Walpole, Sir Robert (16771745)

Walpole, Sir Robert, Earl of Orford, Whig statesman, born at Houghton, Norfolk, educated at Eton and Cambridge; entered Parliament in 1701, and became member for King's Lynn in 1702; was favoured by the Whig leaders, and promoted to office in the Cabinet; was accused of corruption by the opposite party when in power, and committed to the Tower; on his release after acquittal was re-elected for King's Lynn; in 1715 became First Lord of the Treasury, and in 1721 became Prime Minister, which he continued to be for twenty-one years, but not without opposition on account of his pacific policy; on being driven against his will into a war with Spain, which proved unsuccessful, he retired into private life; he stood high in repute for his financial policy; it was he who established the first Sinking Fund, and who succeeded as a financier in restoring confidence after the bursting of the South Sea Bubble (q.v.); it is to his policy in defeating the plans of the Jacobites that the Hanoverian dynasty in great part owe their permanent occupancy of the British throne; it was a favourite maxim of his. “Every man has his price,” and he was mortified to find that Pitt could not be bought by any bribe of his (16771745).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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