Where Do Wellington Boots Come From?

By Amy Johnston | Guides

Jan 28
Where Do Wellington Boots Come From?

Almost every type of footwear today have its own history to tell. Wellington boots are not exception. Ever wondered where these well-loved boots started?

During the Regency time period, men’s fashion went through some dramatic changes. Between 1810 and 1820, knee breeches were replaced with trousers. This caused trousers to be an appropriate casual and semi-casual outfit for men. James Madison took this fashion trend to America when he was in the presidential office in 1811. During that same time Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington had been turned away from a club in London because he was wearing trousers, which at the time, against their strict dress code. To go with these old knee breeches Hessian boots were the shoes of choice. They were mainly used by the military. They were made with a semi-pointed toe and a slight heel. But when the knee breeches were replaced, these boots were no longer an acceptable item to wear with trousers.

It was after the London club incident, that Arthur Wellesley instructed his shoemaker to modify the Hessian boot. Hoby of St. James Street was the shoemaker that Arthur went to. The resulting boot was cut higher in the front which allowed it to protect the knee area. But since the boot came up over the knee, the back of the boot was cut short so that men could be able to bend their legs. The slight heel of the Hessian boot was trimmed down as well. The new boot style was also cut closer to the leg, which made the boot have a slimmer fit. This new style of boot that was created, were called the Wellington boot. These new boots quickly gained a reputation as being hard to wear out on the battlefront. But they were comfortable enough to wear in the evening. In no time at all the boots were soon worn by all the British aristocrats.

The Original Wellington Boot

The original Wellington boot was made out leather until the 19th century. Hiram Hutchinson bought the patent for the vulcanization of rubber from Charles Goodyear. This patent allowed him to create a new version of these boots that were made with a natural rubber material. In no time all the Wellington boots were being made out of rubber. These rubber boots quickly became a popular choice among farmers. Farmers could work all day in all sorts of weather and still, have clean, dry feet at the end of the day.

During both World Wars, the Wellington boots were used by soldiers. They would spend long hours in flooded trenches and these rubber boots allowed their foot to remain dry and warm. After the end of the Second World War, men, women, and children started to wear these boots as rain boots. The company, Hunter Boot, was commissioned by the British Army to make these boots during the war. To this day, the Hunter Boot Company is still making and selling these Wellington boots.

Over the years, these boots have become a staple to many hunters and outdoorsy people. In many rainy climates, the Wellington boots are used as rain boots. The Wellington boots are known by different names. For instance, in South Africa, they are called gumboots. They are worn by miners who use them to communicate with each other when they are unable to talk. While in England, the name was eventually shortened to wellies.

Also read: Where Did Running Shoes Originate?

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