Duke of Wellington (title)

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Dukedom of Wellington
Coat of Arms of the Duke of Wellington.svg
Quarterly 1st & 4th: Gules, a cross argent in each quarter five plates in saltire (Wellesley); 2nd & 3rd: Or, a lion rampant gules ducally collared gold (Colley) over-all in the centre chief point an escutcheon of augmentation charged with the Union badge [1]
Creation date3 May 1814
Created by The Prince Regent (acting on behalf of his father, King George III)
Peerage Peerage of the United Kingdom
First holder Arthur Wellesley, 1st Marquess of Wellington
Present holder Charles Wellesley, 9th Duke
Heir apparentArthur Wellesley, Earl of Mornington
Remainder tothe 1st Duke's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten
Subsidiary titles
MottoVirtutis Fortuna Comes (Fortune favours the brave)

Duke of Wellington is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The name derived from Wellington in Somerset. The title was created in 1814 for Arthur Wellesley, 1st Marquess of Wellington (1769–1852; born as The Hon. Arthur Wesley), the Anglo-Irish military commander who is best known for leading the decisive victory with Field Marshal von Blücher over Napoleon's forces at Waterloo in Brabant (now Walloon Brabant, Belgium). Wellesley later served twice as British prime minister.


The first Duke's father, Garret Wesley, had been granted the title of Earl of Mornington in 1760. His male-line ancestors were wealthy agricultural and urban landowners in both countries, among the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy. The dukedom has descended to heirs male of the body, along with eleven other hereditary titles.


The titles of Duke of Wellington and Marquess Douro were bestowed upon Arthur Wellesley, 1st Marquess of Wellington, on 3 May 1814 after he returned home a hero following Napoleon's abdication. [2] [3] He fought some sixty battles during his military career. He was considered "the conqueror of Napoleon". He stands as one of the finest soldiers that Great Britain and Ireland has ever produced, others being the 1st Duke of Marlborough and the 2nd Duke of Argyll.[ citation needed ]

Following his victory at the Battle of Talavera, Wellesley was offered a peerage. The question was what title should he take. His brother, Richard Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, looked around and discovered that a manor in the parish of Wellington was available. It was also reasonably close to the family name. Because Arthur was still in Spain in command of the army fighting the French, Richard oversaw the purchase. By this process Arthur therefore became Marquess of Wellington. According to the book Wellington as Military Commander by Michael Glover, Arthur Wellesley first signed himself 'Wellington' on 16 September 1809. At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Arthur Wellesley was already further elevated to the peerage rank of the Duke of Wellington. At the time he became Ambassador to France, The London Gazette of 4 June 1814 refers to him as having that title but suggests that it was granted by warrant on 25 August 1812.

The subsidiary titles of the Duke of Wellington are Marquess of Wellington (1812), Marquess Douro (1814), Earl of Mornington (1760 – but only inherited by the Dukes of Wellington in 1863), Earl of Wellington (1812), Viscount Wellesley (1760 – inherited in 1863), Viscount Wellington (1809), Baron Mornington (1746 – also inherited in 1863), and Baron Douro (1809). The Viscountcy of Wellesley and the Barony and Earldom of Mornington are in the Peerage of Ireland; the rest are in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

Apart from the British titles, the Dukes of Wellington also hold the titles of Prince of Waterloo (Prins van Waterloo, 1815) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo (Duque de Ciudad Rodrigo, 1812) of the Kingdom of Spain, and Duke of Victoria (Duque da Vitória, 1812), with the subsidiary titles Marquess of Torres Vedras (Marquês de Torres Vedras, 1812) and Count of Vimeiro (Conde de Vimeiro, 1811) of the Kingdom of Portugal. These were granted to the first Duke as victory titles for his distinguished service as victorious commanding general in the Peninsular War (in Spain and Portugal) and at the Battle of Waterloo (in what is now Belgium).

The family seat is Stratfield Saye House, near Basingstoke, Hampshire. Apsley House, in London, is now owned by English Heritage, although the family retain an apartment there. He also has a large estate outside Granada, Spain, which was granted to the first duke by Spanish King Ferdinand VII as a reward for his services in the Peninsular War.

Five Dukes have been created Knights of the Garter, the most senior British order of knighthood.

Dukes of Wellington (1814)

Dukes of Wellington Dukes of Wellington.jpg
Dukes of Wellington
1st Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington by Robert Home cropped.jpg
1st Duke of Wellington
The family seat since the first Duke's acquisition has been Stratfield Saye House Stratfield Saye, Berks - geograph.org.uk - 448.jpg
The family seat since the first Duke's acquisition has been Stratfield Saye House
Created by the Prince Regent (on behalf of George III)
#NamePeriodDuchessNotesOther titles
1 Arthur Wellesley (born Wesley)
1814–1852 The Hon. Catherine Pakenham British Army officer and statesman who defeated Napoleon I at Waterloo and Tipu Sultan at the Siege of Seringapatam (1799) Prince of Waterloo, Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo, Duke of Victoria, Marquess of Wellington, Marquess of Douro, Marquess of Torres Vedras, Earl of Wellington, Count of Vimeiro, Viscount Wellington, Baron Douro
2 Arthur Richard Wellesley
1852–1884 Lady Elizabeth Hay Son of the preceding Prince of Waterloo,
Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo,
Duke of Victoria,
Marquess of Wellington,
Marquess of Douro,
Marquess of Torres Vedras,
Count of Vimeiro, Earl of Wellington
Earl of Mornington,
Viscount Wellesley,
Viscount Wellington,
Baron Douro,
Baron Mornington
3 Henry Wellesley
1884–1900Evelyn WilliamsNephew of the preceding
4 Arthur Charles Wellesley
1900–1934Kathleen WilliamsBrother of the preceding
5 Arthur Charles Wellesley
1934–1941Hon. Lilian CoatsSon of the preceding
6 Henry Valerian George Wellesley
1941–1943unmarriedSon of the preceding
7 Gerald Wellesley
1943–1972 Dorothy Ashton Uncle of the preceding
8 Arthur Valerian Wellesley
1972–2014 Diana McConnel Son of the preceding
9 Arthur Charles Valerian Wellesley
(born 1945)
2014–present Princess Antonia of Prussia Son of the preceding

Line of succession

Should the direct male line of succession from the first Duke of Wellington become extinct, the dukedom and its subsidiary titles in the British peerage will become extinct, as will the titles of Prince of Waterloo in the Dutch peerage and the dukedom of the Victory and its subsidiary titles in the Portuguese peerage. The dukedom of Ciudad Rodrigo in the Spanish peerage, together with its subsidiary titles, will continue to be held in the female line of descendants of the first Duke. The earldom and barony of Mornington, along with the viscountcy of Wellesley, which are all titles in the Irish peerage, will revert to the line of the Earl Cowley, a male-line descendant of a younger brother of the first Duke of Wellington.

The Colley or Cowley family had come to Ireland from Glaston, in Rutland about 1500; Sir Henry Colley was elevated to the Peerage as Lord Glaston by Henry VIII. He married the daughter of Thomas Cusack, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Catherine Wellesley Cusack (d.1598) whose grandmother was a Wellesley. [5] Upon the death of his cousin Garret Wesley and his inheritance of the Estates of Dangan and Mornington, Richard Colley (d.1758) and his wife Elizabeth Sale (d. 17 June 1738) daughter of John Sale, Registrar of the Diocese of Dublin, on 23 December 1719. [6] adopted the name Wellesley (from both Elizabeth's maternal family side from Catherine Wellesley Cusack her grandmother) and through her Husband's Family, his cousin, Garret Wesley (Wellesley).

See also

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  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p. 1140.
  2. "No. 16894". The London Gazette . 3 May 1814. p. 936.
  3. Elliott, George (1816). The Life of the Most Noble Arthur, Duke of Wellington. London: J. Cundee. p. xiii–xiv.
  4. Wellesley, Jane (2008). A Journey Through My Family. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN   978-0-297-85231-5.
  5. Burke's Peerage
  6. Cokayne 2000 , p. 235.

Works cited