Tag Archives: Arthur Wellesley

Mapping the way

As we move into August and thoughts turn to summer holidays, over the next few weeks the Special Collections will be featuring a series of blogs celebrating the theme of travel and voyages. And to help you on your way to your destination, we start with a look at the development of western traditions of maps and map-making from the sixteenth century onwards.

Detail from chart in John Sellar’s Atlas maritimus (London, 1675) [Rare Books ff. G1059]

The production of maps and of maritime charts often went hand in hand with exploration and trade. The full extent of the continent of Africa, for instance, was not known to Europeans until Bartholomew Diaz reached the southern cape in 1487. The first maps based on a knowledge of the African coastline only began to appear in the sixteenth century. Western maps of Asia, the earliest and best of which were produced in the Low Countries, drew on accounts of Portuguese traders as well as missionaries and Spanish and Dutch voyages of discovery.

Translated into English as The mariners mirror in 1588, Lucas Jansson Waghenaer’s Spieghel der Zeevaerdt (Leiden, 1584), a guide for navigators which contained a combination of earlier maritime ‘route books’ or rutters, and coastal charts, was to exert an enormous influence. John Sellar was to publish the first English pilots a century later. His Atlas maritimus (London, 1675) was a collection of maritime charts describing sea-coasts “in most of the known parts of the world collected from the latest and best discoveries that have been made by divers able and experienced navigators of our English nation”. Copies varied considerably in content and were probably made up to suit each purchaser. The volume at Southampton has 40 maps and one set of coloured plates.

John Sellar Atlas maritimus (London, 1675) [Rare Books ff. G1059]

For travellers wishing to journey nearer to home, local topographical maps were not common until the sixteenth century. Prior to that most descriptions of the countryside were verbal rather than visual. The growth in the sixteenth century was linked to technological developments enabling means of surveying and producing accurate representations and also to a new curiosity for knowledge about the world.

The principal influences behind the creation of this new iconography were threefold. Firstly, practical: many of the earliest maps had a military purpose as well as being extensively used in legal disputes or for setting out boundaries. Secondly, visual: they were a potent form of display. From the sixteenth century, maps were hung on the walls of houses and palaces, showing ancestral estates, kingdoms or the strength of a regional identity. Thirdly, the development of printing, with the use of engraved copper plates, provided a ready way of making these images available.

The first widespread cartographic depictions of Europe date from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The work of Christopher Saxton, who surveyed the UK in the 1570s, was considered a high point in topographical description.

Christopher Saxton’s map of Caernarvonshire [Rare Books quarto G5750]

Saxton maps were small-scale, in that they covered large areas with little detail. Maps of counties at a large scale, which covered small geographical areas in great detail, were the product of the eighteenth century, arising from Enlightenment interest in scientific representation.

J.Cary Cary’s new universal atlas (London, 1808) [Rare Books ff. G1019]

 The Ordnance Survey of Britain was under way in the 1790s marking an approach to topography on a national basis. Although the Ordnance Survey was not finally undertaken in Ireland until 1824, work on mapping counties had begun, under the auspices of grand juries, in the 1770s. Neville Bath, for instance, had been engaged to produce maps for Counties Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Limerick which were bought up by the Irish government in 1808 during the time when the Duke of Wellington was Chief Secretary for Ireland.

So when you are next embarking on a journey instead of turning to your satnav why not try out using a map instead?

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“Ill-advised man!”: the Duke of Wellington and his duel

On 13 April 1829 the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed by Parliament. It was guided through the parliamentary process by the Prime Minster the Duke of Wellington and the Home Secretary Robert Peel, overcoming vehement opposition, including from the King George IV.

Draft of points agreed with George IV relating to Catholic emancipation, 27 January 1829

Part of a memorandum by Wellington listing the points settled on a visit to George IV about the Roman Catholic emancipation question, 27 January 1829 [MS 61 WP1/993/73]

The act represented the legislative move towards Catholic emancipation and for Catholics to be able to take a seat in the Parliament at Westminster. Daniel O’Connell, who had won the by-election in Clare in 1828, and who was leader of the Catholic Association and in the campaign for Catholic emancipation, was now able to take his seat as MP.

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington

Wellington had not originally supported the move for Catholic emancipation and was harshly criticised by those most vehemently opposed. None more so than George Finch-Hatton, tenth Earl of Winchilsea. Winchilsea accused Wellington of “an insidious design for the infringement of our liberties and the introduction of Popery into every department of the State”.

Stung, Wellington challenged him to a duel:

“… Since the insult, unprovoked on my part, and not denied by your lordship, I have done everything in my power to induce your lordship to make me reparation, but in vain. Instead of apologizing for your own conduct your lordship has called upon me to explain mine….

… I now call upon your lordship to give me that satisfaction for your conduct which a gentleman has a right to require and which a gentleman never refuses to give.”

First page of Wellington's challenge to Lord Winchilsea, 20 March 1829 [MS61 WP1/1007/29]

First page of Wellington’s challenge to Lord Winchilsea, 20 March 1829 [MS61 WP1/1007/29]

The duel took place at 8am on Saturday 21 March at Battersea Fields, South London. Wellington was accompanied by his second Sir Henry Hardinge, whilst Winchilsea’s second was Edward Boscawen, first Earl of Falmouth. The physician, John Hume, attended in case of injury and subsequently sent a detailed report to the Duchess of Wellington.

“Lord Falmouth … gave his pistol to Lord Winchilsea and he and the Duke remained with them in their right hands, the arm being extended down by their sides. Lord Falmouth and Sir Henry then stepped back a few paces when Lord Falmouth said ‘Sir Henry I leave it entirely to you to arrange the manner of firing’, upon which Sir Henry said, ‘Then, gentlemen, I shall ask you if you are ready and give the word fire, without any farther signal or preparation’, which in a few seconds after he did, saying, ‘Gentlemen, are you ready, fire !’ The Duke raised his pistol and presented it instantly on the word fire being given, but as I suppose observing that Lord Winchilsea did not immediately present at him he seemed to hesitate for a moment and then fired without effect.

I think Lord Winchilsea did not present his pistol at the Duke at all, but I cannot be quite positive as I was wholly intent on observing the Duke lest anything should happen to him, but when I turned my eyes towards Lord Winchilsea after the Duke had fired his arm was still down by his side from whence he raised it deliberately and holding his pistol perpendicularly over his head he fired it off into the air….”

Part of the account by Dr Hume of the duel, 22 March 1829 [MS 61 WP1/1004/16]

Part of the account by Dr Hume of the duel, 22 March 1829 [MS 61 WP1/1004/16]

News of the duel was met with shock, with some newspapers carrying censorial reports.

Jeremy Bentham was moved to write to the Duke the following day:

“Ill advised man ! Think of the confusion into which the whole fabric of the government would have been thrown had you been killed, or had the trial of you for the murder of another man been substituted in the House of Lords to the passing of the emancipation bill !”

[MS 61 WP 1/1004/17]

Generally, however, Wellington found that this event enhanced his reputation and he was praised in various accounts for his “manly forbearance”.

Further details of the duel can be found in the Wellington Papers Database: John Hume’s full account of the duel is well worth a read.

Sir Denis Pack: a Wellington ally

As we enjoy this year’s annual Wellington Lecture today, it is fitting that we announce the acquisition of a new collection of material relating to the career of Sir Denis Pack, one of Wellington’s generals. The collection, which includes maps relating to military actions in which Pack fought, complements both the current collection of his papers held by the Division (MS296) and material within the Wellington Archive (MS61).

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Major General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B (d.1823) entered the army in 1791. He served in Flanders, 1794-5, Cape of Good Hope, 1806, and subsequently in South America. He fought at Roliça and Vimeiro, 1808 and Corunna, 1809. Having served on the Walcheren expedition and at the siege of Flushing in 1809, he returned to the Iberian Peninsula to serve with the Duke of Wellington. He commanded a Portuguese brigade, part of Marshal Beresford’s Portuguese forces, at Busaco in 1810 and Almeida in 1811.

Detail from map of Battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Detail from map of the battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Pack took part at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and Orthes. In 1815, he commanded a brigade of Sir Thomas Picton’s Fifth Division at the battles of Quatre Bras and of Waterloo. Pack was Lieutenant Governor of Plymouth, serving alongside Wellington as Governor, from 1819 until his death in 1823.

Pack served with distinction at the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, and was mentioned in the official despatch of the battle written by Wellington to Lord Bathurst of 24 July. He also honourably mentioned for his part in the operations against Burgos later in 1812.

Amongst the maps in the new acquisition is a hand drawn one of the battle of Salamanca, with handwritten notes, providing us with a valuable new resource to supplement and illustrate the written descriptions of this battle.

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Botanical treasures of the Stratfield Saye estate

In October 1836 the botanist John Claudius Loudon wrote to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, requesting drawings of certain trees on the Stratfield Saye estate for a publication on the hardy trees and shrubs of Great Britain.  His returns showed that there was a Cedar of Lebanon at Stratfield Saye said to be the highest in Britain as well as the largest Hemlock Spruce Fir; he hoped that the Duke might have some drawing of them he could copy. [WP2/43/2]

"Cedrus Libani: the Cedar of Lebanon": J.C.Loudon, Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum vol. VIII p.396

[“Cedrus Libani: the Cedar of Lebanon”: J.C.Loudon, Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum vol. VIII p.396]

We have several copies of the resulting publication Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum in the Salisbury Collection.

Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum was Loudon’s most significant work but unfortunately also the most time-consuming and costly.  It contained an exhaustive account of all the trees and shrubs growing in Great Britain including their history and notes on remarkable examples.  It included drawings of leaves, twigs, fruits, and the shapes of leafless trees as well as entire portraits of trees in their young and mature state, all  drawn from life.

The first Duke of Wellington acquired the Stratfield Saye estate in 1818 from a grateful nation following the Battle of Waterloo.  It has pleasure grounds and a landscape park of approximately 523 hectares.  It had previously been owned by George Pitt, first Baron Rivers who had made extensive alterations to the park after he inherited it.  Lord Rivers had succeeded to the estate in 1745 and, through the second half of the 18th century until his death in 1803, he made major changes and improvements.  He is responsible for the walled gardens to the north-west of the house as well as the pleasure grounds planted with their arboretum of exotic trees.

In December 1836 James Johnson – possibly the estate manager – wrote to the Duke giving him details of various trees as requested by Loudon.  The highest cedar of Lebanon was 95ft but likely to grow much higher.   The hemlock spruce is the “largest and handsomest specimen of the kind” he has ever seen.  A spruce fir growing near the cedar is 104 ft high and he also measured a “very fine” silver fir in the peasantry copse.

["The fritillaria meleagris or common fritillary": Curtis's Flora Londinensis vol. III]

[“The fritillaria meleagris or common fritillary”: Curtis’s Flora Londinensis vol. III]

Johnson also encloses to the Duke a letter from the botanist Aylmer Bourke Lambert (1761-1842) concerning the Fritillaria meleagris; according to Lambert, it is “one of the most beautiful and rarest of all the English plants”.  One of the “greatest botanical curiosities in England” and Lambert discovered it in the park at Stratfield Saye “in …abundance”. [WP2/43/105].

The fritillary is now designated as “very rare” in Hampshire.  The following is an extract from the Flora of Hampshire:

The plant’s last site in Hants is in a field adjoining the famous colony on the Duke of Wellington’s estate at Stratfielde Saye, Berks, where is is now carefully conserved.  Sadly … the fritillaries on the Hants site have dwindled until in 1982 Paul Bowman [Hants botanist] could only find four plants.  However om 1986 the Duke began scattering fritillary seeds there … the most recent records are for 8 plants (1993)

Aylmer Lambert is best known for his work A description of the genus Pinus, issued in several parts 1803–1824, a sumptuously illustrated folio volume detailing all of the conifers then known.  The Special Collections has a copy of the 1832 edition.

["Pinus Pinea": A.B.Lambert, A description of the genus Pinus, vol. 1]

[“Pinus Pinea”: A.B.Lambert, A description of the genus Pinus, vol. 1]

Many of the printed volumes referenced here are from the Salisbury Collection, a collection of over 500 books, ranging in date from the 17th century to the 20th century which reflects the passion for ordering the natural world and in this case recording the plants of a particular area, which arose during the eighteenth century and continues today.  It includes examples of national floras such as those of Spain, Germany and Russia, but the emphasis of the collection is on British floras on both a national and a local level.

The Wellington archive and Ireland

It was 35 years ago, on St Patrick’s Day 1983, that the archive of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, arrived at the University of Southampton.

Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

Group of Wellington Papers, 1828 [MS 61 WP1/950]

This collection of around 100,000 political, military, official and diplomatic papers for the first Duke was accepted for the nation in lieu of duty on the estate of the seventh Duke of Wellington and allocated to the University of Southampton by the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The official opening of the Wellington Suite, the archive accommodation created to house the archive took place in May 1983, and was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Wellington.

Official event to mark the arrival of the Wellington archive, 1983

Official opening for the Wellington archive: 1983: Bernard Naylor, University Librarian, Professor Smith (hidden), Chris Woolgar, Archivist, and the Duke of Wellington looking at display of papers

Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was born in Ireland, the son of Garret Wesley, first Earl of Mornington, and Anne Hill, who was the daughter of the first Viscount Dungannon. The archive forms the principal collection of papers of Wellington and covers all aspects of his career from 1790 until his death in 1852. Papers relating to Ireland feature heavily within the collection, ranging from maps and plans to extensive series of papers on parliamentary and government business.

Coloured sketch plan of Dublin Castle and adjoining barracks, March 1844 [MS 61 WP15/26]

Coloured sketch plan of Dublin Castle and adjoining barracks, March 1844 [MS 61 WP15/26]

Wellington started his career as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Westmorland and Earl Fitzwilliam, 1787-93. Between 1790 and 1797 he sat in the Irish Parliament as Member for the family seat of Trim. Wellington was Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1807-9, managing the government interest in Parliament at Westminster and government business in Ireland. Within this material is much on security and maintaining the peace during a period of turbulence and threat of invasion by Napoleonic France.

In a letter from Wellington to Lord Hawkesbury, Secretary of State for Home Affairs, 23 April 1807, he sends details of the preparations made in Cork to deal with the threat of invasion:

“There are two regiments of cavalry and ten battalions of infantry at Cork and in the neighbourhood, which could be assembled at any point in the course of a few hours.

There is a depot of artillery at Cork, a heavy brigade at Fermoy, and a depot at Clonmell, about forty miles from Cork, so that there are means of defending that part of the kingdom if the fleet should turn out to be an enemy.”

[MS 61 WP1/167/18]

Between 1818 and his death in 1852, Wellington held a number of political offices and official posts, including serving twice as Prime Minister. Several thousand letters for the period 1819-32 relate to Ireland, including political, economic and social discussions and material on the introduction of the Catholic Relief  Bill. The descriptions of this material can be accessed through the Wellington Papers Database.

First page of draft Catholic emancipation act drafted by Wellington and Robert Peel [MS 61 WP1/993/80]

First page of draft by Wellington and Robert Peel of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, January 1829  [MS 61 WP1/993/80]

The main series of Wellington’s correspondence for the period 1833 onwards includes material relating to the Irish representative peerage, politics and elections in Ireland, parliamentary bills, church reform, education, the Irish church, tithes, law and order and military defence, the Young Ireland movement and the prospect of a rising in 1848, as well as the Wellington monument in Dublin.

Report of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick (London, 1820) [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

Report of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick (London, 1820) [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

The connection between Wellington and Ireland also can be found amongst papers for the numerous societies and organisations with which he was associated. One such was the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick set up to provide “relief for the poor and distressed Irish residing in and around London, and that of their children”. Wellington was a Vice President of the Society in 1820 and was voted as chairman for the following year. The list of subscribers for 1820 listed his donation as 121 guineas: a donation of 20 guineas made the donor a governor for life.

Anniversary festival of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

Anniversary festival of the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick [Wellington Pamphlet 1104/5]

The Society held an annual festival, usually on St Patrick’s Day. The festival in 1820, held at the City of London Tavern with George Canning in the chair, was delayed until the 6 May due to the death of the King.  The Investigator or Quarterly magazine for 1820 reported that:

“The children were, after dinner, paraded through the room. Their appearance was exceedingly interesting; all of them being clean, healthy and robust.  Several fine young women, who were educated by the society, who are now earning a comfortable and reputable livelihood closed the procession… The Duke of Wellington was nominated chairman for the ensuing year, which office was handsomely accepted by His Grace.  The treasurer then read the list of subscriptions, the total of which, including a bequest of £500 by Captain Morritt, was £1,800.”

The Wellington archive is complemented by a number of other significant manuscript collections that relate to Ireland. These include the Congleton archive (MS 64) which contains personal, family, estate and political papers for the Parnell family, Barons Congleton, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century; the Broadlands archives (MS 62); the Carver manuscripts (MS 63), a collection of papers of the family of Wellington’s older brother Richard Wellesley, first Marquis Wellesley; and papers of the Earls of Mornington (MS 226 and MS 299).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

The Accession of Queen Alexandrina Victoria I, 20 June 1837

Queen Victoria, at the time of her accession, aged 18, Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911

Queen Victoria, at the time of her accession, aged 18, (Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911)

William IV died, after a lingering illness, early on the morning of Tuesday 20 June 1837. He had lived to see his niece Princess Victoria celebrate her 18th birthday – and therefore her majority – on 24th May, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that Victoria would succeed to the throne in her own right, without being subject to a regency.

The King died at Windsor Castle. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain went immediately to Kensington Palace to inform Princess Victoria. She noted in her journal that she was woken at 6 o’clock by her mother, who told her that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham had arrived and wished to see her. She got out of bed and went into her sitting room, in her dressing gown. “Lord Conyngham (the Lord Chamberlain) then acquainted me” she wrote “that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning and consequently that I am Queen”.

Queen Victoria awakened to hear news of her accession, Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911

Queen Victoria awakened to hear the news of her accession, (Illustrated London News, 14 May 1911)

The Lords of the Privy Council assembled that same morning at Kensington Palace and gave orders for proclaiming her majesty, with the usual ceremonies, as ‘Queen Alexandrina Victoria I.’

The name Victoria was rare in England. There had been a major family row at the christening of the young princess on 24 June 1819: the Prince Regent (later George IV, Victoria’s uncle and godfather) had forbidden the names Victoire Georgiana Alexandrina Charlotte Augusta, after her mother and godparents. He eventually agreed to ‘Alexandrina Victoria’ – which honoured the tsar of Russia (her godfather), and her mother (born Princess Marie Luise Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the Duchess of Kent) – but he would not permit his niece to have any of the names traditionally given to British royal princesses.  Although known as ‘Drina’ for a while as a child, she preferred ‘Victoria’ and quickly dropped the official use of her first name.

At just 18, the Queen was young and inexperienced – but she had been carefully educated and was determined to fill the role to the best of her ability.

It was generally felt that Victoria quitted herself well at her first Privy Council. The Duke of Wellington, who was in attendance, certainly thought so. He wrote the same day to Charlotte Percy, Duchess of Northumberland (who had been governess to the princess), and her reply survives in the Wellington papers at the University of Southampton:

Letter from Charlotte Florentia Percy, Duchess of Northumberland to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, WP2/46/124-5, 20 June 1837

Letter from Charlotte Florentia Percy, Duchess of Northumberland, to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, 20 June 1837, with autograph docket by the Duke, WP2/46/124-5

Northumberland House, 20 June 1837
“My Dear Duke
“I have read your gratifying testimony of the successful manner in which the young Queen made her first appearance before the Privy Council, with sensations of real delight. Your opinion is always invaluable to me, and your kind recollection of what must be my feelings at this moment I most gratefully acknowledge. I always have had the greatest confidence in her character, calmness and presence of mind, so essential to her high station and I look forward to her realizing all those bright expectations which her truth, her uprightness of mind have taught me to expect from her.”

Victoria was quickly immersed in the business of state and government.   This is clear from the papers of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, who was the Queen’s first Foreign Secretary, later Home Secretary, and Prime Minister. The royal correspondence in the Palmerston Papers shows the Queen struggling to understand and even to read all the state papers that were put before her in these early days, however, her determination to get to grips with the work is unmistakable:

“As the Queen has got a great many Foreign Dispatches, which, from want of time she has been unable to read, as yet, she requests Lord Palmerston not to send any more until she has done with those which she already has with her, & which she hopes will be the case by tomorrow  evening.”

Note the use of the third person by the Queen, who did not sign the letter (Queen Victoria to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, 12 August 1837, MS 62 Palmerston Papers RC/F/15/1).

Victoria was to reign – as Queen and Empress – for more than 63 years. She remains one of our most enduringly popular monarchs. The ITV drama Victoria, which aired last year, was a roaring success, attracting more than 7 million viewers per episode. As her rule has gone down in history, so her name – that obscure and foreign name at the time of her christening – has become popular across the English-speaking world. 180 years on, Victoria is, indisputably, a truly royal British name.

Remembering Wellington and Waterloo

Waterloo Road, Southampton

Waterloo Road, Southampton

In the aftermath of the battle of Waterloo, both the first Duke of Wellington and the battle were to receive many marks of public recognition. Streets, buildings and public places were named after them. The Percy Histories, published in 1823, identified in London 14 places named after Wellington and 10 sites named after Waterloo. When the first portion of what is now called Regent Street was built in 1815-16, it was called Waterloo Place. One of the new bridges built over the Thames between 1813-19 became Waterloo Bridge. London Waterloo Station was opened  in 1848 by London and South Western Rail as Waterloo Bridge Station.

The Wellington Arms, Southampton

The Wellington Arms, Southampton

Pubs and inns also were given Wellington’s name, including the hastily renamed Hotel Wellington on the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815, and pubs today continue this tradition. Couples in the nineteenth century chose to name their boys Arthur Wellesley in honour of the Duke, just as children were named after Winston Churchill in a wave of patriotic pride in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Fêted as the “saviour of Europe”, Wellington received not only honours and funds granted to him by Parliament to purchase an estate, but was the subject of numerous paintings, statues and monuments, such as the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner in London.

Headed notepaper containing a depiction of the Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London [MS61 WP2/150/61]

Headed notepaper containing a depiction of the Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London [MS61 WP2/150/61]

Wellington appeared in many caricatures — up to 5% of the collection at the British Museum, London — 300 paintings and drawings and 180 published engravings. He also appeared on a range of merchandise, everything from tea sets to snuff boxes.  His achievements, usually in the military field, were recorded in other commemorative items, such as the Wellington Alphabet sent to him in 1836.  Starting with Assaye, the Alphabet concludes with the lines:

“W for Wellington and Waterloo! / What boundless praise to that great name is due / Which there subdu’d the proud and stubborn heart / Of that ambitious tyrant Bonaparte, / The peace of Europe thus accomplished / And left no field unwon for X Y Z.”

The Wellington Alphabet, sent to the Duke in 1836 [MS61 WP2/43/90]

The Wellington Alphabet [MS61 WP2/43/90]

While his military image was to be tarnished in his lifetime by periods of unpopularity with the general public, there was a great outpouring of grief at his death in 1852.  Wellington was rediscovered as a great national hero by the early Victorian public and was accorded a state funeral on a lavish scale attended by massive crowds. For a period he was again elevated to the status he had enjoyed in 1815. The Times wrote in his obituary that “He was the very type and model of the Englishman”, whilst Queen Victoria declared him “the GREATEST man this country ever produced”.

The interest in the funeral was great. The funeral issues of The Illustrated London News of 20 and 27 November 1852 sold two million copies. There was hardly enough room for those attending the funeral and the whole of the funeral procession route was thronged with people.  Shops along the Strand rented out their shopfront, roofs or upper stories. For those who were not able to attend there were memorial services held in churches around Great Britain and at 3pm bells began tolling in every parish church across the country.

Duke of Wellington funeral procession from Apsley House, London

Funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington from Apsley House, London: The Illustrated London News

The outpouring of grief, the discussions on Wellington’s greatness and symbolism as a national hero, that surrounded his death and funeral represented the mythologising of the Duke. Ode on the death of the Duke of Wellington by the Poet Laureate, Tennyson, which appeared two days before the funeral, commemorated Wellington as the “greatest Englishman”, “as great on land” as Nelson was a commander at sea and the “foremost captain of his time”. The first edition of 10,000 copies of this were sold at one shilling a piece and sold out very quickly. Other commemorative works produced in this period were to cast Wellington in similar heroic terms – for Thomas Carlyle he was a “Godlike man”.

Funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington, Somerset House

Funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington on the Strand: The Illustrated London News

Whether the names of Wellington and Waterloo resonate in the same way in the twenty first century, their legacy is still very much in evidence today in the towns and cities of the UK and further afield.

If you wanted to discover more about Wellington and Waterloo remembered, why not join the (MOOC) Massive Open Online course relating to Wellington and Waterloo, led by Karen Robson from Special Collections and Professor  Chris Woolgar from Humanities.  To sign up go to: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/wellington-and-waterloo

Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, London

Wellington and Waterloo events – June 2017

Wellington and Waterloo MOOC
Starting on 5 June 2017 there will be a re-run of the free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Duke of Wellington and the battle of Waterloo.

Over three weeks, the course will cover events from the French Revolution to the decisive battle that finally defeated Napoleon, the significance of the conflict, the ways in which it changed Europe forever and how the battle and its heroes have been commemorated.

Chris Woolgar and Karen Robson will use the Wellington Archive at the University of Southampton to provide an insight into these momentous events from the early nineteenth century.

For further details and to sign up please visit:
https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/wellington-and-waterloo


Wellington and Waterloo revisited – Special Event
In conjunction with the MOOC, the Special Collections will be holding a Special Event on Saturday 17 June. This will feature a private view of the exhibition Wellington and Waterloo in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery, a lecture on the Waterloo Despatch, followed by tea and dancing with the Duke of Wellington’s Dancers.

To register and for joining instructions please visit:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wellington-and-waterloo-revisited-tickets-33522712335

This event it open to everyone. We would be delighted if you could join us!


Wellington and Waterloo exhibition
Special Collections Gallery

The Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday 18 June 1815, between allied forces and the French forces commanded by Napoleon, brought to a close more than two decades of conflict. Drawing heavily on the Wellington Archive at the University, this exhibition captures the final act of these wars from the perspective of the Duke of Wellington. It considers the diplomatic background to the military campaign of 1815, the battle itself, its aftermath and the occupation of France and the commemoration of both Wellington and Waterloo. It includes descriptions of the battle in the official reports of Wellington’s commanders, and a poignant letter from Wellington to Lord Aberdeen informing him of the death of his brother Sir Alexander Gordon, one of Wellington’s aides-de-camp. Amongst the items relating to the commemoration of Waterloo and Wellington are the catalogue of the Waterloo Museum, an establishment opened in the immediate aftermath of the battle, exhibiting memorabilia, and a nautilus shell, engraved by C.H.Wood, dating from the 1850s, which contains an image of Wellington on one side and St George on the other.

The exhibition runs from 5 – 23 June during which time the gallery is open weekdays, 10am to 4pm.

For further details visit:
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/news/events/2017/06/05-waterloo-exhibition.page

Napoleon’s empire comes to an end

April 1814 saw the end game of the French Empire under Napoleon Bonaparte, with the abdication of the Emperor and the final military conflicts at Toulouse, Bayonne and Barcelona.

After meeting with his military commanders on 4 April, who urged Napoleon to abdicate, he did so on 6 April. The allies then were faced with the question of what to do with him. They concluded that he needed to be deposed and sent into exile as they feared that any attempt to overthrow him would risk civil war.  As Lord Liverpool, the British Prime Minister noted ‘any peace with Buonaparte will only be a state of preparation for renewed hostilities’. Signed by the allies on 11 April 1814, the Treaty of Fontainebleau set out the conditions of Napoleon’s abdication. In return for his abdication as Emperor of the French, Napoleon was granted the title of Emperor, given the sovereignty of the island of Elba, off the coast of Italy, and granted an annual pension of 2 million francs from the French government.

Cartoon, ‘The journey of a modern hero, to the island of Elba’, by J. Phillips.

Cartoon, ‘The journey of a modern hero, to the island of Elba’, by J. Phillips.

This cartoon, by J. Phillips, was published in May 1814, and shows the disgraced emperor riding backwards on a donkey, a typical pose of humiliation, with his sword broken. The poem makes much of the immorality and consequences of his ambition.

Napoleon: A throne is only made of wood and cover’d with velvet

Donkey: The greatest events in human life is turn’d to a puff

Saddlebags: Materials for the history of my life and exploits. A bagful of Mathematical books for my study on ELBA.

The Journey of a modern Hero, to the Island of ELBA

Farewell my brave soldiers, my eagles adieu; Stung with my ambition, o’er the world ye flew; But deeds of disaster so sad to rehearse, I have lived — fatal truth for to know the reverse. From Moscow. from Lipsic; the case it is clear I was sent back to France with a flea in my ear. A lesson to mortals, regarding my fall; He grasps at a shadow; by grasping at all. My course it is finish’d my race it is run, My career it is ended just where it begun. The Empire of France no more it is mine, Because I can’t keep it I freely resign.

Lithograph of after the battle of Toulouse [MS 351/6 A4170/2]

Lithograph of after the battle of Toulouse [MS 351/6 A4170/2]

Whist the details of the abdication of Napoleon were being finalised in Paris, in the South of France and northern Spain the war continued. News had started to filter through of the defeat of Napoleon at Arcis-sur-Aube and that the House of Bourbon had been proclaimed at Paris, but until these reports were confirmed neither Marshal Soult, the commander of the French forces, nor Wellington as commander of the allied army, could think of suspending their operations. Thus on Easter Sunday, 10 April 1814, the allied forces attacked Soult’s forces holding Toulouse. Although there were subsequent actions at Bayonne on the 14th and Barcelona on the 16th, Toulouse marked the last major battle between the main allied and French armies before the final end of the war. The battle of Toulouse was to inflict heavy losses on the allied forces, with around 4,500 killed. The French retained control of the northern part of the Heights of Calvinet, but recognising that his position as untenable, and concerned that enemy cavalry was moving to cut him off, Soult decided to retreat to Carcassonne and left the city of Toulouse on the 11 April. Jubilant inhabitants invited Wellington to enter the city the following day, where he received news of the abdication of Napoleon that afternoon.

Wellington and Napoleon never faced each other on the battlefield throughout the years of the Napoleonic wars. This was to change in 1815, when they met for the first and only time at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June.

La Chateau et la Ferme d’Hougoumont

La Chateau et la Ferme d’Hougoumont, Waterloo [MS 351/6 A4170/7/4]

A MOOC on the Duke of Wellington and the battle of Waterloo, drawing on the Wellington archive at Southampton, and led by Karen Robson, Head of Archives, and Professor Chris Woolgar of the School of Humanities, will be given a re-run from 5 June 2017. Further details of this three week course will be available shortly.

In conjunction with this MOOC, the Special Collections will be mounting an exhibition in its Special Collections Gallery, 5-23 June, and there will be a Special Event on Saturday 17 June.  This will feature a private view of the exhibition, a lecture on the Waterloo Despatch, followed by tea and dancing with the Duke of Wellington’s Dancers.  For further details and to book for the event please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wellington-and-waterloo-revisited-tickets-33522712335

We hope that you can join us on 17 June.

“A friend of science”: the first Duke of Wellington

In honour of Southampton Science and Engineering Week at the University (10-19 March), in conjunction with British Science Week, and the anniversary of the arrival of the Wellington Papers at the University on 17 March 1983, this blog will look at science and technology material within the Wellington Archive (MS 61).

The victory at Waterloo raised the first Duke of Wellington to a level of fame and prominence that ensured a tidal wave of correspondence, elements of which came from those discussing new discoveries or inventions, or seeking Wellington’s patronage and support. The material relating to scientific developments within the Wellington Archive ranges from a copy of the minutes of the council of the Royal Society relating to Charles Babbage’s calculating machine [MS 61 WP1/996/3]; correspondence regarding the discovery of the cause of magnetic variation in the compass and a law to predict the variation [MS 61 WP1/814/16]; to material on new medical apparatus to treat complaints such as headaches, gout or rheumatism [MS 61 WP2/110/52].

Lorenzo Giordano medical apparatus to treat rheumatism

Lorenzo Giordano medical apparatus to treat rheumatism [MS 61 WP2/110/52]

As a career soldier who rose to be the Commander in Chief of the army, Wellington had a interest in developments in military technology. He served as Master General of the Ordnance in the 1820s, a department that he described as being specially charged with “all military equipments, machines, inventions thereof and their improvement”. The archive includes correspondence with Colonel Shrapnel, the inventor of the shrapnel shell, and with Sir William Congreve, together with material relating to improvements in artillery. In a letter of August 1822, Congreve describes the results of experiments of his rockets and concludes that “under Your Grace’s patronage and protection, I feel confident of giving complete perfection to the rocket system in a very short time and making it not only the most powerful but also the most economical weapon that can be used”. [MS 61 WP1/718/6]

Not all inventions, however, were considered to have such potential. An artificial hill, suggested by a Captain of Marines in 1812, “which was nothing more than a high pole” on which Wellington might be hoisted to overlook the movement of the enemy forces, elicited the objection from Wellington: “Damn me, sir, I may tumble down to break my neck”. [MS 61 WP1/361 f. 1]  A steam war chariot designed by John George and Sons, although fascinating and frightening, does not seem to have progressed beyond the design stage.

John George steam war chariot

John George’s steam war chariot [MS 61 WP2/40/119]

Developments in steam and steam transportation in the early part of the nineteenth century are represented in the archive. There is material relating to the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in September 1830 which Wellington, as Prime Minister, attended. The event was sadly overshadowed by the tragic death of William Huskisson, the popular Member of Parliament for Liverpool, an occurrence that shocked the other dignitaries present and potentially coloured Wellington’s opinion of trains henceforth. His archive also contains correspondence relating to the development of steam coaching as an alternative to steam trains, and includes correspondence from Sir James Caleb Anderson, first Baronet, an inventor much interested in the development of steam coaching [MS 61 WP1/1003/21], as well as material on the journey made by one of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s steam carriages.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793-1875) was a surgeon and chemist as well as an inventor. During the period 1825 to 1829, Gurney built a number of steam-powered carriages intended to commercialise steam road transport. Whilst the earlier versions were not a success, a version designed to provide a separate carriage hauled by an engine made the journey from London to Bath in July 1829. Reaching an average speed of 15 mph, the journey is reputed to be the first undertaken by a mechanised vehicle at a sustained speed and pre-dated the journey of the Stephenson’s Rocket.

Steam carriage journey from London to Bath

Journey of Gurney’s steam carriage from London to Bath [MS 61 WP1/1034/29]

Wellington had connections with the engineer and inventor Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), the father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, from the period of the Peninsular War, when Brunel undertook contracts for the government, including the supply of soldiers’ boots. Brunel was subsequently to suffer imprisonment for debt due to several unsuccessful projects and Wellington was one of those who pressed the government to secure his release. Brunel’s designs included the Île de Bourbon Suspension Bridge and the operation to build a tunnel under the River Thames. Work on the Thames Tunnel began in 1825 and was eventually completed in 1842.

Drawing of the elevation of a chain bridge over the River Tweed, and of a chain bridge designed by Brunel for the Île de Bourbon

Chain bridge over the River Tweed and a chain bridge designed by Brunel for the Île de Bourbon [MS 61 WP1/679/8]

For anyone wishing to explore a more modern take on science and technology the University of Southampton Science and Engineering Day, is on Saturday 18 March and will be a fitting finale to the week’s events. We hope you enjoy the day.