History - OnThisDay - Arthur Wellesley, 1st. Duke of Wellington, the Iron Duke

Arthur Wellesley was born on May 1st. 1769 in Dublin, Ireland.

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington statue in London


He was the son of the first Earl of Mornington and his wife,
Anne, daughter of the first Viscount Dungannon.

In 1781, Arthur's father died and his eldest brother Richard
inherited his father's earldom.

From 1781 to 1784, Arthur Wellesley enrolled at Eton. He hated
it and he would have said after the Battle of Waterloo:
"The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton."

In 1785 the young Arthur Wellesley was forced to move to
Brussels with his mother. His mother, Anne, was concerned about
her son she stated:
"I don't know what I shall do with my awkward son Arthur."

A young Arthur Wellesley - Source picture: Wikipedia

Early Military Career

On March 7th. 1787, Arthur Wellesley, was gazetted ensign
in the 73rd. Regiment of the Foot. In October he became
aide-de-camp to the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland,
Lord Buckingham.

On Christmas Day 1787 he was promoted to lieutenant.
During his time in Dublin his duties were mainly social:
attending balls, entertaining guests and providing advice
to Buckingham.

On January 23rd. 1788 he transferred into the 41st. Regiment
of Foot, then again on 25 June 1789, still a lieutenant he
transferred to the 12th. Prince of Wales's Regiment of Light

On January 30th. 1791 he became a captain and was transferred
to the 58th. Regiment of Foot.

On October 31st. 1791 he was transferred to the 18th. Light
Dragoons. During this period he was attracted to
Kitty Pakenham, daughter of Edward Pakenham, 2nd. Baron

In 1793, Arthur Wellesley sought her hand but it was turned
down by her brother Thomas, Earl of Longford who considered
Wellesley as a young man in debt.

In 1793, Arthur Wellesley became major by purchase in the
33rd. Regiment. A few months later he could purchase
a lieutenant in the 33rd.

Arthur Wellesley, Source picture: Wikipedia

Flanders campaign

In 1793, the Duke of York was sent to Flanders to avoid a
French invasion. In June 1794, Wellesley and the 33rd. Regiment
set sail from Cork to Ostend. They arrived too late.

On September 15th. 1794 the Battle of Boxtel, near Breda,
took place. This was Wellesley 's first experience of Battle.
However the French were superior.

He returned to England in March 1795 and he became a
Member of Parliament for Trim.


Whitehall decided that the 3rd. regiment was sent to India.
Wellesley was promoted full colonel and a few weeks later he set sail
for Calcutta with his regiment.

They arrived in Calcutta in 1797, Wellesley spent several months
here, then he was sent on a brief expedition to the Philippines.

When he returned to India, his brother Richard, now Lord
Mornington, had been appointed as the new Governor-General
of India.

In 1798, the 4th. Anglo-Mysore War broke out against the Sultan
of Mysore. Under the command of General Harris, 24,000 troops
were dispatched to Madras.

On March 27th. 1799, the Battle of Mallavelly took place. During
this Battle, Wellesley led his men. This went well for Wellesley.

On April 5th. 1799, the Battle of Seringapatam began.
Arthur Wellesley ordered a night attack on the village of Sultanpettah,
but this failed. Wellesley suffered a minor injury to his knee from a
spent musket-ball. The next day he attacked successfully.

On September 23rd. 1803, the Battle of Assaye took place and
Wellesley led his troops. This battle became one of his first major

In June 1804, he applied for permission to return home and as
a reward for his service in India he was made Knight of the Bath.
He also had amassed a fortune, consisting prize money for his campaign.

The brothers returned together to England on HMS Howe.
Arthur made a stop at the little island of Saint Helena. There he stayed
in the same building to which Napoleon I would later be exiled.

Duke of Wellington - Source picture: Wikipedia

Love and Marriage

On April 10th. 1806, Arthur Wellesley married Kitty Pakenham.
The two didn't get on well together. He was more a man of action
and she became jealous. However the couple would have two children.

Military Career

Arthur Wellesley took part in many famous battles inter alia:

- Peninsular War (1808 - 1814) between the United Kingdom and

- War of 1812 (1812 - 1815) between the United Kingdom and
the United States of America

In 1814, Wellesley was granted the title: Duke of Wellington.

On January 2nd. 1815 the title of his Knighthood of the Bath
was converted to Knight Grand Cross.

Battle of Waterloo

The most famous Battle where the Duke of Wellington has fought
was the Battle of Waterloo, which took place on Sunday
June 18th. 1815. This was won by the allied forces and Napoleon
had to exile in St. Helena. Although Napoleon had called him a
"Sepoy General".

Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo - Source picture: Wikipedia


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

Together with Robert Peel, Wellington was an influential member
of the Tory Party. In 1828 he became Prime Minister. He served
as PM till 1830 and again for a few months in 1834.

Till 1834 he was a member of the Tory Party. From 1834 he
became a member of the Conservatives.

Wellington also had other important posts:
- Leader of the House of Lords
- Foreign secretary 1834-1835
- Home secretary 1834

In 1846, Wellesley retired from political life, although he
remained Commander-in-Chief.

Arthur Wellesley - Duke of Wellington


On September 14th. 1852, Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke
of Wellington, the Iron Duke, died at Walmer Castle.

His body was taken by train to London, where he was given
a state funeral. The funeral took place on November 18th. 1852.

He was buried in a sarcophagus in the St. Paul's Cathedral, next
to Lord Nelson.


There is a theory that Beef Wellington is a dish with a reference
to Wellington, although some chefs dispute this.

His name also was given to Wellington boots, after the custom-made
boots he wore instead of the traditional Hessian boots.

Wellington had a lot of nicknames inter alia:
- the Iron Duke
- Nosey or Old Nosey
- Tsar Alexander I of Russia called him
'Le vainqueur du vainqueur du monde'
- The Beau, by officers under his command
- The Eagle, called by Spanish troops
- Douro, by Portuguese troops. ...

Duke of Wellington Statue - The City in London - taken in 2016

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