Nellie Romilly at Chartwell

Margaret Nellie Ogilvy Romilly (née Hozier), ©National Portrait Gallery Margaret Nellie Ogilvy Romilly (née Hozier) ©National Portrait Gallery
A photograph of Nellie Romilly

Margaret Nellie Ogilvy Hozier (1888-1955), who usually went by her middle name of Nellie, was the younger sister of Clementine Churchill with whom she was very close, and twin to William Ogilvy Hozier.

On 4 December 1915, Nellie Hozier married Colonel Bertram Henry Samuel Romilly (1878-1914), son of Samuel Henry Romilly and Lady Arabella Charlotte Carnegie. They had two children, Esmond, killed in an RAF flying raid aged 23 years, and Giles, once a prisoner in Colditz.

Nellie was captured by the Germans while serving as a nurse in Belgium during the First World War but was quickly released.

She was described by her niece, Mary Soames, as ‘much easier-going and less highly strung than Clementine. Large and amiable, she was a chain smoker and invariably carried a capacious handbag. She was a compulsive gambler and always in financial difficulties. However, she remained debonair, gallant and with her gregarious nature she made a host of friends’.

Nellie gifted a book to Churchill, ‘Pageant of the Century’ edited by H E White, for his 80th birthday on 30 November 1954 in which she inscribed the following words:

Winston from Nellie with most loving good wishes

for Nov 30th 1954

Rarely can mankind say

Thank you to those who live,

So on this blessed day,

To you our hearts we give.

Knowing the stars decline,

Knowing the sun must set,

God! Hear this cry of mine!

Don’t leave us yet. Not yet - not yet!

She died from cancer a year later at the age of 66.