m. 5 Apr 1849
m. 15 Apr 1874
Facts and Events
Jennie Jerome was born in Rochester, New York, the second of three daughters of financier, sportsman, and speculator Leonard Jerome and his wife Clara, daughter of Ambrose Hall, a landowner and sometime New York State Assemblyman. She was raised in Brooklyn, New York and New York, New York. She had two sisters, Clarita (a.k.a. Clara) and Leonie. Her father was rumored to be the father of the American opera singer Minnie Hauk (1851-1929), married Baron Ernest von Hesse-Waltegg).
An unsubstantiated legend has it that Leonard Jerome, a man who loved opera, named his second daughter after the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, with whom he purportedly had an affair (doubtful, as Lind was highly moral). There is no evidence that Lind and Jerome ever met.
A noted beauty — an admirer said that there was "more of the panther than of the woman in her look" — Lady Randolph Churchill worked as a magazine editor in early life. There is a persistent rumor (often wrongly cited as fact) that she had a fashionable tattoo of a snake twined around her wrist, which she hid with a bracelet when required.. However, while this is certainly possible (since tattoos of the type were fashionable at the time, worn by fashionable women such as the 7th Marchioness of Londonderry, who had a snake tattooed on one of her legs in 1903), extensive searching has so far provided no evidence other than rumor. The historian Sir Martin Gilbert (Winston Churchill's official biographer) considers it very unlikely.
Hall family lore insists that Jennie had an Iroquois great-grandfather, but no evidence of any Native American ancestry has yet been uncovered, despite much genealogical digging. Moshe Kohn, in an article in The Jerusalem Post on 15 January 1993, alleged that the Jerome family name was originally Jacobson, and that Jennie's ethnic ancestry was, in fact, Jewish, at least on her father's side. However, there is no truth to this claim; the name of the family has always been Jerome since the family (in the person of a Huguenot immigrant named Timothy Jerome) first set foot in America about 1717.
It is alleged that both Jennie and her father Leonard had similar interests. Her father purchased the Bathgate Mansion and Estate, on the outer western edge of Old Fordham Village, Westchester County (now in the Bronx), and built the Jerome Park Racetrack on the property. While living at the mansion, Jennie took to horseback riding, as her father took to betting. It was at the racetrack that she met and was later courted by her future husband, Spencer-Churchill.
A pioneering Anglo-American match: Jennie, a true beauty, and the brilliant, aristocratic Randolph. She was rumored to have had affairs with, among others, the Prince of Wales and the Austrian Count Kinski. She wrote plays, founded the Anglo-Saxon Review and promoted the political career of her son Winston.