Spring 1888 (Age 13)

Lord and Lady Randolph returned to England from a tour of Russia. His loyalty to the Tory Party was fragile and he was still greatly feared by Salisbury, Balfour and the Queen.

On 25 April Lord Randolph’s opposition to his own party came into the open. When Balfour spoke in favour of a Private Member’s Bill to extend Local Government in Ireland, Churchill was strongly critical of him. He thought he had the support of Joseph Chamberlain to oppose the Government but Chamberlain found the criticisms a little too sharp. Lord Randolph deeply resented what he considered a betrayal by his friend. When they made up, Chamberlain suggested that Lord Randolph must overcome his habit of making things so difficult for his friends.

In the main, Churchill remained silent in the House but it was apparent that he was becoming increasingly disillusioned with politics. When he was greeted by a supporter in St. James’s Park with the wish that he hoped to see him again in the Cabinet, Lord Randolph replied: “I sincerely hope that you will not.”

“I never write myself Spencer Churchill but always Winston S Churchill.”

Lord Salisbury remarked that among Churchill’s other problems, “his pecuniary position is very bad.” This assessment certainly did not inhibit young Winston Churchill from making frequent requests for money from his parents. On April 17 he entered Harrow School as a member of H.O.D. Davidson’s House. Within a week of arriving he wrote his mother for more money. “Most boys say they usually bring back £3 and write for more. . . Please send the money as soon as possible you promised me I should not be different to others.”

Harrow at this time was in its golden age. Still in the country, it was separated from London by green fields. On a clear day they could even see Windsor. Winston was having difficulty resolving what surname he would live with. He wrote his father: “I am called, Winston Spencer Churchill here and sorted under the S’s. I never write myself Spencer Churchill but always Winston S Churchill. Is it your wish that I should be so called? It is too late to alter it this term but next term I may assume my Proper name.”

Winston’s son later told the story that when visitors to Harrow looked for the child of the famous Lord Randolph Churchill at “Bill,” the Harrow roll-call, they were heard to remark, “Why, he’s the last of all,” as he filed by in alphabetical order.

We do not have many comments by Winston Churchill on religion but in an essay on ‘Palestine in the Time of John the Baptist’ he made the following assessment of the Pharisees: “Their faults were many. Whose faults are few? For let him with all the advantages of Christianity avouch that they are more wicked than himself, he commits the same crime of which he is just denouncing them.”

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