Arthur attended school at Trim, Dublin and London. Between 1781 and 1784 Arthur spent time at Eaton. However, a shortage of family funds and the passing of his father led to his having to leave Eaton and his family moving to Brussels. Until early adulthood apparently Arthur was quite an unremarkable fellow, with his idleness causing concern to his mother. His mother was reputed to have said: “I don’t know what I shall do with my awkward son Arthur.”
However, in early 1786 Arthur joined the French Royal Academy of Equitation in Angers where he learned horsemanship and French. By all accounts he quickly developed accomplishment at both. Following his return to England in late 1786 his mother is said to have been astonished at his improvement.
In 1787, through the good office of his brother Richard, who petitioned the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for an Army Commission on his behalf, Arthur obtained a posting as a gazetted ensign in the 73rd Regiment of Foot. Shortly thereafter he was assigned as aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and transferred to the new 76th Regiment in Ireland. On Christmas day 1787 Arthur was promoted to Lieutenant.
In April 1790 Arthur was elected as MP for Trim. In June 1791 he was promoted to Captain. In early 1793 was elevated to the rank of Major and by later that same year progresses further to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
For some unknown reason, in 1799 Arthur Wesley changed his second name to Wellesley.
In 1802 Arthur Wellesley achieved the high rank of Major-General and in 1804 was granted a Knighthood. He then went on to become MP for Rye in Sussex in 1806 and in the same year married Katherine Pakenham in Dublin. In 1807 he was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland and from then until 1809 he resided at the Chief Secretary’s Lodge (now Deerfield House), in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
On 22nd January 1827 Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. In 1828 he resigned as Commander-in-Chief of the army to take up the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
During his term in government he is credited with overseeing the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act, an instrument which ensured the granting of almost full civil rights to Catholics.
Arthur Wellesley was the first Irish-born person to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He died on 14th September 1852, aged 83.
A magnificent monument in his honour, known as the Wellington Monument, can be seen in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. The four bronze freeze works which adorn the base plinth of this monument were cast from melted canon, captured at the Battle of Waterloo.
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