Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Churchill, Charles (1656-1714)

CHURCHILL, CHARLES (1656–1714), general, third surviving son of Sir Winston Churchill [q. v.], was born on 2 Feb. 1656. Like his more famous brother, John Churchill, first duke of Marlborough [q. v.], he was born in the manor-house of Ashe, in the parish of Musbury, a parish situate butween Seaton and Axminster, and, through in Devonshire, close to the confines of Dorsetshire. When thirteen years old he was approinted page of honour to Christian V, king of Denmark, and a few years later became gentleman of the bedchamber to Prince George of Denmark, afterwards the husband of Queen Anne of England. After the accession of William III to the English throne, Churchill entered upon military life, and he was present at the siege of Cork in 1690. At the battle of Landen, or Neerwinden, in 1693, he had the good fortune to take captive his nephew, the Duke of Berwick. He was then a brigadier, but in March 1694 he was elevated to the dignity of major-general of the foot forces, and was also created governor of Kinsale. In May 1702 he was raised still higher in the service, being appointed a lieutenant-general and master to the queen’s buckhounds. At the battle of Blenheim (13 Aug. 1704) Churchill ably assisted his eldest brother in his design, as it was under his lead that a portion of the allied troops forced the passage of the river Nebel, an achievement for which he was rewarded, in October 1705, with the lieutenancy of the Tower of London. For his services at Blenheim he was honoured by being made the guardian of Marshal Tallard and the other French generals on their journey to imprisonment in England. When the city of Brussels surrendered to Marlborough, in May 1706, the command of the city was conferred upon Churchill, and in August of the same year he directed the siege operations against the town of Dendermonde. Honours were now showered upon him. The command of her majesty’s forces in the Netherlands during the absence of his brother was entrusted to his care; he was made governor of Guernsey in November 1706 (a position which he held until 1711, and for which he resigned the lieutenancy of the Tower of London), general of the army 11 Jan. 1707, and in February of the same year, on the death of Lord Cutts, he was rewarded with the colonelcy of the 2nd regiment of foot guards. Churchill was for many years a member of parliament, sitting from 1701 to 1710 for the united borough of Weymouth and Melcombe. In March 1708 he was seized with an apoplectic fit, and the last years of his life were passed in retirement on the estate of Great Mintern in Dorsetshire, which he had inherited from his father. He died, without legitimate issue, on 29 Dec. 1714, and was buried in the church of Great Mintern, where a monument was erected to his memory. He married, in 1702, Mary, daughter and sole heiress of James Gould of Dorchester, and to her he left his estate and the greatest part of his personal property. She married at Beaconsfield, on 13 Feb. 1717, Montagu, second earl of Abingdon, and, dying on 1 Jan. 1757, was buried at Dorchester. Churchill’s natural son, Charles Churchill, was created a lieutenant-general on 2 July 1739, and was also governor of Plymouth. He died in 1745, having been for thirty years member for Castle Rising in Norfolk through the influence of the Walpoles, with whom he was connected by his marriage to Anna Maria, a natural daughter of Sir Robert Walpole. By Mrs. Oldfield, the celebrated actress, he had a natural son, the third Charles Churchill. Much information concerning him and his father will be found in Egerton's 'Life of Mrs. Oldfield,' p. 299, &c., Chester's 'Westminster Abbey Registers,' p. 830, and the 'Poetical Works of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams,' ed. 1822.

[Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs (1857), iii. 281, v. 171, 356, vi. 109-10, 134, 139, 284; Tindal's Continuation of Rapin, i. 150-61, 656-657; Hutchins's Dorset (1873), iv. 471, 481-2; Marlborough Despatches, i. 293, &c. ii. 128; Berry's Guernsey, 216; Wilson's Duke of Berwick, i. 381; Evelyn's Diary (ed. 1850), ii. 376.]

W. P. C.