George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough

George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough, DCL (27 December 1793 – 1 July 1857), styled Earl of Sunderland until 1817 and Marquess of Blandford between 1817 and 1840, was a British nobleman, politician, and peer. The great-grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill, he served as Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire between 1842 and 1857.

The Duke of Marlborough

Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire
In office
1842 – 1 July 1857
Preceded byThe Earl of Macclesfield
Succeeded byThe Duke of Marlborough
Personal details
Born27 December 1793 (1793-12-27)
Bill Hill, Hurst, Berkshire
Died1 July 1857 (1857-08) (aged 63)
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Political partyUltra-Tory
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

Background and educationEdit

Styled Earl of Sunderland from birth, he was born at Bill Hill, Hurst, Berkshire (an estate his father was renting at the time), the eldest son of George Spencer, Marquess of Blandford (later George Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough) and his wife, the former Lady Susan Stewart, daughter of John Stewart, 7th Earl of Galloway. He was educated at Eton between 1805 and 1811, and later at Christ Church, Oxford. He was also given an honorary Doctorate of Civil Laws by Oxford University on 15 June 1841.[1]

Political careerEdit

He became known by the courtesy title Marquess of Blandford in 1817, when his father succeeded to the dukedom. He sat as a Tory Member of Parliament for Chippenham between 1818 and 1820,[1][2] and for Woodstock from 1826 to 1831, from 1832 to 1835 and from 1838 to 1840, when he succeeded to the dukedom and entered the House of Lords.[1][3] In 1842, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, a post he held until his death.[1]

In parliament, Blandford became an Ultra-Tory, splitting with Wellington in opposition to Catholic emancipation. In response to the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, Blandford introduced the first major reform bill in February 1830, calling for transfer of rotten borough seats to the counties and large towns, disfranchisement of non-resident voters, prevention of holders of office under the Crown from sitting in Parliament, payment of a salary to MPs, and the general franchise for men who owned property. He believed that somewhat more open elections could be relied upon to oppose Catholicism.[4]


He played cricket as a young man and is recorded in one first-class match in 1817, totalling 4 runs with a highest score of 4.[5]


Lady Jane Stewart
Lord Almeric and Lady Clementina, the children of the 6th Duke by his second wife, Charlotte Augusta Flower

As a young man, he and Harriet Caroline Octavia Spencer (1798–1831),[6] daughter of William Robert Spencer (youngest son of Lord Charles Spencer), went through a false ceremony of marriage with a relative of the groom posing as a cleric. A voyage to Scotland, where they lived as husband and wife, was intended by the bride and her parents to make this marriage legal under Scottish law. The sixth Duke did, however, successfully contest in a court of law that they had lived as if they had been married.[7]

Child by Harriet Caroline Octavia Spencer, who subsequently married Karl Theodor von Westerholt (1795–1863) in 1819:[6]

  • Susan Harriett Elizabeth Churchill (1818–1887), married Aimé Timothée Cuénod (1808–1882).

He married, firstly, his first cousin Lady Jane Stewart (1798–1844), daughter of George Stewart, 8th Earl of Galloway, on 13 January 1819. They had four children:

After his first wife's death in October 1844, aged 46, he married, secondly, the Hon. Charlotte Augusta Flower (1818–1850), daughter of Henry Flower, 4th Viscount Ashbrook, on 10 June 1846. They had two children:

  • Lord Almeric Athelstan Spencer-Churchill (1847 – 12 December 1856), died young.
  • Lady Clementina Augusta Spencer-Churchill (4 May 1848 – 27 March 1886), married John Pratt, 3rd Marquess Camden, and had issue.

After his second wife's death in April 1850, aged 31, he married, thirdly, his first cousin Jane Francis Clinton Stewart (1818–1897), daughter of the Hon. Edward Richard Stewart and granddaughter of John Stewart, 7th Earl of Galloway, on 18 October 1851. They had one child:

  • Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill (28 March 1853 – 5 May 1911), married Augusta Warburton, daughter of Major George Drought Warburton, and had issue.

The 6th Duke of Marlborough died at Blenheim Palace on 1 July 1857, aged 63, and was succeeded by his eldest son, John. The Duchess of Marlborough died at 28 Grosvenor Street in Mayfair, London, in March 1897, aged 79.[1]


  • Mary Soames; The Profligate Duke: George Spencer Churchill, Fifth Duke of Marlborough, and His Duchess (1987)


  1. ^ a b c d e George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough
  2. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 4)
  3. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "W" (part 5)
  4. ^ Eric J. Evans, The Forging of the Modern State: Early Industrial Britain, 1783–1870 (2nd ed. 1990), p. 216
  5. ^ "Marquis of Blandford". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  6. ^ a b Marquis Ruvigny, Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal, being a complete table of all the descendants now living of Edward III, King of England: Essex Volume (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1907), p.89.
  7. ^ The profligate Duke

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Brooke
John Maitland
Member of Parliament for Chippenham
With: William Miles 1818–1820
Succeeded by
William Madocks
John Grossett
Preceded by
John Gladstone
James Langston
Member of Parliament for Woodstock
With: Lord Ashley 1826–1830
Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill 1830–1831
Succeeded by
Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill
Viscount Stormont
Preceded by
Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill
Viscount Stormont
Member of Parliament for Woodstock
Succeeded by
Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill
Preceded by
Henry Peyton
Member of Parliament for Woodstock
Succeeded by
Sir Frederic Thesiger
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Macclesfield
Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Peerage of England
Preceded by
George Spencer-Churchill
Duke of Marlborough
Succeeded by
John Spencer