King's College London
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The Duke of Wellington

Winchilsea insults Wellington

Letter arranging the duelLetter arranging the duelWinchilsea, like Wellington a prominent financial backer of the new King's College, withdrew his support in response to Wellington's advocacy of Catholic emancipation. About 150 other contributors also cancelled their shares.

His most damaging accusations against Wellington were published in a letter to the Standard on 14 March. In it, he charged Wellington with insincerity in his support for an Anglican King's College. Instead, he came to view the College as an instrument in a wider programme designed to promote the Roman Catholic faith and undermine the established church.

Wellington, he continued provocatively, was hardly 'the public advocate of religion and morality'.

The Prime LobsterThe Prime LobsterInstead, argued Winchilsea, emancipation had shown the Duke to have in mind 'insidious designs for the infringement of our liberty and the introduction of Popery into every department of the State'.

The letter provoked a furious exchange of correspondence between the two men.

Wellington accused Winchilsea of imputing him with 'disgraceful and criminal motives' in setting up King's College and when Winchilsea refused to retract the remarks, Wellington - by his own admission, 'no advocate of duelling' and a virgin duellist - demanded satisfaction in a contest of arms:

'I now call upon your lordship to give me that satisfaction for your conduct which a gentleman has a right to require, and which a gentleman never refuses to give.'

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