Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of

BORN 1 May 1769, Dublin: 6 Merrion Street - DIED 14 Sep 1852, Stratfield Saye: Walmer Castle
GRAVE LOCATION London: St. Paul's Cathedral (in the crypt)

Arthur Wellesley was born in Ireland. He was educared at Eton from 1781 to 1784 before he moved to Brussels with his mother. He continued his education at the French Royal Academy of Equitation in Angers and returned to England in 1786. In 1787 he joined the army and he became aide-de-camp to Lord Buckingham. He was elected into the Irish Parliament and served at Dublin Castle.

In 1792 he asked for the hand of Kitty Pakenham, the daughter of the Earl of Longford. But her brother, who had recently succeeded his father, refused him because of his poor prospects. In 1794 he went to Flanders to join the Duke of York's invasion of France. The campaign failed and he returned to England in 1795. In 1796 he became a colonel and was sent to Calcutta.

He arrived in India in 1797 where he fought the Maratha Empire. More battles followed until he asked for permission to return to England in 1804. This was granted and together with his brother, who had been Governor-General of India, he returned in 1805. Back in England he conducted a passionate affair with Harriet Wilson before he finally married Kitty Pakenham in 1806. But she had changed for the worse and he only married her because he thought he was obliged to.

He was sent to the Peninsula where he defeated the French troops for the first time in 1808 in Portugal. In 1810 Massena invaded Portugal and England was ready to give it up, but Wellington prevented the French from taking Lisbon and gradually drove them back. In 1812 he defeated the enemy near Salamance, thus liberating Madrid from French occupation. He was given then given the title of Earl of Wellington.

Many more battles followed and his troops were never defeated, although he was lucky several times. In 1814 Napoleon abdicated and the war seemed to be over. But Napoleon returned to power in 1815 and the English troops invaded Belgium. Wellington was in command of the allied troops that defeated the emperor's forces near Waterloo on 18 Jun 1815. In later years it was a great regret to him that he had never met Napoleon, who died in 1821.

Wellington was a national hero now and the nation awarded him the title of Duke as well as a huge sum of money. He returned to politics and in 1827 he became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. In 1828 he became Prime Minister for the Tories. His government was very conservative, but is was responsible for Catholic Emancipation, the granting of more civil rights to the Catholics in the country. Because of this the Earl of Winchilsea accused him of treachery to the Protestant constitution. Wellington challenged him to a duel. Wellington missed his opponent widely (he said it was on purpose) and Winchilsea didn't fire at all. In 1830 Wellington's government fell and he was succeeded by Earl Grey.

In 1834 the Tories returned to power and Robert Peel included Wellington in his cabinet as Foreign Secretary (1834-1835). From 1841 to 1846 he was leader of the House of Lords. In 1846 he withdrew from politics and in 1853 he died at Walmer Castle.

Related persons
• has a connection with George, Marguerite Joséphine
• was painted by Haydon, Benjamin
• has a connection with Huskisson, William
• was the lover of Lamb, Caroline
• was painted by Lucas, John
• defeated Masséna, André, duc de Rivoli, prince d'Essling
• defeated Napoleon I Bonaparte
• was sculpted by Noble, Matthew
• had a relationship with Webster Wedderburn, Frances
• is uncle/aunt of Wellesley, George Greville

4/5/1814Wellington enters Paris on a white horse. He was just in time for the parade that the allied had organised for Louis XVIII. John Cam Hobhouse was among the people in Paris that saw him. Wellington hadn't been in Paris since 1786. [Hobhouse, John Cam, Lord Broughton]
22/8/1814Wellington arrives in Paris as ambassador for the United Kingdon. The British government bought the Hôtel de Charost in de rue du Faburg St Honoré that had belonged to Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. [Bonaparte, Pauline]
3/2/1815Wellington arrives in Vienna for the Congress of Vienna. He Succeeded Lord Castlereagh as negotiator for England. There had been little progress so far, but after Wellington joined the negotiations things improved. He went straight for his targets, other than Talleyrand and Metternich whose motives often seemed obscure. 
29/3/1815Wellngton leaves the Congress of Vienna. During the Congress, Napoleon had returned to France. Napoleon promised a liberal rule and promised not to be a danger to Europe. But the Congress decided that he should be removed from power again. Wellington left for Brussels to take command of the allied army. [Napoleon I Bonaparte]


Statue of the Duke of Wellington near Apsley House, his home in London.
Picture by Androom (24 Mar 1996)


The statue of Napoleon that was finished by Canova in 1806. In 1816 it became the property of the Duke of Wellington and it can still be found at Apsley House, Wellington's home in London.
Picture by Androom (24 Mar 1996)


The Duke of Wellington's tomb at St. Paul's Cathedral, London.
Picture by Androom (26 Mar 1996)


The statue of Wellington in the city centre of Liverpool.
Picture by Androom (15 May 2005)


The statue of Wellington at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.
Picture by Androom (13 May 2005)


"Portrait of the Duke of Wellington" by Thomas Lawrence.

• Longford, Elizabeth, Wellington, Pillar of State, Panther Books, Frogmore, 1975
• Longford, Elizabeth, Wellington, The Years of the Sword, World Books, London, 1971
Arthur Wellesley - Wikipedia

Welti-Escher, Lydia

Published: 05 Oct 2008
Last update: 20 May 2023