George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough

George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough, KG, PC, FRS (26 January 1739 29 January 1817), styled Marquess of Blandford until 1758, was a British courtier, nobleman, and politician from the Spencer family. He served as Lord Chamberlain between 1762 and 1763 and as Lord Privy Seal between 1763 and 1765. He is the great-great-great grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill.

The Duke of Marlborough

The Duke of Marlborough, by George Romney.
Lord Privy Seal
In office
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterGeorge Grenville
Preceded byThe Duke of Bedford
Succeeded byThe Duke of Newcastle
Lord Chamberlain
In office
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Bute
Preceded byThe Duke of Devonshire
Succeeded byThe Earl Gower
Personal details
Born(1739-01-26)26 January 1739
Died29 January 1817(1817-01-29) (aged 78)
Blenheim Palace,
Woodstock, Oxfordshire
United Kingdom
Nationality United Kingdom
Spouse(s)Lady Caroline Russell
Military service
Allegiance Great Britain (1755–1801)
 United Kingdom (1801–1817)
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1755–1760
UnitColdstream Guards (1755)
20th Regiment of Foot (1756–1760)

Background and education

Styled by the courtesy title Marquess of Blandford from birth, He was the eldest son of Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, and the Honourable Elizabeth Trevor, daughter of Thomas Trevor, 2nd Baron Trevor.

Personal traits and characteristics

According to George III, who mentioned it to Fanny Burney,[1] the Duke suffered from severe red-green colourblindness. As he was unable to tell scarlet from green, Fanny therefore remarked that this was unlucky for someone in possession of so sumptuous a home as Blenheim Palace.


Marlborough entered the Coldstream Guards in 1755 as an Ensign, becoming a Captain with the 20th Regiment of Foot the following year. After inheriting the dukedom in 1758, Marlborough took his seat in the House of Lords in 1760, becoming Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire in that same year.[2] The following year, he bore the sceptre with the cross at the coronation of George III. In 1762, he was made Lord Chamberlain as well as a Privy Counsellor, and after a year resigned this appointment to become Lord Privy Seal, a post he held until 1765.[2] An amateur astronomer, he built a private observatory at his residence, Blenheim Palace. He kept up a lively scientific correspondence with Hans Count von Brühl, another aristocratic dilettante in astronomy.

The Duke was made a Knight of the Garter in 1768, and was elected to the Royal Society in 1786.[2]


Marlborough married Lady Caroline Russell (1743–1811), daughter of John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford, in 1762, by whom he had eight children:

The Duchess of Marlborough died at Blenheim Palace in November 1811, aged 68. The Duke of Marlborough died at Blenheim Palace in January 1817, aged 78, and was buried there.[2]


  1. Burney, F. The Diary of Fanny Burney, Dent (Everyman edition), London, 1971, pages 107-8
  2. George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough
  • Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Spencer, George (1739-1817)" . Dictionary of National Biography. 53. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  • The Collected Correspondence of Baron Franz von Zach, Volume 3 (British Letters), 2008. Edited by Clifford J. Cunningham. Star Lab Press.
Honorary titles
Title last held by
The Duke of Marlborough
Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire
Succeeded by
The Earl of Macclesfield
Preceded by
The Marquess Townshend
Senior Privy Counsellor
Succeeded by
Lord Charles Spencer
Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
The Earl Gower
Preceded by
The Duke of Bedford
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Charles Spencer
Duke of Marlborough
Succeeded by
George Spencer-Churchill
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