Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Master-General of the Ordnance 1818-27

May 1, 1769 - September 14, 1852

Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852) First Viscount Wellington from 1809. First Earl of Wellington from 1812. First Marquess of Wellington from 1812. First Duke of Wellington from 1813. Master-General of the Ordnance, 1818-27. Prime Minister, 1828-30, 1834 (briefly). Foreign Secretary, 1834-35. Third surviving son of first Earl of Mornington, educated at Eton and French Royal Academy of Equitation. Entered army, 1787, then aide-de-camp to Marquess of Buckingham and Earl of Westmorland as Lords Lieutenant. Lieutenant-Colonel, 1793. Served in Flanders 1793-95, then in India 1798-1805, becoming Major-General in 1802 and winning the Battle of Assaye in 1803. MP 1806. Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1807-9. Served in Copenhagen expedition, 1807, then Portugal and Spain, 1808, 1809-14. Battle of Waterloo, 1815.

Wellington was brought back into the Cabinet as Master of the Ordnance in 1818, after three years in Paris. Thereafter his political influence grew rapidly, and he became a leader of the conservative wing of the party opposed to Catholic Emancipation. He was an excellent administrator but a colleague who demanded a certain amount of deference. His relationship with Liverpool was excellent while he was in the army but became somewhat more fractious when he entered the Cabinet. The two did not always agree on foreign policy matters and after 1822 Wellington thought Liverpool deferred too much to Canning. Nevertheless, overall Wellington was a pillar of strength to Liverpool’s government and, after 1828, Wellington found out for himself just how much Liverpool’s quiet direction had contributed to it.

Information on how Wellington stacks against other Prime Ministers can be found in his Contenders entry

© 2020 Martin Hutchinson