Field-Marshal Sir Arthur Wellesley
1st Duke of Wellington KG GCB GCH

Arthur Wellesley was born on 1st May 1769 in Dublin, the fourth son of Lord Mornington, an impoverished Irish peer. If you compare his story with that of the Duke of Marlborough you would think that for a man to be a military genius he must be born into impoverished gentry. He was our foremost military commander in the Napoleonic wars and became Prime Minister from 1828-30. He came to prominence in India gaining victories at Seringapatam in 1799, Assaye and Argaum in 1803, earning the unofficial title 'Sepoy General'.

He spent five years in the Peninsula with great success against the French. Like Marlborough, his secret was keeping his men supplied as well as he could. The French were driven out of Spain in 1814 and he was rewarded with the title of Viscount Wellington. When Napoleon returned for the Hundred Days in 1815 Wellington's finest hour came and he decisively finished the Emperor at Waterloo, although he declared it 'a close run thing'. He was prominent in the administration of France after Waterloo, spending three years there.

As Prime Minister he became unpopular by not opposing Catholic emancipation and by opposing voting reform. However his popularity had risen by 1846 when he retired from politics. He died on 14th Sept 1852 at Walmer Castle and was buried in St Pauls next to Horatio Nelson.

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by Stephen Luscombe