Show ContentsCecil History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Cecil reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Cecil family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Cecil family lived in Devon. The name refers to the family's former place of residence, St Cecile, a Norman area of Flanders. [1]

Cecilia or Cecily (1469-1507), was "the third daughter of Edward IV, was born towards the end of 1469. At the age of five she was betrothed by proxy to James, the eldest son of James III of Scotland, and arrangements were soon made by which her dowry of twenty thousand marks should be paid by yearly installments. " [2]

Early Origins of the Cecil family

The surname Cecil was first found in Devon where they are "probably a branch of the Counts of Gand, whose arms (barry) it bears, with escutcheons charged with the lion rampant of Flanders. The arms are still borne in Flanders by a family of the same name." [1] Maurice de Cassel was probably one of the first to be listed in England during the reign of William I. His son, Robert de Kessel or Ciselle, assisted Robert Fitz-Hamon in the conquest of Glamorganshire in 1093. [1]

Saissil was recorded in Hertfordshire in the Domesday Book of 1086. [3] Later in Shropshire, Seisil was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1188. Mononym names were quite common at this time. By 1205, William Seisel was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Hertfordshire and later again, William Seysel was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1275. [4]

Another reference claims "the family, doubtless of Norman origin, can be traced to Robert Sitsilt, who in 1091 assisted Robert Fitz-Hamon in the conquest of Glamorganshire." [5] Conflicting data is quite common with early records such as these. Continuing on: "from his descendant [Robert Kessel or Robert Sitsilt] Walter de Alterens, living 1165, descended the noble house of Cecil." [1]

Further to the north, in St. Martin's in Northamptonshire a later branch of the family was found. "The church [of St. Martin's] is a handsome structure in the later English style, erected by a bishop of Lincoln in the fifteenth century, and contains monuments to several members of the Cecil family, including one to Lord Treasurer Burghley, whose ancient mansion in the immediate neighbourhood, Burghley House." [6]

Early History of the Cecil family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cecil research. Another 115 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1379, 1520, 1598, 1550, 1553, 1558, 1572, 1572, 1563, 1612, 1591, 1668, 1605, 1612, 1657, 1640, 1653, 1648, 1683, 1660, 1668, 1666, 1694, 1670, 1716, 1701, 1674, 1721, 1712 and 1715 are included under the topic Early Cecil History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cecil Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Cecil include Cecil, Cecill, Cecyll, Cyssel, Cessell, Sitsilt, Sicelt, Seycil and many more.

Early Notables of the Cecil family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, KG (1520-1598), an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State (1550-1553) and (1558-1572) and Lord High Treasurer from 1572 until his death; Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, KG, PC (ca. 1563-1612), an English administrator and politician; William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Salisbury, KG (1591-1668), known as Viscount Cranborne from 1605 to...
Another 76 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cecil Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cecil Ranking

In the United States, the name Cecil is the 3,072nd most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [7]

United States Cecil migration to the United States +

In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Cecils to arrive on North American shores:

Cecil Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Cecil, who landed in Maryland in 1658 [8]
Cecil Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Cecil, who arrived in New York in 1823
  • Thomas Cecil, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1866
  • A. P. Cecil, aged 27, who immigrated to the United States from London, in 1892
  • Miss Celine Cecil, aged 38, who settled in America, in 1895
Cecil Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Harris Cecil, aged 27, who landed in America from Northampton, England, in 1905
  • Mrs. Cecil Cecil, aged 57, who immigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • Kate Cecil, aged 30, who landed in America from London, England, in 1907
  • Ellen Cecil, aged 49, who landed in America from London, England, in 1908
  • Florence Mary Cecil, aged 46, who immigrated to the United States from Hatfield, England, in 1910
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Cecil migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cecil Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Henry Cecil, aged 48, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1913

Australia Cecil migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Cecil Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Cecil, English convict from Gloucester, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. John Cecil, British Convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for life , transported aboard the "Commodore Hayes" in April 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [10]
  • Henry Cecil, aged 21, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Velocity"
  • Mr. John Cecil, English convict who was convicted in Birmingham, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Edwin Fox" on 24th August 1858, arriving in Western Australia, Australia

Contemporary Notables of the name Cecil (post 1700) +

  • George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil (1925-2020), American businessman who was the owner and chairman of Biltmore Farms
  • William Amherst Vanderbilt "Bill" Cecil (1928-2017), American businessman who was the operator of the Biltmore Estate through his company, The Biltmore Company
  • Brett Aarion Cecil (b. 1986), American Major League Baseball pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays
  • Rex Ralston Cecil (1916-1966), American Major League Baseball starting pitcher who played for the Boston Red Sox (1944-1945)
  • Charles Douglas "Chuck" Cecil (b. 1964), American former NFL football player, current defensive secondary coach of the St. Louis Rams
  • Admiral Charles Purcell Cecil (1893-1944), American Naval officer awarded the Navy Cross for his actions at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October 1942
  • Henry Cecil (1902-1976), pen name of Henry Cecil Leon, an English judge and a writer of fiction about the British legal system; his 1955 novel Brothers in Law was made into a film in 1957
  • Lord Edward Christian David Gascoyne- Cecil (1902-1986), English literary critic
  • Robert Arthur James Gascoyne Cecil KG GCVO PC FRS (1893-1972), 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, an English Conservative statesman, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1895-1902)
  • Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne- Cecil CH, PC, QC (1864-1958), 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, English lawyer, politician and diplomat awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Titanic
  • Mr. C. Cecil (d. 1912), aged 20, English Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [11]

The Cecil Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Cor unum via una
Motto Translation: One heart one way.

Suggested Readings for the name Cecil +

  • 300 Years of Cecils in America 1665-1971 by Alta Cecil Koch.
  • The Revolutionary Soldiers: Charles Andrew, Thomas Archbold, and Joshua Cecil, and Their Descendants by Electa Iantha Baltzell Lochner.

  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  6. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  7. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  8. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  9. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Adamant voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1821 with 144 passengers. Retrieved from
  10. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 4th March 2021 from
  11. Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook