David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter

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David Burghley 1928, Olympic champion in the 400 meter hurdles

David George Brownlow Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter , KCMG (born February 9, 1905 in Stamford , † October 22, 1981 ) was a British athlete , Olympic champion, President of the IAAF and politician.

He carried the courtesy title of Lord Burghley until his father's death in 1956 and was also known under the short name of David Burghley .


Burghley was the elder son of William Cecil, 5th Marquess of Exeter , from his marriage to Myra Orde-Powlett. He first visited the Eton College and the Institut Le Rosey , before the Magdalene College of the University of Cambridge studied. He first took part in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris , where he was eliminated in the first round of the 110-meter hurdles . At the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928 , he was eliminated in the semi-finals over 110 meter hurdles, but became Olympic champion in the 400 meter hurdles . At the British Empire Games 1930 in Hamilton , Canada , Burghley won three gold medals (110 m hurdles, 400 m hurdles, 4-by-400-meter relay ).

From 1931 to 1945 Lord Burghley was a Member of the House of Commons as MP for Peterborough , where he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary in 1932 and from 1939 to 1940 . He received permission to be mandated to lay down for a short time at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles to participate. There he was fifth in the 110 meter hurdles, fourth in the 400 meter hurdles and won the silver medal in the 4 x 400 meter relay.

Burghley was known for his unusual training methods. He put boxes of matches on the hurdles and kicked them down without touching the hurdle. Burghley set a special "record" by circling the upper promenade deck of the RMS Queen Mary in exactly 57 seconds, wearing ordinary street clothes.

In 1927, during his final semester at Cambridge, he sprinted around the courtyard of Trinity College . It took him as long as it took Trinity College clock to strike at noon. This episode was also a scene in the film The Victory's Hour . However, this achievement was ascribed to Harold Abrahams there . This was also the reason why Burghley refused to watch the film.

After finishing his sports career, Burghley was President of the British Athletics Federation for 40 years, President of the International Athletics Federation IAAF for 30 years and a member of the IOC for 48 years . He was also President of the 1948 Olympic Games Organizing Committee in London. From 1943 to 1945 he was also governor of the British crown colony of Bermuda . At the family home of Burghley House in the City of Peterborough , a permanent exhibition is dedicated to his sporting achievements.

When his father died in 1956, he inherited his title of nobility as Marquess of Exeter and thereby became a member of the House of Lords .

Marriages and offspring

Burghley was married twice, first he married Lady Mary Montagu-Douglas-Scott, daughter of John Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 7th Duke of Buccleuch, in January 1929 . The marriage ended in divorce in 1946. Three daughters and one son are from the marriage:

  • Lady Davina Mary Cecil (1931-2018) ⚭ John Vane, 11th Baron Barnard ;
  • John William Edward Cecil (1933-1934);
  • Lady Gillian Moyra Katherine Cecil (* 1935), ⚭ (1) Sir Giles Floyd, 7th Baronet, ⚭ (2) George Michael Kertesz, ⚭ (3) Jeremy Smith;
  • Lady Angela Mary Rose Cecil (* 1938) ⚭ Michael Oswald.

In December 1946 he married Diana Henderson, a granddaughter of Alexander Henderson, 1st Baron Faringdon , with whom he had another daughter:

  • Lady Victoria Diana Cecil (* 1947) ⚭ Simon Patrick Leatham.

Since his only son died young, his title of nobility fell to his younger brother Martin Cecil as the 7th Marquess.


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predecessor Office successor
William Cecil Marquess of Exeter
Martin Cecil