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Lord Cowley (left) and Lord Clarendon

Henry Wellesley, 1st Baron Cowley GCB (20 January 1773 – 27 April 1847) was the youngest brother of the Duke of Wellington, and became a notable diplomat in his own right.

Educated at Eton College and at the court of the Duke of Brunswick, Wellesley purchased an Ensigncy in the 40th Foot in 1790. In 1791, his diplomatic career began, when he was appointed attaché to the British embassy at The Hague. The next year, he became Secretary of Legation in Stockholm. In 1791 he exchanged into the 1st Foot Guards and in 1793 he purchased a Lieutenantcy. In 1794, while on a trip home from Lisbon with his sister Anne, he was captured by the French, and remained in prison during the height of the terror, escaping only in 1795. In the latter year he sat for Trim in the Irish House of Commons.

In 1797 Wellesley accompanied Lord Malmesbury as secretary on his unsuccessful mission to negotiate peace with the French at Lille. Later that year, he travelled to India, where he became private secretary to his oldest brother, Lord Mornington, the new governor-general. He was in India between 1797 and 1799, and again from 1801 to 1802, and was a useful assistant to his brother in a variety of diplomatic capacities, negotiating treaties with Mysore and Oudh.

In 1802 he returned to Europe, and married the next year to Lady Charlotte Cadogan, by whom he had three sons and a daughter before she abandoned him in 1809, running off with Henry Paget, a talented cavalry officer. His wife divorced him in Scotland in 1810. Although, at first, Paget's career was badly affected by the affair, as he was later unable to serve under Wellesley's brother Wellington in the Peninsular Campaign due to the bad blood, Paget later distinguished himself under Wellington at Waterloo.

In 1809, Wellesley became the British envoy to Spain - his eldest brother, by now Marquess Wellesley, was now Foreign Secretary, while his brother Arthur (now Viscount Wellington) was British commander-in-chief in Spain. Together, the three brothers helped to make the Peninsular campaign a success, and in 1812 Wellesley was knighted.

He remained Ambassador to Spain until 1821, but found time to marry again, this time to Lady Georgiana Cecil, daughter of the Marquess of Salisbury. In 1823, Wellesley became Ambassador to Austria, where he remained until 1831. Although he was close acquaintances with Foreign Secretary George Canning, who had asked Wellesley to serve as his second in his duel with Lord Castlereagh, Wellesley felt that Canning did not appreciate his services, feeling him to be too conciliatory.

In January 1828, Wellesley was created Baron Cowley, of Wellesley, due to his brother Wellington's influence with then prime minister Lord Goderich. His final diplomatic service was in Paris, where he served as ambassador during Robert Peel's administrations in 1835 and 1841-1846. In 1846 Cowley retired, but remained in Paris, where he died the next year.

Cowley's eldest son, Henry Richard Charles Wellesley, followed in his father's footsteps as a diplomatist, holding the Paris embassy for fifteen years, and was eventually created Earl Cowley. Another son, Gerald Valerian Wellesley, became Dean of Windsor.

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Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Hon. Arthur Wesley
Hon. Clotworthy Taylor
Member of Parliament for Trim
1795
With: Hon. Arthur Wesley
Succeeded by
Hon. Arthur Wesley
William Arthur Crosbie
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
The Marquess of Londonderry
British Ambassador to Austria
1823 – 1831
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Lamb
Preceded by
The Earl Granville
British Ambassador to France
1835
Succeeded by
The Earl Granville
Preceded by
The Earl Granville
British Ambassador to France
1841 – 1846
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Normanby
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Cowley
1828 – 1847
Succeeded by
Henry Wellesley
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