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Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ir ...

British
statesman and
Whig Whig or Whigs may refer to: Parties and factions In the British Isles * A pejorative nickname for the Kirk Party The Kirk Party were a radical Presbyterian faction of the Scotland, Scottish Covenanters during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. ...
politician who is generally regarded as the ''de facto'' first
Prime Minister of Great Britain The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), b ...
. Although the exact dates of Walpole's dominance, dubbed the "Robinocracy", are a matter of scholarly debate, the period 1721–1742 is often used. He dominated the
Walpole–Townshend ministry The government of Great Britain was under the joint leadership of Prime Minister Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745), known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British states ...
, as well as the subsequent Walpole ministry, and holds the record as the longest-serving British prime minister. W. A. Speck wrote that Walpole's uninterrupted run of 20 years as prime minister "is rightly regarded as one of the major feats of British political history. Explanations are usually offered in terms of his expert handling of the political system after 1720,
nd
nd
his unique blending of the surviving powers of the crown with the increasing influence of the Commons". Walpole was a Whig from the
gentry Gentry (from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Ga ...
class who was first elected to Parliament in 1701 and held many senior positions. He was a
country squire
country squire
and looked to country gentlemen for his political base. Historian Frank O'Gorman says his leadership in Parliament reflected his "reasonable and persuasive oratory, his ability to move both the emotions as well as the minds of men, and, above all, his extraordinary self-confidence". Hoppit says Walpole's policies sought moderation, he worked for peace, lower taxes and growing exports and allowed a little more tolerance for Protestant Dissenters. He mostly avoided controversy and high-intensity disputes as his middle way attracted moderates from both the Whig and Tory camps but his appointment to
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
after the
South Sea Bubble South is one of the cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials N, E, S, and W. East and west are perpendicular (at right angles) to ...
stock-market crisis drew attention to a perceived protection of political allies by Walpole. H. T. Dickinson sums up his historical role by saying that "Walpole was one of the greatest politicians in British history. He played a significant role in sustaining the Whig party, safeguarding the Hanoverian succession, and defending the principles of the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
(1688). He established a stable political supremacy for the Whig party and taught succeeding ministers how best to establish an effective working relationship between Crown and Parliament". Scholars rank him highly among all British prime ministers.


Early life

Walpole was born in Houghton, Norfolk, in 1676. One of 19 children, he was the third son and fifth child of
Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the Unit ...
, a member of the local gentry and a Whig politician who represented the borough of
Castle Rising Castle Rising is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is best known for the Castle Rising (castle), castle which dominates the village. The village is situated some north-east of the town of King's Lynn and west of t ...

Castle Rising
in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
, and his wife Mary Walpole, the daughter and heiress of Sir Geoffrey Burwell of Rougham, Suffolk.
Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole Image:Unknown man, formerly known as Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole of Wolterton from NPG.jpg, 200px, Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole "of Wolterton", (8 December 16785 February 1757), English diplomacy, ...
was his younger brother. As a child, Walpole attended a private school at Massingham, Norfolk. Walpole entered
Eton College Eton College () is a public school (private sector) for boys in Eton, Berkshire Eton ( ) is a town in Berkshire, England, on the opposite bank of the River Thames to Windsor, connected to it by Windsor Bridge. The civil parish In ...

Eton College
in 1690 where he was a
King's Scholar A King's Scholar is a foundation scholar (elected on the basis of good academic performance and usually qualifying for reduced fees) of one of certain public schools. These include Eton College Eton College () is a 13–18 age range Indepe ...
. He left Eton on 2 April 1696 and matriculated at
King's College, Cambridge King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam approximately north of London. At the Un ...

King's College, Cambridge
on the same day. On 25 May 1698, he left Cambridge after the death of his only remaining elder brother, Edward, so that he could help his father administer the family estate to which he had become the heir. Walpole had planned to become a clergyman but as he was now the eldest surviving son in the family, he abandoned the idea. In November 1700 his father died, and Robert succeeded to inherit the Walpole estate. A paper in his father's handwriting, dated 9 June 1700, shows the family estate in Norfolk and Suffolk to have been nine manors in Norfolk and one in Suffolk.


Early career


Business success

As a young man, Walpole had bought
shares In financial markets A financial market is a market Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertain ...
in the
South Sea Company The South Sea Company (officially The Governor and Company of the merchants of Great Britain, trading to the South Seas and other parts of America, and for the encouragement of the Fishery) was a British joint-stock company A joint-s ...
, which monopolised trade with Spain, the Caribbean and South America. The speculative market for slaves, rum and mahogany spawned a frenzy that had ramifications throughout Europe when it collapsed. However, Walpole had bought at the bottom and sold at the top, adding greatly to his inherited wealth and allowing him to create
Houghton Hall Houghton Hall ( ) is a country house in the parish of Houghton, Norfolk, Houghton in Norfolk, England. It is the residence of David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley. It was commissioned by the ''de facto'' first British Prime Minister ...

Houghton Hall
as seen today.


Political career

Walpole's political career began in January 1701 when he won a seat in the English general election at
Castle Rising Castle Rising is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is best known for the Castle Rising (castle), castle which dominates the village. The village is situated some north-east of the town of King's Lynn and west of t ...
in Norfolk. He left Castle Rising in 1702 so that he could represent the neighbouring borough of
King's Lynn King's Lynn, known until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn and colloquially as Lynn, is a port and market town in Norfolk, England, north of London, north-east of Peterborough, north-north-east of Cambridge and west of Norwich. The population is 42,800. ...
, a
pocket borough A rotten or pocket borough, also known as a nomination borough or proprietorial borough, was a parliamentary borough A borough is an administrative division in various English language, English-speaking countries. In principle, the term ''bor ...
that would re-elect him for the remainder of his political career. Voters and politicians nicknamed him "Robin". Like his father, Robert Walpole was a member of the Whig Party. In 1705, Walpole was appointed by
Queen Anne Queen Anne often refers to: * Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1665–1714), queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702–1707) and of Great Britain (1707–1714) **Queen Anne style architecture, an architectural style from her reign, and its revival ...

Queen Anne
to be a member of the council for her husband,
Prince George of Denmark Prince George of Denmark ( da, Jørgen; 2 April 165328 October 1708), was the husband of Queen Anne Queen Anne often refers to: * Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1665–1714), queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702–1707) and of Great Britai ...

Prince George of Denmark
, Lord High Admiral. After having been singled out in a struggle between the Whigs and the government, Walpole became the intermediary for reconciling the government to the Whig leaders. His abilities were recognised by Lord Godolphin (the
Lord High Treasurer The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Acts of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third-highest-ranked Great Officers of State (Un ...
and leader of the Cabinet) and he was subsequently appointed to the position of
Secretary at War The Secretary at War was a political position in the English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Eng ...
in 1708; for a short period of time in 1710 he also simultaneously held the post of
Treasurer of the Navy The Treasurer of the Navy, originally called Treasurer of Marine Causes or Paymaster of the Navy, was a civilian officer of the Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( Fr ...
. Despite his personal clout, however, Walpole could not stop Lord Godolphin and the Whigs from pressing for the prosecution of
Henry Sacheverell Henry Sacheverell (; 8 February 1674 – 5 June 1724) was an English high church Anglican clergyman who achieved nationwide fame in 1709 after preaching an incendiary 5 November sermon. He was subsequently impeached by the House of Commons and ...
, a minister who preached anti-Whig sermons. The trial was extremely unpopular with much of the country, causing the
Sacheverell riots The Sacheverell riots were a series of outbreaks of public disorder, which spread across England during the spring, summer and autumn of 1710 in which supporters of the Tories (British political party), Tories attacked the homes and meeting-houses ...

Sacheverell riots
, and was followed by the downfall of the
Duke of Marlborough General (United Kingdom), General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, (26 May 1650 – 16 June 1722 Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.) was an Englis ...

Duke of Marlborough
and the Whig Party in the general election of 1710. The new ministry, under the leadership of the Tory Robert Harley, removed Walpole from his office of Secretary at War but he remained Treasurer of the Navy until 2 January 1711. Harley had first attempted to entice him and then threatened him to join the Tories, but Walpole rejected the offers, instead becoming one of the most outspoken members of the Whig Opposition. He effectively defended Lord Godolphin against Tory attacks in parliamentary debate, as well as in the press. In 1712, Walpole was accused of
venality Venality is a vice associated with being bribeable or willing to sell one's services or power, especially when people are intended to act in a decent way instead. In its most recognizable form, venality causes people to lie and steal for their own ...
and corruption in the matter of two forage contracts for Scotland. Although it was proven that he had retained none of the money, Walpole was pronounced "guilty of a high breach of trust and notorious corruption". He was impeached by the House of Commons and found guilty by the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
; he was then imprisoned in the
Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle A castle is a type of structure built during the predominantly by the or royalty and by . Scholars debate the sc ...

Tower of London
for six months and expelled from Parliament. While in the Tower he was regarded as a political martyr, and visited by all the Whig leaders. After he was released, Walpole wrote and published anonymous pamphlets attacking the Harley ministry and assisted Sir
Richard Steele Sir Richard Steele (bap. 12 March 1672 – 1 September 1729) was an Irish writer, playwright, and politician, remembered as co-founder, with his friend Joseph Addison Joseph Addison (1 May 1672 – 17 June 1719) was an English essayist, p ...
in crafting political pamphlets. Walpole was re-elected for King's Lynn in 1713.


Stanhope–Sunderland ministry

Queen Anne died in 1714. Under the
Act of Settlement 1701 The Act of Settlement is an Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the order of succession, succession to the List of English monarchs, English and List of Irish monarchs, Irish crowns on Protestants only. This had ...
, which excluded Roman Catholics from the line of succession, Anne was succeeded by her
second cousin Commonly, "cousin" refers to a "first cousin", a Kinship, relative whose most recent common ancestor with the subject is a grandparent. More generally, in the lineal kinship system used in the English-speaking world, a ''cousin'' is a type of Ki ...
, the
Elector of Hanover The Electorate of Hanover (german: Kurfürstentum Hannover or simply ''Kurhannover'') was an Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic comp ...
,
George IGeorge I or 1 may refer to: People * Patriarch George I of Alexandria (floruit, fl. 621–631) * George I of Constantinople (d. 686) * George I of Antioch (d. 790) * George I of Abkhazia (ruled 872/3–878/9) * George I of Georgia (d. 1027) * Yuri D ...
. George I distrusted the Tories, who he believed opposed his right to succeed to the Throne. The year of George's accession, 1714, marked the ascendancy of the Whigs who would remain in power for the next fifty years. Robert Walpole became a
Privy Councillor A privy council is a body that advice (constitutional), advises the head of state of a State (polity), state, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchy, monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a p ...
and rose to the position of
Paymaster of the Forces The Paymaster of the Forces was a position in the British government. The office was established in 1661, one year after the Restoration (1660), Restoration of the Monarchy to King Charles II, and was responsible for part of the financing of the ...
in a Cabinet nominally led by
Lord Halifax Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, (16 April 1881 – 23 December 1959), known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was a senior British Conservative Conservatism is ...
, but actually dominated by (Walpole's brother-in-law) and James Stanhope. Walpole was also appointed chairman of a secret committee formed to investigate the actions of the previous Tory ministry in 1715. Lord Oxford was impeached, and
Lord Bolingbroke Image:St. John arms.svg, Arms of St John: ''Argent, on a chief gules two mullets or'' Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (; 16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751) was an English politician, government official and political philosopher ...

Lord Bolingbroke
suffered from an
act of attainder A bill of attainder (also known as an act of attainder or writ of attainder or bill of penalties) is an act of a legislature declaring a person, or a group of persons, guilty of some crime, and punishing them, often without a trial. As with attai ...
. Lord Halifax, the titular head of the administration, died in 1715 and by 1716 Walpole was appointed to the posts of First Commissioner (Lord) of the Treasury and
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
. He was a member of the ''Board of General Officers'' established in 1717 to investigate the abuse of pay. Walpole's fellow members, appointed by the
Prince of Wales Prince of Wales ( cy, Tywysog Cymru, ) is a title traditionally and ceremonially granted to the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line o ...
, included
William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath, (22 March 16847 July 1764) was a British Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons of Great Britain, House of Commons from 1707 to 1742, when he was created the first Earl of Bath by George II of Great ...
– Secretary at War, General Lumley, General Erle and Sir Philip Meadowes – Controller of the Army and
Knight Marshal The Knight Marshal is a former office in the British Royal Household established by King Henry III in 1236. The position later became a Deputy to the Earl Marshal Earl Marshal (alternatively Marschal or Marischal) is a hereditary royal officeh ...
of the King's Palace, whose daughter, Mary Meadows, was
maid-of-honour :''This article discusses the court title. For the ceremonial position in a wedding, see bridesmaid. For the 2008 movie see Made of Honor. For the traditional English dish, see Maids of honour tart.'' Maids of Honour are the junior attendants of a q ...
to Walpole's friend, Queen Caroline. A keen huntsman, Walpole built for himself Great Lodge (Old Lodge) in
Richmond Park Richmond Park, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, was created by Charles I of England, Charles I in the 17th century as a Deer park (England), deer park. The largest of Royal Parks of London, London's Royal Parks, it is of nation ...

Richmond Park
. Philip Medows, the deputy ranger of the park and son of Walpole's political ally, Sir Philip Meadowes, lived at Great Lodge after Walpole had vacated it. In his new political positions, and encouraged by his advisers, Walpole introduced the
sinking fund A sinking fund is a fund established by an economic entity by setting aside revenue over a period of time to fund a future capital expense, or repayment of a long-term debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay ...
, a device to reduce the national debt. The Cabinet of which he was a member was often divided over most important issues. Normally, Walpole and Lord Townshend were on one side, with Stanhope and Lord Sunderland on the other. Foreign policy was the primary issue of contention; George I was thought to be conducting foreign affairs with the interests of his German territories, rather than those of Great Britain, at heart. The Stanhope–Sunderland faction, however, had the King's support. In 1716 Townshend had been removed from the important post of
Northern Secretary The Secretary of State for the Northern Department was a position in the Cabinet (government), Cabinet of the government of Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain up to 1782, when the Northern Department became the Foreign Office. History Before ...
and put in the lesser office of
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (), or more formally Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland, was the title of the chief governor of Ireland The chief governor was the senior official in the Dublin Castle administration, which maintained E ...
. Even this change did not appease Stanhope and Sunderland, who secured the dismissal of Townshend from the Lord-Lieutenancy in April 1717. On the next day, Walpole resigned from the Cabinet to join the Opposition "because I could not connive at some things that were carrying on", and by joining the opposition he did not intend "to make the king uneasy or to embarrass his affairs." This began the
Whig Split {{short description, Event in British politics from 1717-20 The Whig Split occurred between 1717 and 1720, when the British Whigs (British political party), Whig Party divided into two factions. One in government, led by James Stanhope, 1st Earl S ...
, dividing the dominant party for three years. In the new Cabinet, Sunderland and Stanhope (who was created an Earl) were the effective heads. Walpole reversed his earlier support for the Impeachment of Robert Harley, the former first minister, and joined with the Tory opposition in securing an acquittal in July 1717. Soon after Walpole's resignation, a bitter family quarrel between the King and the
Prince of Wales Prince of Wales ( cy, Tywysog Cymru, ) is a title traditionally and ceremonially granted to the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line o ...
split the Royal Family. Walpole and others who opposed the Government often congregated at , the home of the Prince of Wales, to form political plans. Walpole also became an adviser and close friend of the Prince of Wales's wife, Caroline. In 1720 he improved his position by bringing about a reconciliation between the Prince of Wales and the King. Walpole continued to be an influential figure in the House of Commons. He was especially active in opposing one of the Government's more significant proposals, the
Peerage Bill {{short description, Proposed British law of 1719 The Peerage Bill was a 1719 measure proposed by the British Whig government led by James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope and Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sund ...
, which would have limited the power of the monarch to create new
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
s. Walpole brought about a temporary abandonment of the bill in 1719 and the outright rejection of the bill by the House of Commons. This defeat led Lord Stanhope and Lord Sunderland to reconcile with their opponents; Walpole returned as Paymaster of the Forces and Townshend was appointed
Lord President of the Council The Lord President of the Council is the fourth of the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State of the United Kingdom, ranking below the Lord High Treasurer but above the Lord Privy Seal, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. ...
. By accepting the position of Paymaster, however, Walpole lost the favour of the Prince of Wales (the future King George II), who still harboured disdain for his father's Government.


Rise to power

Soon after Walpole returned to the Cabinet, Britain was swept by a wave of over-enthusiastic speculation which led to the
South Sea Bubble South is one of the cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials N, E, S, and W. East and west are perpendicular (at right angles) to ...

South Sea Bubble
. The Government had established a plan whereby the South Sea Company would assume the national debt of Great Britain in exchange for lucrative bonds. It was widely believed that the company would eventually reap an enormous profit through international trade in cloth, agricultural goods, and
slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved per ...

slaves
. Many in the country, including Walpole himself (who sold at the top of the market and made 1,000 per cent profit), frenziedly invested in the company. By the latter part of 1720, however, the company had begun to collapse as the price of its shares plunged. In 1721 a committee investigated the scandal, finding that there was corruption on the part of many in the Cabinet. Among those implicated were
John Aislabie John Aislabie or Aslabie (; 4 December 167018 June 1742), of Studley Royal, near Ripon, Yorkshire, was a British politician who sat in the English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West ...

John Aislabie
(the Chancellor of the Exchequer),
James Craggs the Elder James Craggs the Elder (1657 – 16 March 1721), of Jermyn Street, Westminster and Charlton, Lewisham, Kent, was an English financier and Whig politician who sat in the English House of Commons, English and British House of Commons from 1702 to ...
(the
Postmaster General A Postmaster General, in Anglosphere The Anglosphere is a group of English-speaking nations that share common cultural and historical ties to the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as ...
),
James Craggs the Younger James Craggs the Younger (9 April 168616 February 1721), was an English statesman. Life Craggs was born at Westminster, the son of James Craggs the Elder. Part of his early life was spent abroad, where he made the acquaintance of George I of G ...
(the
Southern Secretary The Secretary of State for the Southern Department was a position in the Cabinet (government), cabinet of the government of the Kingdom of Great Britain up to 1782, when the Southern Department became the Home Office. History Before 1782, the r ...
), and even Lords Stanhope and Sunderland (the heads of the Ministry). Both Craggs the Elder and Craggs the Younger died in disgrace; the remainder were impeached for their corruption. Aislabie was found guilty and imprisoned, but the personal influence of Walpole saved both Stanhope and Sunderland. For his role in preventing these individuals and others from being punished, Walpole gained the nickname of "The Screen", or "Screenmaster-General". The resignation of Sunderland and the death of Stanhope in 1721 left Walpole as the most important figure in the administration. In April 1721 he was appointed First Lord of the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. Walpole's ''de facto'' tenure as "prime minister" is often dated to his appointment as First Lord of the Treasury in 1721, though he himself rejected that title (it was originally a term of abuse), stating in 1741: "I unequivocally deny that I am sole and prime minister." His brother-in-law Lord Townshend served as Secretary of State for the Northern Department and controlled the nation's foreign affairs. The two also had to contend with the Secretary of State for the Southern Department,
Lord Carteret John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville, 7th Seigneur of Sark, (; 22 April 16902 January 1763), commonly known by his earlier title Lord Carteret, was a British statesman and Lord President of the Council The Lord President of the Council is th ...
. Townshend and Walpole were thus restored to power and "annihilated the opposing faction".


Premiership under George I

Under the guidance of Walpole,
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
attempted to deal with the financial crisis brought on by the
South Sea Bubble South is one of the cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials N, E, S, and W. East and west are perpendicular (at right angles) to ...

South Sea Bubble
. The estates of the directors of the
South Sea Company The South Sea Company (officially The Governor and Company of the merchants of Great Britain, trading to the South Seas and other parts of America, and for the encouragement of the Fishery) was a British joint-stock company A joint-s ...
were used to relieve the suffering of the victims, and the stock of the company was divided between the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers for t ...

Bank of England
and
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Com ...
. The crisis had gravely damaged the credibility of the King and of the Whig Party, but Walpole defended both with skilful oratory in the House of Commons. Walpole's first year as prime minister was also marked by the discovery of a plot formed by
Francis Atterbury Francis Atterbury (6 March 1663 – 22 February 1732) was an England, English man of letters, politician and bishop. A High Church Tories (British political party), Tory and Jacobitism, Jacobite, he gained patronage under Anne, Queen of Great Bri ...

Francis Atterbury
, the
bishop of Rochester The Bishop of Rochester is the ordinary Ordinary or The Ordinary often refer to: Music * Ordinary (EP), ''Ordinary'' (EP) (2015), by South Korean group Beast * Ordinary (Every Little Thing album), ''Ordinary'' (Every Little Thing album) (2011 ...
. The exposure of the scheme crushed the hopes of the
Jacobites Jacobite may refer to: Religion * Jacobites, Jacob Baradaeus (died 578). Churches in the Jacobite tradition and sometimes called Jacobite include: ** Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, autonomous branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Kerala, Ind ...
whose previous attempts at rebellion (most notably the risings of 1715 and 1719) had also failed. The Tory Party was equally unfortunate even though Lord Bolingbroke, a Tory leader who fled to France to avoid punishment for his Jacobite sympathies, was permitted to return to Britain in 1723. During the remainder of George I's reign, Walpole's ascendancy continued; the political power of the monarch was gradually diminishing and that of his ministers gradually increasing. In 1724 the primary political rival of Walpole and Townshend in the Cabinet, Lord Carteret, was dismissed from the post of Southern Secretary and once again appointed to the lesser office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In Ireland, Lord Carteret used his power to secretly aid in the controversy over Wood's Halfpence and support ''
Drapier's Letters ''Drapier's Letters'' is the collective name for a series of seven pamphlet A pamphlet is an unbound book (that is, without a Hardcover, hard cover or Bookbinding, binding). Pamphlets may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on ...
'' behind the scenes and cause harm to Walpole's power. Walpole was able to recover from these events by removing the patent. However, Irish sentiment was situated against the English control. Townshend, working with the king, helped keep Great Britain at peace, especially by negotiating a treaty with France and
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
in 1725. Walpole was not consulted and stated that Townshend was "too precipitate" in his actions. Great Britain, free from Jacobite threats, from war, and from financial crises, grew prosperous, and Robert Walpole acquired the favour of George I. In 1725 he persuaded the king to revive the and was himself invested with the order, and in 1726 was made a
Knight of the Garter (Shame on him who thinks evil of it) , eligibility = , criteria = At Her Majesty's pleasure , status = Currently constituted , founder = Edward III Edward III (13 November 131221 June 1377), also known as Edward ...
, earning him the nickname "Sir Bluestring". His eldest son was granted a barony.


Premiership under George II

Walpole's position was threatened in 1727 when George I died and was succeeded by
George IIGeorge II or 2 may refer to: People * George II of Antioch (seventh century AD) * George II of Armenia (late ninth century) * George II of Abkhazia (916–960) * Patriarch George II of Alexandria (1021–1051) * George II of Georgia (1072–1089) * ...
. For a few days it seemed that Walpole would be dismissed but, on the advice of Queen Caroline, the King agreed to keep him in office. Although the King disliked Townshend, he retained him as well. Over the next years Walpole continued to share power with Townshend but the two clashed over British foreign affairs, especially over policy regarding
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...

Austria
. Gradually Walpole became the clearly dominant partner in government. His colleague retired on 15 May 1730 and this date is sometimes given as the beginning of Walpole's unofficial tenure as prime minister. Townshend's departure enabled Walpole to conclude the Treaty of Vienna, creating the
Anglo-Austrian allianceThe Anglo-Austrian Alliance connected the Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", '' ...
.


Opposition

Walpole, a polarising figure, had many opponents, the most important of whom were in the Country Party, such as Lord Bolingbroke (who had been his political enemy since the days of Queen Anne) and William Pulteney (a capable Whig statesman who felt snubbed when Walpole failed to include him in the Cabinet). Bolingbroke and Pulteney ran a periodical called ''The Craftsman'' in which they incessantly denounced the Prime Minister's policies. Walpole was also satirised and parodied extensively; he was often compared to the criminal Jonathan Wild as, for example,
John Gay John Gay (30 June 1685 – 4 December 1732) was an English poet and dramatist and member of the Scriblerus Club. He is best remembered for ''The Beggar's Opera'' (1728), a ballad opera. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachu ...

John Gay
did in his farcical ''
Beggar's Opera ''The Beggar's Opera'' is a ballad operaThe ballad opera is a genre of English stage entertainment that originated in the early 18th century, and continued to develop over the following century and later. Like the earlier '' comédie en vaud ...
''. Walpole's other enemies included
Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of ...
,
Alexander Pope Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is seen as one of the greatest English poets and the foremost poet of the early 18th century. He is best known for satirical and discursive poetry, including ''The Rape of the Lock ''The Rape o ...

Alexander Pope
,
Henry Fielding Henry Fielding (22 April 1707 – 8 October 1754) was an English novelist, ironist and dramatist known for earthy humour and satire. His comic novel '' Tom Jones'' is still widely appreciated. He and Samuel Richardson Samuel Richardson (bapt ...

Henry Fielding
, and
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asse ...
.


Support

Walpole secured the support of the people and of the House of Commons with a policy of avoiding war. He used his influence to prevent George II from entering the
War of the Polish Succession The War of the Polish Succession ( pl, Wojna o sukcesję polską; 1733–35) was a major European conflict sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II of Poland, which the other European powers widened in pursuit of their ...
in 1733, because it was a dispute between the Bourbons and the Habsburgs. He boasted, "There are 50,000 men slain in Europe this year, and not one Englishman." By avoiding wars, Walpole could lower taxes. He reduced the national debt with a sinking fund, and by negotiating lower interest rates. He reduced the land tax from four shillings in 1721, to 3s in 1728, 2s in 1731 and finally to only 1s in 1732. His long-term goal was to replace the land tax, which was paid by the local gentry, with excise and customs taxes, which were paid by merchants and ultimately by consumers. Walpole joked that the landed gentry resembled hogs, which squealed loudly whenever anyone laid hands on him. By contrast, he said, merchants were like sheep, and yielded their wool without complaint. The joke backfired in 1733 when he was defeated in a major battle to impose
excise taxes file:Lincoln Beer Stamp 1871.JPG, upright=1.2, 1871 U.S. Revenue stamp for 1/6 barrel of beer. Brewers would receive the stamp sheets, cut them into individual stamps, cancel them, and paste them over the bung of the beer barrel so when the barrel ...
on wine and tobacco. To reduce the threat of smuggling, the tax was to be collected not at ports but at warehouses. This new proposal, however, was extremely unpopular and aroused the opposition of the nation's merchants. Walpole agreed to withdraw the bill before Parliament voted on it, but he dismissed the politicians who had dared to oppose it in the first place. Thus, Walpole lost a considerable element of his Whig Party to the Opposition. After the general elections of 1734, Walpole's supporters still formed a majority in the House of Commons although they were less numerous than before. He maintained both his parliamentary supremacy and his popularity in
Norfolk Norfolk () is a rural and non-metropolitan county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambe ...

Norfolk
, his home county. In May 1734, he presented a new silver
mace Mace may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Mace (G.I. Joe), a fictional character in the G.I. Joe universe * Mace, a fictional character in the 1995 film ''Strange Days (film), Strange Days'' * Mace, a fictional character in the 2007 film ''Sunsh ...
"weighing 168 ounces, gilt and finely exchased, to the city of Norwich – on the cup part of it are Sir Robert's arms, and the arms of the city; it was first carried before Mayor Philip Meadows Esq. on the 29th of May". However, despite these great occasions, Walpole's broader popularity had begun to wane. In 1736 an increase in the tax on gin inspired riots in London. The even more serious
Porteous riots The Porteous Riots surrounded the activities of Captain John Porteous (c. 1695 – 1736), Captain of the City guard, City Guard of Edinburgh, Scotland, who was lynched by a mob for his part in the killing of innocent civilians while orderi ...
broke out in Edinburgh after the King pardoned a captain of the guard (John Porteous) who had commanded his troops to shoot a group of protesters. Though these events diminished Walpole's popularity, they failed to shake his majority in Parliament. Walpole's domination over the House of Commons was highlighted by the ease with which he secured the rejection of Sir John Barnard's plan to reduce the interest on the national debt. Walpole was also able to persuade Parliament to pass the Licensing Act of 1737 under which London theatres were regulated. The Act revealed a disdain for Swift, Pope, Fielding, and other literary figures who had attacked his government in their works. While the " country party" attacked Walpole relentlessly, he subsidised writers and lesser-known journalists such as
William Arnall William Arnall (died May 1736) was an English political writer. Life He was trained as an attorney, but took to political writing before he was twenty. He was one of the authors in Prime Minister Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orf ...
and Bishop Benjamin Hoadly as well as two men he named to the role of
poet laureate A poet laureate (plural: poets laureate) is a poet A poet is a person who creates poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythm ...
, Laurence Eusden and
Colley Cibber Colley Cibber (6 November 1671 – 11 December 1757) was an English actor-manager, playwright and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Poet Laureate. His colourful memoir ''Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber'' (1740) describes his life in a pe ...

Colley Cibber
. They defended Walpole from the charge of evil political corruption by arguing that corruption is the universal human condition. Furthermore, they argued, political divisiveness was also universal and inevitable because of selfish passions that were integral to human nature. Arnall argued that government must be strong enough to control conflict, and in that regard Walpole was quite successful. This style of "court" political rhetoric continued through the 18th century.


Decline

The year 1737 saw the death of Walpole's close friend Queen Caroline. Though her death did not end his personal influence with George II, who had grown loyal to the Prime Minister during the preceding years, Walpole's domination of government continued to decline. His opponents acquired a vocal leader in the
Prince of Wales Prince of Wales ( cy, Tywysog Cymru, ) is a title traditionally and ceremonially granted to the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line o ...

Prince of Wales
who was estranged from his father, the King. Several young politicians including
William Pitt the Elder William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, (15 November 170811 May 1778) was a British statesman of the Whig Whig or Whigs may refer to: Parties and factions In the British Isles * A pejorative nickname for the Kirk Party The Kirk Party were ...
and
George Grenville George Grenville (14 October 1712 – 13 November 1770) was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1763 to 1765. Grenville was born into an influential political family and first entered Parliament in 1741 as an MP for Buckingham. He emerged as on ...

George Grenville
formed a faction known as the " Patriot Boys" and joined the Prince of Wales in opposition. Walpole's failure to maintain a policy of avoiding military conflict eventually led to his fall from power. Under the
Treaty of Seville (1729) The Treaty of Seville was signed on 9 November 1729 between Britain, France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan ...
, Great Britain agreed not to trade with the Spanish colonies in North America. Spain claimed the right to board and search British vessels to ensure compliance with this provision. Disputes, however, broke out over trade with the
West Indies The West Indies are a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, in ...
. Walpole attempted to prevent war but was opposed by the King, the House of Commons, and by a faction in his own Cabinet. In 1739 Walpole abandoned all efforts to stop the conflict and commenced the
War of Jenkins' Ear The War of Jenkins' Ear (known as in Spain) was a conflict between Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usa ...
(so called because Robert Jenkins, a Welsh mariner, claimed that a Spaniard inspecting his vessel had severed his ear). Walpole's influence continued to dramatically decline even after the war began. In the 1741 general election his supporters secured an increase in votes in constituencies that were decided by mass electorates but failed to win in many pocket boroughs (constituencies subject to the informal but strong influence of patrons). In general the government made gains in England and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
but this was not enough to overturn the reverses of the 1734 election and further losses in
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a historic county and ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial counties, are ar ...

Cornwall
where many constituencies were obedient to the will of the Prince of Wales (who was also
Duke of Cornwall Duke of Cornwall is a title in the Peerage of England The Peerage of England comprises all peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility ...
). These constituencies returned members of parliament hostile to the Prime Minister. Similarly, the influence of the
Duke of Argyll Duke of Argyll ( gd, Diùc Earra-Ghàidheil) is a title, created in the Peerage of Scotland The Peerage of Scotland ( gd, Moraireachd na h-Alba, sco, Peerage o Scotland) is the section of the Peerage A peerage is a legal system histor ...
secured the election of members opposed to Walpole in some parts of Scotland. Walpole's new majority was difficult to determine because of the uncertain loyalties of many new members, but contemporaries and historians estimated it as low as fourteen to eighteen. In the new Parliament, many Whigs thought the aging Prime Minister incapable of leading the military campaign. Moreover, his majority was not as strong as it had formerly been, his detractors—such as William Pulteney, earl of Bath, and Lord Perceval—being approximately as numerous as his supporters. Behind these political enemies were opposition Whigs, Tories and Jacobites. Walpole was alleged to have presided over an immense increase in corruption and to have enriched himself enormously whilst in office. Parliamentary committees were formed to investigate these charges. In 1742 when the House of Commons was prepared to determine the validity of a by-election in
Chippenham Chippenham is a market town in northwest Wiltshire, England. It lies northeast of Bath, Somerset, Bath, west of London, and is near the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty. The town was established on a crossing of the River Avon, Bristol, River ...
, Walpole and others agreed to treat the issue as a
motion of no confidence A motion of no confidence, vote of no confidence, or no confidence motion, sometimes in the reverse as a motion of confidence or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an Constituenc ...
. As Walpole was defeated on the vote, he agreed to resign from the Government. The news of the naval disaster against Spain in the
Battle of Cartagena de Indias A battle is an occurrence of combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or devic ...
also prompted the end of his political career. King George II wept on his resignation and begged to see him frequently. As part of his resignation the King agreed to elevate him to the House of Lords as the
Earl of Orford 200px, Admiral of the Fleet Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford.">Edward_Russell,_1st_Earl_of_Orford.html" ;"title="Admiral of the Fleet Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford">Admiral of the Fleet Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford. Earl of Orford is ...
, Viscount Walpole and
Baron Walpole Baron Walpole, of Walpole in the County of Norfolk, is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain The Peerage of Great Britain comprises all extant peerages created in the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Acts of Union 1707 but before the Ac ...
of Houghton in the County of Norfolk, this occurred on 6 February 1742. Five days later he formally relinquished the seals of office. Although no longer First Lord of the Treasury, Walpole remained politically involved as an advisor. His former colleagues were still pleased to see him, perhaps in part because he retained the king's favour. After his resignation, his main political roles were to support the government by means of advice, to dole out some patronage and to speak on the ministry's behalf in the Lords.


Later life

Lord Orford was succeeded as prime minister by Lord Wilmington in an administration whose true head was
Lord Carteret John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville, 7th Seigneur of Sark, (; 22 April 16902 January 1763), commonly known by his earlier title Lord Carteret, was a British statesman and Lord President of the Council The Lord President of the Council is th ...
. A committee was created to inquire into Walpole's ministry but no substantial evidence of wrongdoing or corruption was discovered. Though no longer a member of the Cabinet, Orford continued to maintain personal influence with George II and was often dubbed the "Minister behind the Curtain" for this advice and influence. In 1744 he managed to secure the dismissal of Carteret and the appointment of
Henry Pelham Henry Pelham (25 September 1694 – 6 March 1754) was a British Whig statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1743 until his death in 1754. He was the younger brother of Thomas Pelham-H ...

Henry Pelham
whom he regarded as a political protégé. He advised Pelham to make use of his seat in the Commons to serve as a bridge between the King and Parliament, just as Walpole had done. During this time, Walpole also made two interventions in the Lords. The first was in January 1744 in the debate on Hanoverian troops being kept in British pay. Walpole prevented them from losing the troops. In his second intervention, Walpole, with fear of a Jacobite-inspired invasion in February 1744, made a speech on the situation. Frederick, Prince of Wales, usually hostile to Walpole, warmly received him at his court the next day, most likely because his father's throne, and the future of the whole Hanoverian dynasty, was at risk from the Stuart Pretender. Along with his political interests in his last years, Walpole enjoyed the pleasures of the hunt. Back at his recently rebuilt country seat in Houghton, Norfolk, such pastimes were denied him due to "dismal weather". He also enjoyed the beauties of the countryside. His art collection gave him particular pleasure. He had spent much money in the 1720s and 1730s in building up a collection of Old Masters from all over Europe. Walpole also concerned himself with estate matters. His health, never good, deteriorated rapidly toward the end of 1744; Orford died in London in 1745, aged 68 years; he was buried in the
parish church A parish church (or parochial church) in Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Je ...
of St Martin in
Houghton, Norfolk Houghton is a small village and a civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administr ...
. His earldom passed to his eldest son Robert who was in turn succeeded by his only son George. Upon the death of the third Earl, the earldom was inherited by the first Earl's younger son
Horace Walpole Horatio Walpole (), 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797), better known as Horace Walpole, was an English writer, art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whigs (British political party), Whig politician. He had Strawbe ...
, who is now remembered for his many thousands of insightful letters, published in 48 volumes by
Yale University Press Yale University Press is a university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditional ...
.


Legacy

Walpole exercised a tremendous influence on the politics of his day. The Tories became a minor, insignificant faction, and the Whigs became a dominant and largely unopposed party. His influence on the development of the uncodified constitution of Great Britain was less momentous even though he is regarded as Great Britain's first prime minister. He relied primarily on the favour of the King rather than on the support of the House of Commons. His power stemmed from his personal influence instead of the influence of his office. Most of his immediate successors were, comparatively speaking, extremely weak; it would take several decades more for the premiership to develop into the most powerful and most important office in the country. Walpole's strategy of keeping Great Britain at peace contributed greatly to the country's prosperity. Walpole also managed to secure the position of the
Hanoverian Dynasty The House of Hanover (german: Haus Hannover), whose members are known as Hanoverians, is a Germans, German dynasty, royal house that ruled Hanover, Great Britain, and Ireland at various times during the 17th to 20th centuries. The house origin ...
, and effectively countervailed Jacobitism. The Jacobite threat ended, soon after Walpole's term ended, with the defeat of the rebellion of 1745. Later in the century, the Whig MP
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title ...
"admitted him into the whig pantheon". Burke wrote:
Lord Chesterfield Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, (22 September 169424 March 1773) was a British statesman, diplomat, and man of letters, and an acclaimed wit of his time. Early life He was born in London to Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chest ...

Lord Chesterfield
expressed scepticism as to whether "an impartial Character of Sr Robert Walpole, will or can be transmitted to Posterity, for he governed this Kingdom so long that the various passions of Mankind mingled, and in a manner incorporated themselves, with every thing that was said or writt concerning him. Never was Man more flattered nor more abused, and his long power, was probably the chief cause of both". Chesterfield claimed he was "much acquainted with him both in his publick and his private life":
10 Downing Street 10 Downing Street in London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ...

10 Downing Street
represents another part of Walpole's legacy. George II offered this home to Walpole as a personal gift in 1732, but Walpole accepted it only as the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, taking up his residence there on 22 September 1735. His immediate successors did not always reside in Number 10 (preferring their larger private residences) but the home has nevertheless become established as the official residence of the prime minister (in his or her capacity as First Lord of the Treasury). Walpole has attracted attention from heterodox economists as a pioneer of protectionist policies, in the form of tariffs and subsidies to woollen manufacturers. As a result, the industry became Britain's primary export, enabling the country to import the raw materials and food that fueled the industrial revolution. Walpole is immortalised in St Stephen's Hall, where he and other notable Parliamentarians look on at visitors to Parliament. Walpole built
Houghton Hall Houghton Hall ( ) is a country house in the parish of Houghton, Norfolk, Houghton in Norfolk, England. It is the residence of David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley. It was commissioned by the ''de facto'' first British Prime Minister ...

Houghton Hall
in Norfolk as his country seat. He also left behind a Walpole collection, collection of art which he had assembled during his career. His grandson, George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, the 3rd Earl of Orford, sold many of the works in this collection to the Russian Empress Catherine II of Russia, Catherine II in 1779. This collection—then regarded as one of the finest in Europe—now lies in the Hermitage Museum, State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In 2013 the Hermitage loaned the collection to Houghton for display following the original William Kent hanging plan, recently discovered at Houghton. The nursery rhyme "Cock Robin, Who Killed Cock Robin?" may allude to the fall of Walpole, who carried the popular nickname "Cock Robin". (Contemporaries satirised the Walpole regime as the "Robinocracy" or as the "Robinarchy"). In the United States, the towns of Walpole, Massachusetts (founded in 1724), and Orford, New Hampshire (incorporated in 1761), take their respective names from Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford. Walpole Street in Wolverhampton is named after Sir Robert Walpole. Walpole Island, named for Sir Robert Walpole, comprises an island and an Indian reserve in southwestern Ontario, Canada, on the border between Ontario and Michigan. It lies at the mouth of the St. Clair River on Lake St. Clair, approximately thirty miles (50 km) northeast of Detroit, Michigan, and of Windsor, Ontario.


Family


Catherine Shorter

On 30 July 1700, Walpole married Catherine Walpole, Catherine, daughter of John Shorter of Bybrook in Ashford, Kent. She was described as "a woman of exquisite beauty and accomplished manners". Her £20,000 dowry was, according to her brother-in-law Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole, Horatio Walpole, spent on the wedding, christenings and jewels. Together they had two daughters and three sons: * Robert Walpole, 2nd Earl of Orford, Robert, who married Margaret Rolle, 15th Baroness Clinton, Margaret Rolle (17 January 1709 – 13 January 1781), later the 15th Baron Clinton, Baroness Clinton, in 1724. They had one son, George, who died unmarried. * Katherine, who died unmarried and without issue * Mary, who married George Cholmondeley, 3rd Earl of Cholmondeley, on 14 September 1723. They had sons and daughters. She died at Aix-en-Provence in 1731, and was buried at Malpas, Cheshire. *Edward Walpole, Edward, who died unmarried but had four illegitimate children with Dorothy Clement, three of whom were daughters. Laura, the eldest, married Bishop Frederick Keppel. The second daughter, Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh, Maria Walpole (d. 1807), married, firstly, James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave and, secondly, Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, George III of the United Kingdom, King George III's brother. His son, Edward, born in 1737, died in 1771 without issue. The youngest daughter, Charlotte, was wife of Lionel Tollemache, 5th Earl of Dysart. * Horace Walpole, Horace, who died unmarried and without issue Walpole's first wife Catherine died on 20 August 1737 and was buried in Henry VII Chapel, Westminster Abbey.


Maria Skerritt

Prior to the death of his first wife, Walpole took on a mistress, Maria Walpole (Skerritt), Maria, daughter of Thomas Skerrett (died 1734; an Irish merchant living in Dover Street, London). She was a fashionable socialite of wit and beauty, with an independent fortune of £30,000. Walpole had married her by March 1738. They had been living openly together in Richmond, North Yorkshire, Richmond Park and
Houghton Hall Houghton Hall ( ) is a country house in the parish of Houghton, Norfolk, Houghton in Norfolk, England. It is the residence of David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley. It was commissioned by the ''de facto'' first British Prime Minister ...

Houghton Hall
before 1728. Maria had borne him a daughter, also called Maria, who was no longer illegitimate after her parents' marriage and, as the daughter of an Earl, became Lady Maria Walpole. In 1746, this daughter married Colonel Charles Churchill (of Chalfont), Charles Churchill of Chalfont (1720–1812), illegitimate son of General Charles Churchill (British Army general), Charles Churchill, and became the housekeeper of Windsor Castle. Their daughter Mary became the second wife of Charles Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan, and had issue. His second wife died following a miscarriage on 4 June 1739. Walpole considered her "indispensable to his happiness", and her loss plunged him into a "deplorable and comfortless condition", which ended in a severe illness.


See also

*Baron Delamere *List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom *Marquess of Cholmondeley


Notes


References


Sources

* * *. * * Hoppit, Julian. ''A Land of Liberty? England 1689–1727'' (2000) * cover "Robin's Reign". * Leadam, Isaac Saunders. ''Sir Robert Walpole – A Short Biography'' (1899) 60p
online
* * O'Gorman, Frank. ''The Long Eighteenth Century: British Political and Social History 1688–1832'' (1997) * Speck, W.A. '' Stability and Strife: England 1714–1760'' (1977) * *


Further reading

* * Blick, Andrew, and George Jones. ''At Power's Elbow: Aides to the Prime Minister from Robert Walpole to David Cameron'' (Biteback Publishing, 2013) * Dickinson, Harry T. (1972) "Walpole and his critics," ''History Today'' (3 June 1972), Vol. 22 Issue 6, pp 410–419 online. * * * Hartop, Christopher (2014), ''Sir Robert Walpole's Silver'', London: Silver Society, * * Holmes, Geoffrey, and Daniel Szechi. ''The age of oligarchy: pre-industrial Britain 1722-1783'' (1993
excerpt
"The Age of Walpole" pp 3–88 * Marshall, Dorothy. ''Eighteenth Century England, 1714–1784'' (2nd ed. 1974), pp 101–191, political narrative * * Plumb, J. H. "Sir Robert Walpole" ''History Today'' (Oct 1951) 1#10 pp 9–16 *; the standard scholarly biography; vol. 1: ''Sir Robert Walpole: The Making of a Statesman'' (1956) to 1722; vol 2: ''Sir Robert Walpole, The King's Minister'' (1960) ends in 1734; vol 3 was never finished; 1972 reprint combined vol 1 and vol 2 as ''Sir Robert Walpole'' * * * Williams, Basil. ''The Whig Supremacy 1714–1760'' (1939; 2nd ed. 1962
online edition
pp 180–212; covers his ministry 1721–42 * Basil Williams (historian), Williams, Basil. "The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole" ''English Historical Review'' 15#58 (Apr. 1900), pp. 251–27
in JSTOR
**"The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole (Continued)" ''English Historical Review'' 15#59 (July 1900), pp. 479–49
in JSTOR
** "The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole (Continued)" ''English Historical Review'' 59#60 (Oct. 1900), pp. 665–69
in JSTOR
** "The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole" ''English Historical Review'' 16#61 (Jan. 1901), pp. 67–8
in JSTOR
** "The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole (Continued)" ''English Historical Review'' 16#62 (Apr. 1901), pp. 308–32
in JSTOR
** "The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole (Continued)" ''English Historical Review'' 16#53 (July 1901), pp. 439–45
in JSTOR


Primary sources

* Coxe, William. ''Memoirs of the Life and Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford'' (3 vol 1800
online


External links


Robert Walpole's biography on the UK history of government blog

Houghton Hall

Cholmondeley Castle

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford
at the National Portrait Gallery, London, National Portrait Gallery, London
Ancestors of Robert Walpole
{{DEFAULTSORT:Walpole, Robert Robert Walpole, 1676 births 1745 deaths 18th-century heads of government Alumni of King's College, Cambridge British and English royal favourites British MPs 1707–1708 British MPs 1708–1710 British MPs 1710–1713 British MPs 1713–1715 British MPs 1715–1722 British MPs 1722–1727 British MPs 1727–1734 British MPs 1734–1741 British MPs 1741–1747 Chancellors of the Exchequer of Great Britain Earls in the Peerage of Great Britain, Orford, Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of English art collectors English MPs 1701 English MPs 1701–1702 English MPs 1702–1705 English MPs 1705–1707 English politicians convicted of crimes Expelled members of the Parliament of Great Britain Freemasons of the Premier Grand Lodge of England Knights Companion of the Order of the Bath Knights of the Garter Leaders of the House of Commons of Great Britain Members of the Kit-Kat Club Members of the Parliament of Great Britain for English constituencies Members of the Privy Council of Great Britain MPs for rotten boroughs Paymasters of the Forces Peers of Great Britain created by George II People educated at Eton College People from Castle Rising Prime Ministers of Great Britain Prisoners in the Tower of London Richmond Park Walpole family, Robert War Office Whig (British political party) MPs Residents of Thatched House Lodge Residents of White Lodge, Richmond Park People from Houghton, Norfolk