The answer to that question is…all of the above! I served a mission in Belgium and I had an English companion that referred to boots as wellies. Before that I had only ever heard them referred to as wellingtons.
As I was writing this post I was curious where the name wellington came from since the original wellies are actually made by a company called Hunter. Thanks to Wikipedia this is what I found out. It’s a bit lengthy, so if your not interested in history jump down to the darling wellies out there to buy!:
The Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker, Hoby of St. James’s Street, London, to modify the 18th-century Hessian boot. The resulting new boot was fabricated in soft calfskin leather, had the trim removed and was cut to fit more closely around the leg. The heels were low cut, stacked around an inch (2.5 centimetres), and the boot stopped at mid-calf. It was suitably hard-wearing for battle, yet comfortable for the evening. The boot was dubbed the Wellington and the name has stuck in British English language ever since.
Wellington boots were at first made of leather. However in 1852 Hiram Hutchinson met Charles Goodyear, who had just invented the vulcanization process for natural rubber. While Goodyear decided to manufacture tyres, Hutchinson bought the patent to manufacture footwear and moved to France to establish À l’Aigle (“to the Eagle”) in 1853, to honour his home country. The company today is simply called “AIGLE“, “Eagle”). In a country where 95% of the population were working on fields with wooden clogs as they had been for generations, the introduction of the wholly waterproof, Wellington-type rubber boot became an instant success: farmers would be able to come back home with clean, dry feet.
Production in World War I
Production of the wellington boot was dramatically boosted with the advent of World War I and a requirement for footwear suitable for the conditions in Europe’s flooded trenches. The North British Rubber Company (now Hunter Boot Ltd) was asked by the War Office to construct a boot suitable for such conditions. The mills ran day and night to produce immense quantities of these trench boots. In total, 1,185,036 pairs were made to meet the British Army‘s demands.
This year my girls each got their first pair of wellies and I have to say it may have been the best pair of shoes I’ve bought them all year. They are easy to slide on and off and the bright colors look cute with everything. Most importantly they don’t get their feet wet!
As I was shopping this weekend I noticed lots of rainboots for everyone in the family to welcome Spring!
Hunter Boot (also found at Nordstrom)
Janie and Jack
Have fun shopping!