Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington

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The Earl of Mornington
Member of Parliament for Trim
In office
Serving with Joseph Ashe
Preceded by
Succeeded byWilliam Francis Crosbie
Joseph Ashe
Personal details
Born(1735-07-19)19 July 1735
Dangan Castle, County Meath, Ireland
Died22 May 1781(1781-05-22) (aged 45)
Resting placeGrosvenor Chapel, London, England
(m. 1759)
RelationsHenry Colley (grandfather)
Alma materTrinity College Dublin

Garret Colley Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington (19 July 1735 – 22 May 1781) was an Anglo-Irish politician and composer, as well as the father of several distinguished military commanders and politicians of Great Britain and Ireland.

Early life[edit]

Wesley was born at the family estate of Dangan Castle, near Summerhill, a village near Trim in County Meath, Ireland.[1] He was a son of Richard Wesley, 1st Baron Mornington (son of Henry Colley, MP), and Elizabeth Sale (a daughter of John Sale, Registrar of the Diocese of Dublin).[2]

He was educated at Trinity College Dublin, and was elected its first Professor of Music in 1764. From early childhood he showed extraordinary talent on the violin, and soon began composing his own works.[3] It was the future Duke of Wellington who, alone of his children, inherited something of his musical talent.[4]

Political career[edit]

Wesley represented Trim in the Irish House of Commons from 1757 until 1758, when he succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Mornington. In 1759 he was appointed Custos Rotulorum of Meath and in 1760, in recognition of his musical and philanthropic achievements, he was created Viscount Wellesley, of Dangan Castle in the County of Meath, and Earl of Mornington.

He was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1776, a post he held until the following year.[5] Like his father, and his mother-in-law Lady Dungannon, he was careless with money, and his early death left the family exposed to financial embarrassment, leading ultimately to the decision in the nineteenth century to sell all their Irish estates.[6]

Musical compositions[edit]

As a composer, Lord Mornington is remembered chiefly for glees such as Here in cool grot (lyrics by William Shenstone) and some Anglican chant.[7] But he also composed some large-scale music such as the five-act opera Caractacus (libretto by William Mason), first performed at the Theatre Royal, Smock Alley, Dublin on 26 March 1764, and the Ode for the Installation of the Duke of Bedford at Trinity College Dublin, 9 September 1768, for choir and orchestra, of which only an orchestral march survives.[8]

In music he is also remembered as one of co-founders, with Kane O'Hara and Francis Ireland, of a Musical Academy in late 1757, which lasted about twenty years. This was a concert-giving society for amateurs where he directed the choir and orchestra.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Lord Mornington married Anne Hill-Trevor, eldest daughter of the banker Arthur Hill-Trevor, 1st Viscount Dungannon, and his wife Anne Stafford, on 6 February 1759. His godmother, the famous diarist Mary Delany, said the marriage was happy, despite his lack of financial sense and her "want of judgment".[10] They had nine children, most of whom were historically significant, including:[11]

Four of Lord Mornington's five sons were created peers in the peerages of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. The Barony of Wellesley (held by the Marquess Wellesley) and the Barony of Maryborough are now extinct, whilst the Dukedom of Wellington and Barony of Cowley are extant. The Earldom of Mornington is held by the Dukes of Wellington, and the Barons Cowley have since been elevated to be Earls Cowley.


Four streets in Camden Town, which formed part of the estate of his son-in-law Henry FitzRoy, were named Mornington Crescent, Place, Street and Terrace after him. Of these, the first has since become famous as the name of a London Underground station.[12]


  1. ^ C.F.J. Hankinson, editor, DeBretts Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 147th year (London, U.K.: Odhams Press, 1949), page 1100.
  2. ^ G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume IX, page 235.
  3. ^ Longford, Elizabeth: Wellington. The Years of the Sword (Panther Edition, 1971), p. 32.
  4. ^ Wright, William Ball (1889). The Ussher Memoirs: Or, Genealogical Memoirs of the Ussher Families in Ireland (with Appendix, Pedigree and Index of Names), Compiled from Public and Private Sources. Sealy, Bryers & Walker. p. 167. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  5. ^ Waite, Arthur Edward (2007). A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Vol. I. Cosimo, Inc. p. 400. ISBN 978-1-60206-641-0.
  6. ^ Longford, p. 53.
  7. ^ Klein, Axel (2001). Irish Classical Recordings: A Discography of Irish Art Music. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-31742-2. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  8. ^ Barra Boydell: "Mornington, Garrett Wesley [Wellesley], Earl of", in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. Harry White and Barra Boydell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013), p. 683–4.
  9. ^ Catherine Ferris: "Musical Academy", in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (2013), p. 713.
  10. ^ Longford, p. 33.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Burke's Peerage Limited. 1885. p. 1373. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  12. ^ Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher (1992). The London Encyclopaedia (reprint ed.). Macmillan. p. 543.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Trim
With: Joseph Ashe
Succeeded by
Masonic offices
Preceded by Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland
1776 – 1777
Succeeded by
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Mornington
1760 – 1781
Succeeded by
Preceded by Baron Mornington
1758 – 1781