CHURCHILL, John II (1650-1722).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679

Family and Education

b. 24 June 1650, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of (Sir) Winston Churchill; bro. of Charles Churchill and George Churchill. educ. Dublin free g.s. 1662; St. Paul’s c.1664. m. 1 Oct. 1678, Sarah (d. 19 Oct. 1744), da. of Richard Jennings of Sandridge, Herts. and coh. to her bro., 2s. d.v.p. 5da. cr. Lord Churchill of Eymouth [S] 21 Dec. 1682, Baron Churchill of Sandridge 14 May 1685; suc. fa. 1688; cr. Earl of Marlborough 9 Apr. 1689; KG 14 Mar. 1702; cr. Duke of Marlborough 14 Dec. 1702.

Offices Held

Page to the Duke of York by 1667, gent. of bedchamber 1673-85, (as King) 1685-Nov. 1688, master of the wardrobe 1679-85; ambassador, Paris Mar.-Apr. 1685, The Hague 1701-12; PC 14 Feb. 1689-23 June 1692, 19 June 1698-30 Dec. 1711, 1715-d.; ld. of the bedchamber 1689-92; master of the horse and governor to the Duke of Gloucester 1698-1700; one of the lds. justices 1698-1700; master of the Ordnance 1702-11, 1715-d.

Ensign, 1 Ft. Gds. 1667; capt. of ft. Admiralty Regt. 1672, lt.-col. 1675-83; lt.-col. 2 R. English Regt. (French army) 1674-7; brig. of ft. 1678; col. 1 Dgn. Gds. 1683, 3 Horse Gds. 1685-Nov. 1688, (later 7 Ft.) 1689-92, (24 Ft.) 1702-4, 1 Ft. Gds. 1704-11, 1714- d.; maj.-gen. 1685-6; lt.-gen. Nov. 1688; c.-in-c. English forces in the Netherlands 1690-2, allied forces 1701-11; capt.-gen. 1702-11, 1715-d.

J.p. Herts. 1683-?92, Dorset 1685-at least 1689, Mdx. and Westminster 1687-?92; high steward, St. Albans 1685-d.; dep. lt. Dorset 1685-May 1688; gov. Hudson’s Bay Co. 1685-91; custos rot. Oxon. 1706-12; gov. Chelsea hospital 1715-d.1


Churchill began his career as page to the Duke of York, who became aware of his martial ambitions and obtained for him a pair of colours in the guards. After service in Tangier he became the lover of the Duchess of Cleveland, from whom he extracted £4,500. In 1671 he fought duels with Sir John Fenwick and Henry Herbert, and in the third Dutch war served under Turenne with great distinction. In 1678 he accompanied Sidney Godolphin I as military adviser on a mission to William of Orange. At the general election in the following year he was returned with Sir John Holmes for Newtown on the government interest, and marked ‘base’ on Shaftesbury’s list. But he went into exile in Flanders with the Duke of York before the first Exclusion Parliament met, and was given leave on 1 May 1679 to go into the country ‘for this whole session, in order to the recovery of his health’. Nevertheless Roger Morrice listed him as voting against the exclusion bill.

Churchill acquired one moiety of the Jennings estate by marriage, and bought the other in 1684. He thus enjoyed the principal interest at St. Albans, and in 1685 the mayor announced his candidature for the borough. In the event, however, his brother George was elected, perhaps because James II had made known his intention to give him an English peerage. He was by far the most important of the army deserters who went over to William of Orange in November 1688. The rest of his career, which has made him perhaps the most celebrated soldier in English history, is well-known. He died on 16 June 1722 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.2

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


This biography is based on W. S. Churchill, Marlborough; A. L. Rowse, The Early Churchills.

  • 1. A. E. Gibbs, Corp. Recs. of St. Albans, 85, 112.
  • 2. Som. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. Proc. xxx, pt. 2, p. 44; HMC Verulam, 100-1.