Magazine article History Today

Duel Purpose. (Letters)

Magazine article History Today

Duel Purpose. (Letters)

Article excerpt

T.A. Jenkins' admirably full article on Wellington's political life (November 2002) was illustrated with William Heath's splendid cartoon about the Great Duke's duel in Battersea Fields, but it didn't fully explain the circumstances of the matter. The real issue behind the affair was Wellington's prominent part in the foundation of the staunchly Anglican King's College London at the same time as he was supporting the introduction of the Roman Catholic Emancipation Bill.

On June 21st, 1828, Wellington had been in the Chair at a meeting in Westminster whose purpose, according to the Evening Standard, was to establish on Christian and constitutional principles a `great metropolitan school' to be called King's College. `With such a seminary in a prosperous position', the paper thundered, `there will be neither motive nor excuse for any parent to inflict upon his offspring the disgrace of education in the infidel and godless college in Gower Street', otherwise known as University College London. There were also two archbishops, seven bishops and a number of prominent laymen on the platform. The proposal to establish the College, instigated by the Reverend George D'Oyly, Rector of Lambeth, was greeted with widespread enthusiasm and within days over 20,000 [pounds sterling] had been pledged to it.

Unfortunately, however, the project was proceeding at the same time that the Roman Catholic Emancipation Bill was being aired in Parliament. The support that Wellington gave to the Bill infuriated many staunch Protestants who had supported the establishment of King's College, including the Earl of Winchilsea who withdrew his pledge of funds. …

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