In 1702 Colonel George Hastings, 8th Earl of Huntingdon, was authorised to raise a new regiment, which he did in and around the city of Gloucester. As was the custom in those days the regiment was named Huntingdon's Regiment after its Colonel. As Colonel succeeded Colonel the name changed, but in 1751 regiments were given numbers, and the regiment was from that time officially known as the 33rd Regiment of Foot. In 1782 the regiment's title was changed to the 33rd (or First Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment, thus formalising an association with the West Riding of Yorkshire which, even then, had been long established. The first Duke of Wellington died in 1852 and in the following year Queen Victoria, in recognition of the regiment's long ties to him, ordered that the regiment's title be changed to the 33rd (or The Duke of Wellington's) Regiment. In 1881, following the Childers Reforms, the 33rd was linked with the 76th Regiment of Foot, who shared their depot in Halifax. The 76th had first been raised in 1745, by Simon Harcourt and disbanded in 1746, re-raised in 1756 disbanded again in 1763, before being raised again in 1777, disbanded in 1784 and finally re-raised, in 1787, for service in India, by the Honorable East India Company. The two regiments became, respectively, the 1st and 2nd battalions of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment. In 1948 the 1st and 2nd battalions were amalgamated into a single battalion, the 1st Battalion. On 6 June 2006 the 'Dukes' were amalgamated with the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire and the Green Howards to form the 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/76th Foot). Following further mergers, in 2012, the battalion was redesignated as the new 1st Battalion (1 Yorks) of the regiment.
Battalions from the regiment had served in most land conflicts involving British forces since its formation, from the Wars of the Austrian and Spanish successions, through the American war of Independence and various campaigns in India and Africa, the Napoleonic Wars, the Second Boer War and many of the greatest battles of the First World War (the Battle of Mons, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Passchendaele, the Battle of Cambrai) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919. During the Second World War, the regiment fought as part of the British Expeditionary Force in France, forming part of the rearguard at Dunkirk; in North Africa; Italy and in France, following the D-Day landings, and as Chindits in Burma. In Korea, the 'Dukes' desperate defence of the Hook position halted the last major Chinese attempt to break the United Nations Line before the truce, in July 1953, brought the war to an end. In Cyprus the battalion was successful in Operation Golden Rain, destroying a major EOKA terrorist group operating in the Troodos Mountains in 1956. In 1964 the battalion joined the NATO deterrence in Germany on the front line in the Cold War and from 1971 was regularly engaged in 'the Troubles' in Ulster until 1997. They were amongst the first units to cross the border from Kuwait in the 2003 Iraq War.
Nine soldiers from the regiment have been awarded the Victoria Cross, and Corporal Wayne Mills of the 1st Battalion became the first recipient of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 1994, whilst serving with the United Nations forces in Bosnia.
The Duke of Wellington's Regiment was originally formed in 1702 as Huntingdon's Regiment. As regiments at that time took the name of the Colonel taking it over it became:- Henry Leigh's Regiment; then Robert Duncansons Regiment and George Wade's Regiment. It was disbanded on 25 March 1714, but was officially registered as the 33rd Regiment of Foot in January 1715 and re-raised on 25 March 1715, as George Wade's Regiment; then Henry Hawley's Regiment; Robert Dalzell's Regiment and John Johnson's Regiment.
In 1782 Lord Cornwallis, the then Colonel of the Regiment, wrote that "The 33rd Regiment of Infantry has always recruited in the West Riding of Yorkshire and has a very good interest and the general goodwill of the people in that part of the country:- I should therefore wish not only to be permitted to recruit in that county, but that my Regiment may bear the name of the 33rd or West Yorkshire Regiment". On 31 August 1782 Lord Cornwallis heard that the King had approved of the new title:- 33rd (or the 1st West Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment of Foot.
Owing to its links with the Duke of Wellington, the title 'The Duke of Wellington's Regiment' was granted to the 33rd Regiment on 18 June 1853, on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in the year following Wellington's death.