Biography

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William Pole Tylney Long-Wellesley, fourth Earl of Mornington and second Baron Maryborough (1788-1857)

This article was written by Gerald le Grys Norgate and was published in 1899


Long WellesleyWilliam Pole Tylney Long-Wellesley, born on 22 May 1788, assumed the additional names of Tylney-Long on his marriage in 1812 with Catherine, sister and coheiress of Sir James Tylney-Long, bart., of Draycot, Wiltshire.

Long-Wellesley was the son of William Wellesley-Pole, third Earl of Mornington in the peerage of Ireland and first Baron Maryborough of the United Kingdom (1763-1845), who was the brother of the Marquis Wellesley and the Duke of Wellington. Long-Wellesley's mother was Katherine Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Admiral John Forbes (1714-1796). She survived to the age of ninety-one, dying on 23 October 1851. He had three sisters, Mary Charlotte Anne who married Sir Charles Bagot; Emily Harriet who married Field-marshal Fitzroy James Henry Somerset, first baron Raglan; and Priscilla Anne who married John Fane, eleventh earl of Westmorland.

The name is commemorated in a well-known line of ‘Rejected Addresses:’[1]

Bless every man possess'd of aught to give;
Long may Long Tilney Wellesley Long Pole live. (Loyal Effusion by W. T. Fitzgerald).

Long-Wellesley's wife had, besides a large personalty, estates in Essex and Hampshire said to be worth considerably over a million a year. She died on 12 September 1825. Her husband was generally charged with having run through this property, but this he was unable to do, having only a life interest. In 1828, three years after the death of his first wife, he married his mistress, Helena, daughter of Colonel Thomas Paterson, and widow of Captain Thomas Bligh of the Coldstream guards. He led a very dissipated life, and was deprived of the custody of his children by the Court of Chancery, and in July 1831 he was committed to the Fleet by Lord Brougham for contempt of court. The matter was brought before the committee of privileges of the House of Commons.

Long-Wellesley sat as MP for Wiltshire from 1818 to 1820, St. Ives 1830-1, and Essex 1831-2. He was one of the recalcitrant tories who on 15 November 1830 succeeded in defeating the Wellington ministry. In his last days he subsisted upon the bounty of his uncle, the Duke of Wellington, and died in lodgings in Mayer Street, Manchester Square, on 1 July 1857.

The obituary notice in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ says that he was redeemed by no single virtue, adorned by no single grace. A portrait by John Hoppner is in the possession of the Duke of Wellington.

His eldest son by the first wife, William Richard Arthur, fifth earl of Mornington (1813-1863), died unmarried at Paris on 25 July 1863, when the Irish earldom of Mornington passed to the Duke of Wellington and the English barony of Maryborough became extinct.


From R. G. Thorne, The History of Parliament

Wellesley accompanied Charles Arbuthnot to Constantinople in 1805 and his uncle Richard Colley Wellesley, Marquess Wellesley, on his embassy to Spain in 1809. His father was informed by the latter on 30 October 1809,

William is very diligent and I think you will find him improved. I have no doubt that he will listen to my advice. I shall bring him home with me.

His family did not find him improved, but approved his courtship of the heiress Miss Tylney Long; he had ‘a real longing for her large dowry’ and, despite the rival attractions of the Duke of Clarence, she graduated from amusement to admiration for his perseverance. They were married and his name was elongated to the point of ridicule in March 1812. His uncle’s political fortunes had slumped and his wife’s trustees prevented him from placing her ‘£39,000 a year besides £300,000 in money’ at the disposal of the Wellesley squad’s electoral ambitions. The landed estates, too, were safeguarded by entail on their eldest son. Wellesley himself, now possessed of significant interests in the counties of Essex and Wiltshire, began to cut a figure in the former, entertaining lavishly at Wanstead. He thought himself eligible to represent any county in England. Instead he came into Parliament for the Cornish borough of St. Ives, after a contest, on the Hulse interest.

Wellesley at first followed his uncle’s line in politics. He voted with the minority against the vice-chancellor bill, 11 February 1813, and supported Catholic Relief throughout that session. At the end of it his uncle’s squad was disbanded, partly at the instigation of his father, who in the following year became master of the Mint with a seat in the cabinet. Wellesley explained his conversion to ministers by reference to their foreign policy, in particular to their support of his uncle Wellington’s campaign in the Peninsula. He was not interested in a place, or in ‘foreign employment’, though he attended the congress at Vienna. Meanwhile he had spoken, as a protectionist and select committeeman in the Corn Law debates, 17 May, 6 June 1814 and 17 February 1815. By his own account he differed from Castlereagh as to the settlement of Europe and ‘withheld from him my support of his general treaty’. He supported ministers on civil list questions, 8 May 1815, 6 May 1816, and on the army estimates, 6, 8 March 1816, but announced his opposition to the property tax, 6 March 1816, much as he regretted differing from his father, and voted against it, 18 March Two days later he informed the House that as the property and war malt taxes had been given up by the government, he saw no further need for concessions to the agricultural interest and applauded ministers for bowing to parliamentary opinion. On 9 April he argued with Castlereagh that the agricultural protectionists in calling for imposts on imported wool and seeds were damaging the manufacturing interest. He voted with ministers on the public revenue bill, 20 June 1816, on the composition of the finance committee, 7 February 1817, and on the Admiralty questions, 17, 25 February. He defended the suspension of Habeas Corpus, 25, 28 February, being sure that public opinion favoured it, but voted for the opposition amendment to limit the suspension until 20 May. On 23 June he supported its renewal. He disliked nostrums, and opposed the game bill, 4 March 1817, and the employment of the poor bill, which he said was ‘perfectly useless’ as well as objectionable: he would prefer to see the Poor Law revised. On 9 May 1817 he voted against Catholic relief, without explanation.

There is no sign of Wellesley’s attending the House in the session of 1818. On 25 February he announced his candidature for Wiltshire, with a view to restoring the representation to his late father-in-law’s family: this was called by his opponents ‘the Long succession of Members’. He insisted that he was an Englishman born and bred and promised to reside in the county; denied that he used Treasury influence, though the son of a cabinet minister; denied that he was heir to a peerage (which he became a few years later); denied that he held place or pension, for he had refused both, and insisted on his political independence, for which he provided chapter and verse. The Marquess of Lansdowne reported of his success:

Wellesley Pole (fool as he passes for) has shown himself as great a canvasser as his uncle is a general, and without ever having given ... a vote for the people, contrived to persuade the people of Wiltshire who are not wiser than the people anywhere else that he was quite their man.

Ridiculed in the squibs as ‘the Dandy’, he defeated a Wiltshire squire for second place: but he was said to be ‘done for’ before his election and had borrowed £32,000 at 16 per cent interest to finance it.

On the road to ruin, he played a confident part in the Parliament of 1818, displaying his vaunted independence. He was opposed to further alteration in the Corn Laws, 22 January 1819. He voted with the minority on the Westminster hustings bill, 3 February, and next day, in his longest speech to date, contested the proposals for the Windsor establishment. In the interests of public economy, he asked why the Duke of York (already commander-in-chief of the army) should receive the same grant as custos of the King as the Queen had received in 1812. When the grant was fixed at £10,000, he expressed a wish ‘to stand between the people and an unfair and exorbitant grant’ and voted with opposition, 22, 25 February. He ridiculed inadequate attempts to revise the Poor Laws, 9 February 1819. Subsequently his attendance fell off and his tone was increasingly friendly to ministers. On 18 March he accused the opposition of seeking popularity in opposing the Admiralty establishment. He approved the poor rates misapplication bill, 17 May. He voted against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the foreign enlistment bill, which he defended, 21 June. As an ardent field sportsman, he had something to say about the reform of the Game Laws, admittedly ‘absurd and odious’, and approved an attempt to amend them, 19 March., 14 May. Next session he opposed Althorp’s motion for inquiry into the state of the country, as it would do no good, 30 November 1819, defended the conduct of the sheriff of Wiltshire in refusing to call a county meeting, 2 December, and upheld the necessity of the seditious meetings prevention bill, 13 December.

Wellesley wished to stand again, but could not afford another contest for the county in 1820; nor, according to Lord Lansdowne, would he have stood ‘the smallest chance’. After ‘subsequent scandals’ he died ‘quite a beggar’, 1 July 1857.


[1] This is taken from the Quarterly Review, September 1812, and explains what the "Rejected Addresses" were.

The rebuilding of the theatre at Drury Lane, after its late destruction by fire, was managed by a certain committee, to whom also was confided, amidst other minor and mechanical arrangements, the care of procuring an occasional prologue. This committee, if it was wisely selected for its other duties, could not, we may well suppose, be greatly qualified for this; and, accordingly, with due modesty, and in the true spirit of tradesmen, they advertised for the best poetical address, to be sealed and delivered within a certain number of days, folded and directed in a given form; — in short, like the tender for a public contract.

The result has been just what we should have expected from so auspicious a beginning, in every respect but two : one is, that, to our great astonishment, three-and-forty persons were found to contend for this prize ; and the other, that amongst these are to be found two or three persons who appear to have some share of taste and genius.

The three-and-forty addresses, however, properly folded, sealed, marked, and directed, reached the committee. We can easily imagine the modest dismay with which they viewed their increasing hoards; they began to think that it would have been easier and safer to trust to the reputation and taste of Mr. Scott or Mr. Southey</