Earl of Salisbury

Earl of Salisbury is a title that has been created several times in English and British history. It has a complex history, and is now a subsidiary title to the marquessate of Salisbury.

Earldom of Salisbury
subsidiary of
Marquessate of Salisbury
since 1789
Coronet of a British Earl.svg
Arms of Cecil-Gascogne, Marquess and Earl of Salisbury: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Barry of ten Argent and Azure over all six Escutcheons Sable three two and one each charged with a Lion rampant of the First a Crescent for difference (Cecil); 2nd and 3rd, Argent on a Pale Sable a Conger's Head erased and erect Or charged with an Ermine Spot (Gascoyne)
Creation date1149 (first creation)
1337 (second creation)
1472 (third creation)
1478 (fourth creation)
1512 (restoration)
1605 (sixth creation)
MonarchStephen (first creation)
Edward III (second creation)
Edward IV (third and fourth creation)
Henry VIII (restoration)
James I (fifth creation)
PeeragePeerage of England
First holderPatrick of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Present holderRobert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury
Heir apparentRobert Gascoyne-Cecil, Viscount Cranborne
Remainder toHeirs male of the first earl's body lawfully begotten
Extinction date1322 (first creation)
1471 (second creation)
1478 (third creation)
1484 (fourth creation)
1539 (fifth creation)
Seat(s)Hatfield House, Cranborne Manor


The title was first created for Patrick de Salisbury in the middle twelfth century. In 1196 the title passed to Patrick’s granddaughter, Ela, who married William Longespée, an illegitimate son of Henry II the same year. Ela was predeceased by husband, son and grandson, and was succeeded by her great-granddaughter, Margaret Longespée. Margaret married Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln, and their daughter Alice eventually became Countess of Salisbury, in 1310, and of Lincoln, in 1311. Alice had married Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in 1294. When the Earl of Lancaster lost his titles and was executed for treason in 1322, the Countess surrendered all of her titles to the King, and the titles lapsed.

The title was created for a second time in 1337 for William Montacute of the noble House of Montagu. This line ended in the sole heiress, Alice Montacute, and her husband Richard Neville took up the earldom 'by right of his wife'.[Note 1][1]

After Warwick's death at the Battle of Barnet, in 1471 , the title was granted in 1472 to George, Duke of Clarence, who was married to Warwick's eldest daughter. When the Duke of Clarence was executed in 1478 for treason (supposedly by being drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine), the title was forfeit. It was then granted to Edward of Middleham (who was his nephew via the Duke's brother Richard), who died in 1484 at the age of 10.

It was restored to two of George of Clarence's children: to his son Edward in 1485 until his execution for treason in 1499, and to Edward's sister, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, in 1513 until she was also executed, and the title again forfeited, in 1539.

In 1605 the title was given to Robert Cecil, a close advisor to James I. Cecil was a son of Queen Elizabeth I's chief advisor, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, and half-brother to Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter. In 1789 James Cecil, the 7th Earl, was created the Marquess of Salisbury by George III.


First creation (1145)Edit

Second creation (1337)Edit

Arms of Montacute family
Arms of Neville "the Kingmaker"

Third creation (1472)Edit

Fourth creation (1478)Edit

Restoration of second or third creation (1512)Edit

Fifth creation (1605)Edit

Arms of the Cecil family


  1. ^ Complete Peerage records (XI, p. 395, note (o)) that Parliament agreed to this until the king came of age. The question then is whether this was or was not a creation of a new line. Complete Peerage did not think so and treated all earls up to and including Margaret Plantagenet as part of the one line created in 1337. Certainly the earldom was inherited later by Richard Neville the Kingmaker, upon whose death the title went into abeyance because multiple individuals were entitled to inherit it. However in those days the modern doctrine of abeyance had not been formulated, certainly on Richard the Kingmaker's death there were only his two daughters and daughters were always regarded as equal in status unlike sons where the first son was always first in status and inheritance; so without a Royal initiative it was impossible to say to which daughter the title should go, not to mention that Richard earl of Warwick and Salisbury had been in rebellion against the sovereign and died in battle.
  2. ^ Edward was son of George of Clarence above, and the other grandson of the last Neville earl; if the modern doctrine of abeyance were retroactively applied to earldoms - as it has not been - he would have inherited the Earldom of Salisbury in 1484; unless the creation of 1472 would be the termination of the abeyance. After 1485 he was kept in custody and did not attend the House of Lords under any title; in the intervening months, he was too young to sit. He was executed and attainted in 1499 at the age of 24, at which point all his titles, whatever they may have been, were forfeit. It is possible, however, that he had used it as a courtesy title, as it was a subsidiary title of his father.


  1. ^ Complete Peerage vol XI, pp.395-399
  2. ^ Complete Peerage, Vol. XI p. 399