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8th Duke Marlborough, George Charles Spencer-Churchill

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Re: 8th Duke Marlborough, George Charles Spencer-Churchill

Yvonne (View posts)
Posted: 30 Sep 2005 12:32PM GMT
Classification: Query
-- Previous Message --
>What kind of a man was 8th Duke of Marlborough? I can't find much about him. Did the 8th Duke of Marlborough have a gambling problem?

What an interesting question. May I ask why you wonder about him, and if he may have had a gambling problem?

There doesn't seem to be a biography for the 8th Duke of Marlborough, not even an entry for him in the (Oxford) Dictionary of National Biography. What I've been able to find about him is information gathered from contemporary sources (*The Times* of London), and secondary sources such as biographies (of King Edward VII, and of his sister-in-law Lady Randolph Churchill), books that mention his second wife (*To Marry an English Lord* and *In a Gilded Cage*), and genealogical reference works (*Burke's Peerage* and *The Complete Peerage*).

If you want the long version regarding the Duke's character, with source citations, contact me at my email address. For now, I'll give you the "Reader's Digest", condensed, version.

George Charles Spencer-Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough (1844-1892) was a man seemingly without redeeming qualities, who led a scandalous life, and who was "his own worst enemy", according to his obituary in *The Times*. His birth was overshadowed by a dreadful accident, which some might say influenced the remainder of his life. To honour his birth in the spring of 1844, cannons were fired in the park at his family's ancestral seat, Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire. The young man in charge of the gun reloaded the cannon without first cleaning it. The result was an explosion, in which he lost both hands. George was known to his friends and family as Blandford (from his courtesy title Marquess of Blandford, which he bore from 1857 to 1883). He was of average build, moustached, and had a formal manner. Blandford was an officer, and an Conservative MP for some years. He was a multi-lingual intellectual of varied, scholarly interests, and was a connoisseur of art. But Blandford was also a restless, unhappy man, who was a disappointment to his parents. Blandford married well (his wife, a godchild of Queen Victoria, was the daughter of the 1st Duke of Abercorn), but he was bored. Blandford amused himself with a series of mistresses, including the wife of Heneage Finch, 7th Earl of Aylesford, nicknamed "Sporting Joe". This liaison caused a society scandal when Aylesford threatened to divorce his wife, and led to both families being ostracized at Court for a few years. To add insult to injury, Blandford and Edith (Lady Aylesford) had a child, born in 1881 in Paris. Two years later, Lady Blandford divorced her husband, who by this time had succeeded as 8th Duke. The Spencer-Churchill family was (relatively) cash-poor (Blenheim Palace was a constant drain on their resources), and both the 7th and 8th Dukes resorted to selling some of the family's art treasures. In search of money, Blandford went to the USA where he met and married a tremendously rich widow, Mrs Hammersley (née Lilian (Lily) Price) in June 1888. This "infusion of cash" meant that Blandford could maintain (refurbish, and add to) Blenheim Palace, his lifestyle and his new mistress (Lady Colin Campbell, who was separated from her husband, the youngest son of the 8th Duke of Argyll). Blandford died suddenly of heart failure at Blenheim Palace in November 1892.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Hunter_Johnst... 30 Sep 2005 3:34PM GMT 
Nancy J. Jones 30 Sep 2005 6:25PM GMT 
Yvonne 1 Oct 2005 12:20AM GMT 
Yvonne 30 Sep 2005 7:27PM GMT 
Yvonne 30 Sep 2005 6:32PM GMT 
Nancy J. Jones 1 Oct 2005 6:22AM GMT 
edmund morris 9 Aug 2015 3:33PM GMT 
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