Earl Of Orford Sir Robert, an English statesman, born at Houghton, in Norfolk, Aug. 26, 1676, died in London, March 18, 1745. He was educated at Cambridge, and on succeeding to his father's estate in 1700 entered parliament. He attached himself to the whigs, aided in promoting the Protestant succession, and in 1705 was appointed one of the council of Prince George of Denmark. In 1708 he was made secretary at war, and assumed the leadership of the whigs in the house of commons. He had the chief management of the proceedings against Dr. Sacheverell, which in private he had strenuously opposed; and upon the overthrow of the whigs in 1710 he retired from office. He was impeached for misappropriation of the public money in his official capacity, and on Jan. 17, 1712, was expelled from the house and committed to the tower. On his release he was immediately returned for Lynn, but was not permitted to take his seat till 1713, when he was elected to the new parliament. On the accession of George I. he entered the cabinet as paymaster general of the forces, and drew up the report of the secret committee to which was referred the impeachment of the late tory ministers.
During the rebellion of 1715 he was made prime minister, with the offices of first lord of the treasury and chancellor'of the exchequer; but, owing to the intrigues of Sunderland and others, he was induced in April, 1717, with his brotherin-law Townshend, to retire from office. On the day of his resignation he brought forward a scheme for the reduction of the public debt, which may be regarded as the earliest germ of a national sinking fund. In 1720 he reentered the cabinet as paymaster general of the forces. In the same year the South sea bubble burst, and Walpole, who had strongly opposed it, was called upon to repair the injury inflicted upon the public credit. In April, 1721, he became again first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer, and was offered a peerage, which he declined; but his eldest son was created Baron Walpole of Walpole. On the accession of George II. he was confirmed in office by the favor of Queen Caroline. In 1733 he introduced a scheme for converting the customs duties upon certain articles of import into duties of excise, and to ameliorate the laws of the excise. The public were induced to believe that a general excise was contemplated, and a storm of popular indignation was aroused, which compelled him to abandon the bill.
In 1739 the Spanish war was forced upon the kingdom against Walpole's convictions, whose resignation the king refused to accept. But discord increased in the cabinet, the opposition grew bolder, and on Feb. 11,1742, after an unparalleled premiership of 21 years, he resigned all his offices, having two days previous been created earl of Orford. The general acquirements of Walpole were not remarkable, and his manners were coarse and boisterous, his conversation, according to Savage, ranging from obscenity to politics and from politics to obscenity; but he was probably the most dexterous party leader that ever sat in the house of commons. The charges of corruption so freely brought against him in his own and in later times have probably been much exaggerated.
Baron Walpole Of Wolterton Horatio, brother of the preceding, born in 1678, died in 1757. During the administration of his brother he tilled several important offices and foreign missions. He wrote an "Answer to the Latter Part of Bolingbroke's Letters on the Study of History " (London, 1762). In 1756 he was raised to the peerage.
Horace, an English author, third and youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, and fourth earl of Orford, born in London, Oct. 5,1717, died there, March 2,1797. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge, and after a continental tour in company with the poet Gray, he returned in 1741 to England, and entered parliament, where he held a seat till 1768. He had received from his father several sinecure offices, which yielded him about £4,000 a year; and he busied himself for many years with building and decorating a "little plaything house " at Twickenham, called Strawberry Hill, which grew into an irregular Gothic mansion. Here he collected pictures, prints, books, manuscripts, armor, and relics of antiquity, and printed on a private press, established in 1757, Gray's " Odes," a 4to edition of Lucan, Hentzner's "Travels," and other works, including several by himself. His literary labors began with the publication in 1747 of his JEdes Walpoliance, which was little more than a catalogue of his father's pictures at Houghton. It was succeeded by his "Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors " (1758), in which a dull subject is enlivened by a sprightly style and a fund of anecdote, and which affords also a curious illustration of the strength of his aristocratic predilections; and by his " Anecdotes of Painting in England " (1761-'71), and " Catalogue of Engravers" (1763), both prepared from materials collected by Vertue the engraver.
In 17C5 appeared his "Castle of Otranto," published originally as a translation by William Marshall from the Italian of Onuphrio Muralto, which may be regarded as the parent of the modern Gothic romance. His remaining publications comprise "Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard III." (1768), "TheMysterious Mother " (1768), and a variety of minor works. He also projected a 4to edition of his own works, which never proceeded.beyond the second volume. His most characteristic writings are his letters. Those addressed to Sir Horace Mann, George Montague, Lord Hertford, and others, were first embodied in a uniform collection in 1840 (6 vols. 8vo), and his "Entire Correspondence" was published under the supervision of Peter Cunningham (9 vols. 8vo, 1857-9; new ed., 1861). In addition to these he prepared " Memoirs " of the last 10 years of the reign of George II. (edited by Lord Holland, 2 vols. 4to, 1828), of the first 12 years of the reign of George III. (edited by Sir Denis Le Marchant, 4 vols. 8vo, 1844-'5), and of the reign of George III. from 1771 to 1783 (edited by Dr. Doran, 2 vols. 8vo, 1859). A compilation of Sir Horace Mann's letters to him, under the title of " ' Mann' and Manners at the Court of Florence, 1740-1786," edited by Dr. Doran, was published in London in 1875 (2 vols. 8vo). At the age of 74 he succeeded his nephew as fourth earl of Orford, which title, as he was never married, expired with him.
It was revived in 1806 in favor of his cousin, Horatio, second Baron Walpole of Wolterton.