Brethren Archive

Lord Adelbert Percy Cecil

Born: 18th July 1841
Died: 12th June 1889

Intro, Biographical Information, Notes etc:

Chief Men Among the Brethren Biography

LORD ADALBERT CECIL, son of the second Marquis of Exeter, was born 18th July, 1841. Little is related concerning his early boyhood, but as a young man he seems to have come under the influence of the wellknown missioner, Rev. WILLIAM HASLAM, the conversion story in one of his books entitled "Lord A " referring to Lord Adalbert.

After his conversion to God he made rapid progress in Divine things, becoming an earnest evangelistic worker and one able to minister the Word to profit. In his position he was free to devote all his energies to the work nearest his heart, and so was "always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15. 58).

His desire ever was to be treated more as a member of the Heavenly Family than as connected with the noble and great of earth. He mixed freely with rich and poor saints, being at home with the former, and by grace proving himself equally at home with the latter. He was thus a living manifestation of that beautiful blend so seldom seen on earth—a combination of a true gentleman by "birth" and a Christian gentleman abounding in love and lowliness by "new birth" (John 3. 3).

A veteran who worshipped and worked with him gives this testimony: "Lord Adalbert Cecil was one of the most godly men we have ever known. Christ mastered his being. Rank, title, wealth, influence, society, and all that is valued in the world were cheerfully surrendered and laid down at the feet of his beloved Saviour and Lord. His intense earnestness and almost absolute devotedness to the interests of Christ, His unbounded generosity, especially to the members of the Household of Faith, along with a rare combination of humility and Christlike-mindedness were conspicuous traits of a truly beautiful Christian character.

"On one occasion we were fellow-travellers. On leaving the train Lord Cecil lifted our bag and his own as well. 'I cannot allow this, my lord. It would be my duty and privilege to carry your bag.' His hearty, gracious answer was just like the man, 'Come away, brother, come away.'

"The grace of God has wrought mightily in this world. Lord Cecil was in himself a bright and noble witness and exponent of an experimental Christianity."

After some years' service in Britain he went to Canada to help further the work of the Lord. Here he was called to higher service in a tragic manner, as the newspaper report indicates:

"Lord Adalbert Cecil was drowned on 12th June, near Adolphustown, Western Canada, through the upsetting of his boat as he was crossing the Bay of Quinte to regain his camp. Lord Adalbert relinquished the attractions of aristocratic society in England and devoted himself to evangelisation work in the Far West. On Tuesday, 11th June, 1889, he took a boat at Belleville, and sailed to a place where there were a number of Indian believers in whom he was interested. On returning for Picton the next day the wind blew strongly, and the boat, which had two sails, was difficult to manage. He was accompanied by a young man named Churchill, and they had nearly reached their destination, when, one of the sails requiring adjustment, Lord Adalbert stood up to arrange it, and, losing his balance, he fell overboard. He might have gained the shore, which was only about one hundred yards distant, but he continued to swim after the boat, fearing, it is supposed, that Churchill might be lost, so that in death, as in life, his thought was altogether for others, and not for himself. He had but little strength (his health having for some time been a source of anxiety), and when he sank, which he shortly did, he never rose again. His life no doubt went out at once, a life of exceptional loveliness, of self-sacrifice, and of incalculable usefulness; and having 'turned many to righteousness,' he is one of those of whom it is said, that they 'shall shine as the stars for ever and ever!' " Thus in death, as in life, Lord Adalbert Cecil manifested the true spirit of one who has truly learnt the meaning of the words, "The Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2. 20). May many such, rich or poor, be raised up to glorify God.

Peter said ...
looking for any tracts or leaflets of L Cecil
Sunday, Feb 22, 2015 : 20:27
Tom said ...
Hi Peter, I have quite a few things of his, but looks like PTP have made his stuff available .. see here:
Sunday, Feb 22, 2015 : 23:47
DG said ...
According to the posted documentation, Lord Adelbert Percy Cecil was born on July 18th 1841, and drowned on June 12th 1889, shortly before his 48th birthday.
Saturday, May 19, 2018 : 06:49
DG said ...
His parents were:
Lord Exeter married Isabella Poyntz, daughter of William Stephen Poyntz, on 12 May 1824. They had at least five children:

William Alleyne Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Exeter (1825–1895)
Colonel Lord Brownlow Thomas Montagu Cecil (1827–1905)
Lady Mary Frances Cecil (1832–1917), married Dudley Ryder, 3rd Earl of Harrowby
Lord Adalbert Percy Cecil (1841–1889), member of the Plymouth Brethren
Lady Victoria Cecil (1843–1932)
Lord Exeter died in January 1867, aged 71, and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son William. The Marchioness of Exeter died in March 1879, aged 76.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 : 01:07
Timothy Sunt said ...
I'm pretty sure the correct spelling is Adalbert but on this page there are several places where we have the name spelt as Adelbert. I suspect it may have been thus misspelt on his grave in Canada... Timothy Stunt
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 : 03:37
Nick Fleet said ...
The GRO index showing the record of his birth gives 'Adelbert'
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 : 05:09
Timothy Stunt said ...
I stand corrected! Thank you for the clarification Timothy
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 : 05:52
Michael Schneider said ...

Newspaper articles about his death (e.g. this one) and the National Probate Calendar also say "Adelbert".

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 : 05:56
Michael Schneider said ...

Curiously, in the list of Lord Exeter's children at The Peerage Adelbert isn't even mentioned ...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 : 06:08
Nick Fleet said ...
Interesting to see that one of APC's executors was Thomas Hinde Thompson of Sundridge House, Bournemouth, where JND died. THT crops up in connection with other families among brethren but doesn't seem to be related to hymn writer Miss Ceuta Thompson's family.
Thursday, May 24, 2018 : 13:58
Tom said ...
Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018 : 02:06
Marty said ...

From: "Footsteps of Truth"

LORD ADALBERT CECIL. In common with a large circle of friends we lament the sudden removal of the late Lord Adalbert Cecil. In the midst of a life of usefulness and devotion to the service of the Gospel, his work on earth has been abruptly terminated by a sad accident. His lordship was crossing the Bay of Quinte, in the Lake of Ontario, going from Belleville to Adolphustown, in order to hold a series of meetings at the latter place, and was accompanied by a man named Churchill. In endeavouring to adjust one of the sails of the boat, he fell overboard. He could easily have swum to the shore, not a hundred yards distant; but knowing the difficulty his companion would have in crossing the Bay alone, he endeavoured to get back to the boat. Before he reached it, he sank, and being weak and in ill health, never rose again. A little judicious selfishness would have preserved him, but with the true martyr spirit, he laid down his life for his friend. Thus his death was, as his life had been. a noble example of unselfishness and self-sacrifice. One of the daily papers, speaking of him, says: “Of high birth, with every avenue to social distinction and many paths of social pleasure open to him, he chose to be a missionary of Evangelical Christianity. It is the school of thought or feeling which looks back to Simeon, which reveres the memory of Dr. Marsh, and has made a hero of Hedley Vicars, that loses a valued champion, in this scion of the house of Exeter.” In him, the Evangelistic Mission loses another warm friend and liberal helper.

Tuesday, Jul 16, 2019 : 23:58
Martin Arhelger said ...

A brother gave me a collection (in one volume) of A. P. Cecil's interpretations of the Bible:
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 + 2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
See my scans here:

Does anyone know if Cecil wrote on any more New Testament books?
It seems that Present Truth Publishers did not even know about the existence of the short summaries of 2nd Corinthians, Galatians and Revelation


Saturday, Jun 26, 2021 : 17:13
David said ...




KINGSTON, June 13, 1889 – Lord Adelbert Perry Cecil, the evangelist, was drowned on Wednesday afternoon in the Bay of Quinte, near Adolphustown, about six miles east of Picton Ont., while sailing in company with Mr. Churchill from Belleville to Adolphustown with camp supplies.

It appears from a dispatch I just received that when off Poole’s Point, a short distance from Adolphustown Wharf, His Lordship rose to adjust the sail, when, losing his hold, he fell headlong into the water. Coming up at some distance he swam around for a few minutes and then sank before the boat could be got around to where he was. As he was supposed to be a good swimmer it was thought he might reach shore safely or at least keep afloat until rescued. Mr. Poole who witnessed the accident from the shore, shouted to him to keep swimming for a few moments and he would be rescued. He shouted back “No!” and sank immediately. His body is now at Parker Allen’s Adolphustown and will probably be shipped to England. His friends in England have been notified.

Lord Cecil was a guest of Parker Allen yesterday. Mr. Allen is an old united empire loyalist. His Lordship had spent the winter in the Southern States and came here in the spring. He was not in good health. Se spent much time, talent and wealth in propagating the Plymouth Brethren’s doctrine. He was eloquent, unassuming, devoted and, above all, generous. It was his intention to have returned to England this year. He had been in Canada since 18??, having come here with the First Rifle brigade in 18?? He was converted in Hamilton while on a march and he afterward resigned his commission because the War Office refused to allow him to preach the doctrine he professed to the men of his regiment.

He was born on July 18, 1841, and at one time was a lieutenant of the First Rifle brigade. He was a brother of the present Earl and Marquis of Exeter, once known as Lord Burghley. The family seat is Burghley, near Stamford, Northamptonshire. Lord Salisbury belongs to a distantly connected branch of the same family.



Friday, Mar 3, 2023 : 04:40
Theophilus said ...

It would be well to note that in the "Short Summary of the Epistle to the Colossians" published by Horner (Manchester Series of Cheap Tracts) available to download on this site, and also from Martin's link above, the statement is made: "In time He was born in the virgin's womb as a creature." This is distinct error which I believe was corrected in a later  edition published by G. Cooper, London, to "In time he was born in the virgin's womb as a man," though I do not have a copy by me at present to verify. Reader, take note.

Friday, Mar 3, 2023 : 23:24
Syd said ...
Considering the learning and stature of A.P. Cecil, there is no excuse for his poor choice of the word “creature” in reference to Christ, Who is in His eternal worth and dignity, the Uncreated Son of the Father's love.

But perhaps it is proper to quote APC fully on this slip of his—“No one hath seen God at any time, the only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. Still God's being is true, though no one has seen Him, or can see Him, for Christ is the express image of His person (Heb. 1: 3). But this is shown forth in man. He is the first-born of every creature, not in time, indeed, but in dignity, (v. 10) for by Him were all things created. In time He was born in the virgin's womb as a creature, holy and without spot; but He existed as Son before, for He created all things, whether in heaven or earth, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers—all things were created by Him, as well as for Him; for as man He will be the centre of the new creation.” Note: APC did NOT say that Christ was “created.”

And in his summary of Hebrews he writes—“Not only then was He the Divine Son, the Creator, but born Son of God in this world according to Psalm 2: "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" (see also Luke 1:35)—as holy in His manhood as in His Deity, yet truly born of the Virgin by the operation of the Holy Ghost.” In his writings APC attests to the conception and birth of Christ by the operation of the Holy Ghost and nothing of man, the creature, apart from the womb of the Virgin Mary.

In his summary of the Colossians, he uses the word “creature” nine times—seven to Christ as “the firstborn of every creature,” and then sadly the misapplication to Christ, “born as a creature.” Perhaps he was taken up with the word “creature,” but he certainly didn’t mean that Christ was “created.” However, the gloss is noted; I do not defend his use of the word.

By the way, the improvement noted, “In time he was born in the virgin's womb as a man,” apart from the complete sentence and context of this edition, doesn’t suffice because “man” and “creature” are used in conjunction in Scripture.
Saturday, Mar 4, 2023 : 02:53
Steve Noble said ...
I am glad that APC did not say that the Lord was created, but the fact remains that a 'creature' is a being that is created. I also think "born in the virgin's womb" is a strange choice of words - conceived would be far better (see Luke 1: 31). 'Born as a man' is hardly good English either, when 'man' surely implies maturity. The whole sentence is a mess, and illustrates that in relation to the person of Christ the only safe ground is to stick to Scripture terminology. As one who has ventured into print myself, I am prepared to be charitable to the occasional mistake (we are all failing creatures) - although I would observe that ecclesiastical history shows that what may be forgiven as a 'slip' in one brother may well be viewed far more harshly in another!
Saturday, Mar 4, 2023 : 05:15
David said ...

[From the Hawks Bay Herald, NZ,  October 5, 1889]

CANADIAN PAPERS give details of the drowning of Lord Adelbert Cecil. The unfortunate nobleman made a desperate effort to save himself, and in the water divested himself of his coat and vest. A gold watch and a pocket-book filled with money were thrown away with these articles of apparel. When the catastrophe occurred Lord Adelbert Cecil was steering the boat loaded with camp supplies to Adolfus town, where he had arranged for a series of Gospel Meetings. The craft was within 300 yards of the proposed camping ground when Lord Adelbert Cecil got up to lower a sail and fell into the water. After swimming behind the boat some distance till his companion managed to get it about and headed for the shore, his Lordship struck out for land. When within fifty feet of shore he was seized with a cramp and sank to rise no more. He was encumbered with heavy boots, which he could not take off. There were a number of eyewitnesses who had several boats at hand, but no one put off to save him, the people being confident he would safely reach land. Lord Adelbert Cecil was well known in Canada as an evangelist and he spent his time, wealth, and talents in propagating the Plymouth Brethren doctrines. He was eloquent, unassuming, and generous. He had been in Canada since 1869, and became converted while on a march out with the First Rifle Brigade at Quebec. He resigned, it was stated, because the War Office refused to allow him to preach the doctrine he professed to the men of his regiment. His followers were overwhelmed with grief.


Article by Jane Lovell from “The Neighbourhood Messenger” Oct 2013. [A local publication in the Adolphustown/Napanee area]

The death of Lord Adelbert Percy Cecil was an event that made headlines around the world.

The tragedy, occurring in  Adolphustown and intimately involving the citizens of Adolphustown and Napanee brought international attention to our own backyard.  The following clippings from several foreign sources describe the incident with details that not only graphically illustrate the calamity but also say something of the times in which it occurred.

In what year Lord Adelbert Percy Cecil first arrived in Canada is unclear.  The dates given in the New York Herald article cannot be deciphered.  However, Lord Cecil was an avid cricketer and played for his military unit while in Canada., a cricket statistics database, has Cecil playing in several games in Toronto and Hamilton in the summer of 1863: the Canada East versus Canada West, Military versus All-Comers, and Military versus Civilians matches.  By 1865 Cecil was back in Britain participating on civilian teams in the Southampton Union versus All England Eleven matches.  One might conclude that Cecil retired from the military over his beliefs and returned to England to pursue his sporting interests.   The article printed in the Hawks Bay Herald three and a half months after Cecil's death states that Cecil arrived in Canada in 1869.  While not implicitly stated, the article seems to indicate that Cecil was still in the military at that time and resigned soon after.

That Lord Cecil was committed to his evangelical work is indisputable.  He penned several religious books as well as hymns and articles, and gave speeches at religious conferences.   However, it was Lord Cecil’s preaching that had the greatest influence locally.  Henry Pickering’s 1918 work Chief Men Among the Brethren recounts the events leading up to the fateful day off the shore of Adolphustown.

Pickering states: “On Tuesday 11th June 1889 he took a boat at Belleville and sailed to a place where there were a number of Indian believers in whom he was interested.”   It appears that local First Nation people were a target group for his preaching.  The following clipping from The Toronto Daily Mail reports that a representative from the “Indian Department” in Ottawa attended his funeral, perhaps indicating a federal sanctioning of Cecil’s activities.  Certainly, Cecil acquired many high-profile citizens in the area as members of the Plymouth Brethren.



Saturday, Mar 4, 2023 : 06:04

Add Comment: