WALPOLE, Hon. Edward (1706-84), of Frogmore, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. 1706, 2nd s. of Sir Robert Walpole; bro. of Hon. Horatio Walpole of Strawberry Hill. educ. Eton 1718; King’s, Camb. 1725; L. Inn 1723, called 1727; Grand Tour (Italy 1730).1 unm., 1s. 3da. K.B. 27 Aug. 1753.
M.P. [I] 1737-60.
Master of pleas in the Exchequer 1727, and clerk of the pells 1739, for life; jt. sec. to Treasury 1730-9; P.C. [I] 1737; sec. to ld. lt. [I] 1737-9.
Brought into Parliament in 1730, Edward Walpole, aged 24, was appointed joint secretary of the Treasury in succession to his uncle, old Horace Walpole, whom he also succeeded at Yarmouth in 1734. From 1737 he combined this post, dealing with the political side of the Treasury work under his father, with that of secretary to the Duke of Devonshire as lord lieutenant of Ireland, reporting to him debates at Westminster affecting Irish affairs. He resigned both posts in 1739, on appointment to a life sinecure at the Exchequer worth £3,000 a year, which by 1782 was producing £7,000 a year.2 In addition he had £400 a year from another life sinecure, and, after his father’s death, a further £300-£400 a year from a third one held in trust for him as it was incompatible with a seat in the House of Commons.3 He voted with the Government of the day in all recorded divisions, making his only known speech on 3 Dec. 1742 against an opposition place bill. In 1743 he talked of retiring from Parliament at the next general election,4 but eventually agreed to continue, ‘a trouble and expense taken upon me entirely for the service of the Government, without which motive it suits my genius much more to live quite retired in obscurity’.5 In 1751 a gang of Irish blackmailers were given heavy sentences for conspiring to extort money from him by threatening to accuse him of sodomy.6 In 1753 he applied for a K.B., explaining that
I should like to be employed abroad in his Majesty’s service, to which purpose this kind of trapping has its subserviency.7
He obtained the K.B. but not an appointment. In later life he became a recluse. He died 12 Jan. 1784.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. J. H. Plumb, Walpole, ii. 86 n. 2.
- 2. CJ, xxxviii. 708.
- 3. Coxe, Walpole, i. 730-1; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxx. 296; Corresp. H. Walpole (Yale ed.), xiii. 15.
- 4. J. Fowle to ‘old’ Horace Walpole, 30 June 1743, Walpole (Wolterton) mss.
- 5. To Newcastle, 19 June 1747, Add. 32711, f. 418.
- 6. Gen. Mag. 1751, pp. 328, 334, 521-2.
- 7. To Newcastle, 23 Aug. 1753, Add. 32732, f. 516