CECIL, John, Lord Burghley (c.1648-1700), of Burghley House, Northants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 Apr. 1675 - 1 Feb. 1678

Family and Education

b. c.1648, 1st s. of John, 4th Earl of Exeter by 1st w. Lady Frances Manners, da. of John Manners, 8th Earl of Rutland. educ. Stamford g.s.; St. John’s , Camb. 1667. m. lic. 4 May 1670, aged 21, Lady Anne Cavendish, da. of William, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, wid. of Charles, Lord Rich, 4s. 4da. suc. fa. as 5th Earl of Exeter 1 Feb. 1678.1

Offices Held

J.p. Northants. and Peterborough 1670-c.84; commr. for assessment, Northants. and Rutland 1677-8; recorder, Stamford 1682-5, Oct. 1688-97.2


Lord Burghley was the great-great-grandson of the Elizabethan statesman. His grandfather died early in the Civil War, leaving his father too young to take any part in it, though he welcomed the Restoration and became lord lieutenant of Northamptonshire. Burghley himself was returned for the county at a by-election in 1675, probably unopposed. He was moderately active during his three sessions in the Cavalier Parliament, being named to ten committees, of which the most important were to appropriate the customs to the use of the navy and to prevent illegal exactions from the subject. His only speech was in defence of his brother-in-law, William Cavendish, Lord Cavendish, on 2 Mar. 1677. He probably brought in Lord Cullen’s estate bill eight days later, as his name heads the committee, and the election petition of Thomas Hatcher. He was marked ‘doubly worthy’ by Shaftesbury, and secured the return of the country candidates at Stamford in the first general election of 1679. But in the Upper House he proved more interested in art than politics, usually leaving his proxy with his cousin, the 2nd Earl of Bridgwater, a moderate country peer. On 24 Oct. 1679 he obtained a pass to go beyond the seas with his wife, his heir, 22 servants and 30 horses, and was of course absent from the division in the Upper House on the second exclusion bill and from the trial of Lord Stafford. He went on a second tour of Europe in 1683, accompanied by Charles Fitzwilliam and William Hyde. On his return 46 pictures which he had bought in Italy were seized by the customs, but released without payment shortly after the accession of James II. Lord Exeter acted as lord high almoner at the coronation, but was noted as in opposition in 1687, and is said to have joined the Prince of Orange in the following year. Nevertheless he was a non-juror after the Revolution. He left with his wife and three younger sons on a third visit to the Continent in 1699, but died of peritonitis near Paris on 29 Aug. 1700, and was buried at St. Martin’s , Stamford. His eldest son was Tory MP for Rutland at his death, while two of the younger sons sat for Stamford under William III and Anne.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Life of Richard Kidder (Som. Rec. Soc. xxxvii), 6.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1682, p. 559; 1697, p. 477.
  • 3. Grey, iv. 172, 317; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 13; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 352; 1683-4, p. 192; 1689-90, p. 528; 1699-1700, p. 259; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1350-1, 1424; Ellis Corresp. ii. 320; Ailesbury Mems. 237.