James Cecil d.1683

From Book Owners Online

James CECIL, 3rd Earl of Salisbury d.1683

Biographical Note

Son of Charles Cecil, Viscount Cranborne (d.1660), and grandson of William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Salisbury, from whom he inherited the title and family estates in 1668. He may have spent some time at St John's College, Cambridge, but did not graduate. MP for Hertfordshire 1668 and holder of various local administrative offices, he had a chequered court career, finding favour and appointment as a privy counsellor during the Popish Plot crisis in 1679, but regularly falling foul of Charles II.


Cecil inherited the family library which had begun to be built up during the time of William Cecil (1520/21-98) and Robert Cecil (1563-1612), kept across several house in London and elsewhere; a catalogue of 1637 lists ca 1900 books at Salisbury House, (The Strand). The library was consolidated at Hatfield House in the early 18th century. A number of manuscripts originally owned by various members of the family, which descended to Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury (1626-85) were auctioned in London, 21.11.1687.


  • Alston, R. C. Inventory of sale catalogues 1676-1800. St Philip, 2010.
  • Beadle, R. Medieval English manuscripts at auction, 1676-c.1700, The Book Collector 53 (2004), 46-63.
  • Cecil, D. The Cecils of Hatfield House, London, 1973.
  • Hoare, P. (gen.ed.), The Cambridge history of libraries in Britain and Ireland. 3 vols. Cambridge, 2006, I 501, 510-13.
  • Jayne, S. Library catalogues of the English renaissance. Godalming, 1983, 168.
  • Stater, Victor. "Cecil, James, third earl of Salisbury (d. 1683), politician." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • The Marquis of Salisbury, The library at Hatfield House, The Library 5th ser 18 (1963), 83-87.