WELLESLEY (formerly WESLEY), Richard Colley, 2nd Earl of Mornington [I] (1760-1842), of Dangan Castle, co. Meath

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1784 - Sept. 1786
30 Oct. 1786 - 7 May 1787
19 July 1787 - 1796
1796 - July 1797

Family and Education

b. 20 June 1760, 1st s. of Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington [I], by Anne, da. of Arthur Hill, 1st Visct. Dungannon [I]; bro. of Arthur, 1st Duke of Wellington.  educ. Harrow 1770-1; Eton 1771-8; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1778-81.  m. (1) 29 Nov. 1794, Hyacinthe Gabrielle (d. 7 Nov. 1816), da. of Pierre Roland of Paris, 5 ch. bef. marriage; (2) 29 Oct. 1825, Marianne, da. of Richard Caton, merchant, of Baltimore, U.S.A., wid. of Robert Patterson, s.p.  suc. fa. 22 May 1781; K.P. 5 Feb. 1783; took name of Wellesley 1789; cr. Baron Wellesley [GB] 20 Oct. 1797; Marquess Wellesley [I] 2 Dec. 1799; K.G. 3 Mar. 1810.

Offices Held

M.P. [I] 1780-1.

Custos rot. co. Meath 1781- d.; P.C. [I] 24 Feb. 1784; ld. of Treasury Sept. 1786-Aug. 1797; P.C. [GB] 21 June 1793; commr. for Indian affairs June 1793-Nov. 1797; gov. Madras May 1797 (did not take office); gov.-gen. Bengal Oct. 1797-Jan. 1805, c.-in-c. 1800-5; ambassador to Spain July-Dec. 1809; foreign sec. 1809-12; ld. lt. [I] 1821-8, 1833-4; ld. steward 1830-3; ld. chamberlain Apr.-May 1835.


Mornington, playing an active and ambitious part in Irish politics, entered the British Parliament in 1784 at the persuasion of the Grenvilles and in the hope of thereby securing advancement. His ‘brotherhood’ with W. W. Grenville had commenced at Eton, and Lord Temple when lord lieutenant had shown him favour. During the election of 1784 he wrote to Temple, 10 Apr., thanking him for attending to his wishes, ‘as well in refusing the offer of a seat in Parliament for me, at the moment when it could not be accepted without injury to those whose success was my first object; as in securing a seat for me upon the dissolution, under so reputable a patronage as the Duke of Northumberland’s, and without giving me the trouble of personal attendance at the election’.1 This seat was Bere Alston.

Mornington at first disappointed his friends by his failure, through nervousness, to speak. He voted with Administration on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786; and Pitt, who was favourably disposed towards him and had promised him a place in Ireland, after his repeated demands, temporarily satisfied his claims by appointing him to the Treasury Board in September 1786, which Mornington attributed basically to Grenville influence. He was, however, unable to secure re-election at Bere Alston, because Lord Lovaine, who had inherited the patronage, was dissatisfied at his treatment by Government. A vacancy occurring at Saltash, Mornington reluctantly offered himself, having vainly tried, through Grenville, to persuade Pitt to abandon this plan: ‘I tremble at the idea of the contest, and would rather be out of Parliament for some time than risk so heavy, and perhaps fruitless expense. I hope to be able to bring myself in, the next Parliament.’ Returned on the Government interest, he was unseated on petition.2

Two months later, with royal help, he came in for Windsor. In November 1788, Lord Buckingham offered him a seat at the general election. Mornington felt it was his duty to purchase a seat for himself, or if the King remained ill, ‘bound, by my respect for the person who placed me at Windsor, to endeavour to preserve that seat for him’. But if he failed, and the expense was such as to prevent his buying a seat, the offer would be most acceptable and he would welcome the ‘occasion of uniting more closely my political fortunes with your protection’.3 He continued to sit for Windsor until 1796; and played a conspicuous role in politics for nearly forty years more.  He died 26 Sept. 1842.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: M. H. Port


  • 1. HMC Fortescue, i. 227, 245; W. M. Torrens, Mq. Wellesley, 25.
  • 2. Buckingham, Courts and Cabinets Geo. III, i. 314, 360; Pitt-Rutland Corresp. 39, 136, 155; Oldfield (1816), iii. 332; HMC Fortescue, i. 270.
  • 3. Buckingham, i. 456-7.