Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 10.djvu/326

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Churchill
Churchill
318

uading Anne to consent that William should reign for life (Clarendon, Diary, ii. 225). Lady Churchill consulted Tillotson and Lady Russell on the occasion (Conduct, p. 22). Churchill was rewarded : he was sworn a member of the privy council (14 Feb. 1688-1689), made a gentleman of the bedchamber (1 March), and raised to the earldom of Marlborough on 9 April 1689, two days before the coronation. The title was suggested by his relationship to the Leys, earls of Marlborough, whose title became extinct in 1679. (His mother was granddaughter of John, lord Boteler, whose daughter Jane married James Ley, earl of Marlborough, killed in the battle off Lowestoft in 1665.) Sir Winston died in 1688, and his widow, Lady Churchill, in 1697, leaving the family estate of Mintem to Charles Churchill, afterwards general [q. v.] Marlborough had bought the shares of his wife's two sisters in the family estate of the Jenningses at Sandridge, near St. Albans, and there built a mansion called Holywell House demolished in 1837). He obtained a charter or St. Albans from James II, and was the first high steward of the town (16 March 1685).

Marlborough was sent in June 1689 to command a brigade of English troops under the Prince of Waldeck. A French attack upon the Dutch at Walcourt was repulsed with heavy loss, chiefly by a skilful flank attack of the English under Marlborough, who was highly complimented by the general. Marlborough returned to England, where the position of the Princess Anne was being eagerly discussed. The countess had taken an active part in the dispute, which ended by the parliamentary settlement of 50,000l. a year upon the princess [see details under Anne, 1665–1714]. A year later Anne acknowledged the services of the Marl boroughs by settling a pension of 1,000l. a year upon the countess (Conduct, p. 87).

Marlborough, who had been prevented by his absence on the continent from appearing in the earlier stages of this dispute, was still favoured bv William. When the king sailed for Ireland in June 1690, Marlborough was one of the council of nine by whom Mary was to be advised during his absence, and was entrusted with the command of the troops in England. The defeat of the English fleet off Beachy Head caused some danger of a French invasion. After Tourville's feeble attempt at a landing in Devonshire, Marlborough suggested a counter-stroke by an English expedition to the south of Ireland. William approved, and on 18 Sept. Marlborough sailed from Portsmouth, and on the 20th appeared before Cork, which was still held for James. He was joined by the Duke of Würtemberg with troops lately employed against Limerick. A dispute as to precedency was settled by the agreement that Marlborough and the duke should command on alternate days. On the first day of his command Marlborough gave the word 'Würtemberg,' a courtesy which the duke reciprocated by giving 'Marlborough' on the next day. Cork was carried (28 Sept.) after two days' operations, four thousand men surrendering as prisoners of war. Marlborough instantly sent a force to attack Kinsale. One fort was stormed at once, and on 16 Oct. the town surrendered. Marlborough reached Kensington 28 Oct., when William observed that he knew no man so fit to be a general who had seen so few campaigns. Marlborough was sent back to Ireland, where he held a command during the winter. In the following summer he accompanied William to Flanders, but had no opportunity of distinguishing himself. It is said, however, that Prince Vaudemont was struck by 'something inexpressible' in his character, and prophesied nis future glory (Vie de Marlborough, p. 30). The tories and high churchmen, whom James had managed to alienate, were now beginning to pardon the errors of an exile. National jealousy was giving to the Dutch 'deliverers' the aspect of conquerors. William had already been provoked by the factiousness of his new subjects to threats of retirement. Jacobite agents found ready hearing from manv of his ministers. Among others, Marlborough's special intimate, Godolphin, had listened to tneir overtures and received promise of pardon. Marlborough, with Godolphin, now communicated with two of James's agents. He professed the deepest penitence for his betrayal of James, offered to bring over the English troops, gave useful information, and obtained a written promise of pardon. In December 1691 the Marlboroughs obtained a letter from the Princess Anne professing similar remorse and a desire to atone for her past conduct (Macpherson, History, i. 680-2 ; Original Papers, i. 286-238, 241). Marlborough about the same time communicated a scheme of his own to James. He was to propose a parliamentary address calling upon William to dismiss all strangers from his employment. A refusal to comply would excite a dangerous quarrel between William and the parliament, and enable Marlborough, at the head of the national forces, to play the part of Monck. Marlborough, according to Burnet (in the first draft of his 'Own Times'), had worked upon the army in this sense, and there was a 'constant randivous of the English officers' at his house. The plot was carried on successfully, until