Arthur Wellesley repackaged: the birth of ‘Wellington’

wellesley pole
Wellesley-Pole: the man who named ‘Wellington’

In previous blog posts I have described how Wellesley-Pole’s orchestrated The Great Recoinage (1817), the Waterloo Medal (1816), and modernised Royal Ascot (1822-1830). But he was also responsible for the ‘birth’ of Wellington: for it was our man Wellesley-Pole who created the iconic title under which Arthur Wellesley’s glories came to pass.

wellington young

R.I.P. Arthur, long live Wellington!!

The circumstances of Wellington’s creation are revealed in the Raglan MS at Gwent Archives, containing correspondence between Wellesley-Pole and Arthur from 1807-1818. This very important primary source is often used to illustrate Arthur’s unvarnished opinions about the performance of government, progress of the war, and the conduct of his family during these momentous years. Yet the many letters FROM Wellesley-Pole TO Arthur are barely ever cited – despite the fact they contain an equally rich vein of personal insight into the political intrigues of the time. It is quite amazing – and sad to see Wellesley-Pole so overlooked – in his own archives to boot.

Historians love to lay into William Wellesley-Pole. They portray him as ‘opportunistic’, ‘not a little devious’; ‘the worst type of hanger-on’; and harshest of all: ‘a nonentity’. Even his obituary is nowadays considered to be one of the most savage ever printed

From an early period of his career it was evident to all … that he was by no means destined to fulfil so prominent a position in public life as his brothers…Journalists and demagogues denounced him as a Minister who not only deserved to be degraded and punished, but as a criminal for whose enormities no amount of penal infliction could be excessive…His spirit quailed before a crisis…at no time in his life did he display Parliamentary talents of a high order…Mr Wellesley-Pole was simply angry- angry at all times with every person and about everything.; his sharp, shrill, loud voice grating on the ear…an undignified ineffective speaker, an indiscreet politician…advancing in years without improving in reputation.

The Times, February 24th 1845

Over the years I have presented various papers (including the Wellington Congress), and written a number of blogs aimed at setting the record straight about Wellesley-Pole. My contention is that in any other family he would have been feted – however, Wellesley-Pole will always be overshadowed by his other brothers; Richard, Governor General of India (1797-1805); and Arthur, probably Britain’s greatest military leader. I believe that – far from being a ‘nonentity’ – Wellesley-Pole was actually a very loyal and trustworthy brother, content to stay out of the limelight, & blessed with the one gift that eluded all the Wellesley clan: a long and happy marriage.

So, if you read both sides of the Raglan MS it becomes clear that, from his position at the heart of government, Wellesley-Pole DID play a vital role on Arthur’s behalf; acting as a kind of ‘remote-secretary’. His services ranged from provision of tea and other home comforts, through to supplying a new sword or replacement horses. Crucially he relayed the latest news, gathered opinions, and soothed often fractious relations between the Cabinet and the Peninsular Army.

(c) National Trust, Mount Stewart; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Victory at Talavera raised Arthur to the peerage

It is not really surprising therefore that, following Arthur’s victory at Talavera in 1809, Wellesley-Pole was asked to find a suitable title for his feted brother. He was reluctant to be saddled with such an important responsibility, but King would not wait, and an immediate decision was required. So Wellesley-Pole took up his pen and wrote to Arthur:

After ransacking the peerage… I at last determined upon Viscount Wellington of Talavera and of Wellington, and Baron Douro of Welleslie in the County of Somerset. Wellington is a town not far from Welleslie, and no person has chosen the title. I trust that you will not think there is anything unpleasant or trifling in the name of Wellington, but [in the] circumstances… I could not easily have done better. I own I feel in rather an embarrassing situation for it is impossible for me to know whether I have acted as you would have had me…but you should have explained to me your wishes before ever you left England, in case of such an event.

In the anxious days awaiting a reply from the Peninsula, Wellesley-Pole’s nerves would hardly have been soothed when Arthur’s wife Kitty declared

kitty pakenham

Wellington I do not like for it recalls nothing. However, it is done & I suppose it could not be avoided.

The fact Wellesley-Pole did not consult Kitty says a lot about the role of women in society at that time, for it seems odd that she was only told after the deed was done, and literally had to live with Wellesley-Pole’s decision for the rest of her life.

Eventually and to Wellesley-Pole’s immense relief his choice of title met with unqualified approval from Arthur:

My opinion is that you have done exactly what you ought to have done… You have chosen most fortunately, and I am very much obliged to you. I could not have been better off for a name if we had discussed the subject twenty times

It seems obvious to me that a greater study of Wellesley-Pole’s close relationship with Wellington not only offers a fuller understanding of this great military genius, but could provide Wellesley-Pole much needed relief from his critics: The creation of ‘Wellington’ was not an egotistical act on Wellesley-Pole’s part, for a quick perusal of the relevant letters shows that Wellesley-Pole had no choice but to stand proxy, and that his motives were honourable as he tried to balance the needs of government with the wishes of his beloved brother.

This article is a modified version of a guest blog I wrote for the award winning numberonelondon website

In this momentous year celebrating the bicentennial of Waterloo, you may be interested in the forthcoming Wellington Congress which has a great programme of speakers lined up, at the University of Southampton April 10-12th 2015. I will be doing a talk on Sunday 12th focussing (of course) on Wellington’s relationship with the Wellesley-Poles.

For more news, views and information on this year’s Waterloo celebrations visit Waterloo 200 or Waterloo2015 – not forgetting the simply splendid Unseen Waterloo

If you live in London, why not visit Apsley House and see the Duke of Wellington’s home

Any comments or feedback is always welcome – and a big thanks to all those kind souls on Twitter who do so much to promote my blog – it really is appreciated.

6 Reasons why France should salute the Iron Duke

wellington

With the celebrations of the bicenntenial of Waterloo almost upon us, it obvious that France should commemorate the end of Napoleon’s fascinating rule rather than focussing on what was a decisive military defeat. However it should not follow that the Duke of Wellington should be portayed as the ‘baddie’ responsible for drawing the curtain down upon one of the most exciting periods in French history. To do so would be an injustice to the Iron Duke given that he was a confirmed Francophile – whose dispute was directly with Napoleon, and concern for the French citizens was always paramount.

wellington at waterloo

The recent creeping campaign to undermine Wellington’s role at Waterloo is, to me, bad enough. But the attendent lack of recognition for his important role in PROTECTING France both during and after the conflict is a step too far.

Thus I have drawn up six brief reasons why Wellington ought to receive some grudging Gallic recognition

1. Military Training

angers

Arthur learned his trade in France

Anyone familiar with the life and career of the Duke of Wellington will know that at the age of 16  (when simply known as Arthur Wellesley) he enrolled at the French Royal Academy of Equitation in Angers. It was in France that Arthur first showed any signs of talent. At Angers Arthur learned equestrian skills and became very fluent in French, which was to serve him well in future. Crucially Arthur met fellow students, some of whom were victims of the French Reign of Terror – others who rose through the ranks to fight against him under Napoleon – he never forgot the friendships made or the bonds he felt towards France

2. Wellington the Francophile

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Wellington adored French art and furnishings

Wellington’s love for the French people extended way beyond the ties of personal friendships. For he was also a great admirer of French culture, and particularly its art and furnishings. Whilst Napoleon was exiled to Elba in 1814 Wellington was in Paris – not lording it over the people, but negotiating fair prices to buy works of art including French Buhl furnishings. He set an example by not acting as the commander of an army in occupation, but immersing himself into the cut and thrust of Parisian life and becoming a consumer – paying the going rate without quibble.

3. Military Campaign in France 1813-14

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Wellington’s civilised entry into Toulouse, 1814

Towards the end of the Peninsular War in 1813 Wellington went to great lengths to ensure his armies pouring into France acted with absolute decorum towards the peasantry. Anything taken was always paid for, crops were not trampled down, and the British-led army refrained from hostilities expected from any invading army.

4. After the Battle of Waterloo

waterlooaftermath

Horrific aftermath of Waterloo

Anyone who thinks that Wellington lacked emotion towards his troops would be well advised to read the correspondence of Thomas Creevey (1768-1838), better known as the Creevey Papers. Though Creevey was not a fan of Wellington, he describes the Iron Duke returning to the fields of Waterloo and Quatre Bas in the days following the battle to aid and assist French and Allied troops alike. Wellington is horrified to find one French soldier unattended and went to his aid – apologising for his situation and calling for medical assistance. The pain Wellington felt for Waterloo encompassed all participants; he never demonised the French.

5. Respect for the enemy

marshall ney

Wellington could not stop Bourbon vengeance : Marshall Ney

Throughout the Peninsular War Wellington held a more than healthy respect for French generals opposing him in the field. To those who claim that Wellington was over-cautious it might be argued that he was wise to avoid meeting renowned military leaders –  unless it was on his own terms. One such general, Marshall Ney, survived to rejoin Napoleon at Waterloo – having been retained by the restored Bourbon monarchy. After Waterloo the Bourbons decided to make an example of Ney. When Wellington heard he went to great lengths to appeal for clemency, but the King refused to speak with Wellington – & Ney was executed by firing squad. His death divided opinion in France, but showed Wellington to be a man of honour. The Duke’s respect for the enemy went right to the top – and certainly cut both ways. For, when his number was up, Napoleon offered to surrender to Wellington only. I have always thought it a shame that Wellington passed up the opportunity to meet Napoleon at this time as I am sure their conversation would have been legendary.

6. Protection of Paris

occupation

The British – a very civilised army of occupation

Perhaps the most important, yet easly forgotten, role Wellington played in the war against Napoleon was by his presence at Paris. Arriving from the east: Russian, Prussian and Austrian armies were intent upon revenge for the many atrocities their armies and people endured at Napoleon’s hands -and it was almost second-nature for ordinary soldiers to rape and plunder the vanquished population. But while Wellington was around, there were be no horrific reprisals. Draconian punishments befell any British soldier seen to undermine relations with their hosts – and this policy was greatly influential in restraining other occupying troops. This ultimately helped to restore good relations on all sides. The Congress of Vienna stands up very well because of this international civility, especially compared with the bitterness and revenge that bedevilled the Treaty of Verseilles a century later.

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The Louvre, Paris c.1815

In some respects it may be argued that Wellington’s admiration for France went too far – for he played a major role in preventing art treasures amassed at the Louvre being reclaimed by those from whom Napoleon had seized them.

Conclusion

It was a good thing for France that the Duke of Wellington saw his task as the defeat of Napoleon and not a vendetta against its people.  Whatever the ifs and buts about his credit for the Battle of Waterloo, the Iron Duke WAS crucial in protecting France and enabling her to restore relations with the rest of Europe. Though the people of France could never love Wellington, I hope at least they can acknowledge that he was not the worst of enemies to have at a time of military defeat.

loius return

Bringing back the Bourbons? – Not so popular there Arthur!

If you have enjoyed this post you may be interested in Wellington and Fitzroy Somerset at Waterloo or to know how Wicked William rated his illustrious uncle.

Find out more about the production of the Waterloo Medal, via Wellington’s brother Wellesley-Pole

For news, views and information on this year’s Waterloo celebrations visit Waterloo 200 or Waterloo2015 – not forgetting the simply splended Unseen Waterloo

If you live in London, why not visit Apsley House and see the Duke of Wellington’s home

Last but not least, I must mention Geraldine Roberts’ book Angel and the Cad, which is launched by MacMillan on June 18th – Yes, the bicenntenial of Waterloo!!  – in which the Duke of Wellington & Waterloo feature heavily.

Any comments or feedback, as ever, would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise tune in for more Wellesley-related articles!

The Mint with a ‘Pole’ (1814-1823)

Introduction: How and why Wellesley-Pole became Master of the Mint

Intro | Waterloo Medal | Pole & Pistrucci | The Great Re-coinage | Exit & Legacy

maryborough

An outcast redeemed: William Wellesley-Pole (c.1814)

When Wellesley-Pole took up office on 29th September 1814, this was to be the first and only time that the Master of the Mint qualified as Cabinet rank. In this period the Government was dominated by peers with only exceptional outsiders breaking into their elite circle. By any standards Wellesley-Pole’s appointment was unusual. He was neither a peer (nor even a supporter) of Lord Liverpool’s administration – yet he was handed an unexpected seat in the heart of government doing a job previously considered second-rate. So why was Wellesley-Pole brought in from the cold, and what motivated Lord Liverpool to make the role of Master of the Mint a Cabinet position? To answer this we must go back 2 years:-

 

perceval death

Spencer Perceval’s murder: the opening shot in a ministerial crisis

The Battle of 1812

Lord Liverpool came to office in the summer of 1812 in the aftermath of the assassination of prime minister Spencer Perceval. But he did so at the expense of the Richard Wellesley who spectacularly fell from grace after his memo critical of Perceval’s war effort was leaked to the press at the worst possible time:

press leak

Richard Wellesley’s attack on Perceval coincided with announcement of his death

Initially Lord Liverpool proposed Wellesley-Pole to join the Cabinet as Minister for War, which would have put him in charge of Arthur [Lord Wellington]’s campaign in Spain. But the Prince Regent felt placed in an awkward position and refused to accept Wellesley-Pole because ‘he could not reward one brother, and abandon the other’. Heavy of heart Wellesley-Pole wrote to Liverpool on May 21st

I shall ever retain a just sense of your great kindness towards me [but] I could not serve without subjecting myself to difficulties and inconveniences which I am bound by every principle of affection to my brother to avoid.

Meanwhile in the Peninsula Wellington took the news badly, pronouncing himself ‘confoundedly vexed’ that Wellesley-Pole chose to follow his brother out of office, instead of staying and fighting for his place. Wellington’s antipathy towards Liverpool was such that he broke contact with London during its state of flux declaring ‘I will not tantalise you by entering on our plans for the remainder of the campaign.’ Ironically for all sides Wellington’s victory at Salamanca in July 1812 actually served to cement Liverpool’s shaky administration, putting an end to any realistic prospect of Richard Wellesley seizing power.

salamanca

Wellington’s victory at Salamanca just about saved Lord Liverpool’s administration

Cometh the hour, cometh Wellesley-Pole (1814)

The main reason Wellesley Pole was asked to re-join the Government was because of an urgent need to improve relations between Liverpool’s administration and the Wellesleys. After 1812, Liverpool’s government was insulated by the inability of opposition groups to unify against them. However, when Napoleon surrendered and was exiled in 1814, Arthur (by now Duke of Wellington) made it clear to the Prime Minister that he would not support an administration that excluded his brothers. The risk of being at odds with the hero-of-the-hour was too great; bridges must be built. So, after his triumphant return to England in June, Liverpool acceded to Wellington’s request to bring Wellesley-Pole into the Cabinet.

wellington2

With victories like this, you can ask for anything

On this occasion Wellesley-Pole clearly benefitted from patronage via the Duke of Wellington, but Liverpool’s decision to place him in charge of the Mint was really not a token gesture. In fact it was a pragmatic and eminently sensible move. Liverpool already had a personal association with the Mint, serving as Master between 1799 and 1801. His father Charles Jenkinson chaired a long-running Select Committee dedicated to enhancing Mint practices. Currency reform was vital, becoming more acutely necessary as the war reached a conclusion. Replacing the silver currency required the Mint, the Exchequer, Prime Minister, bankers, and the Prince Regent to work in harmony. The aim was to preserve the banking system whilst it underwent a vital blood transfusion. These unique circumstances may explain Liverpool’s decision to elevate Master of the Mint to Cabinet rank. He knew Wellesley-Pole met the criteria required, having worked closely with him before. Wellesley-Pole was a good administrator, loyal and discreet, had Exchequer experience, and (best of all) commanded the Prince Regent’s respect.

Appointing Wellesley-Pole therefore enabled Liverpool to appease the Duke of Wellington, but it also gave him the ideal person to tackle serious and urgent problems which threatened to destroy Britain’s post-war economy.

The State of the Mint to 1814

In 1787 the Mint began a slow process of modernisation. Jenkinson’s Select Committee examined the state of the coinage and existing working practices. He was assisted by Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), President of the Royal Society – a post he held for 42 years. The Royal Society traditionally exercised control over currency manufacture. The Mint comprised of disparate departments with strict, almost medieval, working practices. The Royal Society acted like a glue to keep these elements working together and to oversee innovation and improvement.

 banks

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) was to become Wellesley-Pole’s greatest fan

When Jenkinson’s Committee was established, it was so long since silver coins had been mass-produced that Mint employees feared the know-how was lost. Eventually in 1804 a system was perfected for producing standard weights and alloy mixtures. Around the same time, Matthew Boulton invented a steam-driven coining press. He operated from a factory in Birmingham, supplying copper coinage throughout Britain and Ireland. To modernise the London operation a new Mint was constructed at Tower Hill incorporating steam technology, which was completed in 1810.

royalmint1830

The new Royal Mint at Tower Hill

Boulton’s steam press system and use of highly-skilled engravers overcame the problem of counterfeit copper coins. Also an Act of Parliament in 1803 introduced draconian fines for simple possession of fraudulent coins. But forgery of silver currency continued unabated. Up until this time the best engravers only worked on large value coins. No regard was given to the quality of lower denominations. ‘From the Mint’s point of view the manufacture of coin had to satisfy two, and only two, criteria: coin must be of proper fineness and of accurate weight.’ It is little wonder that forgers thrived.

back from elba

Napoleon’s brief trip home, 1815

Almost as soon as Wellesley-Pole began his duties, Napoleon escaped from Elba and hostilities with France resumed. During this period Wellesley-Pole asked the Commons to approve the construction of houses ‘to accommodate… persons who had been ‘imported’ from Birmingham, for the purpose of managing the machinery of the new Mint. At a meeting with Banks to discuss new currency designs, Wellesley-Pole was introduced to an Italian engraver named Benedetto Pistrucci, of whom we shall hear more.

The Battle of Waterloo was to present Wellesley-Pole with his first opportunity of proving his worth, and he did not waste it. Tune in for part two to find out how the Waterloo Medal was conceived, the extraordinary speed in which it was manufactured, and its unique innovation.

For more information about this exciting era in the history of the Royal Mint please visit their website or the Royal Mint Museum, whose director Dr Kevin Clancy is a widely renowned and respected numismatist.

If you are interested in Wellesley-Pole, you may be interested to read about his ‘creation’ of Royal Ascot

You might like to know how Lord Liverpool got the better of the Wellesleys (again), or why The Duke of Wellington considered Wellesley-Pole’s son (Wicked William) ‘lamentably ignorant and idle’

Finally, the growing legions of Wellesley-Pole fans undoubtedly wondering why he’s never been written about should be thrilled to bits to know that our hero is very much a ‘best supporting character’ in Geraldine Roberts’ forthcoming book Angel and the Cad : Love, Loss & Scandal in Regency England

Sources Used:

[1] Butler I., The Eldest Brother: The Marquess Wellesley 1760-1842 (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1972)

[2] British Library Manuscrips Add.MSS 37296

[3] Longford E., Wellington: Years of the Sword (London: Panther, 1971).

[4] Craig J., The Royal Society and the Royal Mint in, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, (London: The Royal Society, V19, No 2– Dec 1964).

[5] Selgin G., Steam, Hot Air & Small Change: Matthew Boulton and the Reform of Britain’s Coinage,in Economic History Review (London: Blackwell, 2003)

[6] Challis C., A New History of the Royal Mint (Cambridge: CUP, 1992)

[7] Hansard, 25/Apr/1815

Lord Liverpool’s Masterstoke

Creating Tradition – Wellesley-Pole and Ascot (Part 2)

How Wellesley-Pole came to be Master of the Buckhounds, 1823

Intro | Master of the Buckhounds | The Age of Reform | Anger Management | Legacy

buckhounds

Where’s Wellesley-Pole? Why, He’s Gone to the Dogs!

All things considered 1823 was not a great year for William Wellesley-Pole. After 9 successful years as Master of The Mint culminating in his deserved elevation to the peerage (under the title of Lord Maryborough) Wellesley-Pole fully expected to earn a senior Cabinet position upon Lord Liverpool’s ministerial reshuffle. But when the Prime Minister summoned Wellesley-Pole in January 1823 he dropped the bombshell that our man was surplus to requirements. To put it bluntly, Wellesley-Pole had reached the end of his useful life and the time had come for Liverpool to bring in new blood, such as Robert Peel and the racey and exciting William Huskisson,  who would help to bolster his unpopular administration

But Wellesley-Pole’s reaction placed Lord Liverpool in a quandary, for he flew into a rage and point blank refused to leave the Cabinet. Charles Arbuthnot recorded that Wellesley-Pole considered ‘the usage he has met with is quite atrocious & that he would not accept of any office but the one he has. He talked a great deal of stuff about the respect due to him as the Duke of Wellington’s brother, & in short, was like a madman.’ Such defiance of Prime Ministerial order threatened to undermine the very foundations of Liverpool’s Government. He had to get rid of Wellesley-Pole, but needed to devise a stratagem to achieve his aims without further rancour.

liverpool  wellesley-pole hulk

Lord Liverpool didn’t like Wellesley-Pole when he was angry

In the Autumn of 1823 Liverpool at last found the perfect opportunity to offload his angry Minister. He did this by exploiting Wellesley-Pole’s close relationship with King George IV. The death of Charles Cornwallis on 9th August created a vacancy in the Royal Household, in the office of Master of the Buckhounds. Wasting no time at all Liverpool wrote to the King suggesting that Wellesley-Pole wanted to apply for the job because he was practically George IV’s number one fan.The King was led to believe that Wellesley-Pole he always dreamt of having a country home near Windsor, but that he was far too modest to apply. Needless to say the King was receptive to such gushing adulation, took up his pen and wrote a plea for Wellesley-Pole to take the job. Perhaps with Liverpool’s connivance the salary offered was generous-  plus he was promised the gatehouse to Windsor Park upon which to make his establishment.

When Wellesley-Pole received the King’s letter has was surprised and flattered, but unsure as to whether a man of his age (60 years old) could be capable of taking on such a youthful and athletic role. However it was a place in the Royal Household dating back to the 1300s which appealed directly to Wellesley-Pole’s strong respect for of tradition. For Mrs Wellesley-Pole it was a no-brainer because she really did want a country retreat and this golden opportunity was quite simply too good to pass up. The King’s offer was therefore speedily and gratefully accepted.

It was only after the deal was done that Liverpool played his trump card. He wrote to Wellesley-Pole congratulating him on his appointment to the Royal Household but reminding him that an employee of the King could not be a Cabinet Minister – since the King would be embarrassedby the accusation of putting his own men into Government. This was a masterstroke leaving Wellesley-Pole no option but to fall on his sword – for he could not go back on his word to the King, still less dash his wife’s hopes of rural paradise. In private Wellesley-Pole roundly abused all in Government, not least the Duke of Wellington in whom he felt a keen sense of betrayal, but the fear of upsetting the King meant that ultimately Wellesley-Pole went quietly into political retirement.

buckounds at salt hill

The Buckhounds at Salt Hill, near Windsor c.1850

So just what was Wellesley-Pole letting himself in for? Well its fair to say his task largely involved acting as the Royal entertainments officer. This principally involved gathering the horse and hounds together for organised hunts, usually in Windsor Forest; but from the mid-1750s it began to embrace other sporting activities – particularly equine sports. Because the Royal Family controlled the wardenship of Windsor Forest, their patronage over horse-racing at Ascot Heath was long-established – dating back to Queen Anne (1711). Responsibility for ‘Royal Ascot’ really was the jewel in the crown of duties expected from the office of Master of the Buckhounds.

royalascotregency

Ascot Heath Races – The ‘Royal’ tag was to come much, much later

It is no secret that Wellesley-Pole had a hot temper, or that he could be a very fearsome adversary when roused. But his temper tantrums were never of long duration and, like his brother Wellington, he refused to let emotion become an obstacle to giving his all in service of his country.

Just a month after taking up his duties, Charles Bagot saw Wellesley-Pole ‘in light buckskins with a jockey cap and gold couples to his belt’ acting as Master of the Buckhounds. Wellesley-Pole insisted he was ‘exceedingly pleased with the appointment…he was getting tired of politics and the hounds were just the hobby he would most like.’ Whether this was bravado or the plain truth, it was obvious that Wellesley-Pole was going into this job enthusiastically. He quickly realised its possibilities went far beyond dog-minding,  offering him the chance to take control of Royal Ascot, a once great event whose reputation was tarnished by years of disorganisation  and neglect. Nearby racetracks (such as Epsom and Newmarket) threatened to leave Ascot in their wake. So, for Wellesley-Pole the task was on!!

So, on 13th October 1823 the King’s staghounds made their first appearance of the hunting season, near Winkfield Plain at Windsor. Several ladies in carriages and a great crowd of ordinary folk turned up to witness Lord Maryborough’s debut as Master of the Buckhounds- and to witness how a Cabinet Minister really had gone to the dogs.

To find out more about how brilliantly devious Lord Liverpool could be you should look no further than Norman Gash, whose The Life and Political Career of Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool 1770–1828  was first published in 1984. Sadly Norman died in 2009 but a new paperback version of his book is due for publication in 2015.

For more on Wellesley-Pole’s hot-headedness, and how he turned anger into a positive energy, you may like to read his battle to save a tramp.

To find out how Wellesley-Pole ‘created’ Lord Wellington please read my guest blog on Number One London

I’d love to hear any comments or questions you may have about the Wellesley-Pole family, not least Wicked William, the blackest of all black sheep. So please contact me and I’ll be delighted to respond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitzroy Somerset gave his right arm for Wellington – but was it reciprocated?

wellingtonsmall   fitzroy somersetsmall

Brothers in arm? Wellington & Fitzroy Somerset

Perhaps the biggest cloud hanging over the military career of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington is the perception that he was cold and unfeeling to his troops. Countless biographies remind us that the Iron Duke rarely showed his emotion. He was said to be prone to condescension to anyone that he deemed inferior – which was practically everyone. For many the legendary description of his men as ‘scum of the earth’ in 1813 underlines Wellington’s ruthless reputation – yet when the quote is used in full context the picture become less clear:

[these men are] the scum of the earth; it is really wonderful that we should have made them to the fine fellows they are

The above seemingly blatant insult could now be reinterpreted as Wellington’s appreciation for how far such lowly men had progressed under his command, though it was hardly a glowing compliment.  In fact there are many instances of Wellington’s sense of feeling in the arena of battle – and just how keenly he felt the loss of men under his command. Despite these occasions an over-riding sense remains that Wellington was never quite willing or able to give credit where it was due – even towards his closest military aides.

waterloo

Wherever Wellington went, Fitzroy was sure to follow (Waterloo 1815)

One such stalwart was Fitzroy Somerset, youngest son of the 5th Duke of Beaufort, who joined Wellington’s staff in 1807 and became his military secretary in 1811. In August 1814 Fitzroy married Emily Harriet Wellesley-Pole, Wellington’s niece (and Wicked William’s sister).  She was in Brussels with him and gave birth to a baby daughter just weeks before the battle of Waterloo. In the heat of the battle Fitzroy was shot in the arm by a French sniper, whilst he was fighting alongside Wellington. He was taken to a nearby farmhouse where the arm was amputated – but not before he insisted on removing a ring his wife had given him.

 

arm-loss siteAfter Waterloo, Fitzroy’s arm was amputated in this terrace (left)

One of the first duties Wellington had to perform on his return to Brussels was informing Emily of her husband’s situation, which can hardly have been the easiest news to impart to a young mother wrought with anxiety.

Shortly afterwards Wellington penned this letter to Fitzroy’s brother:

To His Grace to Duke of Beaufort
Bruxelles, June 19th 1815

My dear Lord
I am sorry to have to acquaint you that your brother Fitzroy is very severely wounded, and has lost his right arm. I have just seen him, and he is perfectly free from fever and as well as anybody could be under such circumstances.
You are aware how useful he has always been to me; and how much I shall feel the want of his assistance, and what regard & affection I feel for him; and you will readily believe how much concerned I am for his misfortune.
Indeed the losses I have sustained have quite broken me down, and I have no feeling for the advantages we have acquired. I hope however that your brother will soon be able to join me again; and that he will long live to be as he is likely to become, an honour to his country, as he is a satisfaction to his family and friends.
Believe me my dear Lord ever your most faithful servant
Wellington

It is plain how desperately sad Wellington was for the injuries sustained by his young protégé – and very touching (with the benefit of hindsight) to know that Fitzroy went on to fulfil his destiny as ‘an honour to his country’.
But questions arise as to the true measure of their relationship when we look at the many years of service that Fitzroy gave to Wellington  – suggesting that Wellington received much more than he was prepared to reciprocate.
Having endured Wicked William’s antics at the battlefront for two months in 1808, it must have come as a relief for Arthur Wellesley to find someone as reliable and discreet as Fitzroy Somerset amongst his aide-de-camp staff.  Over the course of 6 the next years Fitzroy became as essential part of Wellington’s command.

Even after the calamity of Waterloo, Fitzroy quickly learned to write with his left hand and remained part of Wellington’s inner circle. Following a stint as aide de camp to the Prince Regent, he returned as Wellington’s secretary in the latter’s new capacity as Master-General of the Ordnance in 1819. When Wellington became Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in January 1827, Fitzroy duly followed to become Military Secretary.  But hereafter came a parting of the ways since Wellington was obliged to relinquish command of the army when he became Prime Minister in January 1828. Fitzroy stayed on as Military Secretary until 1852 (the year Wellington died) – effectively becoming the Duke’s eyes and ears in army-related matters.

letter home to mum

Fitzroy’s first shakey left-handed letter to his mother

On the face of it there is plenty to suggest that Wellington took a very keen interest in Fitzroy’s career, and he certainly ensured that Fitzroy’s disability proved no hindrance to high office.  When we look at the recently auctioned Raglan Collection, there are many items that could only have been gifts bestowed on Emily and Fitzroy through Wellington’s personal generosity.
For example Lot 10, a ring allegedly taken from Tipoo Sultan’s finger after the Battle of Seringapatem in 1799, or Lot 78 which originally stood in Apsley House

tippo ring bustof wellington

But here’s the rub – Wellington’s private generosity ran counter to his preparedness to intervene in matters of public concern.  For we find that Fitzroy’s willingness to serve, his loyalty and commitment was rewarded with mediocre pay.

Throughout his life Wellington was exasperated by constant demands upon his patronage, privately acknowledging that his refusal to bow to such pressure when forming his first cabinet in 1828 lost him many friends. Even Charles Arbuthnot sulked for days on that occasion, but the Duke held firm and kept his friend from office. Why was this?

Wellington often said:

I am nimmukwallah, as we say in the East; that is…I conceive it my duty to serve with unhesitating zeal and cheerfulness, when and wherever the King or his government may think proper to employ me.   

This rigid sense of duty compelled Wellington to suppress private needs wherever they impinged upon matters of Government and state. It made him circumspect not only in regard to patronage for others, but also in terms of his own rewards.  For example in the aftermath of Waterloo when the nation was happy to lavishly treat their conquering hero, Wellington modestly opted for Stratfield Saye House – & returned £100,000 to state coffers. We can therefore see that Wellington’s over-riding desire to maintain high standards of decorum in office, created the dichotomy between private generosity and public mean-spiritedness.

bunker mentaility

In public life Wellington often felt isolated, but saw approachability as a weakness

Another factor separating Wellington’s private and public image was his hostile attitude towards the press, of which he once wrote… ‘blackguard editors of newspapers [attempt to] deprive us of our reputation by their vulgar insinuations’. Wellington repeatedly declared that he would never have anything to say to the ‘gentlemen of the Press’.  Acting like this he developed a bunker mentality, going out of his way to avoid accusations of impropriety in public office – making him appear hard-hearted towards genuine appeals for placement.

It is therefore unsurprising that Fitzroy Somerset was not raised to the peerage until after Wellington’s death, or that he remained a relatively poor man throughout his life. Both of these could (and perhaps should) have been tackled through Wellington’s influence. Fitzroy was created Baron Raglan in 1852 and given command of the British troops sent to the Crimea in 1854. He died there in 1855 from complications brought on by an attack of dysentery. Even in his final cruel days at the battlefront Raglan was heard exclaiming ‘What would Wellington have done, if he had been here?’  This poignant plea reveals how much Raglan appreciated the comradeship and ability of his old commander in arms.

raglan crimealarge

Dear Arthur, Wish you were here. Fitzroy x

In conclusion we must consider Raglan’s feelings when examining Wellington’s commitment to their friendship. We see that Lord Raglan idolised Wellington and seems to have had no sense of being taken for granted. The plain truth is that the Iron Duke would not have given his right arm for anyone, and those who knew him intimately would have accepted this unequivocally – because Wellington’s private character could never usurp his desire to serve the nation.

This blog does not shed more light on the complexities of Wellington’s character – but it does show that he was loyal and dependable, whilst also aloof and ungenerous. This combination is the crux of the continuing debate about Wellington the man.

As for Lord Raglan, his death proved him a wealthy man indeed for in 1858 some 1800 friends, admirers and comrades purchased Cefntilla house and estate in Monmouthshire, presenting it to his family in perpetuity – a fitting memorial to a man who indeed was ‘an honour to his country’.

cefntilla

Cefntilla Court, Raglan’s ancestral home

If you are interested in more about Wellington’s character you may like Wicked William goes to war or find out whether Emily Somerset was Wellington’s favourite niece.

Christie’s auction catalogue for the Raglan Collection (London, 23 May 2014) really is a triumph of academic research containing a veritable treasure trove of items of interest.

Raglan Rescue is an ongoing campaign to save Lord Raglan’s collection for the nation

I cannot recommend highly enough the superb new archive in Ebbw Vale and its helpful staff, where the Raglan MS is housed.

There are so many excellent internet and archival resources devoted to Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. However it is impossible to ignore the forthcoming Wellington Congress which will be staged at the University of Southampton from 9-12 April 2015. This is a great way to hear many diverse papers about the life and times of the Duke of Wellington, and it is not too late for those wishing to submit a paper and be part of this event celebrating the bicentennial of Waterloo. Who knows? I might even be there!

 

‘Uncle Arthur Wellesley? He’s not all that!’ – Wicked William goes to War

 

 wickedwilliamyoung         wellington

‘Wicked’ William and the Duke of Wellington were remarkably alike in appearance

 

Little has been written about ‘Wicked’ William Long-Wellesley beyond his role in the destruction of Wanstead House. My research (and this blog) will show that William’s long and turbulent life encompassed far more than the mere dozen years it took him to plunder Wanstead’s treasures and lay waste to its estates.

Today we go back to 1808; the place is Portugal and it is mid-summer. General Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) has just landed at Mondego Bay leading a British expeditionary force numbering 14000 men – this being the very start of his 6-year fight to liberate the Iberian Peninsula from Napoleon’s occupying forces. Amongst Arthur’s considerable retinue we find one William Pole, a 20-year-old aide-de-camp on his first tour of duty. Considering Arthur’s already legendary reputation for precision, this seems an odd appointment. Yet closer scrutiny shows that even the greatest military strategists are often bound by family obligation – thus lumbered with errant relatives, in the hope some good may come of the exercise.

 mondego bay

 He’s out there somewhere – ‘Wicked’ William lands in Portugal, 1808

 

William Pole was one such stray – foisted upon Arthur by older brother William Wellesley-Pole. It was a kind of trade-off in favours because Wellesley-Pole was Arthur’s most reliable and trusted confidante, protecting his interests at home – therefore Arthur could hardly refuse taking this wild but spirited boy under his wing. So it came to pass that ‘Wicked’ William and Arthur Wellesley went off to war together, offering a possibly unique opportunity to see our greatest General on the battle front, through the eyes of his own family.

 

rolica

At Roliça & Vimeiro William’s role involved delivering messages between regiments

 

Without delving too deeply into events in the field, it was a very exciting beginning for William. He first saw action at the Battle of Roliça on 17th August, where Arthur’s men defeated an outnumbered French army under General Delaborde. The next day William wrote to his mother

 I seize this, the earliest opportunity; to send you such most pleasing intelligence. I have escaped unhurt; the action was most severe and cost many brave lives… We found ourselves led into a labyrinth of narrow passes and impassable mountains. Sir Arthur, cool and collected, ordered the artillery to advance; and shots for shots were frequently exchanged between us and the enemy… The volley of the shots became less frequent; our foes were cleared for the heights… at length abated and left us master of the field of battle.

Four days later the French returned in greater numbers hoping for the element of surprise– But they were again defeated at the Battle of Vimeiro – putting an end to the French invasion of Portugal.

cintra

Arthur Wellesley was lambasted for his role in the Convention of Cintra

Yet this result would have been much more decisive but for the fact that two more senior British Generals arrived on the scene in the heat of battle, relieving Arthur Wellesley of his command. They prevented Arthur’s pursuit of the vanquished French armies and subsequently agreed an overly generous truce. The Convention of Cintra signed on August 30th allowed the entire French army free passage out of Portugal, and more importantly fit to fight another day. To add insult to injury the Royal Navy laid on ships to carry other French troops and munitions back home. This news was received with outrage in England, and Arthur blamed despite the fact he had not been a party to the agreement other than to sign it when ordered to do so by his superiors. Being demoted when in the throes of routing the opposition must have been a shattering blow for Arthur. He wrote to Wellesley-Pole on 26th August regarding his senior officers:

These people are really more stupid and incapable than any I have met with; & if things go on in this disgraceful manner I must quit them.

Naturally in the depths of such despair, Arthur was not to be trifled with. Into the firing line came William, whose bravery in the field had been reported in despatches, and whom Arthur had just a few days earlier remarked upon favourably. But with Arthur’s patience exhausted and his heckles up William was to become the fall-guy. This letter from the Raglan MS (dated Sept 6th) holds nothing back – as Arthur tells Wellesley-Pole exactly what he thinks of young William.

He is the most extraordinary person altogether I have ever seen. There is a mixture of steadiness and extreme levity, of sense & folly in his composition such as I have never met with… the nature of our relative situations, & the constant crowd with which I am surrounded prevents all intercourse between us… He is lamentably ignorant and idle… he talks incessantly and I hear of his topics from the others which sometimes do not appear to have been judiciously chosen… I have an opportunity of talking to him seriously of his situation; for he is gone off without Leave, which I must notice… In short I don’t know what to say about him. To educate him would be a desideratum… he will never be on a upon a par with the rest of society till he shall have educated himself

Historians regularly cite the above as a testament to Arthur’s black mood during this period. It is certainly true that Arthur’s anger made him excessively harsh towards his nephew. But given what we know about William’s subsequent behaviour at Wanstead – it is hard to disagree with this assessment.

maryborough

Wellesley-Pole received the news that William was ignorant without comment

What Wellesley-Pole must have made of Arthur’s character assassination of William we shall never know because the subject is not mentioned in subsequent correspondence. But, thanks to surviving archives, we do have the benefit of a right of reply from ‘Wicked’ William himself. We learn that William also wrote a letter home (on 27th August) in which he castigates uncle Arthur’s behaviour. The original has not survived – all we have is the reply from older sister Mary Bagot, which reveals that William actually expected more favourable treatment. To him being a relative transcended rules of rank and order within the army hierarchy. William’s vanity meant he could not grasp how such demands threatened to undermine Arthur’s authority.

My Dearest William – depend upon it, if it gets wind that you have differences with Arthur, you are ruined and undone… You must I seriously think have been drunk when you wrote to me. But I will answer every part of your complaints simply__

In the first place, you say Arthur “treats you distantly and never speaks to you”. I know, and have always heard, that when upon Service, he is notoriously distant with all his officers. Besides this, would a man of common sense be particularly free with his own nephew to disquiet every other person, make you hated, & an object of jealousy, & himself abused for favouring his nephew.

 You next say “he never employs you” – The general opinion here is that you were the person most employed & sent about with most messages in the actions. You say “you gain no credit” – To this I answer: The Times, The Oracle, & Courier have all had various eulogisms in them of you, for your activity and gallant behaviour… Everyone speaks the same language & all write in asking me, & hoping you intend following up the profession, as it is one you appear to shine in. So this is gaining no credit!

My dear William, you must recollect you are just 20. For many of those you are with, not only have a right to take the piss out of you & not only from superiority of years, but from rank, length of service & a thousand other things & can you expect to be employed & a preference given to you above them all. I cannot conceive how the idea of being employed conspicuously ever came into your head… Many work hard for years without gaining the credit you have gained in one month.

My love, your complaints are ungrateful to providence, & to Arthur… Give yourself common pains to gain an insight into the art of the profession you are now in. You began your career with one whose name & character stands unrivalled, & on with whom if you quarrel God help you is all I can say.

Above all this letter shows that William was by now a fully-fledged attention seeker. The mere fortnight that the British army rested following Vimeiro was clearly too dull– for William craved constant excitement and attention. He was obviously unprepared for the many months of inactivity and hardship facing most soldiers over the course of a campaign.

However, it must be said that William has identified traits in Arthur’s character which became the subject of debate and conjecture throughout his military career. This is perhaps best summed up by Arthur’s famous description of his troops as ‘scum of the earth’, which many observers then and since have considered insulting and unfeeling towards the many men who loyally served him & whose bravery was beyond reproach. As historian Christopher Duffy succinctly puts it

Wellington I think had this fundamental coldness in his heart. He would weep when he met casualties, but basically he was a cold-hearted bastard.

To sum up then, we can see that William’s immaturity was the root cause of his spat with Arthur. For all this though – he was unlucky to incur Arthur’s wrath at the very time when Arthur was considering his own future in the army. Had Arthur not been beset with such heavy troubles, this matter may have been resolved.

But such is the story of ‘Wicked’ William that another golden opportunity came to be wasted. Thus by the time Mary’s sensible advice reached William it was too late – he was already dismissed and heading home. To cap it all off  – ‘Wicked’ William’s chance to be mentored by Britain’s greatest general was taken by another rookie aide-de-camp named Fitzroy Somerset (later Lord Raglan) who not only went on to become Wellington’s closest military aide, but also to marry ‘Wicked’ William’s sister Emily.

emily        raglan

William’s Loss? Emily Wellesley-Pole & Wellington’s ‘chosen one’ –  Fitzroy Somerset

 

For more information on the Peninsular War (1808-1814), I would recommend http://peninsularwar200.org/

Rory Muir has recently written a very good biography of Wellington, which I would recommend not least because my own work is footnoted therein

For all things Wellington, and to partake in a tour why not visit Number One London

Finally, if you have enjoyed reading about ‘Wicked’ William acting the fool – please check out this earlier post entitled ‘Wicked’ William’s Hunt

 

 

 

Wellington’s Favourite Niece? You Decide

Mary-Emily-Priscilla by Lawrence 3 Graces

With the sad news that Lord Raglan’s collection is up for auction at Christie’s in London on 22-23 of May, this is an opportune time to explore the runners and riders in the race for recognition as The Duke of Wellington’s favourite niece.

Lot 40 of the Raglan sale (above) contains all three candidates for this special place in the affections of our greatest military general. As the item is likely to fetch upwards of £50,000 there is a distinct possibility that it will leave the UK once the gavel has fallen next week. So if you have a chance to get to King Street prior to auction, I would recommend you seize the moment, and view first hand this wonderful portrait of three women collectively dubbed ‘the three graces’. From left to right we have Mary Bagot, Emily Raglan and Priscilla Burghersh. These ladies more than compensated for the stress and disruption Wellington endured at the hands of their only brother ‘Wicked’ William Long-Wellesley, and for distinct reasons each one has been attributed by differing historians the honour of being Wellington’s favourite niece.

Let’s examine each claim individually

 

Contestant No 1 – Mary Bagot (Age in picture -28)

mary

 

 

Credentials

As Wellesley-Pole’s eldest daughter Mary was old enough to remember her kindly uncle as a lodger at the family home in Hanover Square before he set off for India in 1797. She was a wild child like her brother William, and brought a fair degree of scandal upon the Wellesley family even after her marriage to society hunk Charles ‘Beauty’ Bagot.

 

Link to Wellington

Mary really came into her own after 1816 when she went to Washington when her husband was appointed Ambassador to America. It was here she became close friends with the Caton family whose three wealthy daughters Marianne, Bess, Louisa were intending to visit England and Europe. It was Mary Bagot that directed the Caton sisters to her parent’s house in Savile Row, where Marianne first met Arthur Wellesley and became perhaps the single most important relationship of his life. However, this was one battle that Wellington ended up losing, and the victorious suitor who deprived him of Marianne’s love was none other than Richard, his oldest brother. Wellington never really came to terms with the loss of this great love of his life to a brother he regarded with suspicion and contempt.

When Wellington went to St Petersburg for the funeral of Czar Alexander in 1825 he was guaranteed a great reception not only because of his exploits at Waterloo but also on account of Mary Bagot’s popularity in the Russian court during her husband’s 3 year stint as ambassador to Russia

Championed by

Jehanne Wake, who has written an excellent book on the Caton sisters entitled Sisters of Fortune, identifies Mary as Wellington’s favourite.

Arguments Against

Mary’s husband Charles was very closely allied to George Canning, with whom Wellington had a long history of animosity. This would have made it awkward for Mary to have been the chosen one

Interesting Fact about Mary

When Napoleon returned to Paris in 1814, he spotted Mary at Notre Dame Cathedral and had her carriage moved to the front steps so that she could not leave without acknowledging him.

 

 

 

Contestant No 2 – Priscilla Burghersh (Age in picture 22)

priscilla

 

 

Credentials

Priscilla is widely regarded as Wellington’s favourite niece not least because there is a plenty of correspondence between her and the Duke of Wellington. Though she was only 5 when Uncle Arthur went to India, she vividly remembered that his first port of call upon his return in 1805 was to the Wellesley-Pole house in Blackheath where he insisted that Priscilla was roused from her bed so he could see her.

Priscilla was a very straight-laced woman who firmly believed in decorum at all times.

Link to Wellington

She met and married Wellington’s aide-de-camp Lord Burghersh, who was a talented musician and sensitive man, not cut out for military life. However Burghersh was a brave soldier met his bride having been sent home injured from the Peninsular and was told to visit Wellesley-Pole by Wellington during his convalescence. Once married Priscilla joined her husband travelling with the Allied forces from Germany towards France right up until Napoleon’s defeat and exile in 1814. She kept a journal recoding events of the war which was published by John Murray in 1822.

Priscilla spent many years abroad as her husband became an established diplomat. After her return to England in the late 1820s she spent a lot of time in her uncle’s company, sharing his views on morals and standards in public life. Her uncompromising character and inflexibility drew comparisons with Wellington.

Championed by

Historians such as John Severn and Elizabeth Longford, as well as the curators of Apsley House, which was Wellington’s London home. Priscilla can be found standing in a doorway in the Waterloo Banquet painting in the lobby of Apsley House looking kindly over her uncle as he hosts the veterans’ annual dinner. A very good copy of that iconic print is amongst the lots for sale this week, together with some paintings by Priscilla, who was a very competent artist in her own right.

Arguments Against

It is hard to believe that Wellington could confide in Priscilla considering her uncompromising principles

Interesting Fact about Priscilla

When Napoleon escaped from Elba and made his return to France he travelled under the false name of ‘Lord Burghersh,’ which if nothing else proves that the Emperor had a great sense of humour

 

Contestant No 3 – Emily Raglan (Age in picture – 21)

emily

 

Credentials

Youngest of the Wellesley-Pole sisters, Emily was present at Brussels, about to give birth, on the day of the Battle of Waterloo. She married Wellington’s most famous aide-de-camp Fitzroy Somerset in 1814 having travelled to Paris with her father to visit her victorious uncle Arthur following Napoleon’s defeat and exile. Whilst there she met and fell in love with Fitzroy Somerset, though she was besieged with suitors for several years before and right up to the day of her marriage.

Link to Wellington

As we all know, Fitzroy Somerset (or Lord Raglan as he became) lost his arm at the Battle of Waterloo. As Wellington’s closest military confidante and now family-member, Raglan continued to enjoy a close relationship with the Duke long after they left the arena of warfare. Naturally Wellington was very familiar with his niece whom he saw regularly for a great many years

Championed by

John Sweetman, who has written the definitive biography of Lord Raglan, emphasises the special relationship between the Duke and Emily as wife to his closest companion. Also the very knowledgeable staff at Christie’s in King Street, who have prepared a truly sumptuous auction guide, are very much in favour of Emily’s claim.

Arguments Against

Emily was a bit of a hypochondriac and there is plenty of evidence to suggest she could be a real pain in the butt at times moaning about various ailments. Her own husband found her a little wearing for this reason. This might explain why Emily burned all the Raglan private correspondence after her husband’s tragic death in the Crimea in 1855

Interesting Fact about Emily

Emily was pestered for a time by Charles Arbuthnot, who was dazzled by her renowned beauty. Then, when she went to Paris in 1814 a young prince became besotted and followed her round like a love-sick puppy. The Wellesley-Poles took pity on him because they knew that Emily had fallen for Fitzroy Somerset. So they brought him back to England and Emily introduced this handsome admirer named Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to her good friend Princess Charlotte. But for Charlotte’s tragic death, Emily could have been the maker of a new royal dynasty, though Leopold did go on to become King of Belgium, which for some must be considered a booby prize.

 

 

Verdict

It’s a close one to call especially as both Mary Bagot and Emily Raglan destroyed their private correspondence, but on balance I would have to opt for Priscilla as there seems to be a definite bond between herself and Wellington in the pages of their surviving published letters, that seems to indicate a mutual love and understanding. Of course you must decide for yourselves, as this 200-year old debate will continue to divide opinion!

I hope this blog has shed some light on some very interesting WOMEN in the Wellesley family, each of whom I am sure you will agree are worthy of greater attention.

Even if they don’t receive any recognition on their own right, I hope at least we can continue to appreciate their beauty via Lawrence’s work,  if a white-knight comes forward to buy this fascinating drawing for the nation

 

For more information on the dispersal of Lord Raglan’s collection visit http://www.raglanrescue.co.uk/