Lord Randolph Churchill
British politician
Lord Randolph Churchill
Lord Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill was a British statesman. He was the third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and his wife Lady Frances Anne Emily Vane (1822–1899), daughter of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. He was the father of Winston Churchill, the future wartime Prime Minister, who wrote his father's first major biography.
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  • 1895
    Age 46
    Died in 1895.
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  • 1894
    Age 45
    Lord Randolph started in the autumn of 1894, accompanied by his wife, but his health soon became so feeble that he was brought back hurriedly from Cairo.
    More Details Hide Details He reached England shortly before Christmas and died in London. The gross value of his personal estate was entered in the Probate Registry at £75,971. This is the financial equivalent of over £6.45 million in 2008 terms, using the retail price index. He is buried near his wife and sons at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Rosebery described his old friend and political opponent's death as one of "his nervous system was always tense and highly strung; he seems to have had no knowledge of men, no consideration of their feelings, no give and take." But he continued, "in congenial society, his conversation was wholly delightful. He would then display his mastery of pleasant irony and banter; for with those playthings he was at his best." Lord Randolph's charm undoubtedly appealed to Jennie Jerome, attracting her considerable emotional intelligence.
    His last speech in the House was delivered in the debate on Uganda in June 1894, and was a painful failure.
    More Details Hide Details An attempted round-the-world journey failed to cure him.
  • 1893
    Age 44
    As the session of 1893 wore on, his speeches lost their old effectiveness.
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    Jennings, however, who was dead when Harris recounted the story, was not a reliable source: his friendship with Churchill had ended acrimoniously after Randolph attacked the Tory party and several of its members in 1893.
    More Details Hide Details Jennings' account as reported by Harris has never been corroborated. By 1924, Harris had fallen out with Winston Churchill, for whom he had been a literary agent. Harris had made similar but false or unsubstantiated assertions about Oscar Wilde and Guy de Maupassant. Recent suggestions presented by London's Churchill Centre and Museum call into question Harris' veracity and offer the alternative theory of a "left side brain tumour", which they claim would be more consistent with Churchill's observed afflictions. The Centre noted that "There is no indication that Lady Randolph or her sons were infected with syphilis. If it is accepted, as reported, that both boys were born prematurely, this was more likely to have been due to a weak opening to the womb than to the disease. If the boys were not born prematurely, that would cast even greater doubt on a diagnosis of syphilis. Neither son was born with the infections that resemble secondary syphilis, nor did they have late hereditary syphilis, commonest between the ages of 7 and 15, manifested by deafness, partial blindness and/or notched teeth."
  • 1891
    Age 42
    In 1891, he went to South Africa, in search both of health and relaxation.
    More Details Hide Details He traveled for some months through Cape Colony, the Transvaal and Rhodesia, making notes on the politics and economics of the countries, shooting lions, and recording his impressions in letters to a London newspaper, which were afterwards republished under the title of Men, Mines and Animals in South Africa. He attacked Gladstone's Second Home Rule Bill with energy, and gave fiery pro-Union speeches in Ireland. During this time he coined the phrase "Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right", echoing his earlier remark that in opposing Irish Home Rule "the Orange card would be the one to play". But it was soon apparent that his powers were undermined by the illness which took his life at the age of 45.
  • 1889
    Age 40
    He was an ardent supporter of horse-racing, and, in 1889, he won the Epsom Oaks with a mare named the Abbesse de Jouarre.
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  • 1886
    Age 37
    His management of the House was largely successful, marked by tact, discretion and temper. But he resigned suddenly on 20 December 1886.
    More Details Hide Details Various motives influenced him in taking this surprising step; but the only ostensible cause was put forward in his letter to Lord Salisbury, which was read in the House of Commons on 27 January. In this document he stated that his resignation was the result of his inability, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to concur in the demands made on the Treasury by the ministers at the head of the naval and military establishments. It was commonly supposed that he expected his resignation to be followed by the unconditional surrender of the cabinet, and his restoration to office on his own terms. The cabinet was reconstructed with Goschen as Chancellor of the Exchequer. For the next few years there was some speculation about a return to front-line politics but Churchill's own career as a Conservative chief was over; even so his ideas survived yet in the Dartford Programme of September 1886.
    He was now the recognised Conservative champion in the Lower Chamber, and when the second Salisbury administration was formed after the general election of 1886 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons.
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  • 1885
    Age 36
    In the autumn election of 1885 he contested Birmingham Central against John Bright, and though defeated here, was at the same time returned by a very large majority for South Paddington.
    More Details Hide Details In the contest which arose over William Ewart Gladstone's Home Rule bill, Lord Randolph again bore a conspicuous part, and in the electioneering campaign his activity was only second to that of some of the Liberal Unionists, Lord Hartington, George Goschen and Joseph Chamberlain.
    He sided with commercial interests and directed the Viceroy, Lord Dufferin, to invade Upper Burma in November 1885.
    More Details Hide Details With little discussion, Churchill then decided to annexe the final remnant of the once great Burmese kingdom, adding it as a new province of the Indian Raj as a "New Year present" for Queen Victoria on New Year's Day 1886. Soldier and explorer Sir Francis Younghusband considered Churchill the best Secretary of State the India Office ever had.
    His services were, at any rate, far too important to be refused recognition; and in Lord Salisbury's 'caretaker' cabinet he was made Secretary of State for India on 24June 1885.
    More Details Hide Details As the price of entry he demanded that Sir Stafford Northcote be removed from the Commons, despite being the Conservative leader there. Salisbury was more than willing to concede this and Northcote went to the Lords as the Earl of Iddlesleigh. During his tenure at the India Office during the short-lived minority Conservative administration, Churchill reversed policy over Burma.
    It was strengthened by the prominent part he played in the events immediately preceding the fall of the Liberal government in 1885; and when Hugh Childers's budget resolutions were defeated by the Conservatives, aided by about half the Parnellites, Lord Randolph Churchill's admirers were justified in proclaiming him to have been the "organiser of victory".
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  • 1884
    Age 35
    Lord Randolph was not the originator but his campaign of 1884 encouraged the leadership to improve on their designs.
    More Details Hide Details For the first time since 1832 the Conservatives won in the majority of English boroughs in November 1885.
  • 1880
    Age 31
    He gave constant attention to the party organisation, which had fallen into considerable disorder after 1880, and was an active promoter of the Primrose League.
    More Details Hide Details In 1884 progressive Toryism won out. At the conference of the Central Union of Conservative Associations, Lord Randolph was nominated chairman, despite the opposition of the parliamentary leaders. A split was averted by Lord Randolph's voluntary resignation which he had done his best to engineer; but the episode had confirmed his title to a leading place in the Tory ranks. He built up Tory Democracy in the towns reinforcing the urban middle classes part n the party, while simultaneously including a working-class element. His unsuccessful bid for the party leadership was inextricably part of the National Union's attempt to control the party organization. It had originally been founded by Tory peers to organize propaganda to attract working men's votes, registration, choose candidates, conduct elections; associations were linked to provincial unions.
    The long controversy over Bradlaugh's seat showed that Lord Randolph Churchill was a parliamentary champion who added to his audacity much tactical skill and shrewdness. He continued to play a conspicuous part throughout the parliament of 1880 to 1885, targeting William Ewart Gladstone as well as the Conservative front bench, some of whose members, particularly Sir Richard Cross and William Henry Smith, he singled out for attack when they opposed the reduced Army estimates.
    More Details Hide Details This would be the cause for his resignation because Salisbury failed to support his Chancellor in cabinet. They opposed his unionist politics of 'economising' by Tory tradition making Randolph grow to hate cabinet meetings. From the beginning of the Egyptian imbroglio Lord Randolph was emphatically opposed to almost every step taken by the government. He declared that the suppression of Urabi Pasha's rebellion was an error, and the restoration of the khedive's authority a crime. He called Gladstone the "Moloch of Midlothian", for whom torrents of blood had been shed in Africa. He was equally severe on the domestic policy of the administration, and was particularly bitter in his criticism of the Kilmainham Treaty and the rapprochement between the Gladstonians and the Parnellites. By 1885 he had formulated the policy of progressive Conservatism which was known as "Tory Democracy". He declared that the Conservatives ought to adopt, rather than oppose, popular reforms, and to challenge the claims of the Liberals to pose as champions of the masses. His views were largely accepted by the official Conservative leaders in the treatment of the Gladstonian Franchise Bill of 1884. Lord Randolph insisted that the principle of the bill should be accepted by the opposition, and that resistance should be focused on the refusal of the government to combine with it a scheme of redistribution. The prominent, and on the whole judicious and successful, part he played in the debates on these questions, still further increased his influence with the rank and file of the Conservatives in the constituencies.
    In the new parliament of 1880 he speedily began to play a more notable role.
    More Details Hide Details Along with Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff, Sir John Gorst and occasionally Arthur Balfour, he made himself known as the audacious opponent of the Liberal administration and the unsparing critic of the Conservative front bench. The "fourth party", as it was nicknamed, at first did little damage to the government, but awakened the opposition from its apathy; Churchill roused the Conservatives by leading resistance to Charles Bradlaugh, the member for Northampton, who, though an avowed atheist or agnostic, was prepared to take the parliamentary oath. Sir Stafford Northcote, the Conservative leader in the Lower House, was forced to take a strong line on this difficult question by the energy of the fourth party.
  • 1878
    Age 29
    It was not until 1878 that he came to public notice as the exponent of independent Conservatism.
    More Details Hide Details He made a series of furious attacks on Sir Stafford Northcote, R. A. Cross, and other prominent members of the "old gang". George Sclater-Booth (afterwards 1st Baron Basing), President of the Local Government Board, was a specific target, and the minister's County Government Bill was fiercely denounced as the "crowning dishonour to Tory principles", and the "supreme violation of political honesty". Lord Randolph's attitude, and the vituperative fluency of his invective, made him a parliamentary figure of some importance before the dissolution of the 1874 parliament, though he was not yet taken quite seriously, owing to his high-pitched hysterical laugh.
  • 1875
    Age 26
    In January 1875, only a month after Winston's birth, Randolph made repeated visits for an undisclosed ailment to the family doctor, Dr Oscar Clayton, a specialist in the treatment of syphilis at his London practice at 5,Harley Street.
    More Details Hide Details According to Frank Harris, the editor of Fortnightly Magazine, who published the allegation in his scandalous 1924 autobiography, My Life and Loves, "Randolph had caught syphilis " Dr Clayton was, however, a "society doctor" with many patients among the British upper class. Harris' book recounted a story told by Louis Jennings, who had published Randolph's 1880-1888 speeches, to support the syphilis claim.
  • 1874
    Age 25
    Lord Randolph Churchill married a New Yorker Jennie Jerome, daughter of Leonard Jerome, on 15 April 1874.
    More Details Hide Details The couple had two sons:
  • 1867
    Age 18
    Among lifelong friendships made at school were Edward Hamilton and Archibald Primrose. In October 1867 he matriculated and was admitted at Merton College, Oxford.
    More Details Hide Details At Oxford, Primrose, now Lord Dalmeny, joined him at the champagne-fuelled parties as members of the Bullingdon Club. Randolph was frequently in trouble with the university authorities for drunkenness, smoking in academic dress, and smashing windows at the Randolph Hotel. His rowdy behavior was infectious, rubbing off on friends and contemporaries; he gained a reputation as an enfant terrible. He had a liking for sport, but was an avid reader, playing hard and working hard. Churchill experienced none of the early doubts but made many mistakes, as alluded to in Rosebery's biography. He never regretted being an early friend and admirer of the Disraelis. It was however the later cause of dissension that emerged in his relations with a colder more aloof, disciplinarian Salisbury, of whom he fell foul of party challenges. Churchill's youthful exuberance did not prevent him gaining a second-class degree in jurisprudence and modern history in 1870. A year later Churchill and his elder brother, George, were initiated into the rites of Freemasonry, as later his son Winston would be.
  • 1863
    Age 14
    In January 1863 he travelled the short distance by private train to Eton College, where he remained until July 1865.
    More Details Hide Details He did not stand out either at academic work or sport while at Eton; his contemporaries describe him as a vivacious and rather unruly boy.
  • 1849
    Age 0
    Born in 1849.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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