Anne CECIL

(C. Oxford)

Born: 5 Dec 1556

Died: 5 Jun 1588, Queen's Court, Greenwich, England

Father: William CECIL (1 B. Burghley)

Mother: Mildred COOKE (B. Burghley)

Married: Edward De VERE (17 E. Oxford) 19 Dec 1571, Westminster Abbey, London, England

Children:

1. Elizabeth De VERE (C. Derby)

2. Son De VERE (B. Bolebec)

3. Bridget De VERE (B. Norreys of Rycote)

4. Susan De VERE (C. Pembroke)

5. Frances De VERE


Anne was born 5 Dec 1556, the elder daughter of William Cecil, later created 1st Baron Burghley, the leading member of Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council, by his second wife, Mildred Cooke, a woman noted for her learning and translations from the Greek. Her father affectionately called her 'Tannakin'. Anne was an intelligent, well-educated child. Educated by her mother and then, after 1565, by William Lewin. She knew French, Latin and possibly Italian. A letter from the German scholar Johannes Sturm referred to her knowledge of Latin.

She is said to have briefly been a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth before her marriage. Her father wished to marry her to Sir Phillip Sidney, but she fell in love with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, one of her father’s wards. He asked for her hand in Jul 1571 and they were married in Westminster Abbey on 19 Dec 1571, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. The wedding was celebrated with great pomp. It was a triple wedding with Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, and bride, Elizabeth Hastings and Edward Sutton, 4th Baron Dudley, and bride, Mary Howard.

Following her marriage, Anne continued to live with her parents at Theobalds House.

However, Oxfords reasons for marrying Anne were largely mercenary, as he had hoped her father would pay his many outstanding debts. Soon Oxford neglected his wife, spending all his time at court flirting with the Queen and with other ladies. He blamed his father-in-law for failing to obtain the freedom of his kinsman, the Duke of Norfolk, who was executed in 1572, and by May 1573 there was open hostility between Oxford and Lady Burghley. Oxford swore “to ruin the Lord Treasurer’s daughter”, casting doubt on her honor. This careless talk came back to haunt him when Anne gave birth to their first child, Elizabeth, on 2 July 1575, while Oxford was abroad. Lord Henry Howard, Nofolk’s brother, stirred up more trouble, and Anne was unable to convince her husband that the child was his. Surviving letters testify to her efforts and reveal her continuing love for him.

In Apr 1576 he separated from Anne, after rumours of her infidelity, and refused to sleep with her, recognise her or countenance her presence at court, despite Burghley's threats and public admonitions from Anne's mother. They were finally reconciled in 1582, but not until after Oxford’s mistress, Anne Vavasour, had borne him a son, Edward, in Mar 1581. Both Oxford and his mistress were sent to the Tower of London by the Queen's command. Oxford was soon released, and in Dec 1581 Anne began a correspondence with him; and by Jan 1582, he was reconciled with her, acknowledging the paternity of her daughter Elizabeth, who will married William Stanley, sixth Earl of Derby.

Anne gave her husband four more children, a son who died in infancy in May 1583 and three daughters: Bridget De Vere, married Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire; Frances De Vere (died as an infant); Susan De Vere, married Phillip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke, by whom she had issue.

Anne died 5 Jun 1588 at the age of 31 at the Queen's court at Greenwich, of unknown causes. She was buried in Westminster Abbey in a tomb which she shares with her mother, who died in 1589, and upon which is Anne's effigy. Her daughters were also later buried in the tomb. Her father was so stricken with grief at her death that he was unable to carry out his ministerial duties in the Privy Council. Her three young daughters remained in her father's household where they received excellent educations and eventually married into the peerage. Her husband remarried in 1591 Elizabeth Trentham, by whom he had his heir Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford.

to Bios Page to Family Page
to Peerage Page to Home Page