In 1867, Clarrisa (Clara) Jerome and her three daughters - Jennie, Leonie and Clarita (also Clara) - sailed for Paris and the Court of Emperor Napoleon III. There Clara expected to find husbands for the girls that would fulfill her most ambitious dynastic ambitions.
Napoleon III was then near the end of his reign, although that was not clear at the time.
A nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, he had become President of the French Republic on 20 December 1848. Four years later he seized direct power to reestablish the Napoleonic Empire.
Napoleon III was a considerable reformer who shared his uncle's vision of a great French empire. He reformed public administration, expanded French power and rebuilt Paris.
The Paris you see today with its boulevards, a Paris much loved by many Australians, is the creation of Napoleon III and his main agent, Baron Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine.
Napoleon III may have been a reformer, but he had failed to modernize the French military. When war began with Prussia in 1870, the French suffered a humiliating defeat. Napoleon III was captured and then deposed.
Clara Jerome moved the girls to London where they cut a considerable swath through London society. They were young, wealthy and attractive.
The beautiful Jennie was the first to marry. On 15 April 1874 she married Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill at the British Embassy on Paris.
The couple had met the previous August at a sailing regatta at Cowes on the Isle of Wright, introduced by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. Randolph was quickly smitten. They became engaged within three days, although it took several months to agree to marriage settlements.
Jennie was a remarkable woman, the subject of many stories, some even true! What is relevant from our viewpoint is that in November 1874 their first son, Winston, was born.
In 1984 the eldest Leslie sister, Leonie, married the wealthy Irish landowner and Baronet Sir John Leslie. They would have four sons.
Between these two weddings, Clara (Clarita) married Moreton Frewen at Grace Church New York on 2 April 1881. Frewen came from an old and wealthy English-Irish county family. This marriage marks the start of the New England connection in our story.
Looking back, Clara Jerome's dynastic objectives for her daughters may have seemed ambitious, but certainly they had all married well with multiple connections into the British upper class. .