Page:The house of Cecil.djvu/67

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WILLIAM, LORD BURGHLEY 51

The Duke of Norfolk, tried by a jury of peers, was condemned to death in January, 1572, and in spite of the reluctance of the Queen, who respited him several times, he was executed in June. With him the last surviving dukedom in England became extinct.

Meanwhile, early in 1571, Sir William Cecil had been raised to the peerage under the title of Baron of Burghley.* The Queen, as Fuller says, " honoured her honours by conferring them sparingly," and this is the only instance during her reign of the ennobling of a man who was not an aristocrat by birth. The elevation was not of his own seeking, and he does not seem to have taken much pride in it. In a letter to Nicholas White, a member of the Privy Council in Ireland, he writes, " my style is Lord of Burghley, if you mean to know it, for your writing, and if you list to write truly, the poorest lord in England : " and in letters to Walsingham at about the same time he says, " My style of my poor degree is Lord of Burleigh," and again, ' Your assured loving friend William Cecil : I forgot my new word, William Burleigh." But even his enemies were agreed that the honour was well deserved, and the Bishop of Ross, Mary's confidential minister, echoed the general opinion when he wrote, " Your virtue, wisdom .and experience has merited that and much more ; and happy is that commonwealth where the magistrates are so selected : et quum aut

1 Also written " Burleigh " ; but " Burghley " is the spelling officially adopted.

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