Winston Churchill Family


Laurel King, Contributor

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winston churchill iiThe family tree of Winston Churchill is an extensive one, stretching back generations, into the far reaches of English aristocracy. Born into a richly aristocratic family – the Dukes of Marlborough, which was a branch of the Spencer noble family – Winston was the eldest son of Lord Randolph Churchill.

As the third son of John Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, Lord Randolph came from a long line of politicians. In fact, and ancestor – George Spencer – changed his name in 1817 (when he became the Duke of Marlborough), taking the name George Spencer-Churchill, to pay tribute to his lineage. Winston's father died fairly young, at the age of 45 (in 1895), when Winston himself was only 21. As an accomplished scholar and statesman, Lord Randolph left some sizeable shoes for young Winston to fill.

Winston's mother – Lady Randolph Churchill – began life as Jennie Jerome, the daughter of an American millionaire (Leonard Jerome). Born at Cobble Hill, in Brooklyn, New York in 1854, she was the second of three daughters to a father who was a sportsman and financier/speculator, and a British mother. Evidently, she was quite stunning in her beauty, as it is still one of her most notable traits. Early in her life, she acted as magazine editor, and amateur pianist (tutored by one of Chopin's friends, Stephen Heller).

In 1904, Winston first met the woman who would later become his wife – Clementine Hozier – at a ball held in Crewe House. However, they did not meet again until a dinner party in 1908, when they found themselves seated next to each other. Not long after, Churchill proposed to the woman who would become his lifelong love, while attending a house party at his birthplace (Blenheim Palace) in August 1908. They were wed hardly a month later, on September 12, 1908 in St. Margaret's, Westminster.

Churchill's wife gave birth to their first child, Diana, on July 11, 1909 in London. Their second child, and first son – Randolph – was born on May 28, 1911 at 33 Eccleston Square. At the time of the birth of their third child, Sarah (October 7, 1914) Clementine was beside herself with worry, because her husband was in Antwerp at the time the Belgians were prepared to surrender. The couple's fourth child, Marigold, was born on November 15, 1918 (four days after the end of WWI). Sadly, a few years later, Marigold died of septicemia after complications from a cold (on August 23, 1921). Finally, their last child – Mary – was born on September 15, 1922 just before buying Chartwell, the home that Winston would occupy until his death many years later (in 1965).

Churchill's oldest child – Diana – spent several years as an officer in the Women's Royal Naval Service (from 1930 to 1945). Sadly, after a lifelong battle with nervous breakdowns, she committed suicide in 1963 (at the age of 54) by overdosing on barbiturates. The couple's eldest son (Randolph) followed his father's footsteps into politics, becoming a Conservative Member of Parliament for Preston (1940 to 1945). Their third child (Sarah) was an accomplished British actress and dancer, who married three times and spent her life battling the effects of alcoholism, including being arrested numerous times and incarceration in Holloway Prison.