Nov 30, 2007

The Nanny Who Saved Western Civilization

Few pedigrees read as impressively: descendant of John Churchill, “the Duke of Marlborough,” by some accounts the greatest military leader Britain has ever produced; son of Randolph Churchill, a man of such political aptitude he was made England’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons simultaneously at the unheard of age of only 37; son of Jeaneatte Jerome Churchill, the beautiful American heiress whose favor was sought throughout Victorian high society. From this magnificent lineage emerged one Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill upon this day, 30 November, 1874. Nonetheless, Sir Winston somehow managed to overcome all this and make something of himself!

You see the remainder of the story reveals that Sir Winston’s father was your standard issue upper-class twit whose ambition and pride drove him to make disastrous decisions leading to the destruction of his career and then, of course, the requisite excesses of alcohol, drugs, and ultimately death by syphilis in 1892 at the age of 48. His mother was a notorious adulteress whose legendary promiscuity saw her thrice married and ever scandal-ridden. Their marriage was a hushed and hurried affair as Jeanette had gotten pregnant prior to it, presumably by Lord Randolph but no one could be quite sure. To secure the nuptial, Jeanette’s father (Leonard Jerome, stock speculator and editor of the New York Times - need we say more!) bribed Lord Randolph with a “dowry” equivalent to roughly 2.5 million in present day American dollars.

As was the fashion in Victorian England, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill completely ignored their two son’s – Winston the first, John the second (also believed sired by one other than Sir Randolph) – devoting their time to far more important matters of high society and career advancement. What time they did spend with young Winston was hurried, harried, exasperated, and fraught with contempt and irritation at their “little monster.” Lord Randolph openly and regularly expressed his disapproval of and disappointment in young Winston –he thought the boy retarded – and maintained his paternal aversion until his dying day. That Sir Winston was never able to prove his worth to his ever-disapproving father was a source of profound pain for him throughout his life.

With this then we wonder from whence came the Sir Winston we know today; the embodiment of courage, character, conviction, righteous defiance, and the eloquent championing of “Christian Civilization?” Clearly the man was endowed by his Creator with innumerable gifts. But far too often – more often than is probably known – the story of such gifted individuals in circumstances such as young Sir Winston’s goes the route of Lord Randolph Churchill and not that of his heroic son.

The salvation of Sir Winston Churchill, and thus, we would argue, of Western Civilization some 66 years later, was a nice little old lady named Elizabeth Anne Everest. The consummate nanny of Victorian England, this plump, pleasant, quiet little woman was charged by Lord and Lady Randolph as wet nurse and keeper of our little monster. From Sir Winston’s birth until his twentieth year, Mrs. Everest provided a steady regimen of love, understanding, faith, firm principles, gentle guidance, and Christian instruction. Her influence upon him is incalculable, however, in this inspiring tribute to Mrs. Everest, author Stephen Mansfield concludes,

“So it was that when the man some called the ‘Greatest Man of the Age,’ lay dying in 1965 at the age of ninety, there was but one picture that stood at his bedside. It was the picture of his beloved nanny, gone to be with her Lord some seventy years before.”

We strongly encourage you to read Mr. Mansfield’s tribute, particularly on this day, November 30, Sir Winston’s birthday. A day and a man likely few would distinguish from any other, were it not for a fussing little English nanny called, Mrs. Everest.




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