William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil
Born (1928-08-17)August 17, 1928
Asheville, North Carolina
Died October 31, 2017(2017-10-31) (aged 89)
Asheville, North Carolina
Nationality American
Education Harvard University
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Mary Lee Ryan
Children 2
Parent(s) John Francis Amherst Cecil
Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
Relatives George Washington Vanderbilt II (grandfather)
Edith Stuyvesant Gerry (grandmother)

William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil (August 17, 1928 – October 31, 2017) was the operator of the Biltmore Estate through his company, The Biltmore Company.


Early life[edit]

William Cecil was the younger son of John Francis Amherst Cecil (1890–1954) and Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt (1900–1976). He was the grandson of George Washington Vanderbilt II, and the great-grandson of William Henry Vanderbilt. His great great grandfather was railroad and steamship baron, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.

William A.V. Cecil was a direct descendant of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, through his grandparents, Lord William Cecil and Mary Rothes Margaret Cecil, Baroness Amherst of Hackney. Cecil, an English statesman, was chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State (1550–53 and 1558–72) and Lord High Treasurer from 1572.


Cecil was a graduate of Harvard University. Upon the death of his mother, he inherited the Biltmore Estate once his elder brother, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil, chose to take charge of the family dairy (known as Biltmore Farms) which was much more profitable at the time. He successfully transformed Biltmore into a popular North Carolina tourist attraction and built a profitable winery on the grounds.

Personal life[edit]

Cecil’s widow, Mary Lee Ryan, is a first cousin of First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, as their mothers, Janet Norton Lee and Marion Merritt Lee, were sisters.[1]

Cecil’s son, Bill Cecil Jr., serves as President and CEO of The Biltmore Company today. His daughter-in-law, Virginia Cecil, oversees the equestrian center at the estate and is on the Biltmore board of directors.[2]


Cecil died at home in his native Asheville, North Carolina, on October 31, 2017, aged 89, and just 2 short weeks later his wife also died. He is survived by his two children: William A.V. Cecil Jr. and Diana (née Cecil) Pickering.[3]



  1. ^ "NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK NOMINATION: BILTMORE ESTATE" (PDF). nps.gov. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  2. ^ "The Biltmore Equestrian Center". biltmore.com. Retrieved October 31, 2017. 
  3. ^ William A.V. Cecil, Vanderbilt's grandson and Biltmore owner, dead at 89, citizen-times.com; accessed October 31, 2017.

External links[edit]

  • About Us, biltmore.com; accessed October 31, 2017.