John Strange Spencer-Churchill

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For other people named John Spencer-Churchill, see John Spencer-Churchill (disambiguation).

Major John Strange "Jack" Spencer-Churchill, DSO, TD (4 February 1880 – 23 February 1947) was the younger brother of former Prime Minister of United Kingdom Sir Winston Churchill. Lady Randolph's sisters believed that John's biological father was Evelyn Boscawen.[1][clarification needed]

Early life and marriage[edit]

He was born at Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, where his father was secretary to his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, who had been appointed Viceroy of Ireland in 1876. John was educated at Harrow School in England.

He married, in Oxford on 8 August 1908, Lady Gwendoline Theresa Mary Bertie (20 November 1885 – 7 July 1941), a Roman Catholic, the daughter of Montagu Bertie, 7th Earl of Abingdon and Gwendoline Mary Dormer.

Military career[edit]

He was commissioned into the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars in 1898. He served in the South African Light Horse alongside his war correspondent brother in the Second Boer War between 1899 and 1900, where he was Mentioned in Dispatches, and shot through the leg during the Battle of the Tugela Heights, part of the campaign for the relief of Ladysmith.[2]

He fought in the First World War, where he was again Mentioned in Dispatches. He also served on the staff of Field Marshal Lord French, General Sir Ian Hamilton (serving as Naval Liaison Officer for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force) and Field Marshal Lord Birdwood (serving as Camp Commandant, 1st Anzac Corps, and then as Assistant Military Secretary at the headquarters of the Fifth Army). He reached the rank of Major and was awarded the French decorations of the Croix de Guerre and the Légion d'Honneur and the British Distinguished Service Order in 1918.

After the war, he became a businessman in the City of London.

John and his brother Winston were very close; and he and his children spent a lot of time with his brother's family at Chartwell and other residences.

During the Second World War the widowed John lost his house during the Blitz and he lived in 10 Downing Street.[3] He lived in either No 10 (where he used the bedrooms on the top floor formerly used by Churchill and his wife) or the No 10 Annex.[4]

He died of heart disease[5] and is buried near his parents and brother at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.


The couple had three children:

Despite the Ne Temere decree, apparently only their daughter was brought up as a Catholic, the faith of her mother (herself the daughter of a convert).[citation needed]


  1. ^ Anne Sebba, American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill, Norton, 2008
  2. ^ Churchill, W.S. London to Ladysmith via Pretoria London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1900, p. 168-9
  3. ^ Mary Soames in her edition of the Churchill letters.
  4. ^ Churchill’s Bunker by Richard Holmes, pp82, 107 (2009, Profile Books) ISBN 978-1-84668-225-4
  5. ^ Mary Soames