Churchill and Texas: The Complete History

Churchill and Texas: The Complete History

Q: Was Churchill ever in Texas?

A. No, but he was an Honorary…

The clos­est Churchill came to vis­it­ing Texas was in 1938, when he planned a series of lec­tures begin­ning at Fort Worth and Dal­las. It was to have last­ed six weeks in Novem­ber and Decem­ber. The Munich Cri­sis inter­fered and the lec­ture tour was cancelled.

Churchill was, how­ev­er, an Hon­orary Free­man of the City of Dal­las. In the 1970s Dal­las boast­ed a neo-Vic­to­ri­an night spot called the Churchill Club. It was dec­o­rat­ed with the great man’s pic­tures and quo­ta­tions. There were Union Flags and a let­ter from WSC accept­ing his Free­man­ship of the city. Dal­las also has a Churchill Park, locat­ed at 7025 Churchill Way.

Here are some oth­er Churchill-Texas associations…

After Pearl Harbor

Press Con­fer­ence, Wash­ing­ton, 23 Decem­ber 1941, fol­low­ing Japan’s attack on Pearl Har­bor. (Cit­ed in Robert Pilpel, Churchill in Amer­i­ca, 147):

Texas Reporter: “Mr. Min­is­ter [sic], can you tell us when you think we may lick these boys?” [Pause while some­one explained to WSC the mean­ing of the Amer­i­can slang, “lick.”]

Churchill: “If we man­age it well, it will take only half as long as if we man­age it badly.”

Texas reporter: “Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, in one of your speech­es you men­tioned three or four of the [war’s] great cli­mac­ter­ics. Would you now agree that our entry into the war is one of these, sir?”

Churchill: “I think I may almost say [affect­ing a Texas drawl] Ah sho’ do!”

“Why We’re Winning”

In his mem­oir, Hap­py Odyssey (251) Lt. Gen. Adri­an Car­ton de Wiart, Churchill’s per­son­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Chi­ang Kai-shek recalled:

I was also act­ing as Lord Mount­bat­ten‘s liai­son offi­cer…. Dicky Mount­bat­ten is a curi­ous mix­ture of roy­al-democ­ra­cy; he can mix equal­ly well on a high or low lev­el and be exact­ly right in each…. He was inspect­ing some Amer­i­can posts, and it was obvi­ous that the Amer­i­cans had been well primed before­hand as to their behav­iour. All went swim­ming­ly until Mount­bat­ten came up to a cer­tain sen­try who imme­di­ate­ly stretched out his hand and said: “I’m Brown from Texas.”

Mount­bat­ten, not the least tak­en aback, shook the out­stretched hand and answered: “There are a lot of you Tex­ans out here.”

Where­upon the sol­dier replied: “Yes, that’s why the war’s going so well.”’

Texas Fan Mail, 1899

Rev­erend W.K. Lloyd, Church of the Holy Cross, Paris, Texas, to WSC, 19 Novem­ber 1899:

My Dear Sir, I can­not refrain from writ­ing you stranger tho I be to tell you how proud we Texas Eng­lish­men are of you. When we see the best blood of Eng­land fight­ing side by side with “Tom­my Atkins” and per­form­ing such deeds of val­or, many like myself would give up every­thing to be in the “mix up” [Anglo-Boer War] too, but alas, we are not the favoured ones this time. Go on old man and show the world what Eng­lish­men are still made of and may the Good Father of all pre­serve your valu­able life.

Rev. Lloyd had served as a Cap­tain in the 3rd Texas Infantry dur­ing the Span­ish-Amer­i­can War. Report­ed in The Churchill Doc­u­ments, vol. 2.

“Sporting Joe” Aylesford

Joseph Heneage Finch (1849-1885), 7th Earl of Ayles­ford, was known for his horse rac­ing and gam­bling pur­suits as “Sport­ing Joe.” His wife Edith was even more sport­ing, enter­tain­ing Lord Bland­ford, Win­ston Churchill’s uncle (lat­er the 8th Duke of Marl­bor­ough), as well as HRH The Prince of Wales (lat­er King Edward VII).

When his broth­er was named as a cor­re­spon­dent in the inevitable divorce pro­ceed­ings, Lord Ran­dolph Churchill threat­ened to reveal incrim­i­nat­ing let­ters prov­ing that Bland­ford wasn’t the only cuck­old and HRH no less a cad. Infu­ri­at­ed, HRH refused to attend any social event where Lord Ran­dolph was present. To avoid being frozen out of Lon­don soci­ety, the Churchills, includ­ing young Win­ston, went into tem­po­rary exile in Ireland.

After his divorce, Sport­ing Joe migrat­ed to Amer­i­ca. In 1883 he bought 27,000 acres at Big Spring, Texas. There he flour­ished as a dude ranch­er until his death from cir­rho­sis at age 36.

Here Come da Judge

His­tor­i­cal mark­er for “Sport­ing Joe” Ayles­ford, Big Spring, Texas. (Wiki­me­dia Commons)

Ayles­ford arrived with a “car­load” of hors­es, dogs, Eng­lish sad­dles and rid­ing togs. Dis­mayed to find no fox­es to hunt, he made do with antelopes and coy­otes. Known by locals as “The Judge,” he scraped by on $50,000 a year (about $1.5m today). Pop­u­lar with Tex­ans, he fre­quent­ly picked up the tab at drink­ing par­ties. His ranch had a pile of emp­ty whisky bot­tles said to be “as big as a haystack.”

In Jan­u­ary 1885, say­ing “Good­bye boys,” Sport­ing Joe left a card game, went to his room, climbed into bed, pulled the blan­ket up to his chin, and died. His doc­tor pre­pared his body for ship­ment back to Eng­land. He described the liv­er as being not unlike a rock.

Ani­ta Leslie wrote in Edwar­dians in Love, 122:

Lord Bland­ford, hav­ing shed the promis­cu­ous Edith Ayles­ford, mar­ried a kind­ly rich Amer­i­can wid­ow whom he deceived with the glam­orous nympho­ma­ni­ac Lady Col­in Camp­bell, whose naked pic­ture by Whistler would even­tu­al­ly be torn to shreds by his out­raged wife. (A pity, for today’s muse­ums are short of Whistlers.)

As Lady Ran­dolph Churchill is report­ed to have said (but maybe didn’t): “It doesn’t real­ly mat­ter what one does, as long as one doesn’t do it in the street and fright­en the horses.”

Moreton Frewen, aka “Mortal Ruin”

More­ton Frewen (1853-1924), Winston’s uncle, mar­ried Clara Jerome and bad­ly edit­ed the first edi­tion of Winston’s first book, The Sto­ry of the Malakand Field Force. He was known as “Mor­tal Ruin” for his many finan­cial dis­as­ters. Ralph Mar­tin wrote in Jen­nie vol. 1):

A tall, assured sports­man, known as one of the best gen­tle­man rid­ers in Eng­land, he explored the buf­fa­lo trails of Texas, and had known every one there from Buf­fa­lo Bill to Sit­ting Bull. “A bad man with brown eyes need not be feared,” Frewen wrote, “but the fel­low with grey eyes or grey-blue whose eyes grew dark­er as they looked down a gun—that was the sort of man to reck­on with.” [The Lone Ranger would have put a fright into him.]

Moreton’s main inter­est was in his 45,000 head of cat­tle. But wise as he sup­pos­ed­ly was to the ways of the West, he once stood on a hill­top and bought the same herd of 7,000 cat­tle three times, while Tex­an ranch­ers drove them in a cir­cle around the hill.

Thus endeth the Ency­clo­pe­dia of Win­ston Churchill and Texas.

2 thoughts on “Churchill and Texas: The Complete History

  1. Amus­ing. I think you could write a longer arti­cle on Churchill and Scotland.

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