Wellesley, Gerald

Person Key: 
WEL009
Family Name: 
Wellesley
First Name(s): 
Gerald
Person Title: 
7th Duke of Wellington
Titular Place: 
Wellington
Rank In Peerage: 
Duke
Birth Year: 
1885
Death Year: 
1972
Century: 
19-20
County: 
Hampshire
Biography: 
Styled Lord Gerald Wellesley between 1900 and 1943, he was the third son of Lord Arthur Wellesley (later 4th Duke of Wellington), and Kathleen Bulkeley Williams. He was baptised at St Jude's Church of Ireland parish church, Kilmainham, Dublin, on 27 September 1885. He was educated at Eton. Wellesley served as a diplomat in the Diplomatic Corps in 1908, holding the office of Third Secretary between 1910 and 1917, and that of Second Secretary between 1917 and 1919. He was invested as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1921, and as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1935. He was also Surveyor of the King's Works of Art, 1936–1943. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1939 in the service of the Grenadier Guards, and fought in the Second World War. As a somewhat elderly officer with a spinsterish manner, he earned the nickname “The Iron Duchess.” In 1943, he succeeded his nephew Henry as Duke of Wellington. He served as Lord Lieutenant of the County of London 1944-1949 and as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire 1949-1960. In 1951 he was made a Knight of the Garter. As a trained architect, his architectural projects included the remodelling of Castle Hill, Filleigh, in Devon; Hinton Ampner in Hampshire; and Biddick Hall in County Durham. He also designed the Faringdon Folly tower for Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners. Wellesley was bisexual or homosexual, yet married Dorothy Violet Ashton on 30 April 1914, daughter of Robert Ashton of Croughton, Cheshire (a second cousin of the 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde), and his wife (Lucy) Cecilia Dunn-Gardner, later Countess of Scarbrough. Her stepfather since 1899 was Aldred Lumley, 10th Earl of Scarbrough. The marriage was unhappy and they separated in 1922, but never divorced. They had two children. The son, Valerian Wellesley became the 8th Duke of Wellington. Dorothy, who was also a poet, became the lover of Vita Sackville-West. Dorothy later became the lover and long-time companion of Hilda Matheson, a prominent BBC producer. After his wife's death in 1956, Wellesley reportedly wished to marry his widowed sister-in-law, Lady Serena James, but she did not wish to leave her marital home.
Seat / Residence(s): 
Stratfield Saye House