Jack Churchill (1880–1947)

  (Redirected from John Strange Spencer-Churchill)

Major John Strange Spencer-Churchill DSO TD (4 February 1880 – 23 February 1947), known as Jack Churchill,[a] was the younger son of Lord Randolph Churchill and his wife Jennie, and the brother of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Sir Winston Churchill.[1]

Early lifeEdit

John (left), then 9, with mother Jennie and elder brother Winston, who would later become the Prime Minister.

He was born at Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, where his father, Lord Randolph, was secretary to Jack's grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, then Viceroy of Ireland.[1]

John was educated at Harrow School in England. Jennie's sisters believed that John's actual biological father was Evelyn Boscawen,[2] but this is unlikely, given his strong resemblance to his father and brother.


John Strange Spencer-Churchill's grave at St Martin's Church, Bladon.

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 in 1899–1900. He was mentioned in dispatches, and was shot through the leg in February 1900, during the Battle of the Tugela Heights, part of the campaign for the relief of Ladysmith.[3][4]

He fought in World War I, where he was again mentioned in dispatches. He 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).[1]

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[1] firstly as a partner at stockbrokers Nelke, Phillips & Bendix from 1906 and then at Vickers, da Costa, making partner in 1921.[5]

During World War II, after the widowed John lost his house during the Blitz, he lived in 10 Downing Street (where he used the bedrooms on the top floor formerly used by Churchill and his wife) or in the No 10 Annex.[6][7]

Personal lifeEdit

He married, in Oxford on 8 August 1908, Lady Gwendoline Theresa Mary Bertie (20 November 1885 – 7 July 1941), the daughter of Montagu Bertie, 7th Earl of Abingdon and Gwendoline Mary Dormer. Lady Gwendoline had been raised as a Roman Catholic.[8] John and his wife had three children:[1]

  • John George Spencer-Churchill (1909–1992)
  • Henry Winston Peregrine Spencer-Churchill (1913–2002), who married Yvonne Henriette Mary Jehannin (1924–2010).[1] By Valerie Munn (1905-1978), he had a child Schofield (for whom he was also the Catholic godfather), and three grandchildren (including Julian Schofield 1970-, and Dominic Schofield 1971-), and four great grandchildren.[9]
  • Anne Clarissa Churchill, Countess of Avon (b. 1920), the widow of the former prime minister Anthony Eden

Jack died on 23 February 1947,[10] aged 67, of heart disease.[11] He is buried near his parents and brother (who outlived him for 18 years, despite being older) at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.[6]


  1. ^ This British person has the barrelled surname Spencer-Churchill, but is known by the surname Churchill.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Andrew (31 October 2007). "Winston Churchill: The 'secret' brother". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  2. ^ Sebba, Anne. American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady Randolph Churchill, Norton, 2008
  3. ^ "The War - Natal". The Times (36067). London. 16 February 1900. p. 5.
  4. ^ Churchill, W. S. London to Ladysmith via Pretoria London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1900, pp. 168–69
  5. ^ Lee, Celia; Lee, John (2007). Winston and Jack: The Churchill Brothers.
  6. ^ a b Mary Soames in her edition of the Churchill letters.
  7. ^ Holmes, Richard. Churchill's Bunker 2009, Profile Books; ISBN 978-1-84668-225-4, pp. 82, 107
  8. ^ Lee, Celia; Lee, John (2010). The Churchills: A Family Portrait. New York: St. Martin’s Press. p. 149. ISBN 9780230112209. Goonie’s father, Montagu Arthur Bertie…had converted to Roman Catholicism with his first wife, and though Goonie was by his second wife, the children were all brought up in the Catholic faith.
  9. ^ http://www.ancestry.ca. An external reference analogue with data is in the process of being created. Intersection of Dormer, Bertie, Spencer-Churchill and Jerome descendants at low probabilities of false positives indicates descent from Peregrine Churchill.
  10. ^ "Churchill's brother dies", The Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, p. 4, 24 February 1947, "Maj. John Spencer Churchill, younger brother of wartime Prime-Minister Winston Churchill, died Sunday.
  11. ^ Lee, Celia and John (10 September 2017). "Jack Churchill: The Faithful Brother - Finest Hour 176". The International Churchill Society. Retrieved 30 April 2018.