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Richard Colley Wellesley Wellesley, 1st Marquess

Wellesley, Richard Colley Wellesley, 1st Marquess, 1760–1842, British colonial administrator; brother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington. He became earl of Mornington on his father's death (1781) and took his seat in the Irish House of Lords. He entered the English House of Commons in 1784 and gave his support to William Pitt, who in 1793 appointed him to the board of control for India. In 1797 he was created Baron Wellesley and sent as governor-general to India. He was created marquess in 1799. Under Wellesley's rule British influence in India was greatly extended. He was an excellent administrator, wiped out the French hold in India, and crushed the power of Tippoo Sahib of Mysore. Aided by the military talents of his brother Arthur (later duke of Wellington), he checked the power of native rulers in a great struggle with the Marathas. However, the policy of subsidiary alliances that he introduced as a means of bringing the weaker Indian states under British control, and the expenses of his military exploits caused discontent at home, and he was recalled to England in 1805. Chagrined at charges unsuccessfully brought in Parliament against his administration in India, he refused a cabinet post but went to Spain as ambassador in 1809. He served as foreign secretary (1810–12) under Spencer Perceval. A supporter of Catholic Emancipation, Wellesley became lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1821. He resigned (1828) when his brother, then an opponent of Catholic Emancipation, became prime minister, but he served again as lord lieutenant for a brief period (1833–34) after the issue of Catholic Emancipation had been settled.

See biographies by I. Butler (1973) and J. Severn (1981).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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