Robert Walpole KG KB

Robert Walpole KG KB (1676 - 1745)

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Sir Robert "1st Earl of Orford" Walpole KG KB
Born in Houghton, Norfolk, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Englandmap
Husband of — married about (to ) [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in London, Englandmap
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Profile last modified | Created 11 Mar 2011
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Categories: Houghton, Norfolk | Eton College | King's College, Cambridge | Members of Parliament, England | Members of Parliament, Great Britain | Members of Parliament, Castle Rising | Members of Parliament, King's Lynn | British Prime Ministers | Knights Companion of the Order of the Bath | Knights Companion of the Garter | Earls of Orford | Chancellors of the Exchequer of Great Britain.

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Robert Walpole KG KB was born in , England.
British Aristocracy
Robert Walpole KG KB was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.
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Preceded by
title created
1st Prime Minister of Great Britain
April 1721 - February 1742
Succeeded by
Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington


Robert Walpole was born on 26 August 1676 at Houghton in Norfolk, England.[1]

Robert's parents were Robert Walpole, a Norfolk landowner and Member of Parliament (MP) for Castle Rising,[1] Norfolk, and his wife, Mary, the only daughter and heir of Sir Geoffrey Burwell of Rougham, Suffolk, knight.[2]

Robert, the fifth child and third son, had 18 siblings:[2]

  1. Edward, died 1698;[2]
  2. Burwell, died in the battle of Beachy Head on 30 June 1690;[2]
  3. Galfridus;[3]
  4. Horatio,[3] Lord Walpole was the fifth son;[2]

Education Robert attended Eton from 1690, become a King's Scholar, then entered King’s College, Cambridge in April 1696. He left university without matriculating in 1698, when his eldest brother died, and he became the heir to his family's estates.[1]

Marriage and Children On 30 July 1700, Robert married Catherine Shorter, the eldest daughter of John Shorter, a Baltic merchant, of Bybrook, Kent, esq, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Philips.[4]

Robert and Catherine had children:

  1. Robert 2nd Earl of Orford, who married Margaret Rolle (17 January 1709 – 13 January 1781), later the 15th Baroness Clinton, in 1724. Their son George, 3rd Earl of Orford dsp.[4]
  2. Edward Walpole, died unmarried but had four illegitimate children with Dorothy Clement, three of whom were daughters.[4]
  3. Horatio or Horace who succeeded his nephew George as 4th Earl of Orford.[4]
  4. Mary Cholmondeley nee Walpole, who was married to George Cholmondeley, 3rd Earl of Cholmondeley;[4] and
  5. Catherine, died unmarried;[4]

Catherine, Lady Walpole, wife of Sir Robert Walpole, Viscount Walpole and Baron Houghton, died on 20 August, 1737, was buried in Houghton, Norfolk, and her son Horace had a memorial erected in the south aisle of Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey.[4]

Before 3 March 1738, Robert married his second wife, Maria, the daughter of Thomas Skerrett,[3] with whom he had an 'irregular connection' while his first wife Catherine was still alive.[5] Maria died the following year on 4 June from a miscarriage.[5]

Robert and Maria had two illegitimate daughters:

  1. a daughter died before 1738;[5]
  2. Mary (Maria) Churchill nee Walpole, for whom her father obtained from the king a patent of precedence for her as an earl's daughter, who was married to Colonel Charles Churchill, illegitimate son of General Charles Churchill, and Anne Oldfield.[5]

Political Career Robert's father, a Whig supporter of the 'Glorious Revolution' and a constitutional monarchy for Britain, died in November 1700, and the following year Robert took his place as MP for Castle Rising.[1] In 1702 Robert was elected MP for King's Lynn, Norfolk, and he retained this seat until February 1742, apart from a short interval in 1712,[1] A Tory government was elected in 1710 and Walpole was found guilty of corruption and imprison in the Tower of London in 1712.[1] Robert, 'a political moderate and an efficient administrator' was First Lord and Chancellor from April 1721 until February 1742 and is traditionally regarded as the first Prime Minister.[1]

Offices Held

  • Secretary at War in 1708[1]
  • Treasurer of the Navy in 1710 to 1711[1]
  • First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1715[1]
  • First Lord and Chancellor from April 1721 until February 1742[1]

Robert resided at 10 Downing Street from 1735, which he refused to take as a personal gift, insisting that it become the residence of the First Lord of the Treasury.[1]

Titles Robert was made a Knight of the Bath on 27 May 1725, and a Knight of the Garter on 26 May 1726.[3]

George II raised Robert to the peerage as Earl of Orford,[1] on 6 February 1742.[3]

Death Sir Robert Walpole, first Earl of Orford died at Arlington Street, London, on 8[1] or 18 March 1745, "killed by a remedy for the stone".[3]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Andrew Thompson, "Sir Robert Walpole (Whig, 1721-1742)", History of government, GOV.UK, Crown copyright, 2014,, accessed 30 January 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XXXVII Maxquerier-Millyng, (London: Smith, Elder, & co., 1894), accessed 30 January 2015, pp.179.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Romney R Sedgwick, ed., "WALPOLE, Robert (1676-1745), of Houghton, Norf", The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History, ( Crown copyright and The History of Parliament Trust 1964-2014, 1970), accessed 30 January 2015, .
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 The Dean and Chapter of Westminster, "History:Famous People & the Abbey:Sir Humphrey Stanley", Westminster Abbey Founded 960, ( 2015), accessed 30 January 2015,,-lady-walpole .
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XXXVII Maxquerier-Millyng, (London: Smith, Elder, & co., 1894), accessed 30 January 2015, pp.205-6.

See also:

  • Stephen Taylor, ‘Walpole, Robert, first earl of Orford (1676–1745)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 7 Sept 2017. This is a subscription site but access is free to readers of British libraries whose library subscribes.

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Sir Robert Walpole, First Earl of Orford
Sir Robert Walpole, First Earl of Orford


Robert is 23 degrees from Rosa Parks, 20 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 6 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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