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Robert Blake and Wm. Roger Louis

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206262.001.0001

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Churchill and the Pitfalls of Family Piety

Churchill and the Pitfalls of Family Piety

Chapter:
(p.9) 1 Churchill and the Pitfalls of Family Piety
Source:
Churchill
Author(s):

David Cannadine

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206262.003.0002

Winston Churchill was in many ways a quintessential patrician. Throughout his life, he regarded the Duke of Marlborough as the head of his family, and as the bearer of the greatest name in the land. And it was in Bladon churchyard, within sight of his ancestral palace, that he was buried, beside his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, and Jennie, his mother. At the outset of his career, Churchill certainly benefited from the patronage and support of his ducal relatives and noble connections. But in the much longer perspective of his ninety-year lifetime, the balance tilted markedly the other way. Despite his own reverential feelings towards them, too many of Churchill's ancestors and relatives were tainted by unstable temperament, unsound judgement, financial profligacy, and rhetorical (and also alcoholic) excess. And these were also the very defects of character that censorious contemporaries detected in Churchill himself. In explaining his ‘failure’ in the years before 1940, the political consequences of this genealogically precarious reputation should not be ignored.

Keywords:   Winston Churchill, family, Duke of Marlborough, Lord Randolph Churchill, reputation, relatives, Bladon

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