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David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter

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Title: David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter  
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Language: English
Subject: Chariots of Fire, Great Britain at the 1932 Summer Olympics, Avery Brundage, 1948 Summer Olympics, List of Olympic medalists in athletics (men)
Collection: 1905 Births, 1981 Deaths, Alumni of Institut Le Rosey, Alumni of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 1924 Summer Olympics, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 1928 Summer Olympics, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 1930 British Empire Games, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 1932 Summer Olympics, Athletics (Track and Field) Officials, British Hurdlers, British Sportsperson-Politicians, Cecil Family, Commonwealth Games Competitors for England, Commonwealth Games Gold Medallists for England, Commonwealth Games Medallists in Athletics, Conservative Party (Uk) Mps, English Hurdlers, English Olympic Medallists, Governors of Bermuda, International Olympic Committee Members, Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, Knights of the Order of St John, Marquesses in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, Medalists at the 1928 Summer Olympics, Medalists at the 1932 Summer Olympics, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for English Constituencies, Olympic Athletes of Great Britain, Olympic Gold Medallists for Great Britain, Olympic Medalists in Athletics (Track and Field), Olympic Silver Medallists for Great Britain, People Educated at Eton College, People from Stamford, Lincolnshire, Presidents of the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games, Rectors of the University of St Andrews, Uk Mps 1931–35, Uk Mps 1935–45
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter

The Marquess of Exeter
Lord Burghley in 1926
Personal information
Full name David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter
Nationality British
Born (1905-02-09)9 February 1905
Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
Died 22 October 1981(1981-10-22) (aged 76)
Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 10 st 10 lb (68 kg)
Country  United Kingdom
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Hurdles
Club University of Cambridge
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)
  • 110 mH: 14.5 (1930)
  • 400 mH: 52.01 (1932)
  • 400 m: 49.7 (1929)[1][2]

David George Brownlow Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter KCMG (9 February 1905 – 22 October 1981), styled Lord Burghley before 1956 and also known as David Burghley, was an English athlete, sports official and Conservative Party politician. He won the gold medal in the 400 m hurdles at the 1928 Summer Olympics.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Athlete 2
  • Politician 3
  • Family 4
  • Great Court Run 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Born near Stamford, Lincolnshire, as heir to the 5th Marquess of Exeter, Lord Burghley was educated at Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland and Eton College and Magdalene College, Cambridge.[1][3] At Cambridge, he was a member of the University Pitt Club.[4]


The Marquess of Exeter (in red blazer) in the foreground after presenting the medals for the 200 metres at the 1968 Summer Olympics

A notable runner at school and at Cambridge, he continued with his athletics and won the British AAA championships in 120 yd from 1929 to 1931 and the 440 yd (400 m) hurdles from 1926 to 1928, and again in 1930 and 1932.

Burghley made his Olympic debut in Paris in first Commonwealth Games in 1930, Burghley won both hurdling events and was also a member of the gold medal winning British 4×440 yards relay team. In 1927–1930 Burghley also set several British records, one of which, 24.7 s in the 220 yard hurdles, was set in 1927 and stood until 1950.[1]

In 1931 Burghley was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Peterborough. He was granted a leave of absence to compete in the 1932 Summer Olympics, where he placed fourth in the 400 m hurdles event, fifth in the 110 m hurdles competition, and won a silver medal as a member of the British 4×400 m relay team, which set a new European record in the process.[1]

In 1933, Burghley became a member of the 1948 Summer Olympics. Between 1952 and 1966 he was vice-president of the IOC and was a presidential candidate in 1952 and 1964.[1]

As an IOC member and president of the IAAF, Burghley presented the medals for the 200 m at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 and appeared in some famous images of the Black Power salute given by Tommie Smith and John Carlos.[5] When later asked what he had thought of the gloves, he said: "I thought they had hurt their hand."[6]

In 1951, while living in Eastbourne, his doctor was John Bodkin Adams, the suspected serial killer.[7]


Burghley was a member of the Conservative and Unionist Party and served as MP for Peterborough from 1931 until 1943. He was first elected in the 1931 General Election, when he ousted the sitting Labour MP J. F. Horrabin. Burghley was returned to the House of Commons again in the 1935 General Election. Burghley resigned his Commons seat in 1943 when he was appointed Governor of Bermuda, a post in which he served until 1945.[1]


Lord Burghley married firstly in 1929, Lady Mary Theresa Montagu Douglas Scott (4 March 1904 – 1 June 1984), fourth daughter of Sir John Montagu Douglas Scott, 7th Duke of Buccleuch & 9th Duke of Queensberry and Lady Margaret Alice "Molly" Bridgeman.[1] They had four children before they divorced in 1946:

  • Lady Davina Mary Cecil (b. 29 June 1931), married 1952 (divorced) John Vane, 11th Baron Barnard and had issue.
  • John William Edward Cecil (1933–1934).
  • Lady Gillian Moyra Katherine Cecil (b. 8 March 1935), married 1stly 1954 (divorced 1978) Sir Giles Floyd, 7th Baronet and had issue, two sons. She then married 1979 George Michael Kertesz (d. 16 February 2007), and thirdly April 2008 Jeremy Smith.
  • Lady Angela Mary Rose Cecil (b. 21 May 1938), married William Richard Michael Oswald (Sir Michael Oswald, Master of the Queen's Stud) and had issue. Lady Angela was a long-term friend and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

He married secondly, the war widow Diana Henderson (1911–1982), granddaughter of Alexander Henderson, 1st Baron Faringdon[1] and had a daughter:

  • Lady Victoria Diana Cecil (b. 28 June 1947), married to Simon Leatham with issue and a well-known antiques expert and television personality. She was the chatelaine of Burghley House from 1982 until 2007. She has been succeeded by her daughter Miranda Rock.[8]

He is a descendant of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, chief minister and, later, treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I

Great Court Run

In 1927, his final year at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Burghley amazed colleagues by sprinting around the Great Court at Trinity College in the time it took the college clock to toll 12 o'clock, inspiring the scene in the film Chariots of Fire (whose character Lord Andrew Lindsay is based upon Burghley) in which Harold Abrahams accomplishes the same feat. Lord Burghley did not allow his name to be used in the film because of the inaccurate historical depiction in the movie. There was never a race in which Abrahams beat Burghley in this feat as the movie suggests.[9]

Many have tried to run the 367 metres (401 yards) around the court in the 43.6 seconds that it takes to strike 12 o'clock. Known as the Great Court Run, students traditionally attempt to complete the circuit on the evening of the Matriculation Dinner. The only people recognized to have completed the run in time are Lord Burghley in 1927 and Sam Dobin in 2007.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i David, Lord Burghley.
  2. ^ David Burghley.
  3. ^ Exeter, 6th Marquess of in Who's Who 2007 (retrieved 29 September 2007)
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Activist athlete John Carlos is Brighton lecturer; Sports Journalists' Association 2 March 2012
  6. ^ "50 stunning Olympic moments No13: Tommie Smith and John Carlos salute" The Guardian 8 February 2012
  7. ^ Cullen, Pamela V., A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams, London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, p. 81. ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  8. ^ "Burghley House Preservation Trust Limited from Burghley's web site". 
  9. ^ a b Ryan, Mark (February 2012). "Flame & Fortune". Runner's World. 

External links

  • "Burghley: Bermuda’s Olympian Governor" (2012 article)
  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Marquess of Exeter
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Sigfrid Edström
Presidents of the IAAF
Succeeded by
Adriaan Paulen
Preceded by
Joseph Goebbels
Karl Ritter von Halt
President of Organizing Committee for Summer Olympic Games
Succeeded by
Ilmari Salminen
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Horrabin
Member of Parliament for Peterborough
Succeeded by
Viscount Suirdale
Government offices
Preceded by
Viscount Knollys
Governor of Bermuda
Succeeded by
Admiral Sir Ralph Leatham
Academic offices
Preceded by
George Cunningham
Rector of the University of St Andrews
Succeeded by
The Earl of Crawford
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Cecil
Marquess of Exeter
Succeeded by
William Cecil
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