John Albert Edward Spencer Churchill was born in 1897. He was commonly
known as Bert. His parents were Charles Richard John Spencer Churchill (9th Duke of Marlborough) and Consuelo
Vanderbilt (Duchess of Marlborough). Bert became the 10th Duke of Marlborough. He and his family were painted by noted
American portratist John Singer Sargent in a noted painting by at Blenheim. He and his brother appear to have worn velvet
suits, but a photogrph shows the boys wearing longpants single blazer suits.
John Albert Edward Spencer Churchill, was a decendent of one of the most illustrious British families, the decendents of John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlbourough.
His father was Charles Richard John Spencer Churchill (9th Duke of Marlborough). The Duke was a life-long friend of his cousin Winston Churchill. An exhibit at Blenheim includes a piece of shrapnel which fell between the 9th Duke and Churchill during World war I. As the inscription explains, it could have ended their lifelong friendship.
His mother was Consuelo Vanderbilt (Duchess of Marlborough). She was born in 1877 in New York. Her father was W.K. Vanderbilt. She married to Charles Churchill in 1895 at Saint Thomas Church, 5th Avenue, New York. She divorced him in 19??. She died in 1964 in New York and was buried in Blandon Churchyard at Blenheim.
Bert had one brother, Charles Ivor who was born in 1898. He died in 1956.
We know mnothing about their childhood at this time.
He and his family were painted by noted
American portratist John Singer Sargent in a noted painting by at Blenheim. Sargent painted the 9th Duke of Marlborough and his wife Consuella Vanderbilt with their two sons, the Marquess of Blandford and Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill. The painting hangs in the red drawing room at Blenheim. The duke was nicknamed 'Sunny'. He wears his robes of the Order of the Garter--the most prestious order of knighthood in England. His oldest son Bert, the future 10th duke, stands in front of his mother Consuelo. His younger brother, Ivor, stands at his mother's left. I'm not sure just when the portrait was painted. Notice the bust of the 1st Duke of Marlbourough at the top of the painting. Presumably the portrait was done at Blenheim, the monumental home of the 1st Duke of Marlbourgh, built for him by a grateful Queen Anne.
Bert and his brother appear to have worn velvet suits. The Sargent portrait only shows Ivor wering a velvet suit. Bert wears a kind of cabalry historical costume. It is likely, however, that Bert also wore a similar velvet suit.
The photogrph here was taken about 1909-10. Bert looks about 13 years old. It shows the boys wearing longpants single blazer suits. The boy's father, the 9th Duke of Marlborough is
seated, with his younger son Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill on his knee and his elder son Bert standing. The relatively casual clothing provides quite a contrast to the formal dress worn in the Sargent painting. The boys in the photograph are about 11-13 years old. Many English boys at this age wore kneepants. We have noted that many English boys from wealthy English families by the time they were 12 or 13 were moke likely to wear long pants than most other British boys. We are not sure why this was. I think that some schools had longpants uniforms which may have been a factor. I also think that another factor may have been that wealthy boys by the time they were about 12 or 13 may have had more say about their clothing than boys from many other British families. This had changed by the 1960s-70s when it was the boys from wealthy families hat wre more likely to wear hort trousers, in part because many private schools had short pants uniforms.
Bert was the Marquess of Blandford (and later the 10th Duke of Marlbourough.
John married Alexandra Mary Cadogan, daughtr of Viscount Chelsea in 1920. She died in 1961.
By all accounts, Consuela Vanderbilt did not get on that well with her husband. She married him for this title and he married her
for her American fortune. There were several other examples at that time (late 19th-early 20th century) of rich American
heiresses marrying cash strapped British aristocrats for the title. Edith Wharton's aclaimed novel The Bucaneers (1938) dealt
with this. Lord Randolph also married an American--Jeanie Jerome, making their son Winston perhaps the most famous half
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