Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 29, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

A reader recently asked two questions:? Was Churchill part American Indian? If he was, how did he feel about that?

Let’s start with the first question.

Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, offered “a qualified ‘yes’” as his answer in In Search of History: A Historian’s Journey (John Wiley & Sons):

Chruchill’s ancestry was, and stil is, a frequent subject of enquiry. A former Hungarian diplomat writing a book about “the mixing of the nations and the races” wanted to know if it was true that one of Churchill’s American ancestors was an American Indian woman. ...

The answer seems to be a qualified “yes.”

[Churchill’s son, Randolph,] was always proud of a possible Indian link, and I remember his pleasure when he received at Stour, in May 1963, a letter from the United States Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, indicting two separate possible sources of Indian blood in [Churchill’s mother’s] veins, both of them Iroquois women. ...(pg. 263)
Gilbert goes on to say Udall wrote it was very likely “Sir Winston is 1/16th degree Indian.”

There’s much more to the question of Churchill’s very likely American Indian heritage. I’ll get into some of it tomorrow with my fingers crossed because genealogy study can be very complicated and sensitive. In the case of Churchill, for instance, there is, even among those who agree he was an American Indian descendent, considerable dispute as to who the Indian ancestor was.

On the question of how Churchill felt about his possible American Indian heritage, I want to do some more research before I offer a response.

In the meantime, you’re all welcome to weigh in.


Anonymous said...

Jennie Jerome (and her mother ) were said to have looked more Amerindian as they aged.Source: Martin Gilbert's biography of Churchill's mother.

JWM said...


It's always good to hear from you.

I hope you see this and comment after Friday's post as to how what I put up fits with what you know.