Freemasonry was a thread that ran through the life of Wellington, as Yasha Beresiner has discovered
The eventful life of Arthur, Duke of Wellington, was evenly
apportioned between a triumphant military career and an
equally successful political one.
His early involvement in both fields kept him away from
home, which may explain why, notwithstanding his five-year
membership of the Lodge in Trim, he never progressed
beyond the first degree of Freemasonry.
Arthur Wesley, whose original 12th century name
Wellesley was reverted to by the family in 1798, was almost
certainly born in Dublin and not Trim, Co Meath, and
almost certainly, on 1 May 1769 and not 29 March as has
Wellingtons was the third of the five sons born to Garret
Wesley III and Anne Hill. Every single one of the Wesley
children was to excel in his own field of endeavour, and
Arthur, amongst them, scintillated through a dazzling lifelong
His early education in Trim, later in London, and from
1781 to 1784 at Eton College culminated, after an additional
two years of private tuition, in his joining the prestigious
Royal Academy of Equitation at Angers in Anjou, France.
Through the influence of his elder Brother Richard, he was
launched on a military career from the start.
He returned to Ireland in February 1788 and was appointed
aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant, and simultaneously followed
in the political footsteps of the family. A Wesley had
had a presence in the Irish Parliament since its inception as an
independent Assembly in 1782. In April 1790 Arthur was
elected MP for Trim, Ireland, aged 21.
His was initiated into the family Lodge, Trim No. 494,
on 7 December the same year. Both his father and his brother
served as Masters, and they both became Grand Masters of the
Grand Lodge of Ireland.
Garrett Wellesley, first Earl of Mornington, was proposed
as a member of the Lodge by one of its founders, John
Boulger, and was raised a Master Mason in July 1775.
A year later he served as Master of the Lodge and was elected
Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, serving for
one year, as was customary at the time, being succeeded by
the Duke of Leinster in 1776. His eldest son, Richard, third
Baron and second Earl of Mornington, was raised on 31 July
1781, having paid his late father's arrears and his own admission
fee a few weeks earlier. A year later he followed in the
footsteps of the Rt. Hon. William Randall, Earl of Antrim
(who also served as Grand Master of the Antients Grand
Lodge of England) as the new Grand Master of Ireland.
Wellington would no doubt have followed in their footsteps
had time permitted him to pursue his Masonic career.
There is no reason to suppose that the young Arthur was in
anyway disenchanted with the Craft. The Lodge records
show that on 7 December 1790 he paid his admittance fee
of £2 5s 6d.
He is here referred to as ‘the Honorable Capt. Wesley’.
A second entry, on 26 June 1792, states: ‘Pd now in advance
Br. Wesley 14s 1d’. The records continue to show several
occasions on which his dues are paid, the last entry on
8 September 1795.