Back to all articles

The History of Wellington Boots

The first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, was a celebrated war hero in 19th century Britain due to his victory at Waterloo, and he commonly wore Hessian boots that were gifted to him by a group of German soldiers. He was so inspired by the boots that he asked his shoemaker, George Hoby of St. James’s Street in London, to modify and update the footwear. Hoby created a Hessian-esque boot made from calfskin leather treated with wax, which became known as “the Wellington boot.” British gentlemen quickly adopted the boots as a way of imitating Wellington. The boots continued to be made from leather until the 1850s, when Charles Goodyear introduced vulcanized rubber. In January 1856, American Henry Lee Norris established Norris & Co., which would later become the now-famous Hunter Boot Ltd., and began to produce rubber boots with his partner, Spencer Thomas Parmelee. Hunter Boot Ltd. was contracted by the British army to produce rubber Wellingtons during World War I and II. In postwar society, the boots became popular among civilians for walking or working outside in wet weather. The Original Green Wellington was introduced in 1956 and quickly became a classic. However, the boots didn’t enter the world of mainstream fashion until Princess Diana was photographed wearing a pair during her courtship with Prince Charles. Today, Wellington boots remain extremely popular and are often worn for outdoor activities like festivals, gardening, or walking in the rain.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.