WELLESLEY, Arthur Richard, mq. of Douro (1807-1884).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



27 Feb. 1829 - 1832
1837 - 1852

Family and Education

b. 3 Feb. 1807, 1st s. of Arthur Wellesley†, 1st duke of Wellington, and Hon. Catherine Sarah Dorothea Pakenham, da. of Edward Michael, 2nd Bar. Longford [I]. educ. Eton 1820-3, Christ Church, Oxf. 1824; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1825. m. 18 Apr. 1839, Lady Elizabeth Hay, da. of George, 8th mq. of Tweeddale [S], s.p. styled Lord Douro 1812-14, mq. of Douro 1814-52; suc. fa. as 2nd duke of Wellington 14 Sept. 1852; KG 25 Mar. 1858; suc. cos. William Richard Arthur Pole Tylney Long Wellesley as 6th earl of Mornington [I] 25 July 1863. d. 13 Aug. 1884.

Offices Held

Ensign 81 Ft. 1823, 71 Ft. 1825; cornet R. Horse Gds. 1825, lt. 1827; capt. 60 Rifle Corps 1828; maj. (army) 1830, Rifle Brigade 1831, lt.-col. (half-pay) 1834; a.d.c. to fa. as c.-in-c. army 1842-52; brevet col. 1846; lt.-col. Victoria Rifle Corps 1853-70; maj.-gen. 1854; lt.-gen. 1862; ret. 1863.

PC 7 Feb. 1853; master of horse Jan. 1853-Feb. 1858.

Ld. lt. Mdx. 1868-d.


Douro, who was destined to be ‘une lune bien pâle auprès de son père’, spent his early life with his mother and younger brother Charles, while his father acquired fame through military successes in the war against Buonaparte and ennoblement as duke of Wellington. His parents’ marriage was unhappy and the brothers, who were not considered close to the duke, accompanied each other to Eton and to university and embarked on army careers simultaneously. Describing their situation in his diary in June 1832, following a conversation with Lord Charles, Edward John Littleton* noted:

The duke is fond of his sons, but I never saw them riding or walking together in my life and I believe they seldom converse. He seems to like that he and his sons should live independently of each other. But he allows them [to] treat Apsley House as a barrack and to use his table when he dines there.1

Wellington’s appointment as premier in 1828 brought offers to seat his sons from supporters seeking patronage, and Douro’s candidature was sought by a deputation from Weymouth in January and the duke of Rutland in July - the latter offering a seat for Cambridge in return for employment for the Member Frederick William Trench.2 Wellington, however, accepted an offer from the 3rd marquess of Hertford, who wanted preferment for Horace Beauchamp Seymour*, and Douro’s return for Aldeburgh, where the Ultra Wyndham Lewis was made to resign, was effected by Hertford’s former steward John Wilson Croker*, 27 Feb 1829.3 Douro and his brother were then touring the continent, where, in March, Hertford, who immediately asked a favour for an Aldeburgh corporator, found him in Genoa looking thinner and better because ‘some foreign princess has drawn him fine’.4 He took his seat, 4 Feb. 1830. Thomas Creevey*, seeing him for the first time, wrote to Miss Ord:

His teeth are the only feature in which he resembles his father, and altogether he is very homely in his air. Do you know he is engaged to be married to a daughter of Hume, the duke’s doctor? It seems she has stayed a good deal with the duchess, which has led to the youth proposing to her. When it was told to the duke, all he said was - ‘Ah! Rather young, Douro, are you not, to be married? Suppose you stay till the year is out and if then you are in the same mind, it’s all very well’.5

A silent vote with government against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, is the only one recorded for him before the dissolution in July 1830. His father declined a requisition from Berkshire on his behalf that month, and at the general election he resumed the representation of Aldeburgh, which he visited for the first time with Croker.6 Before Parliament commenced, his father, who had received flattering reports of his progress as a soldier from the commander-in-chief Lord Hill, paid Greenwoods £1,400 to procure him an unattached majority.7

Douro was in London and conspicuously absent from the division on the civil list by which his father’s ministry was brought down, 15 Nov. 1830.8 General Sir William Napier, whom he sought out afterwards and asked to accompany him to Stratfield Saye in December observed:

His politics are decidedly adverse to his father’s and he is for a thorough reform. He dislikes London society for its heartlessness, and as good as told me Sir John Moore was as great a man as his father: this shows how keen he is in observation. What he liked best in Sir John Moore was his kindness of disposition.9

A bitter disagreement with Wellington, which the latter’s confidante Mrs. Arbuthnot failed to resolve, ensued; but eventually, in the charged atmosphere of his mother’s final illness, he reluctantly agreed to defer politically to his father.10 He voted against the Grey ministry’s reform bill, by which Aldeburgh was to be disfranchised, at its second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831, and retained his seat at the general election that month.11 He voted against the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July 1831, to postpone its committal, 12 July, and make the 1831 census the criterion for English borough disfranchisements, 19 July, against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. He voted against the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, against enfranchising Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar., and against the second reading of the Irish measure, 25 May 1832. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832.

Douro’s main interest now lay with his regiment at Dover, and he was ‘not inclined to become a Member of the next Parliament’.12 However, after turning down requisitions from Dublin University and county Antrim, he agreed to stand on ‘home ground’ for Hampshire North, where predictions that the reformers would defeat the Conservatives by two to one proved correct.13 He declared on the hustings that ‘he had opposed the reform bill, but ... not voted against the whole bill’ and expressed support for the enfranchisement of £50 tenants-at-will.14 Lord Rosslyn fawningly described his defeat as ‘an excellent opportunity for the display of activity and talent which must rate him high in the public estimation and act as a powerful excitement to useful exertion’.15 He refused to stand there on his return from a mission to Russia in 1835, but represented Norwich as a Conservative from 1837 until his defeat at the general election of 1852, shortly before he succeeded as 2nd duke of Wellington.16 Thereafter he combined his official duties as master of the horse in the Aberdeen and Palmerston ministries, and as a soldier, with management of his Stratfield Saye and Clermont estates and his role as vice-chancellor of Wellington College. The loss of an eye through infection and his old fashioned clothes gave him a ‘rather grotesque appearance’, but he remained active and a renowned wit to the last.17 When he died suddenly on the platform at Brighton station in August 1884, Lord Lytton commented that ‘he had bravely won his last painless moment’. He was succeeded in his titles and estates by his nephew Henry Charles Wellesley (1846-1900), Conservative Member for Andover, 1874-80.18

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Hatherton diary, 17 June 1832.
  • 2. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 26 Jan. 1828; Wellington mss WP1/914/32, 41; 943/27.
  • 3. Wellington mss WP1/967/13; 1002/9; Add. 60288, ff. 22, 25, 29-30, 101, 125, 133; Croker Pprs. ii. 11.
  • 4. Wellington mss WP1/1097/6; 1010/5; Add. 60288, f. 133.
  • 5. Creevey Pprs. ii. 209.
  • 6. Wellington mss WP1/1123/12; Suff. Chron. 31 July 1830.
  • 7. Wellington mss WP1/1144/23; 1148/46.
  • 8. Add. 40401, f. 292.
  • 9. Life of Napier ed. H.A. Bruce (1864), i. 333.
  • 10. Arbuthnot Corresp. 142, 143.
  • 11. Wellington mss WP1/1179/32.
  • 12. Ibid. WP1/1234/1,2.
  • 13. The Times, 8 Nov. 1832; Add. 60289, f. 70; Wellington mss WP1/1239/10, 22, 26, 27, 38; 1241/9.
  • 14. The Times, 15 Dec. 1832.
  • 15. Wellington mss WP1/1239/35.
  • 16. Wellington Pol. Corresp. ii. 347, 489, 529, 532.
  • 17. Redesdale Mems. ed. Lord Redesdale (1915), ii. 612.
  • 18. The Times, 14, 15, 19, 20 Aug. 1884; Life and Letters of Lady Dorothy Neville ed. R. Neville, 227, 229.