Europe's First Dollar Princess: 13 Facts about Jennie Jerome, Lady Randolph Churchill
1. Jennie Jerome was born on January 9th 1854, second of the four daughters of American financier Leonard Jerome and his wife, a landowner’s daughter named Clarissa.
2. In 1867, following a scandal involving the family’s patriarch, Clarissa and her three surviving daughters (one died in childhood) travelled from Brooklyn to Paris, where Jennie and her sisters continued their education and were raised the European upper class way.
3. Having been trained by influential Hungarian artist Stephen Heller, Jennie was a talented pianist who was expected to someday reach “concert standard”. However, it turned out the young lady was not capable of putting in the needed hard work.
4. Jennie met her first husband, Lord Randolph Churchill, during a sailing regatta on the Isle of Wight in August 1873. The gentleman was the third son of John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, and his wife Lady Frances Anne Vane. They were introduced to each other by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).The two got engaged three days later, albeit the marriage was postponed for months due to their parents arguing over settlements.
5. The couple tied the knot at the British Embassy in Paris on April 15th, 1874, making Jennie Lady Randolph Churchill. The union produced two sons, Winston Leonard (who would later become a British Prime Minister) and John Strange.
6. Winston was born less than eight months after his parents’ marriage, which has sparked debates whether he was born prematurely or was conceived before the marriage. When asked about Winston’s birth, Lady Randolph Churchill only had this to say: "Although present on the occasion, I have no clear recollection of the events leading up to it."
7. She was involved in numerous extra-marital affairs whilst with Lord Randolph Churchill. Some of her alleged lovers were German politician Herbert von Bismarck, Karl, 8th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau, and King Edward VII.
8. Her sisters believed that her second son’s father was not her then husband Lord Randolph Churchill, but Evelyn Boscawen, 7th Viscount Falmouth.
9. She was married twice after Lord Randolph Churchill’s death in 1895, both times with much younger men. Her second husband was a Scots Guards captain named George Cornwallis-West, who was only 26 days older than her first son, Winston. They got married on July 28th, 1900, but later separated in 1912 and divorced two years later. Her third marriage was with Montagu Phippen Porch, who was part of the British Civil Service in Nigeria and who was three years younger than Winston. They tied the knot on June 1st, 1918.
10. It was customary for people in Lady Randolph Churchill’s social class to have limited role in their children’s upbringing, so Winston and John, in most parts of their early lives, were taken care of by their nannies. Despite this, Winston passionately adored her mother, regularly sending her letters begging her to visit him at school, which the latter hardly ever did. “She shone for me like the evening star. I loved her dearly –but at a distance,” he wrote in My Early Life.
11. Lady Randolph only became closer to Winston as he reached adulthood; they became allies, and with the former becoming one of latter’s political mentors. It has been said that Lady Randolph badgered every single person who could advance his eldest son’s career.
12. May of 1921, Lady Randolph Churchill, who was wearing high-heeled shoes at the time, accidentally slipped while descending a staircase at her friend’s home. The unfortunate incident broke her ankle, which later resulted to gangrene and amputation of her left leg. After suffering from haemorrhage of an artery in her thigh, which stemmed from her amputation, she died on June 29th of the same year at the age of 67. She was buried next to her first husband in the Churchill plot at Bladon, Oxfordshire’s St. Martin’s Church.
13. One of her admirers, Lord d’Abernon, once said Jennie had "more of the panther than of the woman in her look".