Churchill, Sir Winston 1620?-1688, politician and historian, was descended from an ancient family in Dorsetshire. He was the son of John Churchill of Nunthorn in that county, a lawyer of some eminence, and of Sarah, daughter and coheiress of Sir Henry Winston of Standistone, Gloucestershire, and was born at Wooton Glanville about 1620. In 1636 he entered St. John's College, Oxford, where he is said to have distinguished himself by his sedateness and great application to his studies, although he was obliged, on account of the circumstances of his family, to leave the university without taking a degree. Some time afterwards he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Drake of Ashe, Devonshire, and Eleanor, his wife, sister of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham. Having during the civil war adhered to the party of the king, he was reduced to such extremities that his wife was obliged to retire for some time to her father's house at Ashe. After the Restoration he returned to his estate, and he was elected to represent the borough of Weymouth in the Parliament which met 8 May 1661. In Jan. 1663-4 he received the honour of knighthood, and in 1664 was chosen a fellow of the Royal Society. In the latter year he was appointed commissioner of the court of claims in Ireland, for the purpose of adjudging the qualifications of those who had forfeited their estates. On his return he was constituted one of the clerk comptrollers of the green cloth, an office of some importance at court. After the dissolution of the Pensionary parliament in 1679 he was dismissed from office, but shortly afterwards was restored by the king, and continued to hold it during the remainder of the reign of Charles II, and also during that of James II. During the reign of the latter monarch he represented the borough of Lyme Regis. He died 26 March 1688, and three days afterwards was buried in the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster. By his wife he had seven sons and four daughters, including John, duke of Marlborough [qv.], and Arabella Churchill [qv.]. Churchill's extreme royalist sentiments led him to devote his learning and leisure to the composition of a kind of apotheosis of the kings of England, which he dedicated to Charles II, and published in 1675 under the title Divi Britannici; being a Remark upon the Lives of all the Kings of this Isle, from the year of the World 2855 until the year of Grace 1660, with the arms of all the kings of England, which made it sell among novices (Wood).

     Lediard's Life of Marlborough
     Collins's Peerage, ed. 1812, i. 365-6
     Wood's Athenę Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 235.

Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]

Published: 1887