|Duke of Wellington 1818|
One of my readers recently sent this message:
<<How do the dukes...get their initial titles? And where does the name that follows their title come from? e.g. The Duke of Wellington; Does he earn his title? And where does the Wellington come from?>>
The Peerage is tricky, even for the British. I often quote Whitaker’s Peerage: “The rules which govern the arrangements of the Peerage are marked by so many complications that even an expert may occasionally be perplexed.” For a blog post I have to keep to very general terms, and ask you to bear in mind Whitaker’s observation. Exceptions abound.
In a nutshell, the sovereign bestows the title—and a dukedom is not frequently bestowed, as my post about dukes points out. The name following the title is a place name, usually one with which the duke is associated. For the Duke of Wellington, this was Wellington, in Somerset. Does he earn his title? That depends on your definition of “earn.” The 1820 Annual Register, listing members of the peerage, includes a column explaining the reason the title was bestowed: Court Favour, Family Influence, State Service, Naval Services, Military Services, Diplomatic Services, Legal Services, Marriage, Influence of Wealth.
|1918 Whitaker's Peerage|
For more details, you might want to peruse Whitaker's or read the Wikipedia British Peerage entry.
Image, The Duke of Wellington on Copenhagen, by Thomas Lawrence (1818)
courtesy Wikipedia. 1918 Whitaker's Peerage cover courtesy Internet Archive.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it. Clicking on the caption will take you to the source page.