Lord William Cecil (courtier)

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Lord William Cecil
Extra Gentleman-Usher
In office
Monarch King George V (1924–36)
King George VI (1936–37)
In office
Monarch Queen Victoria
Personal details
Born (1854-11-04)4 November 1854
Burghley House, Peterborough
Died 16 April 1943(1943-04-16) (aged 88)
Haywards Heath, Surrey, U.K.
Spouse(s) Mary Cecil, 2nd Baroness Amherst of Hackney
(m. 1885; d. 1919)

Violet Maud Freer
(m. 1924)
Children William Amherst Cecil
Thomas James Cecil
John Francis Cecil
Henry Mitford Cecil
Parents 3rd Marquess of Exeter
Lady Georgina Pakenham
Relatives 2nd Marquess of Exeter (grandfather)
2nd Earl of Longford (grandfather)
George Vanderbilt Cecil (grandson)
William Vanderbilt Cecil (grandson)
Awards Congressional Gold Medal
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch 4th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars Suakin Expedition

Colonel Lord William Cecil, CVO, GCStJ (2 November 1854 – 16 April 1943) was a British army officer and royal courtier.

Early life[edit]

Lord William was born on 2 November 1854, a younger son of William Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Exeter (1825–1895) and Lady Georgina Sophia Pakenham (d. 1909), daughter of Thomas Pakenham, 2nd Earl of Longford (1774–1835). His paternal grandparents were Brownlow Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Exeter (1795–1867), and Isabella Poyntz, daughter of William Stephen Poyntz (1770–1840), an English Whig and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons variously between 1800 and 1837.[1]

His siblings included: Brownlow Henry George, Lord Burghley, later the 4th Marquess of Exeter (1849–1898), Lord Francis Horace Pierrepont (1851–1889), who married Edith Brookes, daughter of Sir William Cunliffe Brooks, 1st Baronet, Lady Catherine Sarah (1861–1918), who married Henry de Vere Vane, 9th Baron Barnard, Colonel Lord John Pakenham Joicey-Cecil (1867–1942), Lady Isabella Georgiana Katherine (d. 1903), who married William Battie-Wrightson, Lady Mary Louisa Wellesley (d. 1930),who married James Hozier, 2nd Baron Newlands, and Lady Louisa Alexandrina (d. 1950) and Lady Frances Emily (d. 1951), both of whom died unmarried.[2]


Cecil's military career began when he was commissioned as a supernumerary sub-lieutenant in the Northampton and Rutland Militia on 9 May 1874,[3] with subsequent promotion to lieutenant from the same date.[4] On 29 November 1876 he transferred to the regulars as a lieutenant in the 2nd Foot,[5] moving to the Grenadier Guards on 31 January 1877.[6] He served in the Suakin Expedition in Sudan in 1885[7] and was promoted to captain on 18 July that year.[8]

Cecil was Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the 4th (Militia) Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment from 16 April 1890,[9] with the honorary rank of colonel.[7] During 1900 the battalion was stationed at Parkhurst barracks on the Isle of Wight, not far from Queen Victoria's residence Osborne House, where Cecil was a regular visitor.[citation needed] He resigned his commission on 13 September 1902, retaining his rank.[10] During the First World War, he was a temporary major in the 9th Battalion, County of London Volunteer Regiment from 1 September 1916,[11] relinquishing his commission in the Volunteer Force on 12 March 1920.[12]

In 1892, he became a Groom-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria and remained as such until her death in 1901. He was then an Extra Gentleman Usher from 1924 under King George V until his retirement in 1937. In 1909, he was invested as a Commander, Royal Victorian Order, C.V.O., and later, he was also invested as Bailiff Grand Cross, Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.[13]

Personal life[edit]

On 2 September 1885, he had married Hon. Mary Tyssen-Amherst, who succeeded her father as Baroness Amherst of Hackney in 1909. He and his wife had four children before her death in 1919:[13]

On 14 August 1924, after the death of his wife in 1919, he married Violet Maud Freer (d. 1957), daughter of Percy Freer and former wife of Herbert Oswald Collyer.[13]

Cecil died on 16 April 1943 at Haywards Heath in Surrey.[16]


As his eldest son, Capt. Hon. William Amherst Cecil died during the First Battle of the Aisne, Cecil's grandson, William Alexander Evering Cecil (1912–1980),[17] succeeded Cecil's wife as the 3rd Baron Amherst of Hackney upon her death in 1919.[18][19][20] The 3rd Baron Amherst of Hackney married Margaret Eirene Clifton Brown (1921–2009), daughter of Howard Clifton Brown (1868–1946), a Conservative Party politician who served as the Member of Parliament for Newbury. The 3rd Baron's younger brother, Hon. Henry Kerr Auchmuty Cecil (1914–1942), was the father of Sir Henry Cecil (1943–2013), an internaltionally renowned horse trainer.[21]

Through his third son, he was grandfather to George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil (b. 1925), the owner and operator of Biltmore Farms, and William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil (b. 1928), the operator of the Biltmore Estate through his company, The Biltmore Company.[22]

Through his fourth and youngest son, he was the grandfather of Rear Admiral Sir Oswald Nigel Amherst Cecil (b. 1925), the 23rd Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stooks Smith, Henry. (1973) [1844-1850]. Craig, F. W. S., ed. The Parliaments of England (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 148. ISBN 0-900178-13-2. 
  2. ^ "Person Page - Colonel Lord William Cecil". www.thepeerage.com. The Peerage. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "No. 24093". The London Gazette. 8 May 1874. p. 2447. 
  4. ^ "No. 24226". The London Gazette. 9 July 1875. p. 3517. 
  5. ^ "No. 24388". The London Gazette. 28 November 1876. p. 6529. 
  6. ^ "No. 24411". The London Gazette. 30 January 1877. p. 437. 
  7. ^ a b Hart's Army list, 1901
  8. ^ "No. 25497". The London Gazette. 4 August 1885. p. 3601. 
  9. ^ "No. 26042". The London Gazette. 15 April 1890. p. 2201. 
  10. ^ "No. 27473". The London Gazette. 12 September 1902. p. 5889. 
  11. ^ "No. 29743". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 September 1916. p. 8897. 
  12. ^ "No. 31820". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 March 1920. p. 3147. 
  13. ^ a b c Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest Times, Volume XIV: Addenda & Corrigenda (Stroud, Gloucestershire, U.K.: Sutton Publishing, 1998), p. 22.
  14. ^ "Miss Vanderbilt Reported Engaged. Cornelia Said to Be Betrothed to the Hon. John F.A. Cecil of British Embassy". New York Times. March 6, 1924. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  15. ^ "John Cecil, Ex-Aide Of British Embassy". New York Times. Associated Press. October 23, 1954. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  16. ^ "LORD WILLIAM CECIL". The New York Times. 17 April 1943. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  17. ^ Friend, Donald; Hetherington, Paul. The Diaries of Donald Friend. National Library Australia. ISBN 9780642276025. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  18. ^ "William Alexander Evering Cecil Amherst, 3rd Baron of Hackney (1912-1980), Army officer - National Portrait Gallery". npg.org.uk. National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Duggan, Brian Patrick (February 23, 2009). Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 9780786434077. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  20. ^ Kingsley, Nick (11 May 2014). "Landed families of Britain and Ireland: (122) Tyssen-Amherst (later Cecil) of Didlington Hall and Foulden Hall, Barons Amherst of Hackney". landedfamilies.blogspot.com. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  21. ^ "Sir Henry Cecil". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  23. ^ Burke's Peerage & Gentry