Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington

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His Grace
The Duke of Wellington
Personal details
Born (1885-08-21)21 August 1885
Died 4 January 1972(1972-01-04) (aged 86)
Spouse(s) Dorothy Violet Ashton
Parents Arthur Wellesley, 4th Duke of Wellington
Lady Kathleen Bulkeley-Williams

Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington, KG, DL, FRIBA (21 August 1885 – 4 January 1972), styled Lord Gerald Wellesley between 1900 and 1943, was a British diplomat, soldier, and architect.

Background and education

Wellesley was the third son of Lord Arthur Wellesley (later 4th Duke of Wellington) and Lady Arthur Wellesley (later Duchess of Wellington, née Kathleen Bulkeley Williams). He was baptised at St Jude's Church of Ireland parish church, Kilmainham, Dublin, on 27 September 1885 [1]. He was educated at Eton.


Wellesley served as a diplomat in the Diplomatic Corps in 1908. He held the office of Third Secretary of the Diplomatic Service between 1910 and 1917, and the office of Second Secretary of the Diplomatic Service between 1917 and 1919. He was invested as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1921, and as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1935, and was Surveyor of the King's Works of Art 1936–1943. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1939 in the service of the Grenadier Guards. He fought in the Second World War between 1939 and 1945. As a somewhat elderly officer with a spinsterish manner, he earned the nickname 'The Iron Duchess',[1] but his diplomatic skills proved invaluable in dealing with the allies.[2]

In 1943, he succeeded his nephew Henry as Duke of Wellington, Earl of Mornington, and Prince of Waterloo. His nephew's other title, Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo, passed to Henry's sister (his niece) Lady Anne Rhys, before she ceded it to him in 1949. He served as Lord Lieutenant of the County of London between 1944 and 1949 and as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire between 1949 and 1960. In 1951 he was made a Knight of the Garter.

Architecture projects

Among his architecture projects was the remodeling of the London home of Anglo-American member of Parliament Henry "Chips" Channon. Working with Trenwith Wills, Wellesley also remodeled Castle Hill, Filleigh, in Devon; Hinton Ampner in Hampshire; and Biddick Hall in County Durham.[3] Wellesley also designed the Faringdon Folly tower for Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners.[4] Wellesley also built Portland House in Weymouth in 1935.[5]


He was the author of the following books :

  • The Iconography of the First Duke of Wellington (1935)
  • The Diary of a Desert Journey (1938)
  • The Journal of Mrs. Arbuthnot (1950)
  • A Selection from the Private Correspondence of the First Duke of Wellington (1952)


Wellesley was bisexual or homosexual,[6][7] but married Dorothy Violet Ashton (21 August 1885 – 11 July 1956) on 30 April 1914. The marriage was unhappy and they separated in 1922[8] but did not divorce. She was the daughter of Robert Ashton of Croughton, Cheshire (himself a second cousin of the 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde) and was descended from wealthy cotton manufacturers, and his wife (Lucy) Cecilia Dunn-Gardner, later Countess of Scarbrough. Her stepfather since 1899 was the 10th Earl of Scarbrough. They had two children :

Dorothy "Dottie" Wellesley, a poet, left the family to become the lover of Vita Sackville-West,[9][2] (who wrote her entry for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).[3] Curiously, Gerald Wellesley had been engaged, before his marriage, to Sackville-West's lover Violet Trefusis.[10] Dorothy Wellesley later became the lover and long-time companion of Hilda Matheson, a prominent BBC producer.[11] After his wife's death in 1956, Wellesley would have liked to have married his widowed sister-in-law Lady Serena James, but she did not wish to leave her marital home.[12]

Wellesley was the maternal grandfather of the actor and musician Jeremy Clyde.


  1. Alan, Pryce-Jones (1987). The Bonus Of Laughter. John Murray.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Butler, Ewan. Amateur Agent. p. 16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Cruickshank, Dan (Summer 2012). "Wills and Wellesley". National Trust Magazine. National Trust: 38.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4.[dead link]
  6. Aldrich, Keith (1997). WB Yeats: The Man and the Mileau. Clarkson Potter. p. 337.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Brittain-Catlin, Timothy. Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture. p. 92.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. R.F. Foster, "W.B. Yeats" (Oxford University Press, 2003), page 528
  9. Lady Jane Wellesley, "Wellington: A Journey Through My Family" (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009)
  10. R.F. Foster, "W.B. Yeats" (Oxford University Press, 2003), page 528
  11. R.F. Foster, "W.B. Yeats" (Oxford University Press, 2003), page 528
  12. "Lady Serena James: Obituary". Daily Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Crewe
Lord Lieutenant of the County of London
Succeeded by
The Earl Wavell
Preceded by
The Viscount Portal
Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire
Succeeded by
The Lord Ashburton
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Wellesley
Duke of Wellington
Succeeded by
Valerian Wellesley
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Henry Wellesley
Earl of Mornington
Succeeded by
Valerian Wellesley
Dutch nobility
Preceded by
Henry Wellesley
Prince of Waterloo
Succeeded by
Valerian Wellesley
Spanish nobility
Preceded by
Anne Rhys
Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo
Succeeded by
Valerian Wellesley
Portuguese nobility
Preceded by
Henry Wellesley
Duke of the Victory
Succeeded by
Valerian Wellesley