Winston Churchill’s Father Paid For The Education of The Discoverer of Penicillin…then, in turn, Winston Churchill’s Life Was Later Saved by Penicillin-Fiction!




Summary of eRumor:

A Scottish farmer saves a drowning boy’s life, but refuses a reward from the boy’s nobleman father.  The nobleman then offers to provide an education for the farmer’s son.  The son grows up to become Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.  Years later, the nobleman’s son is stricken with pneumonia but saved by penicillin.  That nobleman’s son is Winston Churchill.

The Truth:

According to the Winston Churchill center in Washington, D.C., this is a myth.  There is no evidence these events ever happened.  Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, says there’s no record of Churchill nearly drowning or of his father paying for Fleming’s education.  Churchill was once treated for pneumonia, but according to the center, not with penicillin.

updated 07/06/07

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make out a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

“I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,” the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes,” the farmer replied proudly. “I’ll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll grow to a man you can be proud of.”

And that he did. In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the nobleman’s son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. Someone once said: What goes around comes around. Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.