Wellington boots are named after the Duke of Wellington who wanted a shoe that was watertight, comfortable and protected halfway up the calf. These original boots were constructed of tight calfskin and gained widespread popularity as, at the time, it was popular to emulate the fashion choices of the nobility.
Later once more was known about manufacturing pliable rubber the wellington transformed from a leather boot to one constructed of rubber. World Wars 1 and 2 helped to speed along this transformation as they were a mainstay of the British army, who needed inexpensive mass-produced footwear that could protect the soldiers from damp conditions on the battlefront.
Today the wellington is known around the world as a rubber boot in the US and Canada, and as a gumboot elsewhere. They are especially popular among farmers and gardeners who need a way to keep their feet clean and dry while working in wet fields. Amongst gardeners it is popular to purchase wellingtons that have been emblazoned with colorful patterns and images.