Lady Randolph Churchill
) (January 9, 1854 – June 9, 1921), born
, was the wife of Lord Randolph Churchill
mother of British Prime
Jerome was born in Rochester, New York, the second of three daughters of financier,
sportsman, and speculator Leonard
Jerome and his wife Clara, daughter of Ambrose Hall, a landowner and sometime New York State Assemblyman.
raised in Brooklyn, New
York and New York, New York.
She had two sisters, Clarita (a.k.a. Clara)
and Leonie. Her father was rumored to be the father of the American
opera singer Minnie Hauk
married Baron Ernest von Hesse-Waltegg).
An unsubstantiated legend has it that Leonard Jerome, a man who
, named his second daughter after
the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind
, with whom
he purportedly had an affair (doubtful, as Lind was highly moral).
There is no evidence that Lind and Jerome ever met.
A noted beauty — an admirer said that there was "more of the
panther than of the woman in her look" — Lady Randolph Churchill
worked as a magazine editor in early life. There is a persistent
rumor (often wrongly cited as fact) that she had a fashionable
tattoo of a snake twined around her wrist, which she hid with a
bracelet when required. . However, while this is certainly possible
(since tattoos of the type were fashionable at the time, worn by
fashionable women such as the 7th
Marchioness of Londonderry
, who had a snake tattooed on one of
her legs in 1903), extensive searching has so far provided no
evidence other than rumor. The historian Sir Martin Gilbert
(Winston Churchill's official
biographer) considers it very unlikely.
Hall family lore insists that Jennie had an Iroquois
great-grandfather, but no evidence of any
ancestry has yet been uncovered, despite much
genealogical digging. Moshe Kohn, in an article in The
on 15 January 1993, alleged that the Jerome
family name was originally Jacobson, and that Jennie's ethnic
ancestry was, in fact, Jewish, at least on her father's side.
However, there is no truth to this claim; the name of the family
has always been Jerome since the family (in the person of a
Huguenot immigrant named Timothy Jerome) first set foot in America
It is alleged that both Jennie and her father Leonard had similar
interests. Her father purchased the Bathgate Mansion and
Estate, on the outer western edge of Old Fordham Village, Westchester
County (now in the
Bronx), and built the Jerome Park Racetrack on the
While living at the mansion, Jennie took to
horseback riding, as her father took to betting. It was at the
racetrack that she met and was later courted by her future husband,
Marriage and personal life
considered one of the most beautiful women of the time, she was
married for the first time in 1874, at the British Embassy in
Paris, to Lord
Randolph Churchill (1849–1895), the second son of John
Winston Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough.
Jennie Jerome before she was married
and became Jennie Churchill.
marriage, she was properly known as Lady Randolph Churchill and
would have been referred to in conversation as Lady Randolph.
The Churchills had two sons: Winston
(1874–1965) born less than eight
months after the marriage, and John
sisters believed the latter's biological father was Evelyn "Star"
, 7th Viscount
. Lady Randolph had numerous lovers during her
marriage, including Count Charles Andreas
and King Edward VII of the United
As was the custom of the day, Lady Randolph played a limited role
in her sons' upbringing, relying largely upon nannies such as
Winston's beloved Mrs. (Elizabeth) Everest. Winston completely
worshipped his mother, writing her numerous letters during his time
at school, begging her to visit him, which she rarely did. However,
after he became an adult, she and he became good friends and strong
allies, to the point where Winston regarded her almost as a
political mentor, more as a sister than as a mother.
A strong personality, Jennie was well-respected and influential in
the highest British social and political circles. She was said to
be intelligent, witty, and quick to laughter. It was said that
Alexandra of Denmark
enjoyed her company, despite the fact that Jennie had been involved
in an affair with Alexandra's husband, Edward VII
, a fact that was
well-known by Alexandra. Through her family contacts and her
extramarital romantic relationships, Jennie greatly helped Lord
Randolph's early career, as well as that of her son Winston.
when American impresario Charles
Frohman became sole manager of the The Globe Theatre, the first production was His Borrowed
Plumes written by Lady Randolph Churchill.
Five years after the death at age 45 of Lord Randolph, on July 28,
1900, she married George
(1874–1951), a captain in the Scots Guards
who was the same age as her elder
son. Around this time, she became well-known for chartering a
hospital ship to care for those wounded in the Boer War, and in
1908, she wrote The Reminiscences of Lady Randolph
. She separated from her second husband in 1912, and
they were divorced in April 1914, whereupon Cornwallis-West married
the famous actress Mrs. Patrick
. Jennie then dropped the surname Cornwallis-West and
resumed, by deed poll
, the name Lady
marriage, on June 1, 1918, was to Montague Phippen Porch
(1877–1964), a member of the British Civil Service in Nigeria, who was
three years Winston's junior.
At the end of World War I
, Porch resigned from the colonial
service, and in 1921, he returned to Africa to find his fortune.
Jennie Jerome met Randolph Churchill at a ball given for the future
Czar of Russia on board the ship Ariadne. This occurred at Cowes,
Isle of Wight.
In 1921, while her husband was in Africa, Jennie, aged 67, slipped
while coming down a friend's staircase while wearing new high
heeled shoes, breaking an ankle. Gangrene
set in, and her left leg was amputated above the knee; soon
afterward she died at her home in London following a haemorrhage of
an artery in her thigh (resulting from the amputation).
buried in the Churchill family plot at St Martin's
Church, Bladon, Oxfordshire, next to
her first husband.
In 1926, her widower, Montague Porch
married Donna Giulia Patrizi
(died 1938), who was a daughter of the Marchese Patrizi della
According to legend, Jennie Churchill was responsible for the
invention of the Manhattan
. She allegedly commissioned a bartender for a special
drink to celebrate the election of Samuel J. Tilden
to the governorship in 1874.
However, she was in England at the time of the 1874 election, about
to give birth to her son Winston later that month.
Jennie Churchill was portrayed by Lee
in the British television series Jennie
in the film Young Winston
- Anne Sebba, American Jennie, Norton, 2008, page
- Ralph G. Martin Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph
Churchill- The Romantic Years, 1854-1895
- He had Iroquois Ancestors - The Churchill
- Anita Leslie. Lady Randolph Churchill: The Story of Jennie
- Anne Sebba, American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady
Randolph Churchill", Norton, 2008
- Anne Sebba. "American Jennie: The Remarkable Life of Lady
Randolph Churchill" (W.W. Norton, 2007) ISBN 0-39-305772-0
- Lady Randolph Spencer Churchill. The Reminiscences of Lady
Randolph Churchill, 1908 (Autobiography)
- Anita Leslie. Lady Randolph
Churchill: The Story of Jennie Jerome, 1968
- Ralph G. Martin. Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph
Churchill - The Romantic Years, 1854-1895 (Prentice-Hall,
Ninth printing, 1969)
- Ralph G. Martin. Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph
Churchill - Volume II, The Dramatic Years, 1895-1921
(Prentice-Hall, 1971) ISBN 0-13-509760-6
- Ralph G. Martin. reissue of both volumes of Jennie: The
Life of Lady Randolph Churchill, (Sourcebooks, 2007) ISBN