William Cecil: Life Story

Elizabeth I’s Chief Councillor

Chapter 14 : Timeline

Key dates in the life of Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley.


Born, 14th September, Bourne, Lincolnshire

c. 1528

To school at Grantham

c. 1530

To school at Stamford

May 1535

To St John’s College, Cambridge


Began studying at Gray’s Inn, London

6th May 1541

Admitted, Gray’s Inn

August 1541

Married Mary Cheke of Cambridge, sister of John Cheke

May 1542

Birth of son, Thomas, later Earl of Exeter

22nd February 1544

Death of Mary

24 December 1545

Married Mildred Cooke, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke

1543 – 44

May have sat in the House of Commons. This Parliament passed the 3rd Succession Act

c. 1545

Enters the service of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford


Recorder of Boston

28th January 1547

Death of Henry VIII

February 1547

Earl of Hertford becomes Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset


Justice of the Peace, Lincolnshire


Master of Requests for Duke of Somerset


Buys lease of the Rectory, Wimbledon


First Book of Common Prayer

6th July 1549

Custos Rotulorum for Lincolnshire

10th September 1549

Present at Battle of Pinkie

24th November 1549

Arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London

25th January 1550

Released from the Tower

5th September 1550

Secretary to Edward VI and appointed to Privy Council

c. 1550

Steward to the Lady Elizabeth of her lands in Lincolnshire

11th October 1551


Before 1552

Court of Augmentations for Lincolnshire

22nd January 1552

Execution of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset


Second Book of Common Prayer

19th March 1553

Death of his father, Richard Cecil

12th April 1553

Chancellor of the Order of the Garter

6th July 1553

Death of Edward VI

8th August 1553

Took part in funeral of Edward VI at Westminster Abbey

22nd August 1553

Execution of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland


Birth and death of Frances Cecil


Travelled to Brussels to meet Cardinal Pole and escort him home


Member of the House of Commons


Steward of the Manor of Wimbledon for Cardinal Pole

5th Dec 1556

Birth of Anne ‘Nan’ Cecil, later Countess of Oxford

17th November 1558

Death of Mary I and accession of Elizabeth I

20th November 1558

Sworn in as Privy Councillor and Secretary


Birth and death of William Cecil (I)


Act of Uniformity

c. 1560

Steward of Stamford, Lincolnshire


Acquired Theobalds


Visited Scotland to negotiate Treaty of Edinburgh


Birth and death of William Cecil (II)


Birth of Robert Cecil, later Earl of Salisbury


Elected senior Knight of the Shire for Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire


High Steward of Westminster


Birth of Elizabeth Cecil, later Lady Wentworth

10th January 1568

Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries


Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex


Rising of the Northern Earls

April – June 1571

Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal

7th September 1571

Execution of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk

25th February 1572

Created 1st Baron of Burghley

July 1572

Lord Treasurer

4th August 1572

The Massacre of St Bartholomew


Overseer of the Queen’s Majesty’s Works

April 1583

Death of Elizabeth Cecil, Lady Wentworth


Steward of the Honour of Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire


Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire

8th February 1587

Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots


Lord Lieutenant of Essex and Hertfordshire

10th March 1588

Death of Jane Heckingon, Mrs Cecil, his mother

5th June 1588

Death of Anne Cecil, Countess of Oxford

7th August 1588

Defeat of Spanish Armada

4th April 1589

Death of Mildred Cooke, Lady Burghley, his wife

15th July 1598

Last attendance at a Council meeting

4th August 1598

Death of Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley