WALPOLE, Hon. Sir Edward (1706-84), of Frogmore, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. 1706, 2nd s. of Robert, 1st Earl of Orford, by Catherine, da. of John Shorter of Bybrook, Kent; bro. of Hon. Horatio Walpole (d. 1797). educ. Eton; King’s, Camb. 1725; L. Inn 1723, called 1727. unm., 1s. 3da.: Laura who m. 1758 Hon. Frederick Keppel; Maria who m. (1) 1759, James, 2nd Earl Waldegrave, (2) 1766, William, Duke of Gloucester; and Charlotte who m. 1770, Lionel, 5th Earl of Dysart. cr. K.B. 27 Aug. 1753.
M.P. [I] 1737-60.
Sec. to ld. lt. [I] 1737-9.
Walpole held the following sinecures given him by his father: master of pleas and escheats, clerk of the pells, and joint collector in the customs house, all for life. He was classed in 1754 as a supporter of Administration, but took a fitful interest in political affairs, preferring his music, his books, and his garden. To the Duke of Bedford he wrote, 27 Aug. 1759:1
I have very little to do with politics or party matters of any kind ... mixing too little with the world to be immediately or actively concerned in anything of that kind, living a retired and very private life.
He made no speeches in the House after 1754, and seems to have attended very infrequently.
Re-elected unopposed in 1761, he voted with Opposition on general warrants, his only recorded votes during this Parliament, and belonged to the Opposition club at Wildman’s. But, after the death of his friend Henry Bilson Legge in August 1764, he lost all interest in politics, and in 1767 announced his intention of retiring at the forthcoming general election:2
For three or four years past I have not attended my duty in Parliament as I ought to do; and with that disposition I am by no means a fit representative of so considerable a trading town as Yarmouth. The indulgence of my friends there has been very great; which I must not abuse any longer.
After this he became more of a recluse than ever, describing himself in 1777 as ‘a man who never comes out but with the flies and the bees and the insects.’3
On his death, his brother wrote to Mann, 13 Jan. 1784:
My brother died yesterday evening, with the same tranquillity which he had preserved through his whole illness. His almost unvaried health from soon after thirty to seventy-seven, his ample fortune and unambitious temper, make his life and death rather to be envied than lamented.