Lady Randolph Churchill

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Lady Randolph Churchill
CI DStJ

Jennie Churchill
BornJeanette Jerome
(1854-01-09)9 January 1854
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died29 June 1921(1921-06-29) (aged 67)
London, United Kingdom
Cause of deathHaemorrhage
Resting placeSt Martin's Church, Bladon
NationalityBritish, formerly American
SpouseLord Randolph Churchill
George Cornwallis-West
Montagu Phippen Porch
ChildrenSir Winston Churchill
John Strange Spencer-Churchill
ParentsLeonard Jerome
Clarissa Hall
 
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Lady Randolph Churchill
CI DStJ

Jennie Churchill
BornJeanette Jerome
(1854-01-09)9 January 1854
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died29 June 1921(1921-06-29) (aged 67)
London, United Kingdom
Cause of deathHaemorrhage
Resting placeSt Martin's Church, Bladon
NationalityBritish, formerly American
SpouseLord Randolph Churchill
George Cornwallis-West
Montagu Phippen Porch
ChildrenSir Winston Churchill
John Strange Spencer-Churchill
ParentsLeonard Jerome
Clarissa Hall

Lady Randolph Churchill CI DStJ (9 January 1854 – 29 June 1921), born Jeanette Jerome, was the American-born wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and the mother of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Contents

Early life

Jeanette "Jennie" Jerome was born in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn in 1854,[1] the second of three daughters of financier, sportsman, and speculator Leonard Jerome and his wife Clarissa (always called Clara[2]), daughter of Ambrose Hall, a landowner and sometime New York State Assemblyman. She was raised in Brooklyn and other parts of what would become New York City. She had two sisters, Clarita and Leonie. Leonard Jerome was rumored to also be the father of the American opera singer Minnie Hauk.[3]

There is some controversy regarding the time and place of her birth. A plaque at 426 Henry St. gives her year of birth as 1850, not 1854. However, on January 9 in 1854, the Jeromes lived nearby at 8 Amity Street (since renumbered as 197). It is believed that the Jeromes were temporarily staying at the Henry Street address, which was owned by Leonard's brother Addison, and that Jennie was born there during a snowstorm.[4]

A noted beauty (an admirer, Lord d'Abernon, said that there was "more of the panther than of the woman in her look"[5] ) Jennie Jerome worked as a magazine editor in early life. Hall family lore insists that Jennie had Iroquois ancestry, through her maternal grandmother;[6] however, there is no research or evidence to corroborate this.[7]

Marriage and personal life

Jennie Jerome in the 1880s.

Long considered one of the most beautiful women of the time, she was married for the first time on April 15, 1874, aged 20, at the British Embassy in Paris, to Lord Randolph Churchill, the third son of John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough and Lady Frances Anne Emily Vane.[8] Although the couple became engaged within three days of their initial meeting, the marriage was delayed for months while their parents argued over settlements.[9] By this marriage, she was properly known as Lady Randolph Churchill and would have been referred to in conversation as Lady Randolph.

The Churchills had two sons. Winston (1874–1965), the future prime minister, was born less than eight months after the marriage. According to his biographer William Manchester, Winston was most likely conceived before the marriage, rather than born prematurely. (A recent biography has stated that he was born two months prematurely after Lady Randolph "had a fall.")[10] When asked about the circumstances of his birth, he would reply, "Although present on the occasion, I have no clear recollection of the events leading up to it."[11] Jennie's sisters believed that the biological father of the second son, John (1880–1947) was Evelyn Boscawen, 7th Viscount Falmouth.[12]

Lady Randolph is believed to have had numerous lovers during her marriage, including Karl Kinsky, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Herbert von Bismarck.[13]

As was the custom of the day, Lady Randolph played a limited role in her sons' upbringing, relying largely upon nannies, especially Mrs. Elizabeth Everest. Winston worshipped his mother, writing her numerous letters during his time at school and begging her to visit him, which, however, she rarely did. He wrote about her in My Early Life: 'She shone for me like the evening star. I loved her dearly - but at a distance'.[14] After he became an adult, they became good friends and strong allies, to the point where Winston regarded her almost as a political mentor, more as a sister than as a mother. She was well-respected and influential in the highest British social and political circles. She was said to be intelligent, witty, and quick to laughter. It was said that Queen Alexandra especially enjoyed her company, despite the fact that Jennie had been involved in an affair with her husband, Edward VII, a fact that was well known by Alexandra.[15] Through her family contacts and her extramarital romantic relationships, Jennie greatly helped Lord Randolph's early career, as well as that of her son Winston. In 1909 when American impresario Charles Frohman became sole manager of the The Globe Theatre, the first production was His Borrowed Plumes, written by Lady Randolph Churchill. Although Mrs. Patrick Campbell produced and took the lead role in the play, it was a commercial failure. It was at this point that Mrs. Campbell began an affair with Lady Randolph's then husband, George Cornwallis-West.[16]

Lady Randolph was a talented amateur pianist, having been tutored as a girl by Stephen Heller, a friend of Chopin. Heller believed that his young pupil was good enough to attain 'concert standard' with the necessary 'hard work', which, according to Lovell, he was not confident she was capable of.[17]

Later marriages

Lord Randolph died in 1895, aged 45. On 28th July 1900, Jennie married George Cornwallis-West (1874–1951), a captain in the Scots Guards who was the same age as her elder son, Winston. Around this time, she became well known for chartering a hospital ship to care for those wounded in the Boer War, and in 1908, she wrote The Reminiscences of Lady Randolph Churchill. She separated from her second husband in 1912, and they were divorced in April 1914, whereupon Cornwallis-West married the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Jennie dropped the surname Cornwallis-West, and resumed, by deed poll, the name Lady Randolph Churchill. Her third marriage, on 1st June 1918, was to Montagu Phippen Porch (1877–1964), a member of the British Civil Service in Nigeria, who was three years Winston's junior. At the end of World War I, Porch resigned from the colonial service, and after Jennie's death returned to West Africa where his business investments had proven successful.[18]

Death

In May 1921, while Montagu Porch was away in Africa, Jennie slipped while coming down a friend's staircase wearing new high-heeled shoes, breaking her ankle. Gangrene set in, and her left leg was amputated above the knee on 10th June. She died at her home in London on 29th June, following a haemorrhage of an artery in her thigh (resulting from the amputation). She was 67 years old. [19]

She was buried in the Churchill family plot at St Martin's Church, Bladon, Oxfordshire, next to her first husband.

Legacy

According to legend, Jennie Churchill was responsible for the invention of the Manhattan cocktail. She allegedly commissioned a bartender for a special drink to celebrate the election of Samuel J. Tilden to the governorship in 1874. While the drink is believed to have been invented by the Manhattan Club (an association of New York Democrats) on that occasion, Jennie could not have been involved, as she was in Europe at the time, about to give birth to her son Winston later that month.[20]

Jennie Churchill was portrayed by Anne Bancroft in the film Young Winston (1972) and by Lee Remick in the British television series Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill (1974). She was also portrayed by Margaret Ann Bain in dramatic reenactments during the 2009 Channel 4 documentary Lady Randy: Churchill's Mother.

See also

References

  1. ^ G. H. L. Le May, ‘Churchill, Jeanette [Lady Randolph Churchill] (1854–1921)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2006, accessed September 18, 2010
  2. ^ Lovell, Mary (2011). The Churchills In Love And War. New York, NY: WW Norton & Company. pp. 24. ISBN 978-0-393-06230-4. 
  3. ^ Anne Sebba, American Jennie, Norton, 2008, page 13
  4. ^ "Winston Churchill's Mother Jennie Jerome Was Born in Cobble Hill, But in Which House?". Cobble Hill Association. JUNE 15, 2011. http://brooklynbeforenow.blogspot.com/2011/06/winston-churchills-mother-jennie-jerome.html. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ Lovell, Mary (2011). The Churchills In Love And War. New York, NY: WW Norton & Company. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-393-06230-4. 
  6. ^ Ralph G. Martin Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill-The Romantic Years, 1854-1895
  7. ^ The Churchill Centre & Museum website
  8. ^ Anita Leslie. Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill, 1969
  9. ^ William Manchester, The Last Lion, ISBN 0-440-54681
  10. ^ Johnson, Paul (2010). Churchill. New York, NY: Penguin. p. 4. ISBN 0143117998. 
  11. ^ William Manchester, The Last Lion, ISBN 0-440-54681
  12. ^ Anne Sebba, American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill", Norton, 2008
  13. ^ Manchester, William, Winston Spencer Churchill, The Last Lion, Laurel, Boston, 1989 edition, p. 137, ISBN 0-440-54681-8.
  14. ^ Churchill, Winston., My Early Life, 1930, Touchstone, 1996 edition, p.28.
  15. ^ Edward VII
  16. ^ Lovell, Mary S., The Churchills, Little Brown, London, 2011, p.259.
  17. ^ Lovell, Mary S., The Churchills, Little Brown, London, 2011, p.28.
  18. ^ Lovell, Mary S., The Churchills, Little Brown, London, 2011, p.332, ISBN 978-1-4087-0247-5.
  19. ^ Jenkins, Roy., Churchill, Pan Books, London, 2002 edition, pp.353-354, ISBN 0-330-48805-8.
  20. ^ "Jennie and the Manhattan". The New York Times. December 23, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/nyregion/thecity/23fyi.html. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 

Further reading

External links