Brooklyn-born Jeanette Jerome was the daughter of an American financier. In 1874, she joined the British aristocracy through her marriage to Lord Randolph Churchill, son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough. Throughout the 1880s, she proved an invaluable asset to her husband's political career, essentially serving as his campaign manager and helping to establish the Primrose League, which boosted the Conservative party. Although vehemently opposed to women's suffrage, she paved the way for women's acceptance in the political sphere. Following her husband's death in 1895, Lady Randolph turned her attention to writing. She founded the Anglo-Saxon Review in 1899 and later published a memoir, a collection of articles, and two plays. She also provided advice and assistance to her son, future Prime Minister Winston Churchill (whose portrait hangs nearby). He described her as “an ardent ally, furthering my plans and guarding my interests with all her influence and boundless energy.” -- National Portrait Gallery
This youthful autographed photo of Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill belongs to the Royal Collection Trust.
Although the tale has been discredited, Jennie Churchill has been said to have invented the Manhattan Cocktail in 1874 to celebrate of the election of Samuel J. Tilden as governor of New York.In 1895 Lady Churchill appeared in the Washington Times modeling a cycling costume of her own design. “She is gaining the name of "First Cycliénne" of England and France. Her speed upon the wheel, her grace, her new inventions and discoveries to aid cycling women who wheel for health and pleasure are attracting attention across the entire continent. ” -- The Washington Morning Times, Sept. 29, 1895.
In 1897, Lady Randolph Churchill went to the Devonshire Fancy Dress Ball, as the Byzantine Empress Theodora. The Devonshire Ball was a celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
In 1899 the Boer War broke out and Lady Randolph Churchill took on the project of organizing and fund raising in support of an American hospital ship, the Maine, to care for the wounded in South Africa. She travelled with the Ship to South Africa where a 4.7 in Naval Gun was name after her.
Here, Lady Randolph Churchill is seen on the Hospital Ship Maine, in Durban, with her recently wounded son John Churchill.
Lady Randolph Churchill became Mrs. George Cornwallis-West in 1900.
This photo of a mature Mrs. G.C. West (Lady Randolph Churchill) published by the Bain News Service between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915, belongs to the Library of Congress.
LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL saw Jennie Jerome at a ball at Delmonico's in '74. Thus started the vogue for international marriages. Out of a rather indeterminate Englishman the twenty-year-old miss from Rochester made an M.P. before the end of the honeymoon. As a widow, Lady Churchill electrified her friends by marrying a boy of twenty-six, and eleven years later by divorcing him. "Wherever she sits is head of the table" is what they say of "Lady Randy" for her wit is as great as her beauty.
In May 1921, she went to spend the weekend with a friend, Frances, Lady Horner at Mells Manor, Somerset. She heard the dinner gong and fearing she might be late, rushed down the stairs and tripped and fell and broke her ankle. A local doctor set it, and Jennie returned home to London in an ambulance. A nurse cared for her but gangrene set in, and a London surgeon amputated her leg. Jennie was very brave, and told him to ‘be sure and cut high enough’. Convalescing at home, she suffered a sudden haemorrhage on the morning of ... 29th June. She slipped into unconsciousness from which she never awoke. Winston and Jack and other family members and friends remained by her bedside as she slipped away.
Dies After FallLady Randolph Churchill Formerly Miss Jennie Jerome, of New York, who died in London today. At the time of her death she was the wife of Montagu Porch. She recently had her right foot amputated following a fall down stairs.