John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough, was born 13 April 1926 in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom to John Albert Edward William Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough (1897-1972) and Alexandra Mary Hilda Cadogan (1900-1961) and died 17 October 2014 Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. He married Susan Mary Hornby (1929-2005) 10 October 1951 in England. He married Athina Mary Niarchos (1929-1974) 23 October 1961 in England. He married Dagmar Rosita Astrid Libertas (1943) 20 May 1972 in England. He married Lily Mahtani (1954-) 3 December 2008 in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England.

John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough, JP, DL (13 April 1926 – 16 October 2014) was a British peer. He was the elder son of The 10th Duke of Marlborough and his wife, The Hon. Alexandra Mary Hilda Cadogan. He was known as "Sunny" after his courtesy title of Earl of Sunderland.

Dukedom of Marlborough

Arms of Churchill

Duke of Marlborough is a title of English Peerage created by Queen Anne in 1702 for John Churchill the noted military leader. The name of the dukedom refers to Marlborough in Wiltshire. A good number of their descendants have married into many of the other noble hours of England.

The title Marquess of Blandford is used as the courtesy title for the Duke's eldest son and heir. The Duke's eldest son's eldest son can use the courtesy title Earl of Sunderland, and the duke's eldest son's eldest son's eldest son (not necessarily the eldest great-grandson) the title Lord Spencer of Wormleighton (not to be confused with Earl Spencer).

Blenheim Palace

Exterior of a large English Baroque palace fronted by lawns

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace, built between 1705 and 1722 for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), is the principal residence for the family of the Duke of Marlborough. It is one of England's largest homes, and the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is the final resting place of several members of the family.

His principal seat was Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. He was ranked 224th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2004, with an estimated wealth of £185 million. His death was announced on 16 October 2014 by Blenheim Palace.[1]

Life and work

He was educated at Eton College and served seven years in the Life Guards, in which he achieved the rank of captain. In 1972, on inheriting the Dukedom of Marlborough, he took over the management of Blenheim Palace and the Blenheim estate.

To fund the maintenance of the house, he opened it to visitors and as a film set, and established a number of businesses, including a garden furniture company and a water bottling plant.[2]

He was also active in a range of organisations, including the Thames and Chilterns Tourist Board and Oxford United Football Club. He served as vice-president of the Witney Conservative Association, the local party of David Cameron.

Marriages and issue

Marlborough was married four times and had a total of six children, two of whom died in infancy.[3]

1st Marriage : Susan Hornby

Firstly, he married Susan Mary Hornby (1929-2005), daughter of Michael Charles St John Hornby and Nicolette Joan Ward, on 19 October 1951.[4] They divorced in 1961 after having three children:

  1. John David Ivor Spencer-Churchill (1952-1955), a godson of Princess Margaret[5]
  2. Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough (1955); married, firstly, Rebecca Few-Brown on 24 February 1990. They have one son, George, and were divorced in 1998. In 2002, he married Edla Griffiths, with whom he has two children.
  3. Lady Lady Henrietta Mary Spencer-Churchill (7 October 1958); married German banker Nathan Gelber in 1980 and they were divorced in 1989. They have two sons.

2nd Marriage : Tina Onassis

Secondly, on 23 October 1961, he married Athina Mary Niarchos (1929-1974), former wife of Aristotle Onassis, and daughter of Stavros Livanos. They were divorced in March 1971 and had no children.

3rd Marriage: Rosita Douglas

Thirdly, on 20 May 1972, he married Countess Rosita Douglas-Stjernorp, daughter of ambassador Count Carl Douglas-Stjernorp and Ottora Haas-Heye. They had three children and were divorced in 2008.[6]

  1. Lord Richard Spencer-Churchill (born and died 1973)
  2. Lord Edward Albert Charles Spencer-Churchill (born 1974); married Kimberly Hammerstroem.[7] They had a civil ceremony at Mayfair Library in London on 4 July 2018, followed by a religious ceremony at Blenheim Palace on 7 July.[8]

4th Marriage : Lily Mahtani

Finally, at the age of 82, Marlborough married Lily Mahtani (née Sahni; born c. 1954–57 in Iran) 3 December 2008 in the Private Chapel at Blenheim.[9] There were no children from this marriage.


Offspring of John Spencer-Churchill and Susan Mary Hornby (1929-2005)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John David Ivor Spencer-Churchill (1952-1955) 17 November 1952 Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom 14 May 1955 Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough (1955) 24 November 1955 Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom Rebecca Mary Few Brown (1957) Rebecca Mary Few Brown (1957) Edla Griffiths (1968)
Henrietta Mary Spencer-Churchill (1958)

Offspring of John Spencer-Churchill and Dagmar Rosita Astrid Libertas (1943)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Richard Spencer-Churchill (1973-1973)
Edward Albert Charles Spencer-Churchill (1974)



See also

Titles and appointments





External links

Peerage of England
Preceded by
John Spencer-Churchill
Duke of Marlborough
Succeeded by
Jamie Spencer-Churchill


Footnotes (including sources)