Sarah  (Jennings) Churchill

Sarah (Jennings) Churchill (1660 - 1744)

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Sarah "Duchess of Marlborough" Churchill formerly Jennings aka Jenyns
Born in Holywell House, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Marlborough House, London, Englandmap
Jennings-1815 created 9 May 2013 | Last modified
This page has been accessed 1,071 times.
Sarah (Jennings) Churchill is a member of the royalty, nobility or aristocracy in the British Isles.
Join: British Isles Royals and Aristocrats 1500-Present Project



Sarah Jenyns, the youngest daughter of Richard Jennings MP for St Albans, and his wife, Frances Thornhurst, was born on 5 June 1660 in the early days of the restoration in England. Seeking to have his estate at Agney in Kent restored, Richard Jenyns, came into the acquaintance of James, Duke of York. The Duke appointed Sarah's sister, Frances, as maid of honour to his wife, Anne Hyde in 1664. Frances left her post in 1666 when she married George Hamilton. The duke remembered the family and in 1673 appointed Sarah as maid of honour to his new Duchess, Mary of Modena. Still a child Sarah became a close friend of the Duke's younger daughter, Anne.

By 1677 Sarah had attracted the amorous attentions of John Churchill former lover of Barbara Palmer, mistress of Charles II. he was son of Winston Churchill and his wife, Elizabeth Drake, and his sister, Arabella, was mistress of the Duke of York. It was a poor match, neither having any resources beyond the income from their posts but they were secretly married in the winter of 1677/8, despite the opposition of both families. Their children were Harriet (1679-1681), Henrietta (1681-1733), Anne (1683-1716), John (1687-1703), Elizabeth (1688-1714), Mary (1689-1751) and Charles (1690-1692).

In 1683 Princes Anne married George of Denmark and set up her own household, appointing Sarah Lady of the Bedchamber. The Duke of York became King in 1685, his Catholicism leading to his downfall in 1688, when John Churchill along with many others sided with William of Orange in his bid for the English throne.

In 1702 William III died and Anne became Queen with Sarah as her closest adviser. John Churchill was created Duke of Marlborough. His victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 resulted in the gift of the manor of Woodstock where the couple set about building their magnificent home, Blenheim Palace. However their relationship with the Queen was wearing thin and on 6 April 1710 Sarah was dismissed from her offices. The couple went into exile in protestant Europe.

Returning to England in 1714 they discovered that Anne was dead and the Hanoverian George I was King.

John Churchill died in 1722, Sarah lived on for more than twenty years, promoting the interests of her family. She died at Marlborough House in London on 18 October 1744.


The last name at birth should really be Jenyns as that was the spelling used at the time; Jennings is a more modern form.


  • James Falkner, ‘Churchill , Sarah, duchess of Marlborough (1660–1744)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 7 June 2017. This is a subscription site but access is free to readers of British libraries whose library subscribes.


Thank you to Kat Hunt for creating WikiTree profile Jennings-1815 through the import of Sargeant Family Tree 2.ged on May 5, 2013. Click to the Changes page for the details of edits by Kat and others.

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No known carriers of Sarah's mitochondrial DNA have taken an mtDNA test.

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Images: 2
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough

Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Attributed to Godfrey Kneller.
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Attributed to Godfrey Kneller.


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Sarah is 18 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 19 degrees from Robynne Lozier, 13 degrees from Pocahontas Rolfe and 10 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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