WALPOLE, Horatio, Lord Walpole (1783-1858), of Wolterton, Norf. and 11 Berkeley Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



9 Mar. 1809 - 15 June 1822

Family and Education

b. 14 June 1783, 1st s. of Horatio Walpole†, 2nd earl of Orford, and 1st. w. Sophia, da. and coh. of Col. Charles Churchill† of Chalfont, Bucks.; bro. of Hon. John Walpole*. educ. Eton 1797-1801; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1801. m. 23 July 1812, Mary, da. and coh. of William Augustus Fawkener, clerk of PC, of Brocton Hall, Salop, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. as 3rd earl of Orford and 4th and 6th Bars. Walpole (of Wolterton and Walpole) 15 June 1822. d. 29 Dec. 1858.

Offices Held

Attaché at St. Petersburg 1806, at Madrid 1808; ld. of admiralty June 1811-Oct. 1812; sec. of embassy and minister ad. int. St. Petersburg 1812-15; commr. bd. of control June 1818-Feb. 1822.

Constable, Castle Rising 1822-d.; high steward, King’s Lynn 1822-d., Great Yarmouth 1833-6.

Col. W. Norf. militia 1822-d.


The diminutive placeman and former diplomat Lord Walpole, who acquired a reputation as an inveterate gambler, anti-feminist and ‘poseur’, neglectful of his wife, was returned in absentia for King’s Lynn on his father’s interest in 1820, when family illness detained him at Dresden.1 An anti-Catholic Tory for whom no Commons speeches are reported after 1820, he returned to the continent after taking his seat, spent the summer in Italy and informed his friend and fellow diplomat Edward Cromwell Disbrowe*, in Switzerland, that he was taking his family to Vienna for the winter, in order to ‘hear what is going on’ in England, and to shorten his journey to the Commons, when summoned.2 Although ‘Canning’s secession’ made him ‘less inclined’ to do so, he returned for what he envisaged as six weeks in late January 1821 to support Lord Liverpool’s ministry on the Queen Caroline affair and other issues.3 He divided with them as required until 13 Mar. 1822, when, probably as a reaction to losing his seat on the India board as a result of the Grenvillite accession, he created a stir by casting a wayward vote for the abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships.4 He had voted against parliamentary reform, 9 May, and he brought up a petition from King’s Lynn against the poor law amendment bill, 4 June 1821.5 He voted against permitting Catholic peers to take their seats in the House of Lords, 30 Apr. 1822. He was elevated there by his father’s death in June, and returned his brother John for King’s Lynn, where at Michaelmas he became high steward.6

From 1825 financial difficulties induced Orford, who privately had little respect for the Liverpool and Goderich ministries and esteemed Canning (whose corn bill he paired against, 18 June 1827) only as foreign secretary, to seek diplomatic employment.7 However, he turned down offers from Canning and the duke of Wellington of a mission to Mexico as unsuitable for his family and, with no alternative forthcoming, he sold his London home and went abroad pending further sales.8 His applications on behalf of John also failed.9 A lifelong Conservative and leader of the local party in Norfolk, 1846-58 (Conservative ministries never considered him trustworthy and ‘sanguine’ enough for office), he gave Wellington his proxy for Catholic emancipation in 1829, despite continued misgivings, opposed parliamentary reform with his Carlton Club colleagues and harried Lord Grey in the Lords on the French invasion of Belgium and other foreign policy issues, 1831-3, notwithstanding his brother’s preferment during his ministry.10 He died at Wolterton in December 1858, estranged from his wife (d. 4 Feb. 1859), and was succeeded in his titles and estates by his eldest son Horatio William Walpole (1813-94), Conservative Member for Norfolk East, 1835-37, and a convert to Roman Catholicism. Orford had settled a sum on his putative daughter Wilhelmine in St. Petersburg at her marriage in 1833-4, and his will, dated 7 Apr. 1852, invoked other family settlements and provided generously for his younger sons Henry (1818-76) and Frederick Walpole (1822-76), Conservative Member for Norfolk North, 1868-76. By a codicil of 19 Mar. 1858, he left £2,000 and £1,500 respectively to Miss Charlotte Lait of Regent’s Park and his housekeeper Caroline Anne Biddiscombe.11

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Robin Healey / Margaret Escott


  • 1. W. Rye, Later Hist. of Fam. of Walpole of Norf. 33-37; HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 474-5; Bury and Norwich Post, 8, 15 Mar. 1820.
  • 2. Recs. of Stirring Times ed. M. Montgomery-Campbell, 276-7.
  • 3. Ibid. 277-9.
  • 4. Gurney diary, 13 Mar. 1822.
  • 5. Recs. of Stirring Times, 277-8; The Times, 5 June 1821.
  • 6. The Times, 19 June; Norf. Chron. 22, 29 June 1822.
  • 7. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1362; Lord Walpole of Wolterton mss 14/48A; 17/4/84 [NRA 43212, pp. 163, 168]; Wellington mss WP1/937/17; 992/5.
  • 8. All Souls, Oxf. Vaughan mss, Orford to Vaughan, 26 July 1827, 3 July 1829; Wellington mss WP1/984/11; 1054/82.
  • 9. Wellington mss WP1/952/23; 957/21.
  • 10. Ibid. WP1/998/16; 999/7; 1054/82; 1185/19; 1216/5; Vaughan mss, Orford to Vaughan, 16 Feb., 3 July 1829; Three Diaries, 94, 136, 341; Holland House Diaries, 31; Lord Walpole of Wolterton mss 16/10, 12, 13 [NRA 43212, p. 145], The Times, 19 Nov. 1836, 6 Aug. 1843.
  • 11. The Times, 31 Dec. 1858; Gent. Mag. (1859), i. 219; Lord Walpole of Wolterton mss 14/4/55 [NRA 43212, pp. 164-5].