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Special Collections

Introduction to the Wellington Archive: 1819-52

Wellington's correspondence for the period 1819-32 now forms WP1/613-1245. His correspondence for 1833-52 (WP2/1-172) is supplemented by a sequence of subject bundles and memoranda (WP2/173-94).

After Wellington's return to England in 1818, he held a number of official positions and political offices. He became Master General of the Ordnance, with a seat in the cabinet, 1818-27; he was Governor of Plymouth, 1819-26; colonel in chief of the Rifle Brigade, 1820-52; Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, 1820-52; and plenipotentiary to the Congress of Verona in 1822. Wellington was Lord High Constable for three successive coronations (George IV, William IV and Victoria), was special ambassador to St Petersburg for the funeral of Tsar Alexander in 1826 and was Constable of the Tower of London, 1826-52.

Twice in 1827, Wellington was Commander-in-Chief of the British army, but he resigned the post, together with the post at the Ordnance and his seat in the cabinet, firstly during George Canning's government, and secondly with the start of his own premiership (January 1828 to November 1830). Wellington became Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1829, with which came tenure of Walmer Castle, where he died in 1852. He was also a governor of the Charterhouse from 1828, an elder brother of Trinity House, from 1829, and later master, and, from 1834 until his death he was Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

In November 1834, Wellington again became Prime Minister as well as Secretary of State for the Home, Foreign and Colonial Departments in a caretaker government until Sir Robert Peel could return to England. Wellington remained as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Peel's first government (December 1834 to April 1835). He was cabinet minister without office in Peel's second ministry of 1841-6 and he became Commander-in-Chief of the army again, 1842-52. In 1847 he was appointed Ranger of St James's Park and he was Ranger of Hyde Park, 1850-52.

Besides these positions, Wellington held numerous other appointments, as trustee of the Deccan Prize Fund from 1823, as colonel of the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, of the Grenadier Guards and of the Forty Second Regiment of the Line in the Austrian army, as Commissioner for the Improvement of Windsor Castle, 1824 onwards, and as president or patron of a great many societies including the Society of Friends of Foreigners in Distress, the Benevolent Society of St Patrick, the Royal Westminster Hospital for Diseases of the Eye, the Royal Western Hospital, the Middlesex Hospital, the London Hospital, the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge in the Highlands and Islands, the Highland Society of London, the Medico-Botanical Society.

The papers relating to these offices are in WP1 up to c.1827-9; thereafter there are separate sequences for Wellington as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire (WP4); Constable of the Tower of London (WP2/195-211); as a governor of the Charterhouse (WP2/212-14); as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (WP2/215-38), with Cinque Port salvage depsotions, 1846-53, taken under the Wreck and Salvage Act, 1846, forming WP2/239-40; as an elder brother and subsequently master of Trinity House (WP2/241-3); as Chancellor of the University of Oxford (WP2/244-56); and as Chief Ranger and Keeper of Hyde Park and St James's Park (WP2/257).

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