Arthur Wellesley, 2nd Duke of Wellington

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Arthur Wellesley, 2nd Duke of Wellington : biography

3 February 1807 – 13 August 1884

Lieutenant-General Arthur Richard Wellesley, 2nd Duke of Wellington KG, PC (3 February 1807 – 13 August 1884), styled Lord Douro between 1812 and 1814 and Marquess of Douro between 1814 and 1852, was a British soldier and politician. The eldest son of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, victor of Waterloo, he succeeded his father in the dukedom in 1852 and held minor political office as Master of the Horse from 1853 to 1858. In 1858 he was made a Knight of the Garter.

Military career

Lord Douro became an ensign in the 81st Regiment of Foot in 1823 and in the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot in 1825, a cornet in the Royal Horse Guards in 1825, a lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards in 1827, a captain in the Royal Horse Guards and in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1828, a major in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1830 and in the Rifle Brigade in 1831, a lieutenant-colonel in the Rifle Brigade in 1834, a brevet colonel in the Rifle Brigade in 1846, a lieutenant-colonel in the Victoria (Middlesex) Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1853 and a major-general in the Victoria (Middlesex) Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1854.

Background and education

Wellesley was born at Harley Street, Soho, London, the eldest son of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and the Honourable Catherine Sarah Dorothea "Kitty" Pakenham, daughter of Edward Pakenham, 2nd Baron Longford. Lord Charles Wellesley was his younger brother and Lord Wellesley, Lord Mornington and Lord Cowley his uncles. He was educated at Eton, Christ Church, Oxford and Trinity College, Cambridge. He became known by the courtesy title Lord Douro when his father was created Earl of Wellington in 1812 and as Marquess of Douro in 1814 after his father was elevated to a dukedom. He was a Page of Honour from 1818 to 1821.


Wellington married Lady Elizabeth Hay, daughter of Field Marshal George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale, in 1839. They had no children. The marriage was not a happy one although Lady Elizabeth was a great favourite with her father-in-law.Longford, Elizabeth. Wellington-Elder Statesman. Weidenfeld and Nicholson London 1972. On succeeding his illustrious father he was said to have remarked: "Imagine what it will be when the Duke of Wellington is announced, and only I walk in the room." The relationship between father and son is often described as the classic case of the son of a famous father who is never able to live up to his legacy.Longford op.cit. Wellington died at Brighton Railway Station, Brighton, Sussex, in August 1884, aged 77, and was buried at the family seat Stratfield Saye House, Hampshire. He was succeeded by his nephew, Henry. The Duchess of Wellington died at Bearhill Park, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in August 1903, aged 83, and was buried at Stratfield Saye House.

In literature

The Bronte children portrayed the first Duke of Wellington and his two sons in their imaginary games about the colonization of Africa. They wrote many stories about Arthur, with Charlotte assuming the character of Charles as the "author" of these stories. As Charlotte and Branwell moved into their teenage years and used Lord Byron’s writings as inspiration, they focused on Arthur as a romantic, heroic figure. He was known to them as the Duke of Zamorna, and later as Emperor Adrian of Angria. Elements of his character formed the basis for Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre.Elizabeth Gaskell, . Smith & Elder, 1857. Entire text online at Gutenberg.Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford, Legends of Angria. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1933.Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford, The Brontes’ Web of Childhood. Columbia University Press, 1941.Charlotte and Branwell Bronte, Miscellaneous and Unpublished Writings. Shakespeare Head edition, 1932.

Thomas Raikes ("the Younger") (3 October 1777 – 3 July 1848) a British merchant banker, dandy and diarist was a close childhood friend, traveling and gambling companion of Arthur Wellesley, 2nd Duke of Wellington. His journals ‘Two volumes of Private Correspondence with the 2nd Duke of Wellington and other Distinguished Contemporaries’ were published in 1861.

Political career

Lord Douro was returned to parliament for Aldeburgh in 1829, a seat he held until 1832. He was out of parliament until 1837, when he was returned for Norwich. In 1852 he succeeded his father in the dukedom and entered the House of Lords. In early 1853 he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Master of the Horse in Lord Aberdeen’s coalition government, a post he retained when Lord Palmerston became prime minister in 1855. He resigned along with the rest of the Palmerston government in 1858. The latter year he was made a Knight of the Garter.

In 1863 Wellington inherited the earldom of Mornington on the death of his cousin William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley, 5th Earl of Mornington. From 1868 to 1884 he was Lord-Lieutenant of Middlesex.