THE THIRD GENERATION OF AN ARRIVISTE
WILLIAM CECIL, SECOND EARL OF SALISBURY,
THE CONSOLIDATION OF NOBLE STATUS IN
UNPROPITIOUS AND TUMULTUOUS TIMES.
I, William Peter Bird, hereby declare that this thesis and the work presented in it is
entirely my own.
A Thesis submitted in the Faculty of History for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Royal Holloway College, University of London.
The Third Generation of an arriviste family: William Cecil, Second Earl of Salisbury, and the consolidation of noble status in unpropitious and tumultuous times.
W. P. Bird
This PhD dissertation is a biographical study of the life and political career of the second earl of Salisbury (1591-1668). It examines his early life and the preparation for the aristocratic role he would be expected to play. It looks at the early influences he experienced in his highly politicised home and also from Pembroke, Raleigh, Harrington, Buckingham, as well as in the courts of King James and Prince Henry.
The second and third chapters discuss how he dealt with the deaths of his father and Prince Henry, which came at a crucial point in his life. He had to finish the first earl’s building programme and settle the debts that had been incurred by him. These chapters also look at the care he gave his family and staff; the rationalisation of his inheritance; and his success in passing on a large patrimony to his family.
The final four chapters deal with his long political career. They look at the difficulties he faced to get a Court appointment, the problems he experienced with Buckingham and the troubles he met later with King Charles’s personal rule and his anti-Calvinist policies. He was a loyal courtier, who also served as a competent Lord Lieutenant for thirty years and a Privy Counsellor for fifteen. Despite this he displayed an independent streak and was prepared to stand his ground when the occasion demanded, although he was cautious enough to be pragmatic where his sovereign was involved and did not risk political suicide. He could not be counted as a front rank political leader, but he was able, because he did not allow himself to be identified with any faction, to influence those lords who occupied the middle ground.
In the fraught years of 1641-2 he tried to bring the king and Parliament together, even risking his inheritance by going to York contrary to a Lords’ order. When civil war broke out he continued to work to bring the two sides together, whilst maintaining his loyalty to Parliament. After Charles’s execution he served Parliament in the Commons and also in Cromwell’s Council of State.
The thesis brings out Salisbury’s devotion to Calvinism and the part this played in his actions. It also deals with the stain that his reputation has suffered from historians who have neglected him and accepted unthinkingly the royalist Clarendon’s judgement.
Whilst researching this thesis the rapid introduction of digitisation has seen an increase in the material available to the student at home. This has increased the hours available for study and decreased travelling costs. I have found this beneficial but can see that younger students would not enjoy the increased isolation.
Chapter One William’s Family Background and His Early Life. 11
Chapter Two The Death of His Father and the Aftermath for William. 41
Chapter Three The Family and Their Homes. 63
Chapter Four Political Life 1612-1637. 87
Chapter Five Political Life 1637-August 1642. Bishops’ Wars. 128
Chapter Six Declaration of War to the
Formation of the New Model Army. 168
Chapter Seven Military Victory, Regicide, Protectorate
and the Restoration. 221
I am grateful for the encouragement I have received from all those academics that have patiently helped me into a belated return to study.
Doctors Christine Jackson and Tom Buchanan of Rewley House, of the University of Oxford, who gave me the confidence to continue after their Foundation course.
Professors Caroline Barron and Nigel Saul for their guidance and all the members of the History faculty at Royal Holloway College, University of London for their ready acceptance of an old codger.
My greatest debt is to my supervisor, Professor Pauline Croft, who has helped enormously by pointing me along the right roads, whilst showing every consideration to a latecomer to academia.
Finally to Anne and my family for the encouragement given and the sacrifices made to enable me to complete this journey.
Add. Ms Additional Manuscript
APC Accounts of the Privy Council
Arch. Hist. Architectural History
B. & Q. Buccleuh and Queensbury
BL British Library
BP Burney Papers
CSP Calendar of State Papers
CJ Commons’ Journal
CP Cecil Papers
EHR English Historical Review
HJ Historical Journal
HMC Historical Manuscripts Commission Report
IHR Institute of Historical Research
LJ Lords’ Journal
NAS National Archives of Scotland
ODNB Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
SP State Papers
TNA The National Archives
VCH Victoria County History
In all dating the year has been reckoned from 1 January rather than from Lady Day.
The Third Generation of a great arriviste family; William Cecil, Second Earl of Salisbury, and the consolidation of noble status in unpropitious and tumultuous times.
The thesis looks at the earl’s early life and how he survived the particularly difficult times he lived through, both as a member of the political elite and a great landowner. When he was only twenty-one Salisbury inherited a title, an extensive estate with properties in the country and London, but also the daunting prospect of clearing his father’s large debts. I argue that William Cecil’s achievements, in securing and restoring his estates, and retaining the political status of his family, have been unduly overlooked. His reputation has suffered, particularly at the hands of the embittered royalist historian Clarendon, who writing in 1646-7, coupled him with Pembroke and saw them as
‘so totally without credit or interest in the Parliament or country, that it was no matter which way their inclinations or affections disposed them; and their fear of the faction that prevailed was so much greater than their hatred towards them, that, though they wished they might rather be destroyed than the King, they had rather the King and his posterity should be destroyed than that Wilton should be taken from the one of them or Hatfield from the other; the preservation of both which from any danger they both believed to be the highest point of prudence and politic circumspection.’ 1
This is the view that later writers have tended to echo unthinkingly.
My argument is that Salisbury was not a weak-minded toady, who only had his own and family’s interests at heart, but an independent member of the aristocracy, who attempted to find a political middle way between the two sides before and during the Civil Wars. To do this he often had to be pragmatic to avoid a loss of influence or even political suicide. He held true to his religious beliefs and remained loyal to his monarch whilst his conscience allowed him to do so.
The majority of his life was spent in and around the Court and he was honoured with the Garter. He completed his education with the Grand Tour, when he was considered to be of sufficient position to be received in various royal and aristocratic Courts. He spent much of his teens in the Court of Prince Henry. The second earl was on the periphery of political events during James’s reign, when he was affected by Buckingham’s machinations, but still found the opportunities to show an independent streak. Whilst Charles was on the throne he became a Privy Councillor with considerable responsibilities. He was also given a Court position that gave him access to his sovereign. This recognition did not stop him from showing his unhappiness with the political and religious ‘drift’ of the reign.
The Bishops’ Wars of 1639 and 1640 left the English nation in political turmoil, and in their aftermath William was apparently sitting on the fence between Parliament and Charles. He chose to support the parliamentary side in the Civil War, but, as in the Bishops’ Wars, was active as a negotiator trying to bring peace between the two parties. He was later, after the regicide of Charles, one of the few peers who served both in the Commons and under Cromwell. When the monarchy was restored William received a royal pardon from Charles II. He died in 1668 aged 77.
William Cecil became the second earl of Salisbury on the death of his father Robert. His family had risen from relatively humble beginnings in the early sixteenth century through the rewards for royal service to take their place in the nobility. He was born four years after the Armada and grew up whilst his father was gaining the political ascendancy in Queen Elizabeth’s Court and Privy Council. William’s grandfather, Lord Burghley, had enjoyed that ascendancy and had prepared Robert to follow him. Robert then had the opportunity and confidence to mastermind the accession of the Stuarts. He was almost certainly the most powerful man in the kingdom before his death in 1612.
I shall look at William’s early life and consider how well he was equipped by his upbringing and education to cope with the tasks he faced. I will argue that he took a cautious political line, which often conflicted with that of the Court, and I will show the problems that this gave him, as a loyal courtier, in deciding which camp to support in the Civil War. Did he retain or even manage to enhance the family’s noble status and was he able to expand the estates? Finally I will contrast his experience with that of others, who often appeared to be more gifted than he was, but proved to be less successful in maintaining their position.
Historians are fortunate that so many contemporary archives have survived and that some of these have been calendared. The best example is that of the Cecils. William’s father and grandfather were methodical men; their papers form the base of the archive. Researchers are lucky that the Cecils had the space and the family stability to preserve it. There is hardly a book or article that deals with this period that does not make use of their material. Lawrence Stone and Pauline Croft have been notable raiders, throwing light on the lives of the two earlier Cecils and their circle. 2
The journals of both Houses of Parliament, together with the records of the Privy Council and the various Calendars of State Papers, and Gardiner’s volumes on the civil wars and its aftermath are all fruitful sources for researchers. The collected letters of John Chamberlain are the most useful of the many contemporary commentators, particularly when he was relating Court gossip. 3 The secondary reading is vast; but care has to be taken since more recent scholarship has often destroyed old assumptions.
Stone has looked at the idea of a sixteenth century rising gentry and found that the evidence mostly supported this, but he also noted that the nobility had at the same time become a more open elite. From the middle-ages onwards, entrance to this privileged group could be attained by governmental service to the sovereign and the building up of an estate to bear the costs of any dignity that was bestowed. The Cecil family was a prime example of the new phenomenon. During the lifetime of Robert Cecil, particularly after Queen Elizabeth had died, the numbers of the ranking nobility increased considerably. A title, as the word implies, was like a piece of property and once entry into the nobility was achieved it could only be lost by extinction of the family line or an act of attainder for treason. 4
Stone argued that a slump in the prestige of the aristocracy in the early seventeenth century created a power vacuum that was not helped by the mass sale of honours. I would argue that the Stuart’s inability or unwillingness to call and then manage parliaments allowed the wealthy gentry and successful lawyers to emerge as an opposition. This together with the failure to listen to the ‘points of contact’ that parliament and the Privy Council provided meant the crown and the nobility lost respect.5
Elizabeth made just seven new creations to her earls and those ranks above them. The Stuarts created over a hundred such titles by the time of Robert’s death. Elizabeth had, by limiting the number of new creations, together with the extinctions that occurred in her reign, allowed the value of those titles to rise in terms of prestige. Beckingsale argued that when William Cecil was created Lord Burghley
‘he could flatter himself that his was a rare honour which had not fallen to any of his contemporaries in Elizabethan officialdom. His admission was to an elite of some sixty peers and was a reward to a family which had given loyal service to the Tudors for nearly a century.’
Elizabeth had only ennobled those with a blood relationship to her or who came from the ranks of the ‘old blood’ nobility. 6
James created Robert Cecil and his half-brother Thomas earls of Salisbury and Exeter respectively in 1605. These titles gave them a high precedence in the shortly-to-be inflated peerage, which could only be changed by new creations or promotions to the ranks above them. The level of precedence went with the title and passed down the primogeniture line. Chamberlain expressed disbelief about this; ‘you wold hardly beleve what labor and vieng there was for the precedence of a day.’7 William’s inherited status was potentially just as important as the landed wealth that he received.
The Cecils enjoyed their position through the efforts of William’s four immediate forebears and in particular those of the previous two generations. To be described as having noble status meant having characteristics beyond that of being a member of the aristocracy. A nobleman was expected to be educated, a leader of men and ready to serve his monarch in his councils and on the battlefield. He was expected to be cultivated, magnanimous and generous; attributes which were more difficult to acquire and took more effort than being born to the right father.
There are no major works devoted to the second earl. The two substantial items that deal with him are G. Dyffnalt Owen’s introduction to volume 22 of HMC Salisbury and the other in Stone’s Family and Fortune, a social and economic study of a group of noble families. Stone made good use of the HMC Salisbury calendars, using the Cecil family rise and consolidation as the prime example in his study. He did not however address the political career of the second earl, which has so far been unexplored. This thesis will fill that gap.0
William’s Family Background and His Early Life.
The family’s ancestry can safely be traced back to the fifteenth century, when Thomas Sitsylt married the daughter of Gilbert Winston. They originated from yeoman farmers that held the manor of Alltyrynys in Herefordshire. This was bequeathed to Robert in 1597. The last male Cecil of the Alltyrynys line left eight daughters and a lot of ill feeling that gave the Cecils continual problems. Robert’s man, Paul De la Haye, married one of the daughters and was granted a lease on the property. Whatever joy he had soon evaporated. Salisbury endured a series of legal suits and complaints that must have made the possession of the ancestral property seem a burden. 0
Burghley established a place in the nobility for his eldest son. He then laid the foundations for Robert to lead the cadet branch of the family to nobility. Mildred Cecil’s death in 1589 freed Burghley from any need to provide for her widowhood just as Robert was to be married. This enabled him to settle Theobalds and a landed estate on him.0
Robert was sworn in as Secretary of State in 1596; in 1601 he entered into a secret correspondence with James VI of Scotland that enabled his smooth succession to the English crown. James gave Robert a peerage in the month of his coronation, as Lord Cecil of Essendon. In the following year he became Viscount Cranborne and was created the first earl of Salisbury in 1605. James retained him as Secretary and added the position of Lord Treasurer in 1608. James continued to retain his faith in him, despite the failure of the Great Contract. The Court then thought that the decline of Cecilian influence at the highest levels had finally arrived. 0
Robert married Elizabeth Brooke in 1589; she was the younger daughter of Lord Cobham, a friend of Burghley during their long service together on the Privy Council. To the Court it would have seemed that Robert had made an advantageous match. He was the younger son, albeit of a powerful, but aged father. The marriage was a happy one and after her death Robert did not remarry.
William Cecil, the future second earl of Salisbury, was born on 28 March 1591 in Westminster and baptised on 11 April at St. Clement Danes. His father was growing in prominence and the family was at the centre of a web of influential kinships.0
William would learn to be at ease when surrounded by the Court and when the queen visited the family homes. The wealth and privilege he enjoyed would be second nature to him. He would have been aware of the jealousy aroused by the long monopoly of power and patronage that his family had enjoyed. A libel, which was rebutted by William’s relative, Francis Bacon, showed how these feelings were manifesting themselves. It was the first time that the future second earl appeared in the public domain. Bacon, referring to the libel, said;
‘the lord Burleigh, intended to match his grandchild Mr. William Cecil with the lady Arabella. Which being a rare imagination, without any circumstances to induce it, more than they are both unmarried, and that their years agree well, needeth no answer.…His lordship’s wisdom, which hath been so long of gathering, teacheth him to leave to his posterity rather surety than danger.’0
Bacon recognised the family trait of far sighted safety rather than their being tempted to fly too close to the flame of royal blood and risk the loss of all.
When William was born his father’s political future was not secure. The Burghley title would pass to his half-brother. His father was filling the position of Secretary of State but had not been confirmed in that post. The position in any case was not a sure route to a peerage and a permanent place at Court. The queen was old and without a clear successor; this was an unstable position for those around her. The crown might pass to someone who would want to sweep the Cecils away for a variety of reasons. A peace treaty with Spain might have been eased by their removal, or perhaps a change of direction in the religious climate or the rise to power of a rival faction, such as the one led by Essex.
If the queen had ennobled Robert before her demise, it would have been easier for him to retain a position and some influence at Court after her death. He would have been helped by the possession of a substantial property in London and the inheritance of a palatial country home at Theobalds, within a day’s ride of Westminster. Whilst Burghley lived Robert would continue to enjoy his influential protection and the use of his accumulated experience, together with the personal attachment of Elizabeth to her oldest and most valued retainer. William’s immediate future was dependent upon the queen’s longevity and goodwill, his father’s political and financial abilities and the failure of any rivals to oust him. However, Robert was far-sighted enough to realise that it was in the country’s and his own interest to try to use his position to ensure a smooth passage for James VI of Scotland to the English throne.
William was the only son and naturally all his father’s expectations would fall on him. He had a sister Frances, who was born in 1593.0 She suffered from the genetic deformity that had also afflicted their father and paternal grandmother. Robert placed Frances in her maternal aunt’s care after her mother’s death. His undated letter to Lady Stourton shows how grateful he was to have her support.
‘ my hart is discharged of a great care, who cold performe to her at this time of her youth, no office necessary for her education, being a man and wholly dedicated to the publick services’0
The deformity kept her away from Court until sometime after August 1604, when it is likely that her father sent her to the Countess of Suffolk in the Charterhouse to be brought up with her children until the middle of 1607. She was apparently happy there, to judge by her appeal to her father not to be removed after some misdemeanour. Robert was concerned that his daughter should not suffer any embarrassment because of her deformity when she made an appearance at Court. He wrote to Lady Stourton, probably in 1599, that he wished to help her by employing a ‘bonesetter’. Frances married Henry, Lord Clifford’s son and heir apparent to Francis, earl of Cumberland, in July 1610. The enormous dowry of £6,000 almost certainly reflected the fact that Frances had a deformity. 0
The children lost their pregnant mother in January 1597 during childbirth; the child did not survive. The epitaph Robert wrote for her tomb in Westminster Abbey makes that clear, ‘blest with two babes, the third brought her to this’. Lady Cecil was a goddaughter and favourite of the queen and regularly attended Court. Croft suggests ’her supportive influence probably contributed more to her husband’s early career than can now be traced. She undoubtedly reinforced Cecil’s position in the innermost circle of the regime.’ The queen insisted that Lady Cecil was to be buried in Westminster Abbey with the rank of baroness. She was placed in the same chapel in which Burghley had erected a vast monument to the memory of his wife and eldest daughter. The favour shown by the queen, in according Lady Cecil the privileges of a baroness, was also possibly a reflection of her feelings of the true worth of Robert to her. 0
Little is known of the children’s early life before their mother died. Several letters survive in which condolences were offered to Robert on his loss, including those of Sir Walter Ralegh, Lord Howard and Lady Elizabeth Russell. They all played a role in the early life of William. The most effusive was from the earl of Shrewsbury, in which he also asks for a brace of bucks,
‘I will for requital assure you that I did never see a finer boy, except two which I myself once had, than your eldest son is, who this morning I saw at Tibbalds’.
Shrewsbury was discreetly indicating that he was pleased to see that William had not inherited the family’s deformity. 0
We catch a glimpse of the children in a letter to their father on 6 April 1599.
‘Your children are very well come to Odium and weare not by the way anye thinge sicke att all: my Lady there Aunte and Mr Moore reaceved them very kindly and made very muche of them’
The aunt was Lady Frances Stourton who had remarried.0
Robert expected William to reach a sufficient level of education and culture to support his future role as a great courtier and the head of a noble family. He achieved those qualities but Robert was disappointed if he had wanted him to follow in his footsteps. William was not academically inclined and his efforts proved to be a trial to both of them.
Danushevskaya and Stoye have mistakenly taken Robert’s educational aims for his son to be the formation of a “Renaissance nobleman”. In the early 17th century the concept that exposure to the antiquities of ancient civilisations could “improve” a man would have been a strange idea. Cranborne’s travels on the Grand Tour were tailored to give him the educational experience that would be gained by exposure to foreign Courts and dignities, as well as the absorption of other languages and cultures. 0
William did not start his education at Westminster School. That idea came from Dalton, which the authors of The Record of Old Westminsters erroneously followed. He said that William was there in February 1608 and quoted Thomas Cecil. That referred to Thomas’s son, also called William. Robert’s William was then in Paris. 0
The first mention of formal education, which was conducted by a private tutor, was in a letter dated 26 July 1599 from Henry Maynard to Robert.
‘Since his coming he hath followed his booke, and his recreations at his howres allotted him: and for his healthe I thanke God it cannot be better.’0
Danushevskaya thought William had attended Sherborne School in 1600. Their records do not support this; it would be surprising if he had been at a school that admitted the sons of minor gentry and merchants. He did stay with Sir Walter Ralegh at Sherborne Castle in 1600 and the misunderstanding has arisen from that co-incidence. Ralegh was a good friend of Robert at that time. Lady Cecil and Bess Ralegh [Elizabeth Throgmorton] had served together at Court and were probably good friends. Bess referred to Lady Cecil as her mistress in 1596, the language of the Privy Chamber, in which the experienced members trained up the younger women. Ralegh wrote to Robert on 27 March 1600 reporting on his son’s health. It had apparently been poor but now
‘is altogether amended, and douth now eat well, and digest perfectly…I hope this air will agree exceedingly with hyme, having also better keept to his booke than any wear elce.’
William wrote to his father in Latin after a visit to Bath, and reported that he was now in better health and had returned to Sherborne Castle. In common with other noblemen illness was a constant in his life, despite his robust outdoor pursuits. 0
William followed the practice of young noblemen of staying with their father’s friends together with their own tutors. William spent some time with Ralegh, who was still a popular hero. Robert was doubly grateful, because on the death of his father his elder half-brother had inherited Burghley House, so he decided to build a new town house for himself and was awaiting the completion of Cecil House in The Strand.
William obviously admired Ralegh, as this letter shows.
Sir Walter, we must all exclaim and cry out because you will not come down. You being absent, we are like soldiers that when their Captain are absent they know not what to do: you are so busy on idle matters. Sir Walter I will be plain with you. I pray leave all idle matters and come down to us.’0
This easy familiarity and warmth was missing in his letters to his father.
William went to St. John’s, Cambridge, continuing the family connection. He matriculated as a fellow commoner at Michaelmas 1602 and received honorary Master of Arts degrees in 1605 at both Cambridge and Oxford. James I awarded the Oxford degree on a visit there on 30 August. St. John’s was extended by the addition of a new court in 1602; this provided some improved accommodation that William would probably have used. 0
Danushevskaya found that between 29 September 1602, when William matriculated, and 10 July 1605, he spent just seven months in Cambridge. Things improved in the next twenty-nine months, for he spent eighteen and a half months there. William’s ‘long stay in Cambridge suggests that he was a good student and received an extensive education, befitting the son of such a learned father. This was not so.’ 0
It would be anachronistic to expect too much from a university education at that time. McConica thought ‘the universities…were prized by the gentry often as places of what we should regard as advanced schooling rather than university study.’0 Stone saw university as a place that
‘helped to create a network of nation-wide friendships through shared adolescent residence in a College, the value of which in a society that run on privilege and clientage can hardly be exaggerated.’0
William started at St. John’s at eleven and left at sixteen. Robert’s letters encouraged his son to write regularly and put more effort into his studies. The first showed that William started with good intentions.
‘to follow my study hard and I hope I shall profit so therein yet my tutor shall have just cause to commend me to you, as well for the pfyinge of my booke as for the plesing of him.’ 0
A fortnight later we glimpse the privilege life he enjoyed.
‘the kinde toakens which of late I receyued from your Lo: by Mr. Tomson…I am greatly beholding to Doctor Andrews for his great kindness showed unto me here…Mr. Thomas Gerrard who never leaves sending of me venison and foule and other such like thinges.’0
Dr. Andrewes was a Cecil clerical client who was the head of Pembroke College in Cambridge. He ‘came into official contact with Cecil as Chancellor, but more significant was his diligent attendance on the young William Cecil’. He was, with Robert’s patronage, the Dean of Westminster from 1601 till 1605; and appointed Bishop of Chichester in 1605. 0
William’s tutor identified two reasons for his disappointing efforts, his love of sport and the continual interruptions to his study. James hunted and raced near Cambridge and was a frequent visitor to the family home at Theobalds. William found that he shared a natural affinity with James in their love of field sports. Roger Morrell, a fellow of St. John’s and an author of Latin verses, was William’s tutor. 0 He analysed the problems in a letter of 4 March 1605.
‘I understand by your letter and by speech with Mr. D. Neale your desire of Sir William’s daily proceeding and profiting at his book, which if it not be answerable to your expectation I am very heartily sorry, though I know myself to be free from all blame…He came heither to me at All Saints Day last (after a whole year and a half of discontinuance from hence) and stayed with me seven weeks, one whole week thereof and more he was (with your good leave) with the King at Huntingdon.…I willingly confess in him all complements of nature, all good parts of wit, capacity and memory, so that if there be anything amiss or wanting in him it is this; that he takes not that delight in his book that he does in other things…The delights of the Court have greatly estranged, if not quite alienated, his mind from his books. And yet, not withstanding all this, I make no doubt that I shall (if he may continue here without too many interruptions and too long intermissions) lay such grounds of learning in him as that hereafter he shall be able with a little help to go through anything he has a mind to or a liking of. If either I were guilty unto myself or suspected by your Honour of any defect or fault on my part, I should hold it expedient to make my apology, but being clear in my own conscience, and acquitted by your testimony I will not use any needless defence’0
The letter showed Morrell’s frankness and clarity of argument, as well as the ease with which he felt able to address his Chancellor.
Robert received his earldom on 4 May 1605, so William automatically became a viscount, addressed as Lord Cranborne. We will now use Salisbury and Cranborne, when referring to Robert and William, till Salisbury’s death.
Eighteen days after Morrell’s letter there was a note from Dr. Neile that ‘His Lordship’s son to be transferred from Mr. Casse to Mr. Morrell’. Edmund Casse was known as an actor in academic plays at St. John’s during the period 1597 to 1606 and was nine years older than Cranborne. He became a clergyman. Robert accepted Morrell’s analysis and thought he would be an able guide to his son. However Casse continued to play a part in the tutoring of William until at least 1607, when he was ordained a deacon in the diocese of London. 0
Dr. Richard Neile was a Cecil client and became the Dean of Westminster in the following November. In 1580 he won a private scholarship to St. John’s financed by Lady Burghley. ‘Neile now rose steadily in importance at Cambridge as a spokesman and representative of the Cecils.’ He became an overseer of William’s education and seems to have on occasion taken his part with his father on his behalf. Neile was later Archbishop of York and a member of the Privy Council. 0
Morrell must have felt frustrated eight days after his letter to Salisbury when he learnt that Cranborne had been brought to the Court at Newmarket at the request of Sir Philip Herbert. Herbert assured Salisbury
‘that you assented that whensoever he would send for him you would allow it. I have brought him hither and will carefully attend on him and bring him back to his tutor, where I hope he will carefully redeem these few lost days.’0
The next day a further letter came from Herbert,
‘your lordship would not have’ [William] ‘stay long here. But now I hope, because the King stays here so little a time, you will give him leave to stay until his Majesty’s going away’ 0
Sir Philip Herbert was a gentleman of the bedchamber. He was ‘the first who drew the King’s eyes towards him with affection’ and shared with James and William a love of horses and dogs. Herbert, later earl of Montgomery and Pembroke, shared a lifetime’s friendship with Cranborne. 0
Cranborne wrote to his father fifteen days after Morrell’s letter.
‘I must crave pardon of your Lo: for not writing unto you by Dr. Neile. Ye reason thereof was not my forgetfulness of my duty but being then not settled to my study I did not thinke it best to write unto your Lo: before I woulde certify you of my going to my booke, which I will cheefely endevour. I had sente this letter unto your Lo: ye last weeke but that I was suddenly sent for to ye Kinge.’0
No student could have a more impressive excuse than to be summoned to royal service.
Morrell suggested to Salisbury that he was satisfied there was an improvement in William’s application.
‘My Lorde Cranborne havinge…applied his books diligently ever synce his last returne hether coulde… be very well content… to take the opportunity of the season to recreate & refreshe hym sele, with suche sportes and pastimes as yowre lordship shall lyke best of, & youthe take most delight in. (Which desire of his I am the more willinge to further, & helpe forward, becawse I never knewe hym go to his booke with more alacrity & chearefulness then synce his last cominge.’0
Salisbury tempted his son by combining his love of outdoor pursuits with an attempt to further his education. Chamberlain writing in October 1606 said that Cranborne was on
‘a long hunting progresse out into Stafford, Lancashire and I know not whether…Yt is thought straunge that so wise a father as the earle of Salisburie shold so far humor his sonne (yet a child) as to let him run these wilde courses, and to have all his will: but some that seem to know somewhat make aunswer that he meanes to give him his fill, and when hath taken a surfet of these pleasures, to recall him to better matters, as though yt were not ordinairilie seen that men fall from one vanitie to another. There is a meaning that after a yeare he shall travaile’.0
The party visited Drayton Bassett in Staffordshire during the expedition, from where Lady Penelope Rich wrote to Salisbury. The letter gives some idea of how other members of the aristocracy saw William.
‘While I was at Draiton with my mother, the yonge hunters came very well pleased untill your servant came with your commission to gide my Lord of Cranborne to my Lady of Darby, which discontentment for feare of paring three days made them all loose ther suppers and became extreme malincolye, till it was concluded that ther traine should staye at Draiton and they go to gether with 10 servants apiece, for feare that nothing but ther riding so desparately. But your sonn is a perfett horse man and can nether be out ridden nor matched any waye, my mother I thinke will growe yong with ther companye.’0
Chamberlain noted that Will Lytton, the eldest son of Sir Rowland Lytton of Knebworth, accompanied William and ‘is become as yt were younge Crambourns mignon’. In an earlier letter he observed that
‘Lytton is coming to do his observance to the younge master of Cranbourne, for yt is concluded he must follow his father in an heredetarie dependance on that house. Whereby you may see that we live here by rule and do all by line and levell.’0
William was again being made aware of his high status amongst his contemporaries.
Salisbury felt that Cranborne had not responded positively to the bargain. A draft of a letter to Mr. Morrell marked 1607 made it clear the dissatisfaction that Salisbury felt about his son’s progress. He was humble enough to shoulder his share of the blame, whilst fulsomely acknowledging the moral protection and guidance his son had received. He criticised his principal tutor for not tailoring the studies ‘for such as he is’ and the youthful Casse, another tutor, for not engaging Cranborne more ‘with the discussions of learning, as with other things’. Salisbury thought it was better to forget the academic classical approach and recognise Cranborne’s future role and abilities as the basis for his further education and that Casse should use the ‘methods I directed him.’ 0
Thomas Cecill, a tutor at St. John’s, wrote to Salisbury, probably in February 1607, after being involved in the best course to further Cranborne’s education and consulting Richard Neile. This could have been the prompt that made Salisbury tell Morrell to drop the ‘dry’ classic route.
‘tis the best (I thinke) wee can take. His Lordship of himselfe is ready to heare, willinge to learne, forward to confere with my self and other younge gentlemen which learne with him. Soe that wee shall (I dought not) gett some learninge.’ 0
Thomas Cecill was a poet and playwright and later became chaplain to Lord Chancellor Francis Bacon in 1618. 0
Salisbury’s attitude to his son’s education reflected his father’s approach to his own, which was very different from that of most fathers. Cranborne experienced the company of his fellow nobles and saw that their fathers were able to cope with the life they had been born to without the need for a lot of dry books.
The last letter from Cranborne to his father is dated 9 December 1607.
‘the disputation which your Lordship commanded I should doe I have already performed. If your Lsp hath heard in what fashion I dispatched which (if it any way like your Lsps) it will give me great incoragement’0
It must have been a relief to both that Cranborne’s time at St. John’s was at an end.
The study of law was considered to be useful for the landed aristocracy in managing their estates. White noted that Cranborne was admitted to Gray’s Inn on 28 February 1605. If this was correct it would appear to have been a formality. Pearce noted that Burghley was a member and took an active and lifelong interest in Gray's Inn. He was admitted in 1540 and followed by his two sons, Robert being ‘specially admitted’ in 1580. It was natural they would welcome a third generation from such an illustrious family, even in an honorary capacity. 0
Salisbury must have been delighted with the attention that William received from the king. That James wished to have Cranborne in his party suggests he thought much of his company. What surely was even more pleasing to Salisbury was his son’s friendship with Prince Henry, the heir to the throne. Cranborne was three years older than the prince. His first involvement was ‘initially, from 1603 to 1604‘[when] ‘a small academy of noble youths was assembled around’ [Henry] ‘but this broke up when most preceded him to universities.’ 0 The group had not gone unnoticed. A dedication in the book The Nine English Worthies; or Famous and Worthy Princes of England, being of one name, contained the following, after referring to Prince Henry, it proceeded;
‘To the right honorable my very good Lords, the Earles of Oxenford and Essex, with my Lord Viscount Cranborne, and the other young Lords, Knights and Gentlemen, attending the Prince’s Highnesse, health, honour, and happinesse.’0
The group’s break-up probably prompted the reward to William of the honour of Knight of the Bath on 6 January 1605. He was one of ten recipients granted it at the same time as Prince Charles. The Garter was the only award that outranked it.
It was in this select group that gathered around the prince, that the friendship between Robert Devereux, the earl of Essex, and Cranborne was formed. A further tie was the dynastic marriages that were arranged for them with the daughters of Thomas Howard, earl of Sussex. These played an important, but not always an entirely beneficial role in their later lives.
Strong saw Henry’s death in 1612 as a lost opportunity of an English Renaissance. An Epilogue written six days after Henry’s death to William Trumbull by Beaulieu from Paris conveys the hopes he carried.
‘the untimely Death of that brave Prince of Wales; the Flower of his House, the Glory of his Country, and the Admiration of all Strangers; which in all Places had imprinted a great Hope in the Minds of the well affected, as it had already stricken Terrour into the hearts of his Enemies…whose extraordinary great Parts and Vertues, made many Men hope and believe, that God had reserved and destined him as a chosen Instrument to be the Standard-bearer of his Quarrell in these miserable Times, to work the Restoration of his Church and the Destruction of the Romish Idolatry.’0
Strong thought that ‘No truer epitaph for Henry IX was ever written.’0
Had Henry lived the friendship and shared interests of his close circle would almost certainly have stood Cranborne in good stead and the prince’s death must be seen as a lost opportunity for him. A letter tentatively dated December 1608 and addressed to Cranborne in Paris from Prince Henry gives some indication of their relationship.
‘I would have you think I have neither forgotten yourself nor the two requests you made to me in your letter. For the one I remembered immediately after the receiving of yours and gave his majesty thanks…concerning the other, as I know the end of your absence from me to be the better enabling of yourself to deserve the greater interest in my favour, so during this your absence there is no cause to fear that my affection should be wanting unto you; being both the son of that father who by the particular services done unto myself, besides the general of the state, draweth love from me unto him and all of his; and from such a son as from whom I do expect, if not as much sufficiency in serving princes as hath been found in your grandfather and father, yet as great abundance of love and loyalty as the example of so worthy patterns and so good education can promise from your estate; which my expectation of you I am willing you should give me occasion daily to increase.’ 0
Cranborne and his cousin William, Lord Burghley, had the privilege of holding the king’s train when Henry was invested as the Prince of Wales in June 1610. Salisbury had invented and was responsible for the whole ceremony. He created a new tradition and not the revival of an old one. He accentuated the importance of the young Cecils by placing them around the king. It was ‘a visual demonstration of the closeness of the house of Cecil to the house of Stuart’ and an attempt to carry them along with the prince into the next royal generation. Salisbury was conscious of the uneasiness in the country with the new dynasty and saw the advantages of confirming their legitimacy with a grand visual display around a popular young prince. This was to be in stark contrast to the investiture of Charles. Henry’s ceremony was
‘one of the last demonstrations of that more open, more accessible and altogether more realistic Elizabethan polity…The reversal in 1616 to a Court ceremony…can be seen as one of the milestones in the gradual emergence of a new set of monarchical attitudes’0
Cranborne went on The Grand Tour, like most of his fellow nobles, to learn how to conduct himself in the Courts of Europe and hone the skills necessary for a man in his position. Sir Francis Bacon thought that ‘He that travelleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel.’0 Cranborne first went to Paris at the beginning of 1608 to learn the language.
Two tutors, Mr. Fynett and Dr. Lister, accompanied him. They were conversant with continental travel and were expected to be with their charge continuously. Salisbury had apparently taken the advice of an advisor, Sir Thomas Wilson, a widely travelled man, in selecting them. Dr. Lister had a medical degree from Basle and Fynett, who came from an Italian family, later became Master of Ceremonies at the Stuart Court.0
William’s tutors, and many of his party, would have been better equipped to benefit from the experience of the Grand Tour than he was. They had the opportunity to be noticed and often went on to hold high administrative posts. Cranborne recommended William Becher to Salisbury as someone for whom something should be done. He had rendered Cranborne service in finding him French servants. Becher later became Clerk to the Privy Council after filling many ambassadorial roles, although this was not due to Cranborne. 0
Finet wrote to Thomas Wilson from Paris on 4 February 1608. ‘My Lord is well and merry and joins in his French and exercises more than any man I have known that takes half his liberty’.0 A similar letter of 12 March contains the reaction to a message from Salisbury expressing his disappointment that he had not received any letters from Cranborne. This ‘somewhat moved him, but rather to repentance than anger, when he saw his faults noted by him that has such judgment to discern and authority to reform them.’ He excused himself by a delay in the post and ‘begins his diligence with this opportunity of sending by Mr. Finch, my Lord’s servant, and will continue it upon every occasion.’ In the letter Finet recounts an event where a gentlemen, who
‘has discovered a particular devotion to his [Cranborne’s] service, and young Mr. Litton a certain quarrel lately. Wherein I will say neither was in the fault because they were both made friends by my Lord’s interposing. Idle words passed between them, a challenge was sent, they met; and I came happily to part them. I tell you this because of my Lord’s discretion and upright proceeding in a matter wherein two were actors to whom he was indifferently interested; to one as his old acquaintance and, I think, kinsman; to the other as his father’s servant and defender of him in his absence from an indignity offered him in words by an idle gentleman’0
The story was told to clear Finch, who had the just cause, and that Mr. Lytton, now his good friend, would support that. The news could have reached Salisbury and he would have worried how well events were being managed. This may have prompted Salisbury to recall his son, for it was not long before William was back in England to finalise the marriage to Catherine Howard.
Salisbury was keen that Cranborne occupied himself whilst he ‘tarry in England’ before the marriage. He was pleased to hear he followed his studies and that
’the gentlemen abowt the King that yow dyd use your self so dwtyfully to him and so civilly to all others’. [Salisbury promised if this change continued] ‘then I shall leave the rest of your lyfe to be spent as yow think good in all other exercises worthy of a gentleman, towards which yow shall want nothing.’0
Chamberlain wrote that ‘The mariage of the young Lord Cranbourn with the Lord Chamberlaines daughter is thoroughly concluded, and the bookes sealed.’ Chamberlain had noted in 1605 that Robert Devereux, third earl of Essex, and Cranborne were to be married to Suffolk’s daughters Frances and Catherine. He thought the marriages were then imminent, as they ‘are put off till toward Christmas.’ 0 The marriages would cement strong kinship ties and hopefully eliminate any enmity that still existed between the Devereux and Cecil families.
Cranborne was married on 1 December 1608. Chamberlain described, somewhat disapprovingly,
‘very privately at the Lady Walsinghams lodging by the Tilt Yard: which me thinckes was not so fit, for holy things should be solemnised in holy places. There were few at yt.’
The bride’s mother, Catherine, Countess of Suffolk, was not present and apparently no lords or ladies, although Chamberlain listed many gifts of plate from members of the nobility.0
The absence of the Countess of Suffolk and the use of Lady Walsingham’s lodgings, both prominent members of the Court, raised some eyebrows. It was a common suggestion that they were more than Salisbury’s platonic friends. Robert had not remarried and had close relationships with the two ladies, as friends and confidantes who had cared for his children. It excited many libels, especially as they were both generously treated in his will. The bequests may have been innocent gifts made out of gratitude for their help. The countess had also acted for him in their private transactions with the Spanish, which had benefited both of them financially. 0
Chamberlain noted that Cranborne,
‘set forward for Fraunce on Tuesday with three barges in very blustering weather…he went away two dayes sooner then was geven out, only to avoid the multitude of followers that wold have brought him on his way.’0
Why was the marriage so low key and why the rush to depart for France? Could it have been that Salisbury, who was in poor health and under an immense workload and political pressure, wanted to see his son settled in this prestigious marriage and safely ensconced in the royal favour in case tragedy struck? He wrote to Prince Henry a few days after the marriage, ‘For your servant Cranborn I humbly thank yowr Highness both for your present grace and future promises’.0 Salisbury probably realised the narrow path he was treading and the potential dangers to Cranborne if the worst happened.
Cranborne was reported to be accompanied by ‘some 30 gentlemen and servants in his trayn’ in mid-September 1609 at Bordeaux. It would have been an impressive retinue and in keeping with his father’s idea of what an earl’s son’s status merited. Travellers faced many dangers, so there was safety in numbers. Many young gentlemen would want to attach themselves to a figure like Cranborne, who represented a potential route to patronage, both through his powerful father and to the circle around Prince Henry. The letter mentioned
‘that the English marchants of that town’ [Marseilles] ‘sent his Lordship a present which he would in no sort accept as guift, but payd them for it, and cawsed them to dyne with him at his own table.’ 0
Salisbury would have approved.
When Cranborne left for France he took his farewell of Prince Henry. This was a draft of his letter.
‘Although I know your highness expects not much from me, yet having placed the eye and hope of my youth upon your person and fortune, I would be loath by silence to fall out of your memory…Let it not displease your Highness that I presume to beg two favours: first, that you will grace me so much as to thank his Majesty for the grace he hath done me for thanking this great king…And next, that you will think that nothing could make me endure the privation of your presence, but the infinite desire I have some day to return so qualified as he ought to be that hath the ambition to be worthy the service of so rare a prince.’ 0
The letter referred to was sent by James to Henri IV and thanked him for the treatment that he had given to the son of his Treasurer and the regard which he personally held Henri IV. Prince Henry’s reply to Cranborne has been quoted earlier and showed an affection that was far more than just politeness. 0
Cranborne moved in the highest circles in Paris. On 25 February he used the excuse for not writing to his father ‘because he sat up somewhat late at the ballet of the Queen’. A month later he wrote ‘The King doth afford me especiall grace when he sees me riding at the tuilleryies.’ 0
Salisbury insisted on getting a letter every ten days. In this letter, of which only the outline of the points to be covered are known, Wilson, on behalf of Salisbury noted;
‘The relation of my Lo. of Cranborne’s journey with the King to St. Germans, commended by my Lord for the particularities, and so honourable as he will cause the King to take knowledge of it.
Whereas the Master of Ceremonies is appointed to visit him, and one of the Scots Guard to attend him, care to be had in that matter of gratuity they should rather incline to be honourable bounty than sparingness.
To be wary in dispraising anything, and to take heed of being entrapped by any of the French, who will boldly speak with the liberty of their King, of divers great ones, and other matters: which he must take heed to approve, but rather let his speech and discourse tend to praises than otherwise’0
Salisbury wished his son to live according to his rank and not appear mean. He realised that Cranborne would be amongst courtiers who would have no hesitation in passing on any idle gossip and the dangers that could involve. The Master of Ceremonies and the Scots Guard references are connected to the French Queen’s coronation. In a later letter it was suggested Cranborne should ‘discreetly to be a spectator rather than put himself on horseback, where many mischances may happen.’0
Salisbury was happier with his son’s academic progress after Cranborne’s servant came from Nantes with news of his health and brought his exercise books. Salisbury wrote that ‘the bokes sent by him…I confess have given me better contentment than anything I receaved from you since you left England.’ He replied with detailed advice about his handwriting, on translating from Latin, particularly Seneca and Cicero’s Orations and Epistles, and on his exercises in French and logic.0
Salisbury received a diary, kept in French, which covered fifteen weeks in the late summer of 1609. It recorded details of William’s travels, descriptions of the places he had visited, the buildings he had seen and the principal people he had met. The diary is probably the earliest of its kind to have survived. 0
When Cranborne was in Bordeaux he wrote to Prince Henry on 9 September 1609 to thank him for his ‘most gracious letters’. It must have been a comfort for Salisbury that the heir to the throne was in a personal correspondence with his son.0
Cranborne asked his father to thank the Duc de Guise, one of the greatest French ducal families, for his treatment of him when he had visited Marseilles. 0 The attention given to Cranborne by the French Court and the aristocracy in the countryside was due to his father’s political status and his closeness to Prince Henry. Moreover as Stoye observed
‘the evidence of continuous and intimate relations between the aristocracy of the two countries is probably of greater ultimate significance than the tortuous course of diplomatic negotiations between France and England.’0
When Cranborne returned to Paris Salisbury asked to see Mr. Fynett, leaving Lister to deal with any illness that Cranborne might suffer. He went on,
‘I will tell yow one thing further which is reported but I will not beleave, and that is that yow do use to goe abroad into the towne with English gent and Frenchmen without eyther Lyster or Fynett with yow…This I write not as thinking yow a child’ [however] ’when I travailed first, and was 24 yeare old, my lord sent with me Mr Richard Spencer, that lay next chamber to me, and never parted from me, to which if yow say I was not married yow may well remember my Lord of Essex from Mr. Wingfield never parted…I saw your wife who is a goodly yong lady, kind to yow, and modest in her carriage refusing to come to Court or London, as places she will take no pleasure in, during the tyme of her virgine widowhood.0
He gently admonished Cranborne and tried to encourage him to better paths. Cranborne was eighteen and a less serious, more restless person than his father, so it was not surprising that he gave his tutors grey hairs. Salisbury’s comments about Cranborne’s wife are interesting for the contrast they implied with her sister Frances. Salisbury’s concerns about his son’s health were understandable; if he pre-deceased him he would not have a male heir and his hopes for establishing a noble cadet branch of the Cecils would have been dashed.
William had another bout of ill health in the autumn of 1611. Drs. Matt Gwyn and Henry Atkins, two of the most respected physicians available, independently reported their findings to Salisbury. Atkins diagnosed what could have been a case of measles. Atkins had overseen Prince Charles’ illness in 1604, when he was unable to walk, and later he became ‘one of his King’s physicians in waiting’. 0
Cranborne returned to Paris to spend a second winter there. He played a full part in Henry IV’s Court life, taking riding lessons with the officers of the royal stables and hoping to accompany the king on his planned war in Cleves. Cranborne was trained by the best French riding masters in haute école, and was later to have further lessons at Prince Henry’s riding academy at Richmond. Amongst his fellow nobles there were his future son-in-law Lord Percy, who was to play an important role in his life in the 1640s.0
In early April 1610 Salisbury was again directing his son in the best academic and physical ways to proceed.
‘I have seene letters of late written by you (like a gentleman) to Sir Thomas Howard your brother [in law] & to others which I hope are your owne, & therefore doe commend. If they be not, yor fault is the more, to be unable to do that which with use you wold so easily overcome’ [and] ’advises him to follow Mr Lister’s advice re diet being to pass into hotte contries…for the few weekes you tary in Italie, I hope in the Lord you will not be so voyde of grace as to be inticed to be tainted eyther in soule or bodie, nor so indifferent as to stir abroad in the night when murders and mischiefe are lawless.’0
In a letter of 18 April his father told him to forget his English sports, for they were a distraction from the proper purpose of his travels, ‘for which he maintains him so chargeably abroad.’ He did not wish him to go to Italy now, but wait till September when the weather would be more favourable and besides he would lose his French language. He gave him permission to go to Cleves with the other young English nobles; perhaps thinking that it would add to his noble credentials. Salisbury felt that ‘If the French King go to the frontiers to meet his troops, it will be a gallant journey for Cranborne to follow him.’ Salisbury sketched an itinerary for the journey to Italy and suggested he might be back in England before Christmas. He made a caustic reference to Cranborne’s doubts about seasickness, commenting ‘if he passes at Calais, it is not above 3 hours work, which women and children do every day.’0
The assassination of Henry IV on 14 May threw everything into turmoil. Cranborne returned home and the expedition to Cleves was abandoned until things settled down enough for him to return later in the year. Chamberlain observed that ‘the world apprehends he had another errand homeward, and a stronger adamant to draw him hither, the desire to gather the first fruites of his fayre younge Lady.’ That Chamberlain thought Cranborne’s activities would be of interest to his correspondents is not surprising. He was Salisbury’s only son and personally close to both the king and Prince Henry; his potential importance should not be under-estimated. Chamberlain’s recipients were Sir Ralph Winwood and Sir Dudley Carleton, who later became Secretaries of State. 0
Salisbury took the opportunity to give Cranborne some political experience. He obtained his election as a Member of Parliament for the Borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis with the help of Sir Julius Caesar, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On 13 June 1610 the Mayor and Bailiff regretted that the request had not arrived earlier because the position was no longer available, as an election had already been made and the voters were unwilling to change. Three days later the situation was hurriedly corrected to allow Cranborne to be elected. 0
Cranborne probably did not take his place in the Commons. The fourth session of James’s first Parliament was sitting, but was dissolved shortly after his election and he was abroad during the final session.0 This episode seems strange now, but in June 1610 Salisbury probably thought the French King’s assassination would have prevented his son’s return.
Cranborne returned to France in September 1610 for his journey to Italy. Salisbury worried that his son should not ‘put his person into’ [any] ‘town whereof the Pope is lord’ and sent a list of towns that young Litton had passed ‘so it can be seen how easily he may go from Venice to Florence without coming within the Pope’s danger’.0 The fear of physically coming under the jurisdiction of the Pope was real. Captain William Turner claimed that overtures had been
‘made to him by the Pope’s nuncio to decoy some Englishmen of note, - young Lord Roos or, Lord Cranborne, into the Pope’s dominions to be held as a hostage in exchange for the release of Baldwin the Jesuit priest.’0
Cranborne kept a diary detailing his experiences on the journey through France and Savoy to Venice, where he arrived in November. He stayed with Sir Henry Wotton and was received by the Doge and Senate. He had asked his father’s permission to take the musician Nicholas Lanier with him. Salisbury replied that he ’Approves Cranborne’s desire to carry Nich. Lanier with him, if it be true that he delights in music and practises both hand and voice.’ Cranborne had probably thought Lanier would make a good companion, but it seems doubtful that Lanier went. Lanier was the Salisburys’ domestic musician for eight years from 1605. He was an instrumentalist, could sing, and write poetry and music, as well as paint. 0
Cranborne became ill in Padua; the physicians diagnosed fever mingled with homesickness. Padua was a marshy area and notoriously unhealthy. Cranborne had probably contacted a low-level form of malarial fever. Carleton thought that his ‘anxiety to return home makes him ill; he has symptoms of ague’. William refused to accede to his father’s requests that he should continue his tour. Lister, writing to Carleton, said he would not give Salisbury’s letters to Cranborne ‘lest any agitation produce a relapse’, even though he was now well. Carleton writing the same day to Salisbury said he had seen his son in Padua ‘and found him better, but extremely anxious to return home’. 0
The Venetian ambassador reported to the Doge that
‘the health of the Viscount Cranborne about which were spread unquieting rumours that kept the Court very anxious and caused the Lord treasurer his father to ask me for some information and to doubt that something was being held back’.0
He came home via Germany and the Low Countries, visiting many cities on the way and recording them in his diary. He arrived back in April, but not before his noble service was called into use by Lord Walden to assist him in the funeral of Viscount Bindon in Flushing’.0 Perhaps the final comments, on what must have been a wretched experience for William, were from his friend Montgomery.
‘All youre frends heare hath been extremely greeved to heare of the danger you weare in by reson of the extremity of the violent fever which you had…I cannot omit to lett you knowe how much you are bound to God in giving you so worthy and so loving a father as you have.’0
Nevertheless Cranborne must have thought the Grand Tour had been a worthwhile experience, because he exposed his own sons to it. 0
Danushevskaya calculated that Cranborne’s university education cost £1,368. 7s. 8d. of which only £1 4s. was spent on books and £5 11s. on cultural events. The cost of the Grand Tour was a staggering £10,503 15s. 6d. Salisbury was a concerned parent and was also making a statement about his family’s status. He wrote to Cranborne that he ‘be not sparing of any cost for guides or connvoyes to make your passage safe’. Referring to the French Court, he instructed him ‘not to forbear from dealing liberally with the Church, nor with any of the King’s officers to whom he is beholden.’ Salisbury, referring to his expenses in entertaining the duke of Guise at Marseilles and whilst in Geneva, wrote ‘I commend in you and shall ever upon so just occasion, desiring to take this rule of me, that he is of a base mind that thinks money to serve for anything but use’. 0
An evaluation of William’s education is difficult. Prince Henry gave the best contemporary opinion when,
‘a son as from whom I do expect, if not as much sufficiency in serving princes as hath been found in your grandfather and father, yet as great abundance of love and loyalty as the example of so worthy patterns’. 0
He recognised that Cranborne would not equal his two forebears, but valued his other qualities. They had been dedicated to a life of administrative service and blessed with those abilities and ambition needed to achieve the highest positions. Cranborne’s life was to be that of a courtier, an entirely different one that called for other skills.
In January 1612 the Prince and Cranborne were at Greenwich primarily to inspect The Prince Royal, the first three-decker in the English fleet. Sir Walter Ralegh, whilst imprisoned in The Tower, had designed this for Prince Henry. The keel had been laid on 20 October 1608 and the ship was now nearing completion; it went on to give distinguished service. Unfortunately Henry did not live to see the launch. 0 The visit ended when
‘The Prince went on Saturday to Royston, called thither by the King from his martiall sports of Tilt, Tourney, and Barriers, which he followed so earnestly, that he was every day five or six times in armour.’ 0
The king was probably hunting and they would almost certainly have joined him in that pursuit. Chamberlain added to the details at Greenwich.
‘The rest of the time was spent in gaming and every night a play; in which exercises the Lord Cranbourn still attended him, keeping an honourable table all the while’.0
There are glimpses of Cranborne’s social and Court activities from items like an acquittance note, which acknowledged the receipt of the hefty sum of thirty-five pounds paid to his friend Montgomery for losses incurred whilst they were playing tennis. Another, an invitation addressed from Sir Walter Cope’s house and sent to Sir Michael Hicks from George Montaigne, then the Dean of Westminster, to the Deanery.
‘This night, of four of the clock, my Lord Cranborne and my Lady, Sir Walter Cope and his lady, and some others, will be at Westminster. They have a play before supper, and another after, if you will be pleased, and my lady, to bear them company I shall be much bound to you,’0
All three were Cecil clients and were courteously acknowledging the younger generation, possibly in the hope of currying future favour.
The king selected William for receiving and conducting Venetian ambassadors to their audiences with him. This was appropriate since he had just spent some time in Venice. He was also given the honour of handing the king his napkin at a State Banquet.0
William’s portrait at Hatfield House, painted in about 1626 by George Geldorp, shows a slim and athletic man. He was then thirty-five and he is shown wearing spurs; in the background are scenes of hunting in front of Hatfield House. He was depicted in parkland of oaks, with one at his immediate right, which perhaps reflected his view that the family were as firmly planted in the hierarchy of England as these symbols of everlasting robustness. The artist may have also seen the oak as ‘the tree of chivalry’, as he has hung Salisbury’s Garter upon it. William became a Garter Knight on 13 December 1625 and probably commissioned Geldorp to paint companion portraits of him and his wife to record that event. 0
There was another influence that surely fired William’s imagination and helped shape his personality. He had spent some time in his formative years with the Raleghs at Sherborne. This association was renewed when, together with Prince Henry, he regularly visited Ralegh in The Tower much to James’s annoyance. The prince and William both benefited from the experience of Ralegh’s intellectual circle that had gathered around this charismatic man. The prince had been inspired by his designs for the ship The Prince Royal. Ralegh dedicated his book The History of the World to Prince Henry, but after the prince’s death he remarkably rededicated it to Will Cecil with the words ‘I intend, by the help of God and your furtherance, right noble Earl of Salisbury, to write a Brief History of the World’. Oldys incorrectly gives the target of the dedication to Robert Cecil, whilst Edwards mistakenly suggests that Charles appointed the second earl as an Ambassador Extraordinary to the Court of France.0
Cranborne had married into a great Court family and figured prominently in that Court, whilst his love of sport had endeared him to the king and Prince Henry, as well as the influential Philip Herbert. It would have been understandable if William had thought that these accomplishments were sufficient. Most noble families would have been jealous of the attention he had already received from the king and the prince.