Batons of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (c. 1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852), acquired many titles and honours including the rank of field marshal or equivalent in eight nations' armies. Each one of these nations provided him with a baton as a symbol of his rank. The surviving batons are on display at Apsley House the former London residence of the Dukes of Wellington.
At Wellington's funeral his military ranks were described as:
- Field Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of Her [Britannic] Majesty's Forces
- Field Marshal of the Austrian Army
- Field Marshal of the Hanoverian Army
- Field Marshal of the Army of the Netherlands
- Marshal-General of the Portuguese Army
- Field Marshal of the Prussian Army
- Field Marshal of the Russian Army
- Captain-General of the Spanish Army
Wellington's lying in state
At Wellington's lying in state, his batons of military rank were placed alongside the coffin on eight velvet cushions each on at pedestals on gold lion supporters. The pedestals were more than two feet in height, each bearing the shield and banners of their respective nations. On two additional similar pedestals were placed Wellington's standard and guidon. The batons were described thus:
- The Baton of Portugal is of burnished gold; it is surmounted by a crown, and on a shield are the arms of Portugal.
- The Baton of Prussia is of burnished gold, and is of classic ornamentation; it bears two eagles displayed, holding the sceptre and orb of sovereignty.
- The Baton of England is of gold, and is surmounted with the group of St. George and the Dragon. This baton is excessively rich in its decoration.
- The Baton of the Netherlands. This is one of the simplest, but perhaps the most elegant of the batons, the Greek ornaments being introduced very tastefully. The arms of the Netherlands are in the upper division.
- The Baton of Spain. Like that of Portugal, it is crowned; but it is shorter in its proportions. It is of burnished gold, and bears the armorial ensigns of Spain.
- The Baton of Hanover. The crown and ends of the staff are gold; but the chief part of the baton is covered with crimson velvet, powdered with silver horses—the Hanoverian arms; and a silver horse is placed above the crown.
- The Baton of Austria is of burnished gold, and the wreaths round it are in dead gold. The other portions are extremely plain.
- The Baton of Russia is of gold, and the alternate wreaths of laurel and oak, which twine round it; and the collars round the staff are set with diamonds of great value. The ground is frosted gold.—J. H. Stocqueler (1854)
For many years the batons were all on display at Apsley House. However, on 9 December 1965 there was a robbery in which three items were stolen, one of which was the Russian Marshal's Baton. It has not been recovered.
Above the fireplace is a frame (1981) containing ten of the Duke's batons - British (three, one presented by the Prince Regent in 1813), Portuguese (1809), Hanoverian (1844), Dutch, Spanish (1808), Austrian (1818), and Prussian, together with his staff as High Constable of England (1837 to 1838).—Jervis & Tomlin
English baton (1813)
The 1813 baton is described as English and not British because engraved on the are the following words:
- From his Royal Highness
- George Augustus Frederick,
- of the United Kingdom of
- Great Britain and Ireland,
- to Arthur, Marquess of Wellington, K. G.,
- Field-Marshal of England.
The English baton was presented to the future Duke of Wellington for his military successes, but more specifically because after his victory at Vittoria he presented the captured Marshal's baton of Jean-Baptiste Jourdan to George, the Prince Regent (at the time Prince Regent as his father George III was deemed too mentally ill to govern). The Prince Regent wrote to Wellington "You have sent me among your trophies of unrivalled fame the staff of a French marshal, and I send you in return that of England."
As mentioned above the Duke's Russian baton was stolen in 1965. "During the reign of Alexander I (1801–1825), only four Russian Generals and the Duke of Wellington received the coveted baton". A Russian baton circa 1878 (six were issued under Alexander II (1855–1881)) sold for $903,500 in a New York auction in 2004.
- Arms, titles, honours and styles of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
- Battle record of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
- Jervis & Tomlin 1997, p. 26.
- LG staff 1852, p. 3563.
- Maurice 1853, pp. 256,257.
- Stocqueler 1853, pp. 307,315.
- SR staff 1965, p. 2.
- V&A staff 2011.
- Stocqueler 1853, p. 307.
- Prince-regent to Duke of Wellington, 3 July 1813 Gurwood's Dispatches, x. 533, (Alison 1855, p. 331)
- It was bugler Paddy Shannon of the 2nd Battalion of the 87th Regiment of Foot who "picked up" Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan's baton after the battle of Vittoria (Fraser 1913, p. 148).
- Staff at Christie's 2004.
- Alison, Sir Archibald (1855). History of Europe: from the fall of Napoleon, in MDCCCXV to the accession of Louis Napoleon in MDCCCLII 2. Harper & Brothers. p. 331.
- Fraser, Edward (1913). Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of, 1769-1852; Great Britain -- History, Military 1789-1820. London: Methuen. pp. 129,146–148.
- Jervis, Simon; Tomlin, Maurice (1997). Apsley House Guide (2, illustrated ed.). V & A Publications,. p. 26. ISBN 1-85177-161-1.
- LG staff (6 December 1852). "Issue 21388". London Gazette. pp. 3563,3564.
- Maurice, Mary Atkinson (1853). The patriot warrior: an historical sketch of the life of the duke of Wellington, by the author of 'Aids to development'. J. F. Shaw. pp. 256,257.
- SR staff (10 December 1965). "2 Robbers Beat Guard, Take Priceless Jewels". The Spokesman-Review. p. 2.
- Staff at Christie's (19 October 2004). "An extremely rare jeweled, enamel and gold Russian field marshal's baton marked Keibel, St. Petersburg, circa 1878 (Lot 121 / Sale 1458)". Christie's.
- Stocqueler, Joachim Hayward (1853). "Chapter 23: The Titles, Honours, and Descent of the Duke". The life of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington 2. Ingram, Cooke, and co. pp. 306–315.
- V&A staff (2011). "Image No. 2006BD5870-01: Baton of field marshal in the British Army, with St George figure, by Bridge and Rundell. Gilding sculpture. London, England, 1821.". V&A Images. Retrieved September 2011.
- "Batons [of] the Late Duke of Wellington". The Illustrated London News. 11 December 1852. No. 532. has a representation of the 8 field marshal batons which can be found duplicated at
- Philip V. Allingham. "Batons of the Late Duke of Wellington. (Scanned image and text)". Victorian Web. Retrieved September 2011.
- The order of proceeding in the public funeral of the late field-marshal Arthur Duke of Wellington, K.G. s.n. 1852. p. 9. Lists of the bearers of Wellington's batons at his funeral.
- English Heritage staff. "Media ID #4513845. Duke of Wellington's batons K040689 Aspley House, London. View of ten of the Duke of Wellington's batons". English Heritage. Retrieved September 2010.
- "Newsreal in which a man picks up the Russian Army baton, gold set with diamonds and emeralds from a case of field marshal batons at Aspley house". British Pathé historical archive. 21 July 1952.