Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough
Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough, KG, TD, PC (13 November 1871 – 30 June 1934), styled Earl of Sunderland until 1883 and Marquess of Blandford between 1883 and 1892, was a British soldier and Conservative politician, and a close friend of his first cousin Winston Churchill. He was often known as "Sunny" Marlborough after his courtesy title of Earl of Sunderland.
Early life and education
Born at Simla, India, Marlborough was the only son of the then Marquess of Blandford (who succeeded as The 8th Duke of Marlborough in July 1883) and Lady Albertha Frances Anne, daughter of The 1st Duke of Abercorn. He was a nephew of Lord Randolph Churchill and a first cousin of Sir Winston Churchill, with whom he had a close and lifelong friendship. He was a fourth cousin twice removed of Diana, Princess of Wales. He was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Cambridge.
Marlborough entered the House of Lords on the early death of his father in 1892, and made his maiden speech in August 1895. In 1899, he was appointed Paymaster-General by Lord Salisbury, a post he held until 1902. He was then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies under Arthur Balfour between 1903 and 1905. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1899.
He again held political office during the First World War, when he was Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries between 1917 and 1918 in David Lloyd George's coalition government. He made his last speech in the House of Lords in December 1931.
Shortly before the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Marlborough was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Garter (KG) at Buckingham Palace on 30 May 1902. He subsequently served as Lord High Steward at the coronation of King Edward VII the following August (the coronation had originally been scheduled for June).
Marlborough was appointed a Lieutenant in the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars in 1897. After the outbreak of the Second Boer War, he was in January 1900 seconded for service as a Staff Captain in the Imperial Yeomanry serving in South Africa, and received the temporary rank of Captain. He arrived in Cape Town in March 1900, and left for Naauwpoort in Northern Cape Colony with the Oxford company of the Imperial Yeomanry.
He was subsequently appointed Assistant Military Secretary to Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in South Africa, and was aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Ian Monteith Hamilton.
He was mentioned in despatches and promoted to Major on 7 December 1901. After the formation of the Territorial Army he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1908.
He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel of his yeomanry regiment in 1910, serving until 1914. He was awarded the Territorial Decoration (TD) in 1913. He rejoined during the First World War, when he served as a Lieutenant-Colonel on the General Staff in France. He was later Honorary Colonel and commandant of the Oxfordshire Volunteer Regiment of the Volunteer Training Corps from 1918 to 1920.
Marriages and issue
Marlborough was married twice. His first wife was the American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, whom he married at Saint Thomas Church in New York City on 6 November 1895. The marriage was a mercenary one. Inheriting his near-bankrupt dukedom in 1892, he was forced to find a quick and drastic solution to the financial problems of his family. Prevented by the strict social dictates of late 19th-century society from earning money, he was left with one solution; to marry money. The marriage was celebrated following lengthy negotiations with his bride's divorced parents: her mother, Alva Vanderbilt, was desperate to see her daughter a duchess, and the bride's father, William Vanderbilt, paid for the privilege. The final price was $2,500,000 (worth about $62m in 2007) in 50,000 shares of the capital stock of the Beech Creek Railway Company with a minimum 4% dividend guaranteed by the New York Central Railroad Company. The couple were each given a further annual income of $100,000 for life. The bride later claimed she had been locked in her room until she agreed to the marriage. The contract was actually signed in the vestry of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, immediately after the wedding vows had been made. Whilst they honeymooned in Europe, Marlborough told Consuelo that he actually loved another woman but had married her in order to "save Blenheim".
They had two sons, John Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford, eventually the 10th Duke of Marlborough, and Lord Ivor Spencer-Churchill. Their mother famously referred to them as "the heir and the spare".
The Vanderbilt dowry was used to restore Blenheim Palace and replenish its furnishings and library, for many of the original contents had been sold over the course of the 19th century. Many of the jewels worn by subsequent Duchesses of Marlborough also date from this period. The 9th Duke employed noted landscape gardener Achille Duchêne to create the water garden on the terrace at Blenheim. In 1934 he owned 19,685 acres of land.
However, Consuelo was far from happy; she records many of her problems in her cynical and often less than candid biography The Glitter and the Gold. She shocked society by leaving her husband in 1906. The couple were divorced in 1921; the marriage was annulled by the Vatican five years later, no doubt facilitated by the duke's wish to become a Roman Catholic (the family remained Anglican). Consuelo subsequently married a Frenchman, Jacques Balsan. She died in 1964, having lived to see her son become Duke of Marlborough; she frequently returned to Blenheim, the house she had found uncomfortable and inconvenient when living there.
In the late 1890s, the Duke invited to Blenheim Palace Gladys Deacon, another American, who became friends with Consuelo. Deacon became the Duke's mistress soon after moving into the palace. She and Marlborough were married on 25 June 1921 in Paris, shortly after his divorce from Consuelo.
Artistic and a keen gardener, the new Duchess of Marlborough had enlarged images of her startling blue-green eyes painted on the ceiling of the main portico of Blenheim Palace, where they remain today. Later in their unhappy, childless marriage, she kept a revolver in her bedroom to prevent her husband's entry.
As her behaviour became increasingly erratic, most noticeably following the Duke's conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1927, the couple began drifting apart. Finally, the duke moved out of the palace, and two years later evicted her. The couple separated but never divorced.
Titles and styles
- 1871–1883: Earl of Sunderland
- 1883–1892: Marquess of Blandford
- 1892–1899: His Grace The Duke of Marlborough
- 1899–1913: His Grace The Duke of Marlborough PC
- 1902–1913: His Grace The Duke of Marlborough KG PC
- 1913–1934: His Grace The Duke of Marlborough KG TD PC
In popular culture
- "- Person Page 10595". Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "Family relationship of Sir Winston Churchill and Princess Diana via Henry Bayly alias Paget". famouskin.com. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
- "Churchill (Spencer-Churchill), Charles Richard John, Marquess of Blandford (CHRL890CR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- "Mr Charles Spencer-Churchill". History of Parliament. Parliament of the UK. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "No. 27048". The London Gazette. 3 February 1899. p. 681.
- "Court Circular". The Times (36782). London. 31 May 1902. p. 8.
- "No. 27442". The London Gazette. 13 June 1902. p. 3833.
- "No. 27489". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 October 1902. p. 6865.
- "Court Circular". The Times (36768). London. 15 May 1902. p. 12.
- "No. 27159". The London Gazette. 30 January 1900. p. 691.
- "No. 27155". The London Gazette. 19 January 1900. p. 362.
- "Latest intelligence - The War". The Times (36083). London. 3 March 1900. p. 5.
- Who's Who, 1934. A and C Black. p. 2199.
- "No. 27383". The London Gazette. 6 December 1901. p. 8644.
- Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1934. Kelly's. p. 1209.
- Vanderbilt, Amanda Mackenzie. Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-06-621418-4.
- Vanderbilt, Amanda Mackenzie. Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-06-621418-4.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus; Sherwood, Jennifer (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 459–475. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
- Vanderbilt, Amanda Mackenzie. Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-06-621418-4.
- "BBC – What happened to Gladys Deacon, Duchess of Marlborough?". Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- Mackenzie Stuart, Amanda (2005). Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780066214184. OCLC 62128037.
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- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough
The Earl of Hopetoun
Sir Savile Crossley, Bt
The Earl of Onslow
| Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Sir Richard Winfrey
| Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the
Board of Agriculture and Fisheries
with Sir Richard Winfrey
Sir Richard Winfrey
The Viscount Goschen
Title last held byThe Earl of Halsbury
| Lord High Steward
Title next held byThe Duke of Northumberland
The Earl of Jersey
| Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire
|Peerage of England|
| Duke of Marlborough