Monday, 13 December 2010

Thomas Cecil, Earl of Exeter

The elder of William, Lord Burghley's, sons, Thomas was created an Earl in 1605. He was a successful and respected soldier, a well-travelled collector of fine art and an able builder. He built Wothorpe House; at the time probably the grandest hunting lodge in England.

Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, KG (5 May 1542 - 8 February 1623), known as Lord Burghley from 1598 to 1605, was an English politician and soldier.

Exeter was the eldest son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, and the half-brother of Robert Cecil. He served in government under Elizabeth I, first serving in the House of Commons in 1563 and representing various constituencies for most of the time from then until 1593. He was knighted in 1575. His father's death in 1598 brought him a seat in the House of Lords, the 2nd Lord Burghley, as he then was, served from 1599 to 1603 as Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire and Lord President of the Council of the North. It was during this period that Elizabeth made him a Knight of the Garter in 1601. He was created Earl of Exeter on 4 May 1605, the same day his half-brother Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cranborne was created 1st Earl of Salisbury. Unlike his brother, however, he did not become a Government minister under James I.

The Cecil family fostered arts; they supported musicians such as William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Robinson. The latter, in his youth, was in the service of Thomas Cecil.

Thomas Cecil married Dorothy Neville, the daughter of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer by his wife Lucy Somerset daughter of Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester.

By his wife, Thomas Cecil had eleven children:

* William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Exeter
* Catherine Cecil
* Lucy Cecil, married William Paulet, 4th
  Marquess of Winchester
* Mildred Cecil
* Sir Richard Cecil of Wakerley
* Edward Cecil, 1st Viscount Wimbledon
* Mary Cecil married Edward Denny, 1st Earl of
* Dorothy Cecil
* Elizabeth Cecil
* Thomas Cecil, Esq
* Frances Cecil married Nicholas Tufton, 1st Earl
  of Thanet

Lord Exeter is buried in a tomb in the warrior chapel at St Mary's church in Wimbledon village.

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