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The Marquess Wellesley
by [?]

The Marquess Wellesley. [1]

It sounds like the tolling of funeral bells, as the annunciation is made of one death after another amongst those who supported our canopy of empire through the last most memorable generation. The eldest of the Wellesleys is gone: he is gathered to his fathers; and here we have his life circumstantially written.

Who, and of what origin are the Wellesleys? There is an impression current amongst the public, or there was an impression, that the true name of the Wellesley family is Wesley. This is a case very much resembling some of those imagined by the old scholastic logicians, where it was impossible either to deny or to affirm: saying yes, or saying no, equally you told a falsehood. The facts are these: the family was originally English; and in England, at the earliest era, there is no doubt at all that its name was De Welles leigh, which was pronounced in the eldest times just as it is now, viz. as a dissyllable, [2] the first syllable sounding exactly like the cathedral city Wells, in Somersetshire, and the second like lea, (a field lying fallow.) It is plain enough, from various records, that the true historical genesis of the name, was precisely through that composition of words, which here, for the moment, I had imagined merely to illustrate its pronunciation. Lands in the diocese of Bath and Wells lying by the pleasant river Perret, and almost up to the gates of Bristol, constituted the earliest possessions of the De Wellesleighs. They, seven centuries before Assay, and Waterloo, were ‘seised’ of certain rich leas belonging to Wells. And from these Saxon elements of the name, some have supposed the Wellesleys a Saxon race. They could not possibly have better blood: but still the thing does not follow from the premises. Neither does it follow from the de that they were Norman. The first De Wellesley known to history, the very tip-top man of the pedigree, is Avenant de Wellesleigh. About a hundred years nearer to our own times, viz. in 1239, came Michael de Wellesleigh; of whom the important fact is recorded, that he was the father of Wellerand de Wellesley. And what did young Mr. Wellerand perform in this wicked world, that the proud muse of history should condescend to notice his rather singular name? Reader, he was–‘killed:’ that is all; and in company with Sir Robert de Percival; which again argues his Somersetshire descent: for the family of Lord Egmont, the head of all Percivals, ever was, and ever will be, in Somersetshire. But how was he killed? The time when, viz. 1303, the place where, are known: but the manner how, is not exactly stated; it was in skirmish with rascally Irish ‘kernes,’ fellows that (when presented at the font of Christ for baptism) had their right arms covered up from the baptismal waters, in order that, still remaining consecrated to the devil, those arms might inflict a devilish blow. Such a blow, with such an unbaptized arm, the Irish villain struck; and there was an end of Wellerand de Wellesleigh. Strange that history should make an end of a man, before it had made a beginning of him. These, however, are the facts; which, in writing a romance about Sir Wellerand and Sir Percival, I shall have great pleasure in falsifying. But how, says the too curious reader, did the De Wellesleighs find themselves amongst Irish kernes? Had these scamps the presumption to invade Somersetshire? Did they dare to intrude into Wells? Not at all: but the pugnacious De Wellesleys had dared to intrude into Ireland. Some say in the train of Henry II. Some say–but no matter: there they were: and there they stuck like limpets. They soon engrafted themselves into the county of Kildare; from which, by means of a fortunate marriage, they leaped into the county of Meath; and in that county, as if to refute the pretended mutability of human things, they have roosted ever since. There was once a famous copy of verses floating about Europe, which asserted that, whilst other princes were destined to fight for thrones, Austria–the handsome house of Hapsburgh–should obtain them by marriage: