Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)
Tory Prime Minister 1828-1830

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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) Tory Prime Minister 1828-1830

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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was one of the most-frequently painted personages of the 19th century. The original of this portrait was painted by John Lucas in 1841, and presented to the 1st Marquess of Anglesey, who had been Wellington's second-in-command at the battle of Waterloo. This replica was painted by Lucas ten years later. It shows all the stature, command and grandeur of the man, but also what the French General Foy described in 1814 as:

... a countenance full of distinction, simplicity and kindness.
General Foy.

(2) Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) Tory Prime Minister 1828-1830

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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)
Tory Prime Minister 1828-1830

Arthur Wellesley was the fourth son of the first Earl of Mornington. He was a celebrated British general who took part in several military campaigns in India in the early 1800s. On his return to England in 1805 he was rewarded with a knighthood and an elected seat in Parliament. In 1812 he was made Duke of Wellington, and British Ambassador of Paris.

Wellington is probably best known for his series of victories in the Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), culminating in victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, June 1815. When he returned to England in 1818 he was a national hero and was showered with honours and gifts - and was given a post in Liverpool's Cabinet. However, other members were suspicious of his ambition and reactionary views, particularly concerning his battles against the Catholic emancipationists in the Cabinet. When George Canning was made Prime Minister in 1822, Wellington resigned from the Cabinet, and took up his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the British army.

After Canning's death and the failure to piece together the rump of Liverpool's party, the King turned to Wellington to recreate a form of strong and stable government once more. In 1828 Wellington reluctantly accepted the post of Prime Minister and formed his Cabinet out of the remainder of Liverpool's administration. In this position, Wellington led the 'Protestant' wing of the Tory division in opposition to Catholic emancipation. However, with problems in Ireland, Wellington felt that without some concession severe problems would arise, perhaps even rebellion. As a result, the government brought in the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829 - antagonising the conservative elements of his party.

Soon after this Wellington provoked yet more confrontation by opposing parliamentary reform. However, with the death of George IV in June 1830 there came a mood of change - opposition to Wellington's government rose. After a famous speech declaring his determination to resist reform the government was defeated in the Commons and Wellington resigned.

During the early thirties Wellington remained in Parliament and ran the government for a brief period in 1834. Despite his rather conservative views he supported Charles Babbage by allocating £10,000 from government funds for the development of his 'Difference Engine', the first step towards computing. When the Tories returned to power under Peel, Wellington became Foreign Secretary. In 1842 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the army for life. However, with the resignation of the Tory government in 1846 Wellington's political career came to an end. He died in 1852 and is buried at Saint Paul's Cathedral.


He was the pride and the bon génie, as it were, of this country. He was the greatest man this country ever produced, and the most devoted and loyal subject, and the staunchest supporter the Crown ever had. Albert is much grieved.
- Queen Victoria, Letters.

Nothing shall induce me to utter a word, either in public or in private, that I don't believe to be true.
- Himself, Letter, 1831.

If it is God's will that this great country should be destroyed, and that mankind shall be deprived of this last asylum of peace and happiness, let it be so. But as long as I can raise my voice I shall do so against the infatuated madness of the day.
- Himself, Letter at the time of the First Reform Bill.

The Duke of Wellington had exhausted nature and exhausted glory. His career was one un-clouded longest day.
- The Times, written on Wellington's death, 1852. Advanced Category Search

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