John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough
The Duke of Marlborough
Portrait in 1984 by Allan Warren
13 April 1926|
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England
|Died||16 October 2014
|Title||11th Duke of Marlborough|
|Spouse(s)||Susan Mary Hornby
Countess Rosita Douglas
Alexandra Mary Hilda Cadogan
John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough, JP, DL (13 April 1926 – 16 October 2014), was the son of Lt.-Col. John Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough, and his wife, the Hon. Alexandra Mary Hilda Cadogan.
He was a relative of the Duke of Devonshire and a generational cousin of the war-time Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. He was also a distant relative of Diana, Princess of Wales, as both belonged to the Spencer family, and of the Vanderbilt family through his paternal grandmother, Consuelo Vanderbilt.
His principal seat was Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. He was ranked 224th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2004, with an estimated wealth of £185 million. His death was announced on 16 October 2014 by Blenheim Palace.
Life and work
He was educated at Eton College and served seven years in the Life Guards, in which achieved the rank of Captain. In 1972, on inheriting the Dukedom of Marlborough, he took over the management of Blenheim Palace and the Blenheim estate.
In order to fund the maintenance of the house, he opened it to visitors and as a film set, and established a number of businesses, including a garden furniture company and a water bottling plant.
He was also active in a range of organisations, including the Thames and Chilterns Tourist Board and Oxford United Football Club. He served as Vice President of Witney Conservatives, the local party of David Cameron.
Spouses and children
1. The then Marquess of Blandford married Susan Mary Hornby, daughter of Michael Charles St John Hornby and Nicolette Joan Ward, on 19 October 1951. They divorced in 1961 after having three children:
- John David Ivor Spencer-Churchill, Earl of Sunderland (1952–1955), a god-son of Princess Margaret.
- Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough (born 1955)
- Lady Henrietta Mary Spencer-Churchill (born 1958)
2. He then married Athina Onassis, née Livanos, former wife of Aristotle Onassis, and daughter of Stavros Livanos. They were married from 1961 until their divorce in 1971. The marriage produced no offspring.
3. Thirdly, he married Countess Rosita Douglas-Stjernorp, daughter of ambassador Count Carl Douglas-Stjernorp and Ottora Haas-Heye, on 20 May 1972. They divorced on 15 May 2008. They had three offspring:
- Lord Richard Spencer-Churchill (born 1973; died four months later)
- Lord Edward Albert Charles Spencer-Churchill (born 1974)
- Lady Alexandra Elizabeth Spencer-Churchill (born 1977)
4. Fourthly, he married Lily Mahtani, née Sahni (born c. 1957 in Iran), on 3 December 2008 in the Private Chapel at Blenheim. She was formerly the wife of Ratan Mahtani, a wealthy Indian expatriate businessman, by whom she had three children.
Titles and appointments
- Earl of Sunderland (1926–1934)
- Marquess of Blandford (1934–1972)
- His Grace The Duke of Marlborough (1972–2014)
- "Duke of Marlborough dies". Blenheim Palace.
- "The Duke of Marlborough obituary". Guardian. 16 October 2014.
- "Blandford wedding 1951". British Pathe.
- "It's a Sunny day to get divorced". Mail Online. 15 May 2008.
- Richard Kay. "A Sunny day to get married" Daily Mail, 4 December 2008.
- Elizabeth Sanderson "How a Persian beauty reunited the grumpy Duke with black sheep son he disinherited" Daily Mail 17 August 2008. According to this article, the former Lily Sahni is the Persian-born daughter of an Indian businessman associated with the Hinduja family. She married 1987 Ratan Mahtani, a Nigeria-based Indian industrialist, and divorced him more than ten years ago, after having three children with him. Until her relationship with Marlborough, she was best known for her lawsuit against Sarah, Duchess of York for repayment of a loan made in 1994. According to other reports in the Daily Mail, the new Duchess brought about a reconciliation between her future husband and his eldest son Jamie Blandford, who attended his father's fourth wedding ceremony. More details at the 11th Duke and his marriages
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough
- Duke of Marlborough at the Internet Movie Database
- Cast of Branagh's Hamlet
- Elizabeth Sanderson. "How a Persian beauty reunited the grumpy Duke with black sheep son he disinherited" Daily Mail 17 August 2008. The article online also includes photographs of Jamie Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford, his second wife Edla, and his elder son George.
- James Reginato. "Magnificent Obsession" Vanity Fair June 2011
|Peerage of England|
|Duke of Marlborough