Duke of Marlborough (title)

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Dukedom of Marlborough
Arms of the 1st Duke
BlazonArms of Churchill: Sable, a lion rampant argent on a canton of the second a cross gules[1]
Creation date1702
Created byAnne of England
PeeragePeerage of England
First holderJohn Churchill
Present holderJohn Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke
Heir apparentJamie Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford
Remainder tospecial case
Subsidiary titlesMarquess of Blandford;
Earl of Sunderland (from 1733);
Earl of Marlborough;
Baron Spencer (from 1733);
Baron Churchill;
Lord Churchill (until 1722)
 
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Dukedom of Marlborough
Arms of the 1st Duke
BlazonArms of Churchill: Sable, a lion rampant argent on a canton of the second a cross gules[1]
Creation date1702
Created byAnne of England
PeeragePeerage of England
First holderJohn Churchill
Present holderJohn Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke
Heir apparentJamie Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford
Remainder tospecial case
Subsidiary titlesMarquess of Blandford;
Earl of Sunderland (from 1733);
Earl of Marlborough;
Baron Spencer (from 1733);
Baron Churchill;
Lord Churchill (until 1722)

Duke of Marlborough (local Listeni/ˈmɔːlbrə/ MAWL-brə), referring to Marlborough in Wiltshire, is a title in the Peerage of England. The first holder of the title was John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722), the noted English general, and indeed an unqualified reference to the Duke of Marlborough in a historical text will almost certainly refer to him.

Contents

History

The dukedom was created in 1702 by Queen Anne; John Churchill, whose wife was a favourite of the queen, had earlier been made Lord Churchill of Eyemouth in the Scottish peerage (1682), which became extinct with his death, and Earl of Marlborough (1689) by King William III. Anne further honoured Churchill, after his leadership in the victories against the French of 13 August 1704 near the village of Blenheim (German Blindheim) on the river Danube (Battle of Blenheim), by granting him the royal manor of Woodstock, and building him a house at her own expense to be called Blenheim. Construction started in 1705 and the house was completed in 1722, the year of his death. Blenheim Palace remains the Marlborough ducal seat.

The first duke was also honoured with Imperial titles: Emperor Joseph I created him a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1704, and in 1705, he was created Imperial Prince of Mindelheim (once the lordship of the noted soldier Georg von Frundsberg). However, he was obliged to surrender Mindelheim in 1714 by the Treaty of Utrecht, which returned it to Bavaria. According to some sources, he received the principality of Mellenburg in exchange. Regardless, his Imperial titles did not pass to his daughters (the Empire operated Salic Law which prevented female succession), so became extinct on his death in 1722.

The Duke of Marlborough holds certain subsidiary titles: Marquess of Blandford (created 1702), Earl of Sunderland (1643), Earl of Marlborough (1689), Baron Spencer, of Wormleighton (1603), and Baron Churchill, of Sandridge (1685) (all are in the English peerage). The title Marquess of Blandford is used as the courtesy title for the Duke's eldest son and heir. The Duke's eldest son's eldest son in turn can use the courtesy title Earl of Sunderland.

The later Dukes of Marlborough are descended from the first duke, but not in the male line. Because the first duke had no surviving sons, the title was allowed (by a special Act of Parliament) to pass to his eldest daughter in her own right. A younger daughter, Lady Anne Churchill, married Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (c. 1674–1722), and from this marriage descend the modern Dukes of Marlborough. They therefore originally bore the surname Spencer. However, George Spencer, the 5th Duke of Marlborough, obtained a Royal Licence to assume and bear the additional surname and arms of his famous ancestor, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, and thus became George Spencer-Churchill. This double-barrelled surname has remained in the family to this day, though some of the most famous members have preferred to style themselves as merely "Churchill".

The 7th Duke of Marlborough was the paternal grandfather of the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (who was born at Blenheim Palace on 30 November 1874).

The present Duke of Marlborough is John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough.

The title of Earl of Marlborough, which was created for Churchill in 1689, had been created one time previously in British history, for James Ley, in 1626. This title had become extinct in 1679.

Succession

The Dukedom of Marlborough is the only dukedom in the United Kingdom that can still pass to a woman and through a woman. However, the Dukedom does not follow male-preference primogeniture as most other peerages that allow succession by females and cognatic descendants do. It actually follows a kind of semi-Salic Law. The succession for the Dukedom is as follows:

  1. The heirs-male of the 1st Duke's body lawfully begotten;
  2. his eldest daughter and the heirs-male of her body lawfully begotten;
  3. his second and other daughters, in seniority, and the heirs-male of their bodies lawfully begotten;
  4. his eldest daughter's oldest daughter and the heirs male of her body lawfully begotten;
  5. his eldest daughter's second and other daughters, in seniority, and the heirs-male of their bodies lawfully begotten
  6. all other daughters of his daughters, in seniority, and the heirs-male of their bodies lawfully begotten;
  7. and other descendants into the future in like fashion, with the intent that the Marlborough title never become extinct.

However, it is now very unlikely that the Dukedom will be passed to a woman or through a woman, since all the male-line descendants of Anne Spencer, Countess of Sunderland - including the line of the Earls Spencer as well as the Spencer-Churchill family - would have to become extinct. If that were to happen, the Churchill titles would pass to the Earl of Jersey, the heir-male of Anne Villiers, Countess of Jersey, daughter of Elizabeth Egerton, Duchess of Bridgwater, a younger daughter of the first Duke.

Spanish motto

The meaning of the motto Fiel pero desdichado (Faithful but unfortunate) may allude to the first duke's father's inadequate compensation for his losses in the Civil War as a consequence of his loyalty to the king. Unusually, it is in the Spanish language rather than Latin.

Earls of Marlborough, second creation (1689)

Other titles: Lord Churchill of Eyemouth, in the county of Berwick (Sc 1682) and Baron Churchill of Sandridge, in the county of Hertford (En 1685)

Dukes of Marlborough (1702)

Other titles: Marquess of Blandford (En 1702), Earl of Marlborough, in the county of Wiltshire (En 1689) and Baron Churchill of Sandridge, in the county of Hertford (En 1685)
Other titles (1st Duke): Lord Churchill of Eyemouth, in the county of Berwick (Sc 1682)
Other titles (3rd Duke onwards): Earl of Sunderland (En 1643) and Baron Spencer of Wormleighton (En 1729)
Heir apparent: Charles James Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford (b. 1955), eldest surviving son of the 11th Duke
Lord Blandford's heir apparent: George John Godolphin Spencer-Churchill, Earl of Sunderland (b. 1992), his elder son

External links

References

  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.747