Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley

By Wes Weems

Sir William Cecil (1520-98) was one of the most prominent and successful politicians of his day. He served as Master of Request under Edward VI. Following Edward's death, though he was a staunch protestant, Cecil converted to the rituals of Catholicism as it was enforced by law and managed to serve under the Catholic Queen Mary. When Mary died he was one of the first to visit Elizabeth and after she became Queen he was the first member of the new Privy Council to take oath. Elizabeth promptly made him Secretary of State. Though Elizabeth was endeared to Cecil his instance the she marry and hand the bulk of her responsibilities to a husband would be a constant source of frustration. In 1563 Cecil was chose to be Speaker of the House of Commons but turned the honor down due to his duties to the Queen. In 1571 he was the recipient of one of the few peerages created during the reign of Elizabeth I and made Lord Burghley. In 1572 he was knighted. Cecil continued to serve Elizabeth even when he was stricken deaf and continued to serve until his death.