Viscount Garrett Wellesley

Wellesley, Garrett, Viscount Wellesley, of Dangan Castle, and Earl of Mornington, was born 19th July 1735 [He was the son of Richard Colley, whose aunt married Garrett Wesley of Dangan, in the County of Meath, descended from a family reputed to have been settled in Ireland since Henry II.'s reign. Her son Garrett Wesley died childless in 1728, and bequeathed to Colley all his real estate, upon condition that “he and his sons, and the heirs male of his body, assumed and took upon him and them the surname and coat-of-arms of Wesley.” Richard Colley changed his name accordingly, and was created Baron Mornington in 1746. He died 31st January 1758. His descendants, about the year 1796, reverted to what was considered the more correct form of the name—Wellesley. The Colleys (otherwise spelled Cowley or Cooley) came to Ireland in the reign of Henry VIII. and were granted estates in the neighbourhood of Carbery. Henry Colley of Castle-Carbery, a captain in Queen Elizabeth's Irish army, an ancestor of Richard, was knighted by Sir Henry Sidney, who recommended him to his successor as one who was “valiant, fortunate, and a good servant; and, having by my appointment the charge of the King's County, kept the country well ordered and in good obedience. He is as good a borderer as ever I found any there. I left him at my coming thence a councellor, and tried him for his experience and judgment, very sufficient for the room he was called into. He was a sound and fast friend to me, and so I doubt not but your Lordship shall find, when you have occasion to employ him.”] [See the Colley family genealogy by John O’Hart— note.]

Garrett Wellesley entered Trinity College, and took his B.A. degree in 1754, and M.A. in 1757.

He succeeded his father as Baron Mornington in 1758, and was created Viscount Wesley (or Wellesley) and Earl of Mornington in 1761.

“Perhaps he was in some degree indebted to the musical ear of George III. for the advancement, inasmuch as the Earl was a composer of no ordinary merit, and excelled in the species of composition which was most pleasing to the King. In no other way does he appear to have benefited by the royal favour, as his means were scarcely adequate to maintain the large family which grew up around him in the style suited to their position.”

From his earliest years he displayed a wonderful taste for music.

At nine years of age he learned to play catches on the violin, and was soon able to take the second part in difficult sonatas.

His first original composition was a minuet.

At fourteen he played the harpsicord and organ, and within a short time was able to extemporize fugues on the latter.

The degree of Doctor of Music was conferred upon him by Trinity College in 1764.

Amongst his other compositions were the beautiful glees, “Here in cool grot,” and “Come, fairest nymph.”

He died 22nd May 1781,[52] aged 45.

By his wife, Anne, daughter of Arthur Hill, Viscount Dungannon (whose family had been settled in Ireland for more than one hundred years), he had six sons and two daughters:

(1) Richard—became Marquis of Wellesley.

(2) Arthur Gerald —(born in 1761; died young).

(3) William (born in 1763; died 1845)—assumed the name and arms of Pole, and became Baron Maryborough.

(4) Francis Seymour—died young.

(5) Anne (born 1768; died 1844)—married (a) Hon. Henry Fitzroy, and (b) Charles C. Smith.

(6) Arthur — became Duke of Wellington.

(7) Gerald Valerian (born 1770; died 1848)—entered the Church, and became Prebendary of Durham.

(8) Mary Elizabeth (born 1772)—appears to have died young.

(9) Henry (born 1773; died 1847).

Lady Mornington, a somewhat cold and severe woman, who had a difficult struggle to bring up her family on a small property heavily encumbered, lived to witness the eminence to which her sons attained, and died 10th September 1831.


52. Burke, Sir Bernard: Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages. London, 1866.

54. Burke, Sir Bernard: Peerage and Baronetage.

216. Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, Revised and Enlarged by Mervyn Archdall. 7 vols. Dublin, 1789.