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The son of the 1st Earl of Mornington in the Irish peerage, and the elder brother of the Duke of Wellington, Wellesley succeeded his father in 1781. He entered the British House of Commons in 1784 as a liberal Whig M.P. He was in favour of free trade, Catholic emancipation, the abolition of slavery, and (from the 1820s) parliamentary reform.
Wellesley was a member of the Board of Control for India from 1793, and in 1797 was appointed as Governor-General of Bengal. In 1799 he was created Marquess Wellesley in the Irish peerage. He remained in India until 1805, and extended British control through various wars against Indian rulers. In 1809 he went to Spain as an ambassador-extraordinary, and from 1810-1812 served as Foreign Secretary under Spencer Perceval.
After some years without holding public office, Wellesley was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1821 to 1828 and again from 1833 to 1834. He struggled to maintain order and moderation against the background of agitation both for and against Catholic emancipation, and was criticised by both sides. He retired from public life in 1835.
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