Lady Mildred Cecil, Baroness Burghley

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Lady Mildred Cecil (Cooke), Baroness Burghley

Also Known As: "Lady Burghley", "Baroness Burghley"
Birthplace: Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex, England
Death: April 05, 1589 (60-68)
Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
Place of Burial: London, Middlesex, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, KB, MP and Anne Fitzwilliam, of Brittany
Wife of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
Mother of Frances Fransica Cecil; Anne de Vere, Countess of Oxford; Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Elizabeth Wentworth
Sister of Elizabeth Cooke, Lady Russell; Anne Cooke, Lady Bacon; Sir Richard Cooke, Kt., MP; Katherine Killegrew; Edward Cooke and 4 others

Occupation: House Keeper
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lady Mildred Cecil, Baroness Burghley

Born: 24 Aug 1524, Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex, England

Died: 4 Apr 1589, Burghley House, Strand, Middlesex, England

Buried: 21 Apr 1589, Westminster Abbey, Middlesex, England

Notes: Mildred was ranked with Lady Jane Grey for her erudition, known to speak Greek fluently, and had some fame as a translator. By the time Elizabeth Tudor became queen, Mildred had been the second wife of William Cecil, later Lord Burghley since Dec 1545. Mildred had six children, three of whom died young. She had charge of their education as well as that of the various wards her husband was responsible for, including the Earl of Essex and the Earl of Oxford. In a letter dated 29 Dec 1558, the Spanish Ambassador in England referred to Mildred as a "tiresome blue-stocking" (a learned lady). According to Christopher Hibbert's biography, "The Virgin Queen", Mildred had a shallow dent on the left side of her forehead and was rather hunchbacked.

Father: Anthony COOKE of Gidea Hall (Sir)


Married: William CECIL (1º B. Burghley) 21 Mar 1545/6



According to Bowden she was educated at home by her father, Sir Anthony Cooke, who provided his five daughters with an education equal to that afforded to his sons.[1][11] In 1559 William Bercher attested to their learning in his Nobility of Women.[11][12] John Strype lauded her ability to speak Greek as easily as English,[1] and Roger Ascham, tutor to the future Elizabeth I, ranked Mildred Cooke and her sisters alongside Lady Jane Grey for their erudition.[13]

She served briefly at court as a lady of the privy chamber when Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558.[11]

She had charge of her children's education, as well as that of the various royal wards for whom her husband was responsible, including the 17th Earl of Oxford, whom her daughter Anne eventually married, and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.[11] The Burghley household was one in which learning was valued:[14]

Unlike Dudley [Cecil] was a scholar, a lover of books, and a man of great intellectual curiosity. He and his wife Mildred...had their children tutored to a high degree of erudition, and in their house Classical studies, philosophy and science, and at least certain kinds of poetry and music could seek refuge. Indeed, Cecil House was England’s nearest equivalent of a humanist salon since the days of More.

Lord Burghley went on to become Elizabeth I's most trusted adviser, and he and Lady Burghley entertained the Queen on several occasions at their residences, including Theobalds. As the wife of the Queen's chief adviser, Lady Burghley exercised influence in various ways, a circumstance which was recognized by the Spanish ambassador Guzman da Silva in 1567. While negotiations were ongoing for a marriage between the Queen and the Archduke, Guzman wrote to Philip II that:[15]

Cecil desires this business so greatly that he does not speak about the religious point, but this may be deceit as his wife is of a contrary opinion, and thinks that great trouble may be caused to the peace of the country through it. She has great influence with her husband, and no doubt discusses the matter with him; but she appears a much more furious heretic than he is.

After her death Lord Burghley wrote a Meditation of the Death of His Lady which is still among the Lansdowne manuscripts at the British Library (C III 51), recounting, among other things, the charitable works which she had kept secret from him during her lifetime.[22]


  • Will dated 15 September 1496 and proved 25 January 1497, of John Spencer (d. 4 January 1497) of Hodnell, Warwickshire: PDF The testator’s daughter, Jane Spencer, was the great-grandmother of Oxford’s mother-in- law, Mildred (nee Cooke) Cecil, Lady Burghley, and the great-grandmother of Lord Burghley’s long-time servant, Sir Walter Cope (1553?-1614), who employed Shakespeare’s fellow Globe Theatre shareholder, Cuthbert Burbage (1564/5-1636).
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Lady Mildred Cecil, Baroness Burghley's Timeline

August 24, 1524
Gidea Hall, Romford, Essex, England
December 5, 1556
Westminister, Salisbury, England
Westminster, Salisbury, England
June 1, 1563
Westminster, Middlesex, , England
July 1, 1564
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
April 5, 1589
Age 64
Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
April 21, 1589
Age 64
London, Middlesex, England