Kent, by the great heiress, JOAN OF KENT, 'Fair Maid of Kent', who was advanced, in 1397, in open parliament, to the DUKEDOM OF EXETER; but joining in a conspiracy with the Earl of Kent, he was attainted and beheaded in 1400, when his honours expired.

The Duke had married Elizabeth of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and left issue.

Sixteen years later, Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, youngest son of John of Gaunt, by Katherine Swynford, was created, for life only, DUKE OF EXETER.

His Grace died in 1426, without issue, when all his honours expired; and from that period the city of Exeter remained without a duke for seventeen years, when JOHN HOLLAND was created, in 1443, DUKE OF EXETER.

His Grace, who was a Knight of the Garter, Lord High Admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine, and Constable of the Tower of London, died in 1447, and was succeeded by his son,

HENRY, 3rd Duke (1430-75), a staunch Lancastrian, who sharing the temporary triumphs and defeats of his party was eventually, in 1461, attainted, when the dukedom expired.

MORE than thirty years subsequently elapsed before the title of EXETER was again borne, when at length HENRY COURTENAY, the restored Earl of Devon, was created, 1525, MARQUESS OF EXETER.

This nobleman, who was a distinguished courtier in the reign of HENRY VIII, sat in judgment on the trial of the unfortunate ANNE BOLEYN; but the year after, incurring the displeasure of the King, he was convicted of high treason, and beheaded in 1538, when the marquessate of Exeter became extinct.

His son and heir, the unhappy EDWARD COURTENAY (c1527-56) was imprisoned in the Tower during the remainder of the reign of HENRY VIII, but upon the accession of QUEEN MARY, he was released and created EARL OF DEVON.

About half a century afterwards the title of EXETER, as an earldom, was conferred upon the present family of CECIL, spelt at different times Seisyllt, Sicell, Seisyll, and Cycell, and founded by one of the most remarkable men in English history.

WILLIAM CECIL (1520-98), born at Bourne, Lincolnshire (son and heir of Sir Richard Cecil, an officer of the Court in attendance upon HENRY VIII), having attracted the attention and attained the subsequent favour of his Sovereign by a successful dispute with two intemperate chaplains of O'Neill, the Irish chieftain, on the power of the Pope, the King granted him a reversion of the office of Custos Brevium; and from that period he resolved to pursue a political, rather than a forensic course, which latter he had originally intended to adopt having entered himself at Gray's Inn in 1541.

In the reign of EDWARD VI, Mr Cecil was appointed Secretary of State, when he received the honour of knighthood and was sworn of the Privy Council.

Under the rule of QUEEN MARY, although a zealous reformist previously, Sir William, with the tact of the renowned Vicar of Bray, doffed his Protestant mantle, and conformed to the ancient faith.

This outward demonstration proved not to have been assumed in vain, for we find the wily politician enjoying again the sunshine of royal favour, and actually nominated, with Lord Paget and Sir Edward Hastings, to conduct Cardinal Pole, then invested with a Legatine Council, into England.

In this reign Cecil represented Lincolnshire in Parliament.

Immediately upon the accession of ELIZABETH I, however (when he became once more a staunch denouncer of of popish errors), the star of his fortune arose, and few statesmen have been guided through a more brilliant course.

His first official employment was his resumption as Secretary of State and, in that, so sensible was his royal mistress of his important services that Her Majesty elevated him to the peerage, 1571, as Baron Burghley, although at this period his private fortune does not appear to have been much advanced, for by a letter written by himself just after his elevation, he says that he is "the poorest lord in England."

A conspiracy was soon after discovered against his life, and the two assassins, Barney and Mather, declared, at their execution, that they were instigated by the Spanish ambassador; for which, with other offences, His Excellency was ordered to depart the Kingdom.

As a consolation for these perils, his lordship was honoured with the Order of the Garter in June, 1572; and in September following, at the decease of Lord Winchester, appointed Lord High Treasurer.

His lordship married firstly, Mary, sister of Sir John Cheke, tutor to EDWARD VI, by whom he had an only son,
THOMAS, his successor.
His first wife dying after a short period, he wedded secondly, Mildred, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, Knight, of Gidea Hall, Essex, by whom he had surviving issue,
Anne, Countess of Oxford;
The last memorable act of the Lord High Treasurer's life was an attempt to bring about a peace with Spain, in which he was vehemently opposed by the Earl of Essex, then in the fire of youth.

The young soldier becoming heated in the debate, the venerable minister was induced to pull out a prayer-book and point to the words, "men of blood shall not live out half their lives."

Burghley has been universally condemned for his participation in the destruction of the unhappy MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS - and justly.

Of the manner of living adopted by this eminent person, we are informed that, suitable to his rank and the custom of the times, he kept up an extraordinary degree of splendour in his houses and gardens, and everything belonging to him.

He had four residences:- his lodgings at Court; Cecil House in the Strand; his family seat of Burghley; and his own favourite seat at Theobalds House.

At his lordship's house in London he had dozens of of family members, exclusively of those that attended him at Court.

His expenses there, as we have it from a person who lived many years in his family, were £30 a week in his absence (about £9,000 in today's money), and between £40 and £50 when present.

At Theobalds House he had thirty persons in his family; and besides a constant allowance in charity, he directed £10 a week (about £3,000 today) to be laid out in keeping the poor at work in his gardens etc.

He kept a standing table for gentlemen and two other tables for persons of meaner condition, which were always served alike, whether he were in or out of town.

Twelve times he entertained the Queen at his house for several weeks together, at the expense of £2-3,000 each visit - a fabulous sum.

At his decease Lord Burghley left about £4,000 a year in land, £11,000 in money (£2.6 million today), and in valuable effects, about £14,000.

His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron (1542-1623); who was created EARL OF EXETER, 1605, and installed a Knight of the Garter.

His lordship espoused firstly, Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Richard (Sir);
Christopher, drowned in Germany;
Catherine; Lucy; Mildred; Mary; Dorothy; Elizabeth; Frances.
The 1st Earl married secondly, Frances, daughter of William Brydges, 4th Baron Chandos, and had an only daughter, ANNE.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1566-1640), KG, who married Elizabeth, only child and heir of Edward, 3rd Earl of Rutland, by which lady he had a son,
WILLIAM, who, in right of his mother, became 16th BARON DE ROS.
His lordship wedded secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Drury, Knight, and had three daughters, his co-heirs,
Anne; Elizabeth; Diana.
The 2nd Earl was succeeded by his nephew,

DAVID, 3rd Earl (c1600-43), who was succeeded by his son,

JOHN, 4th Earl, who was succeeded, in 1678, by his only surviving son,

JOHN, 5th Earl (c1648-1700), who wedded Anne, only daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN, 6th Earl,
John Cecil, 6th Earl (1674–1721);
John Cecil, 7th Earl (c1700–22);
Brownlow Cecil, 8th Earl (1701–54);
Brownlow Cecil, 9th Earl (1725–93);
Henry Cecil, 10th Earl (1754–1804) (cr Marquess of Exeter in 1801). 
Marquesses of Exeter, second creation (1801):-
Henry Cecil, 1st Marquess (1754–1804);
Brownlow Cecil, 2nd Marquess (1795–1867);
William Alleyne Cecil, 3rd Marquess (1825–95);
Brownlow Henry George Cecil, 4th Marquess (1849–98);
William Thomas Brownlow Cecil, 5th Marquess (1876–1956);
David George Brownlow Cecil, 6th Marquess (1905–81);
William Martin Alleyne Cecil, 7th Marquess (1909–88);
(William) Michael Anthony Cecil, 8th Marquess (b 1935).
First published in October, 2017.  Exeter arms courtesy of European Heraldry. 

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