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Gerald Wellesley

Memorial to Gerald Wellesley on the north wall of the chancel August 2011
Memorial to Gerald Wellesley on the north wall of the chancel August 2011

It is always nice to be offered articles for these pages by users of the service. This article is by Margaret Butt and first appeared in the Flitton Parish Newsletter

On the left hand side of the chancel in the church is a white marble memorial to Gerald Wellesley (1790-1833) who served with the East India Company in India between 1808 and 1832. The vicar at Saint John’s at the time was his brother, Henry Wellesley (vicar 1827 – 1834) and the plaque was donated by their sister Hyacinth Mary, Lady Hatherton. Gerald died in the Vicarage at Flitton aged 43 years. This links Flitton to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), victor of the Peninsular War and the Battle of Waterloo.

The father of Gerald, Henry and Hyacinthe was Richard, 1st Marquis Wellesley who was the elder brother of Arthur, 1st Duke of Wellington so uncle to the family on the plaque. At different times, Richard was Governor General of India including Bengal, Madras and Mysore (at the time when his brother Arthur was serving there), British Ambassador to Spain, Foreign Secretary and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland so was an accomplished statesman and diplomat whose career was overshadowed by that of his brother. In 1806, Arthur defended his brother’s administration in India in his maiden speech as a newly elected Member of Parliament.

Richard married his mistress Hyacinthe Gabriele Roland of Paris in 1794 who was already the mother of their five children. The eldest daughter, Anne, was involved in a scandal in Regency times when she left her husband and eloped with Lord Charles Bentinck. After the divorce, they eventually married. The eldest son, Richard , became an MP and acted as his father’s secretary. Hyacinthe did not go with her husband to India and after she died in 1816, Richard married Marianne Patterson. Letters exchanged between members of the family are in the University of Southampton Library. Hyacinthe, Lady Hatherton wrote regularly to Gerald in India, often complaining about the appalling way their father had treated their mother, who seems to have been abandoned by him soon after their marriage.