The Dukedom of Marlborough (named after Marlborough, pronounced "Maulbruh" - in the IPA), is an hereditary title of British nobility in the Peerage of England. The first holder of the title was John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650 - 1722), the noted English general, and indeed an unqualified reference to the Duke of Marlborough in a historical text will almost certainly be a reference to him.
The Dukedom was created in 1702 by Queen Anne; John Churchill, whose wife was a favorite of the Queen, had earlier been made Earl of Marlborough by King William III. Anne further honoured Churchill, after his leadership of the victories against the French of 13 August 1704 near the village of Blenheim (German Blindheim) on the Danube River (Battle of Blenheim), by granting him the royal manor of Woodstock, and building him a house at her own expense to be called Blenheim. It was commenced in 1705, and was completed in 1722, the year of his death. Blenheim Palace remains the Marlborough ducal seat.
The Duke of Marlborough holds certain subsidiary titles: Marquess of Blandford (created 1702), Earl of Sunderland (1643), Earl of Marlborough (1689), Baron Spencer of Wormleighton (1603), Baron Churchill of Sandridge (1685) and Lord Churchill of Eyemouth (1682). (Lord Churchill of Eyemouth is in the Scottish peerage, while the rest are in the English peerage.) The title Marquess of Blandford is used as the courtesy title for the Duke's eldest son and heir. The Duke's eldest son's eldest son in turn can use the courtesy title Earl of Sunderland.
The later Dukes of Marlborough are descended from the first duke, but not in the male line. Because the first duke had no sons, the title was allowed (by a special Act of Parliament) to pass to his eldest daughter in her own right. A younger daughter, Lady Anne Churchill , married Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (c. 1674 - 1722), and from this marriage descend the modern Dukes of Marlborough. They therefore originally bore the surname Spencer. However, George Spencer, the 5th Duke of Marlborough, obtained a Royal Licence to assume and bear the additional surname and arms of his famous ancestor, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, and thus became George Spencer-Churchill. This double-barrelled surname has remained in the family to this day, though some of the most famous members have preferred to style themselves as merely "Churchill".
The 7th Duke of Marlborough was the paternal grandfather of the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
The present Duke of Marlborough is John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough.
The title of Earl of Marlborough, which was created for Churchill in 1689, had been created one time previously in British history, for James Ley , in 1626. This title had become extinct in 1679.
Earls of Marlborough, first creation (1626)
- James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough (1552-1629)
- Henry Ley, 2nd Earl of Marlborough (1595-1638)
- James Ley, 3rd Earl of Marlborough (1618-1665)
- William Ley, 4th Earl of Marlborough (1612-1679)
Earls of Marlborough, second creation (1689)
Dukes of Marlborough (1702)
- John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722)
- Henrietta Churchill, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough (1681-1733)
- Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough (1706-1758)
- George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739-1817)
- George Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766-1840)
- George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough (1793-1857)
- John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough (1822-1883)
- George Charles Spencer-Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough (1844-1892)
- Charles Richard Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough (1871-1934)
- John Albert William Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough (1897-1972)
- John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough (b. 1926)
Heir Apparent: Charles James Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford (b. November 24 1955)
Lord Blandford's Heir Apparent: George Spencer-Churchill, Earl of Sunderland (b. July 28 1992)