Churchill, Sir Winston

, a distinguished English gentleman, son of John Churchill, esq. of Minthorn in Dorsetshire, by Sarah, daughter and coheiress of sir Henry Winston, of Standiston in Gloucestershire, was descended from a very ancient family, and born at Wooton Glanville in Dorsetshire, or, according to Wood, at London, in 1620. He was sent to St. John’s college in Oxford when he was scarce sixteen years of age, where he made an uncommon progress in his studies; but, on account of the civil commotions which arose soon after, was obliged to leave the university before he had taken a degree. He engaged on the side of the king, for which he suffered severely in his fortune; and having married a daughter of sir John Drake of Ashe in Devonshire, was forced to seek refuge in that gentleman’s house, where many of his children were born. At the restoration he represented Weyinouth in the parliament which met in May 8, 1661. In 1663, Charles II. conferred on him the honour of knighthood; and soon after the foundation of the Royal Society, he was, for his Icnown love of letters and conversation with learned men, elected a member of it in Dec. 1664. In the same year he was appointed one of the commissioners of the court of claims in Ireland; and, upon his return, one of the clerks comptrollers of the green cloth. Notwithstanding his engagements in these public offices, he found time to draw up a kind of political essay upon the history of England, which was published in folio, 1675, under the title of “Divi Britannici, being a remark upon the lives of all the kings of this isle, from the year of the world 2855, unto the year of grace 1660.” It was dedicated to Charles II; and in the dedication the author takes notice, that having served his majesty’s father as long as he could with his sword, he spent a great part of those leisure hours, which were forced upon him by his misfortunes, in defending that prince’s cause, and indeed' the cause of monarchy itself, with his pen: and he franklyowns, that he considered his work as the funeral oration of | that deceased government, or rather, as his title speaks it, the apotheoses of departed kings. We are told by Wood, that there were some passages in this work about the king’s power of raising money without parliament, which gave such offence to the members then sitting, that the author had them cancelled, and the book reprinted. Nicolsou speaks very slightly of this performance, and represents it as “only giving the reader a diverting view of the arms and exploits of our kings down to the restoration in 1660;” but it is very accurate as to dates and authorities.

After the dissolution of the parliament in 1678, sir Winston was dismissed from the post of clerk of the green cloth, much against his master’s will, who restored him again, and continued him in it during the rest of his reign. He enjoyed the same degree of favour from court, during the short reign of James II.; and having lived to see his eldest son raised to the peerage, he departed this life, March 26, 1688. Besides three sons, and as many daughters, who died in their infancy, sir Winston had several sons and daughters, who lived to grow up. The eldest of his sons was John Churchill, afterwards duke of Marlborough, of whom we shall speak largely in the next article. Arabella, the eldest of his children, born in March 1648,. was maid of honour to the duchess of York, and mistress to the duke, afterwards James II. by whom she had two sons and two daughters. The eldest, James Fitz-James, was created by his father duke of Berwick: he was also knight of the garter and of the golden fleece, marshal of France, and grandee of Spain of the first class. He was reputed one of the greatest officers in his time; and when generalissimo of the armies of France, fell by a cannon-shot at the siege of Phillipsburg in 1734. Henry Fitz-James, grand prior of France, lieutenant-general and admiral of the French gal lies, Was born in 1673, and died in 1702. Henrietta, born in 1670, married sir Henry Waldgrave of Cheuton, and died 1730. The youngest daughter was a nun but afterwards married colonel Godfrey, by whom she had two daughters. 1


Biog. Brit.