Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington,

“The Iron Duke”,  “The Beau”, “The Peer”, “Beau Douro” “and “Beaky“

Born 05/01/1769  Dublin, Ireland

Died 09/14/1852  Walmer Castle, Kent

Major Acts:

Roman Catholic Relief Act-removed many of the restrictions on Catholics in the UK

First Ministry


Office                                                                    Name                                                        Term

First Lord of the Treasury

Leader of the House of Lords                            The Duke of Wellington                           January 1828 – November 1830

Lord Chancellor                                                  The Lord Lyndhust                                  January 1828 – November 1830

Lord President of the Council                            The Earl Bathurst                                    January 1828 – November 1830

Lord Privy Seal                                                    The Lord Ellenborough                              January 1828 – June 1829

                                                                            The Earl of Rosslyn                                   June1829 - November 1830

Chancellor of the Exchequer                              Henry Goulburn                                     January 1828 – November 1830

Home Secretary

Leader of the House of Commons                     Robert Peel                                            January 1828 – November 1830

Foreign Secretary                                              The Earl of Dudley                                    January 1828 – June 1828

                                                                          The Earl of Aberdeen                                June 1828 – November 1830

Secretary of State for War and the Colonies     William Huskisson                                        January 1828 – May 1828

                                                                          Sir George Murray                                     May 1828 – November 18

First Lord of the Admiralty                                The Viscount Melville                          September 1828 – November 1830

Master-General of the Ordnance                       Marquess of Anglesey                         January 1828 – April 1828

                                                                        The Viscount Beresford                         April 1828 – November 1830

President of the Board of Trade                        Charles Grant January                             1828 – June 1828

                                                                            William Vesey-Fitzgerald                       June 1828 – February 1830

                                                                            John Charles Herries                 February 1830 – November 1830

President of the Board of Control                     Charles Watkin Williams-Wynn                January 1828 – July 1828

                                                                          The Viscount Melville                             July 1828 – September 1828

                                                                            The Lord Ellenborough             September 1828 – November 1830

Master of the Mint                                                John Charles Herries                      January 1828 – November 1830

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster                The Earl of Aberdeen                         January 1828 – June 1828

                                                                           Charles Arbuthnot                             June 1828 – November 1830

First Commissioner of Woods and Forests        Charles Arbuthnot                             February 1828 – June 1828

                                                                            Viscount Lowther                              June 1828 – November 1830

Paymaster of the Forces                                    William Vesey-Fitzgerald                January 1828 – July 1828

                                                                           John Calcraft                                  July 1828 – November 1830

Secretary at War                                               Viscount Palmerston                           January 1828 – May 1828

                                                                           Sir Henry Hardinge                           May 1828 – July 1830

                                                                          Lord Francis Leveson-Gower             July 1830 – November 1830

Second Ministry


Office                                                                   Name                                                    Date

Prime Minister

Secretary of State for the Home Department

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Secretary of State for War and the Colonies

Leader of the House of Lords                            The Duke of Wellington        17 November 1834 – 9 December 1834

Chancellor of the Exchequer                             The Lord Denman                15 November 1834-9 December

Lord Chancellor                                                 The Lord Lyndhurst              21 November 1834-9 December

Lords Commissioners of the Treasury              The Duke of Wellington

                                                                          The Earl of Rosslyn

                                                                          The Lord Ellenborough          21 November 1834-9 December

                                                                          Lord Maryborough

                                                                          Sir John Beckett

                                                                          Joseph Planta

A colonel by 1796, Wellesley saw action in the Netherlands and later in India, where he fought in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War at the Battle of Seringapatam. He was appointed governor of Seringapatam and Mysore in 1799, and as a newly appointed major-general won a decisive victory over the Maratha Confederacy at the Battle of Assaye in 1803.

Wellesley rose to prominence as a general during the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars, and was promoted to the rank of field marshal after leading the allied forces to victory against the French at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. Following Napoleon's exile in 1814, he served as the ambassador to France and was granted a dukedom. During the Hundred Days in 1815, he commanded the allied army which, together with a Prussian army under Blücher, defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Wellesley's battle record is exemplary, ultimately participating in some 60 battles throughout his military career.

He was twice prime minister under the Tory party and oversaw the passage of the Catholic Relief Act 1829. He was prime minister from 1828–30 and served briefly in 1834. He was unable to prevent the passage of the Reform Act 1832 and continued as one of the leading figures in the House of Lords until his retirement. He remained Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death.

Wellington is thus famous for two careers. His command of British forces in the Peninsula and defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo as well as his service as Prime Minister, twice. The second time though was as a caretaker and lasted less than a month. His career as Prime Minister truly ended when he did not read the winds of change and did not go to the funeral of Huskisson. When Wellington attended the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, knowing that this signified the change of the world, he did not follow up with what was the political change. Here, since to do justice to Welling would take talking about all of his career, we will focus on his role as a politician and Prime Minister.

A British soldier and statesman, a native of Ireland, from the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century. He is often referred to as "the Duke of Wellington", even after his death, when there have been subsequent Dukes of Wellington.

Wellesley was commissioned as an ensign in the British Army in 1787. Serving in Ireland as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland he was also elected as a Member of Parliament in the Irish House of Commons.

Catherine Sarah Dorothea “Kitty” Pakenham, the sister of one of his generals, Edward Pakenham. who died leading such famous units as the 95th Rifles (Sharp!) and 93rd Highlanders at the Battle of New Orleans in the American war of 1812 which was over by the time the battle had been fought in 1815, but because of communications then, they had not gotten the word.

Wellesley and Kitty might have been hot and heavy at first, but he was turned away when he did not have any prospects and she found another to love. Who, when he found that Wellesley was still interested bowed out. When Kitty and Wellesley did marry, their marriage was not one of love on his side. Though, Kitty did love the Duke. She died in 1831

Political career

Wellington entered politics again, when he was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance in the Tory government of Lord Liverpool on 26 December 1818. He also became Governor of Plymouth on 9 October 1819. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Army on 22 January 1827 and Constable of the Tower of London on 5 February 1827.

Along with Robert Peel, Wellington became an increasingly influential member of the Tory party, and in 1828 he resigned as Commander-in-Chief and became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Wellington was the first Irish-born person to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Wellington is erroneously reputed to have responded to comments regarding his Irish birth by stating that "being born in a stable does not make one a horse". This was in fact a quote made about him by Irish Nationalist politician Daniel O'Connell.

During his first seven months as prime minister he chose not to live in the official residence at 10 Downing Street, finding it too small. He moved in only because his own home, Apsley House, required extensive renovations. During this time he was largely instrumental in the foundation of King's College London. On 20 January 1829 Wellington was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

As prime minister, Wellington was conservative, fearing the anarchy of the French Revolution would spread to England. The highlight of his term was Catholic Emancipation; the granting of almost full civil rights to Catholics in the United Kingdom. The change was forced by the landslide by-election win of Daniel O'Connell, an Irish Catholic proponent of emancipation, who was elected despite not being legally allowed to sit in Parliament. The Earl of Winchilsea accused the Duke of, "an insidious design for the infringement of our liberties and the introduction of Popery into every department of the State". Wellington responded by immediately challenging Winchilsea to a duel. On 21 March 1829, Wellington and Winchilsea met on Battersea fields. When it came time to fire, the Duke took aim and Winchilsea kept his arm down. The Duke fired wide to the right. Accounts differ as to whether he missed on purpose; Wellington, noted for his poor aim, claimed he did, other reports more sympathetic to Winchilsea claimed he had aimed to kill. Winchilsea did not fire, a plan he and his second almost certainly decided upon before the duel. Honour was saved and Winchilsea wrote Wellington an apology.

Catholic Emancipation

In the House of Lords, facing stiff opposition, Wellington spoke for Catholic Emancipation, giving one of the best speeches of his career. He was Irish, and later governed the country, so had some understanding of the grievances of the Catholic communities there. The Catholic Relief Act 1829 was passed with a majority of 105. Many Tories voted against the Act, and it passed only with the help of the Whigs. Wellington had threatened to resign as Prime Minister if the King (George IV) did not give his Royal Assent.

The nickname "Iron Duke" originates from this period, when he experienced a high degree of personal and political unpopularity. Its repeated use in Freeman's Journal throughout June 1830 appears to bear reference to his resolute political will, with taints of disapproval from its Irish editors. His residence at Apsley House was targeted by a mob of demonstrators on 27 April 1831 and again on 12 October, leaving his windows smashed. Iron shutters were installed in June 1832 to prevent further damage by crowds angry over rejection of the Reform Bill, which he strongly opposed.

Wellington's government fell in 1830. In the summer and autumn of that year, a wave of riots swept the country. The Whigs had been out of power for most years since the 1770s, and saw political reform in response to the unrest as the key to their return. Wellington stuck to the Tory policy of no reform and no expansion of suffrage, and as a result lost a vote of no confidence on 15 November 1830.

The Reform Act

The Whigs introduced the first Reform Bill whilst Wellington and the Tories worked to prevent its passage. The bill passed in the British House of Commons, but was defeated in the House of Lords. An election followed in direct response, and the Whigs were returned with an even larger majority. A second Reform Act was introduced, and defeated in the same way, and another wave of near insurrection swept the country. During this time, Wellington was greeted by a hostile reaction from the crowds at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The Whig Government fell in 1832 and Wellington was unable to form a Tory Government partly because of a run on the Bank of England. This left King William IV no choice but to restore Earl Grey to the premiership. Eventually the bill passed the House of Lords after the King threatened to fill that House with newly created Whig peers if it were not. Wellington was never reconciled to the change; when Parliament first met after the first election under the widened franchise, Wellington is reported to have said "I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life".

Jewish Emancipation

During debate on the Jewish Civil Disabilities Repeal Bill, Wellington, who opposed the Bill, stated in Parliament on 1 August 1833: "... this is a Christian country and a Christian legislature, and that the effect of this measure would be to remove that peculiar character." And "I see no ground whatever for passing the Bill; and shall, therefore, vote against it." The Bill was defeated, 104 votes against, and 54 for.

Conservative Government

Wellington was gradually superseded as leader of the Tories by Robert Peel, whilst the party evolved into the Conservatives. When the Tories were returned to power in 1834, Wellington declined to become Prime Minister and Peel was selected instead. However, Peel was in Italy at that time and for three weeks in November and December 1834, Wellington acted as interim leader, taking the responsibilities of Prime Minister and most of the other ministries. In Peel's first cabinet (1834–1835), Wellington became Foreign Secretary, while in the second (1841–1846) he was a Minister without Portfolio and Leader of the House of Lords. Wellington was also re-appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Army on 15 August 1842 following the resignation of Lord Hill.


Wellington retired from political life in 1846, although he remained Commander-in-Chief, and returned briefly to the spotlight in 1848 when he helped organise a military force to protect London during that year of European revolution.

The Conservative Party had split over the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, with Wellington and most of the former Cabinet still supporting Robert Peel, but most of the MPs led by Lord Derby supporting a protectionist stance. Early in 1852 Wellington, by then very deaf, gave Derby's first government its nickname by shouting "Who? Who?" as the list of inexperienced Cabinet Ministers was read out in the House of Lords.

He became Chief Ranger and Keeper of Hyde Park and St. James's Park on 31 August 1850. He was also colonel of the 33rd Regiment of Foot from 1 February 1806 and colonel of the Grenadier Guards from 22 January 1827.

Death and funeral

Wellington died on 14 September 1852, aged 83, of the after effects of a stroke culminating in a series of epileptic seizures.

Although in life he hated travelling by rail (after witnessing the death of William Huskisson, one of the first railway accident casualties), his body was then taken by train to London, where he was given a state funeral—one of only a handful of British subjects to be honoured in that way (other examples are Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill)—and the last heraldic state funeral to be held in Britain. The funeral took place on 18 November 1852.

At his funeral there was hardly any space to stand because of the number of people attending, and the effusive praise given him in Tennyson's "Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington" attests to his stature at the time of his death. He was buried in a sarcophagus of luxulyanite in St Paul's Cathedral next to Lord Nelson.

Wellington's casket was decorated with banners which were made for his funeral procession. Originally, there was one for Prussia, which was removed during World War I and never reinstated.

Most of the book 'A Biographical Sketch of the Military and Political Career of the Late Duke of Wellington' by Weymouth newspaper proprietor Joseph Drew is a detailed contemporary account of his death, lying in state and funeral.

After his death Irish and English newspapers disputed whether Wellington had been born an Irishman or Englishman. During his life he had openly disliked being referred to as an "Irishman".

Owing to its links with Wellington, as the former commanding officer and colonel of the regiment, the title "33rd (The Duke of Wellington's) Regiment" was granted to the 33rd Regiment of Foot, on 18 June 1853 (the 38th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo) by Queen Victoria

Prime Minister                                                                                    Date Takes Office    Date Leaves Office

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     04/02/1783            12/19/1783

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 12/19/1783             03/14/1801

Henry Addington 1st Viscount Sidmouth                                   03/14/1801             05/10/1804

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 05/10/1804             01/23/1806

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville                     02/11/1806            03/31/1807

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     03/31/1807            10/04/1809

Spencer Perceval                                                                             04/10/1809            05/11/1812

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool                        06/08/1812            04/09/1827

George Canning                                                                               04/10/1827            08/08/1827

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich                    08/31/1827            01/21/1828

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   01/22/1828            11/16/1830

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey                                                         11/22/1830            07/16/1834

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     07/16/1834            11/14/1834

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   11/14/1834            12/10/1834

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet                                                        12/10/1834            04/08/1835

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     04/18/1835            08/30/1841

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