Churchill, John Winston Spencer, sixth Duke of Marlborough 1822-1883, politician, was the eldest son of George Spencer Churchill, fifth duke of Marlborough, who died in 1857, by his first wife, Lady Jane Stewart, daughter of George, eighth earl of Galloway. He was born at Garboldisham Hall, Norfolk, 2 June 1822. He was educated at Eton in 1835-8, and at Oriel College, Oxford. He commenced his public career as a lieutenant in the 1st Oxfordshire yeomanry in 1843, and took his seat in the House of Commons as conservative member for Woodstock on 22 April 1844 (being then known as Marquis of Blandford), but in consequence of having supported free trade measures without the concurrence of his father, whose influence at Woodstock was paramount, he was obliged to accept the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds on 1 May in the following year. On the assembly of the new parliament in 1847, he was re-elected for Woodstock, and, although an unsuccessful candidate for Middlesex in 1852, kept his seat for the former place continuously until 1857, when he became Duke of Marlborough, and was in the same year gazetted lord-lieutenant of Oxfordshire. He was lord steward of the household in July 1866, a privy councillor on 10 July, and lord president of the council from 8 March 1867 to Dec. 1868, and became K.G. 23 May 1868. In 1874 he declined the viceroyalty of Ireland in Mr. Disraeli's second cabinet. On 28 Nov. 1876 he succeeded the Duke of Abercorn as lord-lieutenant, and held office till the fall of the Beaconsfield ministry in May 1880. He was president of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1859, and of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society. He died suddenly of angina pectoris at 29 Berkeley Square, London, on 5 July 1883. After lying in state at Blenheim Palace, he was buried in the private chapel on 10 July. The duke was a sensible, honourable, and industrious public man. To him Lord Beaconsfield on 8 March 1880 addressed the famous letter in which he announced the dissolution of parliament, and appealed to the constituencies for a fresh lease of power. His administration of Ireland was popular, and he endeavoured to benefit the trade of the country. He is best known as author in 1856 of an act (19 and 20 Vict. cap. 104), which bears his name, for the purpose of strengthening the church of England in large towns by the subdivision of extensive parishes, and the erection of smaller vicarages or incumbencies. His last public appearance was 28 June 1883, when he made an able speech in opposition to the third reading of the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Bill. He married, on 12 July 1843, the Lady Frances Anne Emily Vane Tempest, eldest daughter of Charles William Vane Tempest, third marquis of Londonderry. During her residence in Ireland she instituted a famine relief fund, by which she collected 112,484l., which was spent in seed potatoes, food, and clothing. The duke was succeeded in his title by his eldest son, George Charles (d. 1892). Lord Randolph Churchill was his third son.

     Brown's Life of Lord Beaconsfield, 1882, ii. 87, 202, portrait
     Times, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 13 July 1883
     Morning Post, 6 July 1883
     Illustrated London News, 28 Oct. 1876, p. 404, portrait.

Contributor: G. C. B. [George Clement Boase]

Published: 1887