Lord Randolph Churchill
Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill was born 13 February 1849 at Blenheim Palace, and was educated at Eton, where he neither excelled in sport nor stood out academically. He was the father of British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. He married the American, Jennie Jerome, daughter of Leonard Jerome, in 1874. Elected MP for Woodstock in 1874, his maiden speech in the House of Commons made no impression. He remained MP for Woodstock until 1885 then became MP for South Paddington from 1885 to 86. Made Secretary of state for India in 1885 in Salisbury's cabinet, a position he held until the following year when he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. When Churchill was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1886, Queen Victoria opposed the appointment, and described Churchill as, 'So mad and odd'. A disliked politician, who made many enemies, even among his own colleagues, there was often friction due to his rude and offensive manner. During the election, while campaigning in Woodstock, he complained that he had to shake too many unwashed hands and enter too many dirty cottages. A great orator, when due to speak in the House of Commons the cry would go out, 'Randy's up', and the chamber would quickly fill. His speeches were described as often controversial, always brilliant. He tendered his resignation as Chancellor in 1886, without any expectation it would be accepted by Lord Salisbury, it was, and he spent the last eight years of his life in the political wilderness. He remained in the house, but his speeches had lost their effectiveness. He was dying of general paralysis, brought on by the disease syphilis. His last speech was in June 1894, during a debate on Uganda. He died on 24 January 1895 at the age of 45. His short political career was summed up best by Lord Roseby, Salisbury's successor as Prime Minister. Roseby said, 'It consisted of a lot of noise and little in the way of achievement'.
There has been considerable speculation and many conflicting accounts about when Churchill became infected with syphilis. Some report it was during an encounter with a Blenheim housemaid, some during a drunken episode as a student with an old hag. The source of this latter story was journalist Frank Harris in his autobiography My Life And Loves, who was told the tale by Louis Jennings, a friend and political colleague of Churchill's. Jennings motive for telling the story however are dubious, and this episode may not in fact have actually referred to Churchill. Churchill's link with Jack the Ripper is tenuous to say the least. According to Author Melvyn Fairclough, Churchill, being the highest freemason in the land and protecting the good name of the royal family and the position of the crown, gathered together a group, which consisted of Sir William Gull, John Netley, Frederico Albericci, and J.K Stephen, in a plan to murder five prostitutes led by Mary Kelly, who had been using their knowledge of Prince Albert Victor's secret marriage to Annie Elizabeth Crook, for blackmailing purposes. This theory is completely without foundation, there is no evidence to support the claim that Churchill was ever a freemason, there is also no documentary evidence to prove such a marriage ever took place. The death certificate of Annie Crook clearly states she belonged to the Church of England, and was not a Catholic as claimed. There have been many different versions of the royal Masonic conspiracy theory over the years, and each one is as ludicrous as the next.
Churchill, it has been speculated, resembled George Hutchinson's extraordinarily detailed description of a man seen with Mary Kelly shortly before she was murdered. The Pall Mall Gazette June 28 1884 described Churchill as, 'Of average height with a wide turned up moustache, beautifully dressed, his gold chain has the solid appearance of real 18 carat'.