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The title Marquess of Salisbury is a British title of Peerage, created in 1789 for James Cecil, 7th Earl of Salisbury. Most of the holders of the title have been prominent in British political life over the last two centuries, particularly Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, who served three times as prime minister in the late 19th and early twentieth century.
Lord Salisbury holds the subsidiary titles of Earl of Salisbury (created 1605), Viscount Cranborne (1604), and Baron Cecil, of Essendon in the County of Rutland (1603). The title Viscount Cranborne is the courtesy title of Lord Salisbury's eldest son and heir.
The title Earl of Salisbury has a complex history. It was first created for Patrick de Salisbury in the middle twelfth century. It was eventually inherited by Alice, wife of Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster. 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 1301 for William Montacute. It was inherited later by Richard Neville, upon whose death the title went into abeyance because multiple individuals were entitled to inherit it.
Then, in 1472, it was granted to George, Duke of Clarence. 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 later became Prince of Wales. Upon Edward's death, the title became extinct.
In 1485, the abeyance of the second Creation was terminated, and the title went to Edward Plantagenet, Richard Neville's grandson. Edward was executed for high treason in 1499; the title was, however, officially forfeit in 1504. Edward's sister, Margaret, regained the title in 1513, but she too forfeited the title in 1539.
The title was given to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, a close advisor to James I. Cecil was a son of Queen Elizabeth I's chief advisor, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. The present Marquesses still hold the title of the Cecil creation.
Earls of Salisbury, first Creation (c. 1145)
Earls of Salisbury, second Creation (1337)
Earls of Salisbury, third Creation (1472)
Earls of Salisbury, fourth Creation (1478)
Earls of Salisbury, fifth Creation (1605)
Marquesses of Salisbury (1789)
Heir Apparent: Robert Edward William Gascoyne-Cecil, Viscount Cranborne (b. December 18 1970)