Give it some wellie!
Today the word Wellington usually means a waterproof rubber boot for wet weather work or leisure. However, the name originally described a new shape of boot and the first Wellingtons were always made of leather.
Throughout history, boots have been a favourite form of footwear, especially for men. In the early 1800s a new style was developed that was simple and elegant – practical for the soldier and smart for the fashionable gentleman. This new design took its name from the military commander Arthur Wellesley, who became the 1st Duke of Wellington. A celebrated hero, Wellington won many victories against the French in the Napoleonic Wars, most famously the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was renowned for his interest in good quality footwear and a caricature of the Duke (drawn by ‘Paul Pry’ in 1827) shows his whole body replaced by a Wellington boot!
Since then, the traditional leather Wellington continued to be worn by the military for ceremonial or ‘dress’ occasions. In civilian life, however, Wellingtons began to go out of fashion by the 1860s when men started to prefer ankle boots. Nevertheless, the Wellington boot had been a fashion classic of the early and mid-nineteenth century, with many slight variations in style.
These beautiful black and red morocco leather Wellingtons date to the 1860s. They are slim and supple enough to be worn under trousers, though they could also be worn over the trouser leg. They must have been very eye catching when worn.