Cecil Family, Marquess of Exeter


William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State and Lord Treasurer for 40 years, acquired land at Burghley in the 16th century. Here he built the magnificent Burghley House in the years between 1550s and 1587, in suitable style and opulence for a pre-eminent royal statesman. Ennobled in 1571 (as Baron Burghley, but more commonly known as Lord Burghley) he died in 1598. His son Thomas became the 1st Earl of Exeter in 1603, but further advancement didn't come until Henry, the Tenth Earl, was made a Marquess in 1801. The Sixth Marquess, an Olympic athlete, was the last to live permanently at Burghley, the present title holder and his father who inherited the title in 1981 being Canadian residents.

 

In the 1570's Lord Burghley acquired the title of Lord Paramount of the Liberty of Peterborough (a title originally held by the Bishop of Peterborough who had surrendered it to the Queen), and so for many generations the Cecils were involved in the administration of justice and local government in the Soke of Peterborough.

 

Worth noting here is the 4th Marquess of Exeter's connection with Peterborough as he will be remembered for successfully defending the rights of the Soke of Peterborough in 1888 when the County Council Act was debated in the House of Lords. He saw it become an administrative county under the Act. In keeping with this, the 5th Marquess, William Thomas Brownlow Cecil, was an Alderman of the Soke of Peterborough from 1898, and its Chairman from 1910 to 1949. Over the same period he was Chairman of Barnack Rural District Council and until his death in 1956 he remained its vice-chairman. Peterborough recognised his long service to the city and its environs by presenting him with its honorary freedom in 1934.

 

Copies of National Register of Archives lists of archives at Burghley House held at Peterborough Central Library.
 
Records relating to this family are given below:
11th-20th century: Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland, Bedfordshire, London and Yorks deeds and estate papers 11th-20th century, including Crowland estate papers c1829-1868 (National Register of Archives)
Held at Burghley House.
 
15th-17th century: Lincolnshire and Rutland manorial and estate papers 15th-17th century, including estate accounts 1618-19 (National Register of Archives)
Held at North Yorkshire County Record Office.
 
12th-16th century: Lincolnshire (Revesby Abbey) deeds and papers (National Register of Archives)
(Reference: RA1-4).
Held at Lincolnshire Archives.
 
12th-14th century: Peterborough Abbey (Northamptonshire) registers (National Register of Archives)
Held at Society of Antiquaries of London.
 
1934-1942: Burghley household papers (National Register of Archives)
(Reference: Acc 1950/75).
Held at Nothamptonshire Reord Office.
 
1555: Burghley estate accounts (National Register of Archives)
(Reference: Historical Manuscripts Commission).
Held at Hatfield House.
 
c15th-early 19th century: Bedfordshire (Bedford barony) deeds, legal and estate papers (National Register of Archives)
Held at Burghley House.
 
c15th-19th century: London (Strand, Westminster) deeds and estate papers (National Register of Archives)
Held at Burghley House.
 
c15th-18th century: Yorks (Snape and Well) deeds and estate papers (National Register of Archives)
Held at Burghley House.
 
14th-19th century: Yorks (Snape and Well) deeds and papers (National Register of Archives)
(Reference: ZAL).
Held at North Yorkshire County Record Office.
 
1861-1965: papers of the 5th Marchioness of Exeter (National Register of Archives)
(Reference: Acc 1975/95).
Held at Northamptonshire Record Office.
 
1920-1956: papers of the 5th Marquess of Exeter (National Register of Archives)
(Reference: ZB 411; Acc 1984/46).
Held at Northamptonshire Record Office.
 
Printed source:
Burghley: the life of a great house by Victoria Leatham (1992).
 
Repository contact details
 
Peterborough City Council. Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1QT - (01733) 747474 - DX12310 Peterborough 1