Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill
My paternal 8th cousin, 3x Removed
I recently discovered that one of the figures that I have found most fascinating from the 20th centry, Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill, war time Prime Minister of Great Britian, was my cousin.
I made this discovery while working through my paternal lineage which, on my paternal grandfather's side, has a multitude of American ancestors. It turns out that my 10x great grandparents, Henry Burt and Eulalia Marche, were Winston's 7x maternal great grandparents. Winston descends through Abigail Burt, sister of my 9x great grandmother, Dorcas Burt.
As many people may already know, Winston's mother was not English, she was an American socialite who married Winston's father, Lord Randolph Churchill. Jennie was my 7th cousin, 4x removed, and it is through her family that I am related to Sir Winston Churchill.
History has already paid tribute to Sir Winston Churchill in so many ways that it is impossible for me to add anything new to his story. Countless movies about his life, and an even larger number of books and webpage material exist around this truly remarkable individual. Winston Churchill will probably best be known as the man who lead Great Britian, the Commonwealth and the Western world against the tyranny of the Nazi's and fascists who almost enslaved the world during World War II. Winston had an incredible way of remaining calm and focused while Germany tried to bomb England into submission, as it had so many other countries all across Europe. With his steely focus, and defiant attitude, Winston vowed that England and her people would never surrender. The English and the Commonwealth countries didn't surrender, and went on to lead the Allies on to a victory against the evil that was the Nazi regime.
Winston Churchill was controversial, and by no means idyllic in his comments or in some of his beliefs, but he loved England and dedicated his life to serving his country. Churchill had the foresight to see that pre-war Germany, and the Nazi's, were a severe threat to freedom at a time when others thought he was paranoid. Churchill tirelessly warned of the terrors to come, urging Britian to arm and be prepared for conflict. Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister during the 1930's, failed to see the threat that Winston saw coming.
Mostly ignored by the British Parliament, Winston carefully cultivated a relationship with US President Franklin Delano Rosevelt which would prove beneficial prior to, and after, America's entry into the war in 1941. When Winston came to power as Prime Minister in May, 1940, Churchill continued to communicate at length with the American President and togther they devised the "lend-lease" program which allowed the US to supply arms and other much needed supplies to the British, avoiding direct involvement in the war (the US had a position of neutrality prior to Pearl Harbour in December, 1941). Churchill, although he despised Communism, was also an integral figure in forming the Allied powers, working with Stalin and Rosevelt and coordinating their collective efforts against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan). At the end of the war, Churchill, Rosevelt and Stalin worked together to shape the face of Europe.
Churchill was controversial in his views, one of which was his opposition to allowing India to gain independance from Great Britain; Churchill very much believed in the Imperial Empire of Great Britain and saw India's independance as a threat to the Empire. Churchill also believed in the supremacy of the white race, a fact which has not gone unnoticed in our modern society. However controversial some of Winston's views may have been, it cannot be denied that without him, World War II may have had a very different outcome.
For years I have admired Churchill for his stoicism in the face of such overwhelming odds, and his excellent oratory skills in rallying not only the British people, but all people against the unprecedented threats the world faced from 1939 through 1945. Unlike many politicians of today, Winston Churchill knew what he believed in, and he did not back down from his beliefs; he fought for them and didn't give a damn if someone disagreed with his views.
Winston Churchill has numerous quotes attributed to him, some serious, others funny. I have particularly enjoyed Winston's back-and-forth with Lady Astor, an American transplant to England, who gained a seat in the house of Parliament. Their witty taunts between one another are the stuff of legend, and still make me smile today.
I have spent a great deal of time in London, walking through St. James's Park, which I find peaceful, beautiful to look at, and a great place to think. This park was apparently where Churchill spent a great deal of time walking during World War II, sometimes in the midst of German air raids. I have visited the bunker that Churchill used just to the east of St. James's Park, and close to 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister's residence. In more than one place in London one can see statues and other references to Winston Churchill, which doesn't surprise me. What I did find surprising though, was finding a statue of this great wartime leader in the heart of Paris. My friends and I stumbled across this French tribute to Churchill while exploring the city several years ago; the people of France paid tribute to the man who gave their leader, Charles deGalle, shelter in London during the German occupation of France.
Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill, son of a British Lord and an American socialite, wartime Prime Minister and voted as the greatest Briton of all time, and, I am very proud to say, a member of my bloodline.
The next time I am in London, I walk a little taller knowing I am walking in the footsteps of this famous ancestor.