Robert (Cecil), Marquess of Salisbury

In the nave of Westminster Abbey near the west door is an altar tomb of black marble with a bronze effigy of Robert, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, Prime Minister. His was the last recumbent effigy to be erected in the Abbey and is by sculptor Sir W. Goscombe John. The bronze casting was by A.B. Burton. It was erected in 1909 by order of Parliament. He is actually buried at Hatfield in Hertfordshire, his ancestral home. The inscription around the tomb chest reads:

Erected by Parliament to Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoigne Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, K.G., G.C.V.O., thrice Prime Minister. Born February 3rd 1830. Died August 22nd 1903. Domine, Refugium

He wears the robes and insignia of the Order of the Garter with his left hand holding a crucifix on which there are symbols of the Evangelists. Attached to the cushions on which his head rests are two shields of arms of Trinity House and of the Cinque Ports. At his feet is a representation of St George and the dragon, and two shields of the College of Westminster and of the university of Oxford. On the sides of the tomb chest are bronze decorations and six statuettes of his ancestors: Lord Burghley, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (holding a model of Hatfield House), James 2nd Marquess, Mildred Burghley, Elizabeth wife of the 1st Earl, and Frances wife of the 2nd Marquess. On the angles of the tomb chest are twin niches with figures from the Old Testament, some with incised scrolls.

He was born at Hatfield House, a son of James, 2nd Marquess, and his first wife Frances (Gascoyne). He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford and became a Member of Parliament. In 1857 he married Georgina Alderson and they had five sons and three daughters. Three of his sons, James, 4th Marquess, Edgar and Hugh, followed their father into the Conservative party and Edward was a civil servant in Egypt. In 1868 Robert succeeded his father as Marquess and in 1874 was secretary of state for India. He was known as one of the greatest British foreign secretaries and resigned his final term as Prime Minister in 1902.

Further reading

Gwendolen Cecil "Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury", 4 vols (1921-1932)

D. Steele "Lord Salisbury", 1999

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

"Prime Ministers in Westminster Abbey" by John Physick in Church Monuments vol. IX, 1994


3rd February 1830


22nd August 1903





Memorial Type


Material Type

Marble; bronze

Robert (Cecil), Marquess of Salisbury
Robert (Cecil), Marquess of Salisbury

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Robert (Cecil), Marquess of Salisbury
Robert (Cecil), Marquess of Salisbury memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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