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Item - BSL - Wellington Call to Parliament 1843

  

 

1843 – THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON, AS LEADER OF THE
HOUSE OF LORDS,  SIGNS A "CALL TO PARLIAMENT" LETTER

 

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON, AS THE LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS
WRITES TO LORD DOUGLAS AT DOUGLAS CASTLE
AND REQUESTS HIM TO ATTEND THE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT AS THERE WILL BE
"BUSINESS OF IMPORTANCE"

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As the Leader of the House of Lords
The Duke of Wellington Writes a Letter to Lord Douglas
And Calls him to the Opening of Parliament

Transcription:

       Strathfieldsaye December 31st 1843

My Lord,

Her Majesty having been pleased by Her Proclamation to call Parliament to meet for the Dispatch of Business on Thursday the 1st of February next, and as it is probable that Business of Importance will be brought under the consideration of both Houses at an early period; which it is desirable should be considered in full Houses, I venture to suggest to your Lordship that your Lordship should attend on the day of the Meeting of Parliament.

I have the Honor to be My Lord,
Your Lordship’s Most Obedient and faithful Humble Servant,
                          Wellington

To: Lord Douglas
Douglas Castle

Biographical Note

Field Marshal His Grace Arthur Wellesley
1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (1769 – 1852)

Arthur Wellesley, the son of the Earl of Mornington, was born in Dublin in 1769. After being educated at Eton and a military school at Angers he received a commission in the 73rd Infantry. Eventually Wellesley obtained the rank of captain and became aide-de-camp to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1797 Wellesley was sent to India. With Napoleon gaining victories in Egypt, Wellesley was dispatched to deal with Tippoo Sahib of Mysore. As brigade commander under General George Harris he impressed his superiors throughout the Seringapatam expedition and was made administrator of the conquered territory. Wellesley returned to England in 1805 and the following year he was elected as the MP for Rye in Sussex. A year after entering the House of Commons, the Duke of Portland appointed Wellesley as his Irish Secretary. Although a member of the government, Arthur Wellesley remained in the army and in 1808 he was sent to aid the Portuguese against the French. After a victory at Vimeiro he returned to England but the following year he was asked to assume command of the British Army in the Peninsular War. In 1812 the French were forced out of Spain and Wellesley reinforced his victory against the French at Toulouse. In 1814 Wellesley was granted the title, the Duke of Wellington. He was then put in command of the forces which defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in June, 1815. Parliament rewarded this military victory by granting Wellington the Hampshire estate of Strathfieldsaye.
     In 1818 the Duke of Wellington returned to politics when he accepted the invitation of Lord Liverpool to join his Tory administration as Master-General of the Ordnance. In 1829 Wellington assisted Robert Peel in his efforts to reorganize the Metropolitan Police. In 1828 Wellington replaced Lord Goderich as prime minister. Although Wellington and the Home Secretary, Robert Peel, had always opposed Catholic Emancipation they began to reconsider their views after they received information on the possibility of an Irish rebellion. As Peel said to Wellington: "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger". King George IV was violently opposed to Catholic Emancipation but after Wellington threatened to resign, the king reluctantly agreed to a change in the law.
     In 1830 unemployment in rural areas began to grow and the invention of the threshing machine posed another threat to the economic prosperity of the farm labourer. The summer and autumn of 1830 saw a wave of riots, rick-burnings and machine-breaking. In a debate in the House of Lords in November, Earl Grey, the Whig leader, suggested that the best way to reduce this violence was to introduce parliamentary reform. The Duke of Wellington replied that the existing constitution was so perfect that he could not imagine any possible alternative that would be an improvement on the present system. In the speech Wellington made it clear that he had no intention of introducing parliamentary reform. When news of what Wellington had said in Parliament was reported, his home in London was attacked by a mob. Now extremely unpopular with the public, Wellington began to consider resigning from office. On 15th November, 1830 Wellington's government was defeated in a vote in the House of Commons. The new king, William IV, was more sympathetic to reform than his predecessor and two days later decided to ask Earl Grey to form a government. As soon as Grey became prime minister he formed a cabinet committee to produce a plan for parliamentary reform. Details of the proposals were announced on 3rd February 1831. The bill was passed by the House of Commons by a majority of 136, but despite a powerful speech by Earl Grey, the bill was defeated in the House of Lords by forty-one, a place where the Duke of Wellington still held a powerful influence.
     During this time, Wellington was gradually superseded as leader of the Tories by Robert Peel; when the Tories were brought back to power in 1834, Wellington declined to become Prime Minister, and Peel was selected instead. Unfortunately Peel was in Italy, and for three weeks in November and December 1834, Wellington acted as a caretaker, taking the responsibilities of Prime Minister and most of the other ministries. In Peel's first Cabinet (1834–1835), Wellington became Foreign Secretary, while in the second Cabinet (1841–1846) he was a Minister without Portfolio and Leader of the House of Lords. It as the Leader of the House of Lords that Wellington writes this letter to Lord Douglas.

Document Specifications:  This letter is one page as shown. The paper is batonne laid with the watermark "1842" and  measures 7¼" wide x 9" tall (185mm x 225mm). The body of the letter is handwritten by his personal secretary but signed by "Wellington" and dated December 31st, 1843. There are several folds and some edge wear and two small fold separation reinforcements on the reverse none affecting the signature. Condition is very fine and a wonderful example of the Iron Duke's signature during his time as Leader of the House of Lords.

 

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Item - BSL - Wellington 1843

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