How a century after his death, €15m legacy of wealthy banker will go to St Vincent De Paul


The generous legacy of a wealthy and charitable banker who died over 100 years ago is still being felt today.

Wellington Darley, who died in October 1920, left an estate worth £234,954 – worth an estimated €15m in today’s money.

Mr Darley of Violet Hill, in Bray, Co Wicklow, was a former governor of the Bank of Ireland, and an internal trust set up to help widows of bank officials facing financial hardship is still in operation today.

However, the Charities Regulator has applied to dissolve the trust “as its objectives are no longer practical”. It aims to give all the remaining money to the Society of the St Vincent De Paul.

A spokesman for the Society of St Vincent De Paul said they knew nothing about the donation at this stage.

But they welcomed it as a “blessing” at a difficult time for the charity.

“All our shops are closed and our income has been severely depleted by the pandemic,” they said.

“It speaks to the calibre of the man that his generosity is still benefiting people over a century after his death.”

A Bank of Ireland spokesman was unable to confirm the amount of money remaining in the trust. However, Mr Darley owned a shareholding in the bank which is thought to be significant.

Back in 1920, Mr Darley was one of Ireland’s richest men.

He owned property throughout Ireland and England and was the director of several companies.

Tragically in the years before his death, he lost both of his sons in World War I.

Arthur Tudor Darley, his eldest son, joined the British Navy as a cadet in 1891 and first went to sea on the battleships HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Rodney.

After promotion to lieutenant in 1898, he specialised in torpedo warfare. 

He was promoted to the rank of commander at the end of 1909.

Commander Darley died in the sinking of the armoured cruiser HMS Good Hope during the Battle of Coronel off the Chilean coast on  November 1, 1914.

Just four years later his brother, and the last surviving son of Wellington, Lieutenant Colonel John Evelyn Carmichael Darley (38), was killed in action in France on Easter Sunday 1918.

A decorated war hero, he was educated at Eton and obtained a commission in the 5th Lancers in November 1899,  a  regiment he served throughout the South African war. He received both the Queen’s and the King’s medal.

In December 1901, he was promoted to captain in a Hussar regiment for continuous good service. In January 1902, he was severely wounded. 

He was promoted to the rank of major in 1913 and went to France on August 15, 1914, where he took part in the retreat from Mons and in the first and second battle of Ypres.

In April 1916, he became lieutenant colonel of his regiment; less than two years later, he died in battle on March 18, 1918, his birthday.

Wellington Darley died just two years later.

He left large sums of his fortune to charities and divided the rest between his wife, two daughters and grandson.  

He was remembered as “a man of great sympathies with a statesmanlike outlook who did a great deal for the advancement of his community”.

Source: Irish News