Notes from "Chief Men Among the Brethren" by Hy. Pickering:
Lord Adalbert Cecil was the son of the second Marquis of Exeter. He 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 well-known missioner, Rev. William Haslam. The conversion story is 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 to 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 in the earth. He mixed freely with the rich and poor saints, being at home with the former and by grace proving himself equally at home with the latter. He was a living manifestation of the 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 Christ-like 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, dear 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 experimental Christianity".
After more 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 this newspaper report indicates: "Lord Adalbert Cecil was drowned on the 12th of 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 evangelistic work in the Far West. On Tuesday 11th. June 1889 he took a boat at Bellesville 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 been for some time 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 holiness, 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". Thus in death, as in life, Lord Adalbert Cecil manifested the true spirit of one who had truly learned the meaning of the words "the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me". (Gal. 2:20).
On one occasion it was said to him "No wonder you are happy — you have wealth and position". He replied "You can take all that from me and you will leave the source of my happiness untouched".
Lord Adalbert Cecil is buried at Napanee, Ontario.
Extract from a letter of Wayne Kingsbury, Newmarket, Ontario, quoted in the Assembly Bulletin: "I thought of the early brethren who ministered there (Lachute, Quebec, Canada). Lord Cecil penned the hymn 'Oh! The peace for ever flowing' in my grandfather's old stone farmhouse".
Lord Cecil's hymns in 'Spiritual Songs' are:
178 Our Great High Priest is sitting
201 Thou Holy One and True
391 Oh! The peace for ever flowing
The aristocratic lord, through infinite grace was enabled by the Spirit of God to extol the Lord of lords.