Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-95)


Figure 1.--This is Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill, photographed by A. Ken in 1862. He would have been about 12-years old, we would have guessed a little younger. He bears a striking eresemblance to his son Winston at this age. Randolph wears a velvet cut-away jacket suit with bloomer knickers.

Winston Churchill's father was the brilliant, but mercurial Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-95) 3rd son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. He was an important 19th century British statesman. Winston grew up in fear and awe of his father. Lord Randolph was a leader in the Conservative Party and many, including Lord Randolph himself, believed he would one day rise to be primeminister. He was an excellent debater and Winston would listen to him un the Commons. Lord Randolph showed little affection for Winston. Not only was he preoccupied with his political career, but Winston was not the son he expected. Lord Randolph was disappointed at his poor performance in school. He essebntially thought Winston a stupid boy. His letters show no real affection and a modern reader would judge them as cruel. That of course is affected about our modern attitudes toward child rearing, but they certainly pained Winston greatly. And Lord Randoplh did not mince words in hios social and political life either. Among the many people he offended was the Prince of Wales and his wife Alexandra. She forgave him, but the future Edward VII never did. Interestingly, went on to be a confident of Edward's grandson George VI during the dark days of World War II. Lord Randolph would have been astonished to learn that Winston would not only become primeminister, but arguably the become perhaps the greatest of all British primeministers.

Family

Lord Randolph was the mercurial Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-95) third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His mother was Frances, daughter of the third marquess of Londonderry.

Childhood

Randolph was born at Blenheim Palace, the home given John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlbourgh (1849). We know nothing about his childhood at this time.

Education

Randoplh as a younger boy was educated at home by tutors. He then attended Tabor's Preparatory School at Cheam to prepare for his public school. He entered Eton College (1863). He did not destinguish himself at either academics or games (sports) which at the time were very important. He left Eton (July 1865) before completing the program. Those at Eton describe him as a 'vivacious' and somewhat 'unruly' boy. After some further tutoring at home, he matriculated at Merton College, Oxford. At Oxford he enjoyed games and unlike many of his class, was an active reader. He earned a second-class degree in jurisprudence and modern history (1870).

Political Career

Lord Randoplh was an important 19th century British statesman. He took an early interest in politics. He ran for Parliament as a Conservative contesting the seat for Woodstock, Oxfordshire (1874). He defeating the sitting MP, George Brodrick, a fellow, and afterwards warden, of Merton College. He dlivered his maiden speech, a milestone for any MP, during his first session. Both Harcourt and Disraeli were impressed. Disraeli wrote to Queen Victoria, alluding to Churchill's 'energy and natural flow'. Churchill was perfectly suited for the GHouse of Parliament. He rose rapidly, becoming leader of the House and chancellor of the Exchequer (1886). He was only 37 years old. These were stepping stones to being primeminister. He was famous for his opposition to and Parlimentary debates with the Liberals, particulary William Gladstone. Political miscalculation, however, tarnished is political career. Winston grew up in fear and awe of his father. Lord Randolph was a leader in the Conservative Party and many, including Lord Randolph himself, believed he would one day rise to be primeminister. He was an excellent debater and Winston would listen to him un the Commons.

Marriage

Churchill married Jeanette (Jennie) Jerome (1854-1921), a wealthy American heiress (1874). She was the daughter of Leonard Jerome, from New York City. Many down-in-the-heel British aristocrats tuened to eligible Americans from the families benefiting from rising American industrial economy of the late-19th century. (Edith Wharton wrote a novel on this, The Bucaneers). Jennie was beautiful, personable, and an accomplished piano player. Jennie not only brought money, but important social contacts which as a young MP, greatly assisted Churchill. Like many of her class, she did not want to be encumbered with motherhood. As the wife of Lord Randolph, she also had many duties, especially revolving around her husband's political career. As a result, she had little time for Winston. She was certainly more affectionate than her husband, but by all standards must be judged to have been a distant mother. This was not uncommon at the time. Many wealthy families shunted the children off to the nursery where they were in effect raised by nannies. In later life Winston Churchill wrote of his mother: "She shone for me like the Evening Star. I loved her dearly--but at a distance."

Children

Churchill and Jennie had two sons, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (18741965) and John Strange Churchill (18801947). Lord Randolph showed little affection for Winston. Not only was he preoccupied with his political career, but Winston was not the son he expected. Lord Randolph was disappointed at his poor performance in school. He essebntially thought Winston a stupid boy. His letters show no real affection and a modern reader would judge them as cruel. That of course is affected about our modern attitudes toward child rearing, but they certainly pained Winston greatly. Lord Randolph would have been astonished to learn that Winston would not only become primeminister, but arguably the become perhaps the greatest of all British primeministers.

Frankness

And Lord Randoplh did not mince words in his social and political life either. Among the many people he offended was the Prince of Wales and his wife Alexandra. She forgave him, but the future Edward VII never did. Interestingly, went on to be a confident of Edward's grandson George VI during the dark days of World War II.








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Created: 7:06 PM 7/20/2011
Last updated: 7:06 PM 7/20/2011