David Cecil's Will and David Cecil's Wife: Two Notes
William Cecil lord Burghley was obsessed with his family history. He continually sought and obtained information and produced several contradictory pedigrees; so any light that can be thrown on earlier generations of Cecils are valuable. David Cecil of Stamford, his grandfather, Alderman (i.e. mayor) and MP for the town, was a particular concern; for someone had charged lord Burghley with being the son of an innkeeper (a story which is still repeated). This is not true: the basis for it is that David was given the Tabard in Stamford by John Dyccons glover, councillor and Alderman of Stamford in the 1490s and almost certainly father-in-law of David Cecil, to be used for his (Dyccons’) will. A full biography of David Cecil will be published shortly in Nottingham Medieval Studies (Alan Rogers, ‘The Parliamentary representation of Stamford, 1467-1509’). This note concerns two matters, his will and his wife.
David Cecil’s will
David Cecil made two wills. One is dated the Conversion of St Paul (25 January) 1535 [i.e. 1535/6] (PRO PROB 11/29 fol 2d-3) and the other (strangely) is dated the Conversion of St Paul 1536 [i.e. 1536/7] (to be found in British Library Cotton iv 29; it has been wrongly indexed as referring to the rector of St Peter’s church, Stamford, which is why it has been missed to date). It seems clear that the Cotton version was a draft and inaccurately dated, for it was the 1535/6 will which was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in March 1541/2, not the will dated 1536/7.
There are a small number of differences between the provisions made in the two drafts. The sequence varies, and some items in the draft will are split apart. One clause in the draft is repeated twice in the final version. Two additional clauses relate to an extra payment to St George’s church and to the sale of swans for the benefit of David’s soul. The final will is then slightly longer than the draft will, with 39 clauses instead of 35. The wording of each clause varies from time to time. Richard Cecil remains sole executor to both; in the draft will, he is subject to the supervision of John Haryngton of Exton but this is not stated in the final will. The witnesses are very different.
WILL OF DAVID CECIL January 1535/6
In the Name of god Amen. In the ffest off Conversawn off seynt Paule Anno dni millesimo quingentesimo tricesimo quinto I David Cyssell of Stamford in the Countie of Lyncoln Esquier being of good and perfytt Remembrance in mynd, also well and perfitly deliberat make my testament and last Wyll in this maner and fourme following
First I bequith my soule to almightie god and to our blessid lady seynt mary mother of mercy, and to all the glorious company of hevyn, and my body to be buryed in the parishe churche of seynt George of Stamford aforeseyd. Item I give to the high aulter of seynt George of Stamford ijs. Item to our ladyes works of lyncoln xijd.
Item I will that my wyfe shall have all the plate that was hers before that I maryed her and also all other goodes of household that was hers at oure mariage. Also I give to my seyd wyffe Twenty ky[n]e and a bulle of myn owne goods in recompence of suche catell as she brought to me. Item I give to my seyd wyfe two horses and two mares. Item I give to my seyd wife Thirtie seme of malte and Ten scyme of Wheate and Ten scyme of barley and Threscore shepe , that ys to sey, ffouretie old shepe and Twenty lambes. And also I give to my seyd wyfe Twenty Lodes of wood. I give to my seyd wife two fetherbeds, one in the Nursery and an other in the Closet where she lyeth in. Item I give to my seyd wyff the bed and bedsted with the hengings of silke as yt stonds complete in the gesse Chamber by the strete. Item I give to my seyd wyfe a marke of Swannes markyd with laduls streght up and down the byll and the legges and she to enyoie yt to her and her assignes for ever.
Item I give to Richard Cissell my eldest sone two complete fetherbeddes one over the Closett and another over the parlour as they stonde holy. Item I gyff to my said son Richard my best gown and the Chosse. Also I gyff to David my secounde sone two fetherbeddes complete, one at the steyrhed with sperver and other appertenances and (del) an other fetherbed. Item I give to my seyd wyfe all my londs in Stamford in Nassyngton and els where for the terme of her lyff and after her departing I will that all my seyd londs do remayn to my seyd sone Richard Cissell and to his heires for ever.
Item I give to my doughter Joane Twenty pounds sterling in mony or in mony worthe and that to be delyvered to Joane my wyfe being her naturall mother, to be in save custody of her seyd mother for the preferment and promocion of her maryage.
Item I give to the fowre ordurs off freyers of Stamford to praye for me vjs viijd to every one of the seyd orders. Item I give to Jone my doughter the one half of household stuff at Dowsby as in brasse, pewter and bedding hangings lynyn and other stuf remayning at Dowsby and all this stuf to be in custodye of Jane my wyf unto the tyme of mariage off Joane my seyd doughter. Item I give to Richard Cyssell my sone all my titill and interest that I have in the Chantre londes that ys gyven for the fynding of a prest to singe for Sir Davyd Phillip in seynt Marys churche in Stamford. Also I give to my seyd///
sone Richard all my tytle and interest that I have or may have in the Tabert of Stamford and in all other places the whiche John Dycons left to be song for by a prest in seynt mary churche aforeseyd for his soule and all crysten soules. Item I give to David Cyssell my secounde sone Twenty quarters of barley to be delyvered to hym by myn executour by four and of this side the feast of seynt Marten in Wynter next to folowe the dey of my departing from this lyfe and to be taken out of my Croppe that growith or may growe in Tynwell feelds. Item I will that two of my merke of swannes herebefore not bequeathed be solde by myn executour and the mony takyn for them to be dispoased for my soule. Item I will that all the hangings, tabulls, trestells and formes and other ymplyments in my halle, in my grete parlour and in my galery on the south syde of my house do contynew as they are and also do remayne ther as standers or heirelowms for ever. Item I bequeth to my wife ffyfty quarters of malte. Twenty quartetrs of barley. Ten quarters of wheate and xl lodes of wood. Item I give to my seyd wyfe two cuppes of sylver parcell gilte with covers, and a pece called the horne all gylt. Item I give to my seyd wyfe a pece gilt with the whetesheef in the bottom, the whiche I gaffe her before our mariage. Item I will that she have all her goods off household that were hers at the daye of oure mariage in as good state and repare as they were the same daye. Item I give to my sone Richard my best gowne and the choyse. Item I will that Anthony Vyllers have the secound gowne, my best dublett and my velvet Jackett. Item I wille that David my sone have my blake gowne of clothe lyned with damaske, a dublet of satten stoked, with a Jackett and my grene coate. Item will that Sir William Huddeston sing for my soule and all Crysten soules the one hole yere in the churche of seynt George in Stamford and to have v li for his stypent.fyve pounds sterling. Item I will that ther be given for the helth of my soule that three days xx li, that ys to sey at the daye off my buryall,, at the vijth daye and at the xxx ti daye. Item I give to the high aulter off seynt George for tythes and offerings not perfatly donne vjs viijd. Item I will that my detts be payd of my goods laufully knowen and axed. Item I will that every servaunte of myn household have blak coats. Item I will that Richard Wyer have a fetherbed. Item I ordeyn and make my seyd sone Richard Cissell my sole executour, to dispoase the resydue of my goods above or otherwise not given nor bequeathed for the honor of god and for the helth of my soule after the laudable maner that he can do or devyse. These being wytnes Sir Thomas Wenstare notary, John Bocher and Richard Wyre with many others.
Probate at London 16 March 1541
David M. Loades, The Cecils: privilege and power behind the throne, London: The National Archives, 2007, following S T Bindoff, The House of Commons, 1509-1558, vols i-iii, Members, London: Secker and Warburg, 1982, dates the probate copy to 25 January 1535 but as can be seen, it is dated 25 January (the Conversion of St Paul) 1535/6. The will was proved in March 1541/2.
DRAFT WILL OF DAVID CECIL dated January 1536
COPY OR DRAFT WILL OF DAVID CECIL January 1436/7
BL Cotton Ch iv 29
In the Name of god Amen. In the ffest off Conversyon off Saynt Paule Anno dni millimo cccccmo tricesimo sexto I Davyd Cyssell off Stannford in the Countie of Lincoln Esquyer being off good and perfytt Remembraunce, In mynd also well and deliberate make my testament and last Wyll in maner and fforme ffoloyng
First I (bese del) bequeth my soule to almyty god and to oure blessyd lady mother off mercy and to all the gloryouse Company off hevyn and my body to be buryed in the quere off Saynt George off Stannford aforesayd. Also I gyff to the hye aultar off Saynt George for tythes and offeryng not perfytely done vjs viijd. Item to oure ladyes werks off Lincoln xijd. Item I wyll that my wyffe shall have all the plate that was hyrs before that I maryed hyr. Also I gyff to my said wyffe ij coppys off sylver parcell gylte with covers, a pece callyd the horn all gylte. Also I gyffe to my said wyffe a pece gylt with the whetesheffe in the bottom the which I gaffe hyr before our maryage. Also I wyll that she have all hyr good off howshold that were hyrs at the day of oure maryage in as good state and repayre as thei were that same day. Also I gyff to my said wyffe xxti ky[n]e and a bull off myn owne goods in recompence off such catell as she brought to me. Item I gyff to my said wyffe ij horsys and ij marys. Also I gyffe to my said [sic] l quarters of malte xxti quarters of Barleye, x quarters of wheite xlti lods of woode. And lx shepe that is to say xl old shepe and xx lambys. Also I gyff to my said wyffe ij feytherbedds one in the Nursery and one other in the Clossett wher she lyethe. Also I gyff to my said wyffe (ij fetherbedds del) the bed and bedsteid with the hyngyngs of sylke as it standeth complete in the gesse Chamber bye the strete. Also I gyff to my said wyffe a marke of Swanys merkyd with ladull streight upp and down the byll and the legge and she to enioye it to hyr and hyr assignes for ever. Also I gyff to Richard Cyssell myn eldest son ij complete fetherbedds one over the Clossett and one other over the parlure as they stand holly. Also I gyff to my said son Richard my best gown and the Chosse. Also I gyff to Davyd my second son ij feyther bedds complete, one at the stayr hed with sperver and other appertenances and (del) an other fether bedd. Also I wyll that Davyd my said son shall have my blakke gown off clothe lyned with damaske and a dublett off saten stokked, a jackett and my grene cote. Also I gyff to Antonye Villers my second gown, my best dublett and my velvett jackett. Also I gyff to my said wyffe all my lands in Staunford in Nassington and els’ where for the term of hyr lyffe and after hyr departyng I wyll that all my said lands do remayne to my said son Richard Cycell and to his heyres for ever. Also I gyff to my doughter Jone xx li sterlyng in money or money wurthe and to be delyveryd to Jane my wyffe beyng hyr naturall mother, to be in save custodye off hyr said mother for preferment and promocion off hyr maryage. Also I gyff to every one off the four orders off frers off Staunford to pray for me vjs viijd. Item I gyff to Jhone my doughter the one half off howsehold stuffe at Dowsebeys as in brasse, pewter and beddyng hangyngs lynen and other stuff remaynyng at Dowsebye and all the stuff to be in custodye off Jane my wyffe unto the tyme off maryage off Jhone my said doughter. Also I gyffe to Richard Cyssell my son all my tytle and interest that I have in the Chauntre londs that be gyven for the fyndyng off a preste to syng for Sir Davyd Phylypp in saynt Marys Churche in Staunford. Also I gyff to my said sonne Richard all my tytle and Interest that I have or may have in the Tabert of Staunford and in all other placys the which John Dycons left to be song for by a preste in saynt marys Church aforesaid for his soule and all crysten soulys. Also I gyff to Davyd Cyssell my second son xxti quarters off barley to be delyveryd to hym by myn executour before and over this half ffest of Saynt Martyn in Wynter next to ffolowe the day off my departyng from this lyffe and to be taken out off my Cropps that groweth or may growe in Tynwell ffelds. Also I wyll that my detts be payd off my goods laufully known and askyd. Also I wyll that all the hangyngs, tabulls, trestylls and fformes and other Implyments in the hall, in my greit parlure and in my galery on the south syde off my house do contynew as they are and also do remayne theyr as standerds or heyre lomes for ever. Item I wyll that Sir William Huddylston shall syng for my Soule and (del) all Crysten souls by the space of one yere next after my departyng in saynt George Churche in Staunford and shall have v li for hys stypend. Also I gyff to every off my servaunts a blakke cote off clothe and to Richard Wyre my servaunt a fetherbed. Item I wyll that theyr be gyven for the helthe off my soule and all Cristen souls at iij days xx li, that is to say at the day off my buryeng, at the vij thday and the xxx ti day.
The Residue off my goods unbequethyd I gyff and bequeth unto Richard Cycell my son whom I make my sole executour, he to have (del) occupie and enioye my said goods to the payment and contentacion off my detts and the fulfyllyng and performacion off thys my testament and last wyll. Also I ordeyn and make Mr John Haryngton of Exton supervisour off this mye testament, to whom I gyff and bequeth an horse.
Thes beyryng wytnes Sir David Smyth parson off Saynt George my gostly ffather, Mr Andrew Gannow, John Alen, Sir William Sherman vicar of Maxsey, Sir Wyllam Huddilston and other.
There are no signatures or any other markings – no endorsements except those of the Cotton collection.
This document is on paper, clearly written. It is either a copy of the will or a draft; we need to compare it against the probate copy to see if there are changes There are a few deletions which could be the result of miscopying or drafting errors.
Loades, following Bindoff, dates the probate copy to 25 January 1535 but as can be seen this one is dated 25 January (the Conversion of St Paul) 1536 – i.e. 1537. The will was proven in March 1541/2.
The description of the house is the main feature of this will.
This document is on paper, clearly written. There are no signatures or any other markings – no endorsements except those of the Cotton collection. There are a few deletions.
David Cecil’s first
Lord Burghley recorded David Cecil’s first wife (his grandmother) as Alice daughter of John Dyccons of Stamford, and this has been repeated in every pedigree so far. That she was the daughter of Dyccons seems certain although there is no direct evidence. Dyccons asked Cecil to use the proceeds from the Tabard for masses for his soul, and the town council gave to Cecil the waits’ badges which Dyccons as councillor held.
But the gild book of St Katherine’s gild (which is strictly contemporary) records that in November 1497, David Cecil and his wife Agnes were admitted to gild (Gonville and Caius MSS 266/670 fol 39d; see Alan Rogers 2011 Act Book of St Katherine’s Gild 1480-1534 Bury St Edmunds: abramis publishers). There is no other known mention of her name; she entered the household of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and died in that household in 1507 (St John’s College, Cambridge, SJCC D91.19 fols 30, 34) – well before William Cecil was born. We can only assume that Lord Burghley was misinformed.