A Belated Happy Birthday to William Cecil, Lord Burghley and RIP Sir John Cheke

Apologies to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and Elizabeth I’s chief advisor, for missing his 489th birthday yesterday – happy birthday! Yes, William Cecil was born on the 13th September 1521 in Bourne, Lincolnshire. You can find out more about him in the bio I wrote on him to commemorate the anniversary of his death on the 4th August – see William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley.

Also today, a day late, we commemorate the death of Tudor scholar, Sir John Cheke, on the 13th September 1557, one time tutor to Edward VI, Secretary of State for Lady Jane Grey and the first Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge University. Cheke was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Mary I for his part in Lady Jane Grey’s “usurpation” of the throne but released just over a year later. Cheke then travelled to the continent but was arrested between Brussels and Antwerp in Spring 1556, along with Sir Peter Carew, and taken back to England, where he was once again imprisoned in the Tower. In fear of being burned at the stake for his Protestant beliefs, he agreed to be received into the Catholic Church and was released from prison in October 1556 after making a public recantation in front of Mary I. Afterwards, he was ashamed of himself and regretted his cowardice. He died just over a year later, on the 13th September 1557.

2 thoughts on “A Belated Happy Birthday to William Cecil, Lord Burghley and RIP Sir John Cheke

  1. The treatment of such a brilliant and influential scholar as Cheke – who had such a major role in the education of Edward VI and Elizabeth is one of the most shameful episodes in the reign of Mary and her government. Poor man.

  2. Never had a look at Cheke. One of the most interesting things about Edward VI is that his best friend was Barnaby Fitzpatrick, who became insolent as they grew older, and disappeared into obscurity in Ireland after the king’s death. Must have been tutored by Cheke as well.

    Burghley gets an awful press in popular tudor stuff. Easily the closest person to the queen. And I like the way he referred in one of his letters to his new born son as, “my little man Cecil”.

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