Tuesday, 28 January 2020

1st Earl of Salisbury

The founder of this branch of the CECIL family was descended from the celebrated Lord High Treasurer, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, whose eldest son,THOMAS, 2nd Baron, was created EARL OF EXETER, 1605. THE HON ROBERT CECIL, the youngest son, was on the same day created EARL OF SALISBURY.
THE HON ROBERT CECIL (c1563-1612), youngest son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (ELIZABETH I's celebrated Lord High Treasurer, by his second wife, Mildred, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke), received the honour of knighthood, 1601, was sworn of the Privy Council, appointed Secretary of State, and subsequently Master of the Court of Wards in the reign of ELIZABETH I, but did not attain the honours of the peerage until after the accession of JAMES I, when Sir Robert was created, in 1603, Baron Cecil, of Essendon, Rutland.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, 1604, as Viscount Cranborne; and further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, 1605, as EARL OF SALISBURY.

During these periods he continued as Secretary of State, but succeeded subsequently, at the demise of the Earl of Dorset, to the Lord High Treasurership.

Lord Treasurer Cecil uncovered the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

His lordship married firstly, in 1589, Elizabeth, daughter of William, 10th Baron Cobham; and secondly, Frances Newton, by whom he had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
The 1st Earl died in 1612, worn out with business.

In his last illness he was heard to say to Sir Walter Cope, "Ease and pleasure quake to hear of death; but my life, full of cares and miseries, desireth to be dissolved."

He had some years previously (1603) addressed a letter to Sir James Harrington, the poet, in pretty much the same tone:
"Good Knight", saith the minister, "rest content and give heed to one that hath sorrowed in the bright lustre of a court, and gone heavily on the best seeming fairground. 
'Tis a great task to prove one's honesty and yet not mar one's fortune. You have tasted a little thereof in our blessed Queen's time, who was more than a man, and, in truth, sometimes less than a woman. 
I wish I waited now in your presence-chamber, with ease at my food and rest in my bed. I am pushed from the shore of comfort, and know not where the winds and waves of a court will bear me. 
I know it bringeth little comfort on earth; and he is, I reckon, no wise man that looketh this way to heaven."
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1591-1668), KG, who wedded, in 1608, the Lady Catherine Howard, youngest daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Suffolk, and was succeeded by his grandson,

JAMES, 3rd Earl (1648-83), KG (son of Charles, Viscount Cranborne, by Diana, daughter and co-heir of James, 1st Earl of Dirletoun), who espoused, in 1661, the Lady Margaret Manners, daughter of John, 8th Earl of Rutland, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 4th Earl (1666-94), who, being converted to the Catholic faith, was presented by the grand jury of Middlesex immediately before the revolution of 1688 as a popish recusant; and in 1689 the House of Commons resolved that his lordship and the Earl of Peterborough be impeached for high treason, for departing from their allegiance, and being reconciled to the Church of Rome, but the prosecution was eventually abandoned.

He married Frances, daughter and co-heir of Simon Bennett, of Beachampton, Buckinghamshire, and was succeeded at his decease by his only son,

JAMES, 5th Earl (1691-1728); who took his seat in the House of Lords, 1712, and carried King Edward's staff at the coronation of GEORGE I, 1714.

His lordship wedded, in 1709, the Lady Anne Tufton, second daughter and co-heir of Thomas, 6th Earl of Thanet, by whom he left (with three daughters) his successor at his demise,

JAMES, 6th Earl (1713-80), who married, in 1743, Elizabeth, sister to the Rev John Keet, Rector of Hatfield, and had an only surviving son,

JAMES, 7th Earl (1748-1823), KG, who wedded, in 1773, the Lady Emily Mary Hill, daughter of Wills, 1st Marquess of Downshire, by whom (who was burnt to death in the west wing of Hatfield House in 1835), he had issue,
Georgiana Charlotte Augusta; Emily Anne Bennett Elizabeth; Caroline.
His lordship was created, in 1789, MARQUESS OF SALISBURY, and installed a Knight of the Garter, 1793.

Seats ~ Hatfield House, Hertfordshire; Childwall Hall, Lancashire.

First published in October, 2017.

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