Sunday, April 29, 2007

Churchill's Origins - 2

4th. and 5th. Generations
The succession passed through their daughter Anne to their grandson Charles Spencer. They had quiet, diffident personalities. It was said that the magnificence of the Churchill legend hung heavily upon them. They maintained but did not add to the family legacy.

6th., 7th., and 8th. Generations
The next three dukes were profligate spenders. Under them debt began to tarnish the family legacy.

The third and fourth Dukes beautified the Palace. The gardens were a special achievement. They were great art collectors. Under them the estate reached its pinnacle of splendor and of debt.

9th. Generation
When George took over in 1817, the king granted permission to add “Churchill” back to the family name. Later, as Winston Churchill’s official biography puts it, “In more recent times the Churchills have tended to drop the Spencer from their surname.”

The 6th Duke brought the financial situation to a crisis. His irresponsible behavior led to charges of adultery, kidnapping, other lawsuits, and four marriages. Scandal and ruin threatened the Churchill legacy. By this time the Duke had to live in just a few rooms of his palace and close up the rest.

John Winston, the 7th. Duke, set out to restore the Churchill situation. He was a serious man, and a deeply religious one. Sales of some of the palace treasures stabilized the Marlborough finances. He became active in Parliament. In a religious era, he made the religious state of the realm his priority issue. He became Lord President of the Council and a cabinet member in Lord Derby’s Third Administration. In 1868 Disraeli asked him to lead the Conservatives in the House of Lords.

The Churchill family was again a solid, established member of Europe’s nobility. They were normal. They were respectable. And John Winston intended to keep it that way. The family’s future depended upon solid conservatism both financially and socially, upon not making waves.

This is the situation in August, 1873 when Randolf bursts into the palace to announce that he has just met a most wonderful girl and he intends to marry her!

The Duke is away in Scotland but the Duchess naturally asks questions. Who is she? And more importantly, does she come from a good family? Randolf supplies such answers as he can.
Extract from a letter to his Father:

Blenheim [Palace]: Wednesday, August 20, 1873
Mr. Jerome is a gentleman who is obliged to live in New York to look after his business. I do not know what it is. He is reputed to be very well off, and his daughters, I believe, have very good fortunes, but I do not know anything for certain. He generally comes over for three of four months every year. Mrs. Jerome has lived in Paris for several years and has educated her daughters there. They go out in Society there and are very well known.
I have told you all I know about them at present. . . . .
Ever your most affectionate son,
The Duke and Duchess are increasingly concerned. Then Randolf supplies Jennie’s picture. Shock!

Who is this American with the dark skin and the mysterious past? They will make inquiries! They will find out!

Excerpt from a book in progress. Churchill Stories. (from Chapter 1.)