||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2011)|
|The Right Honourable
The Earl of Orford
KG KB PC
|Prime Minister of Great Britain|
4 April 1721 – 11 February 1742
|Preceded by||Office created|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Wilmington|
|Chancellor of the Exchequer|
4 April 1721 – 12 February 1742
|Preceded by||Sir John Pratt|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Sandys|
12 October 1715 – 15 April 1717
|Preceded by||Sir Richard Onslow, Bt|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Stanhope|
26 August 1676|
Houghton, Norfolk, England
|Died||18 March 1745
London, England, Great Britain
|Alma mater||King's College, Cambridge|
|Religion||Church of England|
Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, KG, KB, PC (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745), known before 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. Although the position of "Prime Minister" had no recognition in law or official use at the time, Walpole is nevertheless acknowledged as having held the office de facto because of his influence within the Cabinet.
A Whig who was first elected in 1701, Walpole served during the reigns of George I and George II. His tenure as "Prime Minister" is normally dated from 1721, when he obtained the post of First Lord of the Treasury; others date it from 1730, when with the retirement of Lord Townshend, he became the sole and undisputed leader of the Cabinet. The "longer" version of the tenure was generally upheld by the contemporary press, most notably that of the opposition, who focused far more attention upon Walpole than his counterpart. Walpole continued to govern until his resignation in 1742, prompted by the Battle of Cartagena disaster, making his administration the longest in British history. Because of his homely ways and strong Norfolk roots, he was often known to both friends and detractors as "the fat old Squire of Norfolk."
Early life and family 
Walpole was born in Houghton Hall, Norfolk in 1676. His father, Robert Walpole, was a Whig politician who represented the borough of Castle Rising in the House of Commons. His mother was Mary Walpole (née Burwell) and he was the third of seventeen children, eight of whom died during infancy. Walpole holds the record amongst Prime Ministers for the greatest number of siblings.
Walpole entered Eton College as a scholar in 1690 and matriculated at King's College, Cambridge in 1696. In 1698 he left the University of Cambridge after the death of his only remaining elder brother, Edward, so that he could help his father administer the family estate. Walpole had planned to become a clergyman but abandoned the idea when, as the eldest surviving son in the family, he became the heir to his father's estate.
On 30 July 1700, Walpole married Catherine Shorter (died 20 August 1737), with whom he later had two daughters and four sons:
- Robert Walpole, 2nd Earl of Orford (1701 – 31 March 1751), who married Margaret Rolle (17 January 1709 – 13 January 1781), later the 15th Baroness Clinton, on 26 March 1724 and had one son.
- Katherine Walpole, (13 May 1703 – 22 October 1722), who died unmarried at Bath, Somerset.
- Horatio Walpole (1704 – 24 July 1704)
- Mary Walpole (c. 1705 – 2 January 1732), who married the 3rd Earl of Cholmondeley on 14 September 1723 and had two sons.
- The Hon. Sir Edward Walpole (c. 1706–1784); he had an illegitimate daughter, Maria Walpole, who later married into the British Royal Family, becoming the wife of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, King George III's brother. Ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales.
- Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797)
After Lady Walpole died, Walpole married his mistress, Maria Skerritt, before 3 March 1738. They had been living openly together in Richmond, Houghton Hall and London society since about 1724, and she had borne him an illegitimate daughter whom he eventually had ennobled as Lady Maria Walpole. This daughter married Colonel Charles Churchill of Chalfont (1720–1812), a great-nephew of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, with whom she had two daughters. One of these daughters, Sophia Churchill, married Horatio Walpole, a great grandson of Robert Walpole and Mary Burwell who was also descended from the 1st Baron Burghley. The second Lady Walpole died of a miscarriage three months after the couple's marriage. As a couple they were commemorated as Polly and Macheath in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera which he wrote in 1728.
Early political career 
Walpole's political career began in January 1701 when he won the general election in Castle Rising, the parliamentary borough once represented by his father, who had died just three months before Walpole's election. He left Castle Rising in 1702 so that he could contest the neighbouring but more important borough of King's Lynn, a constituency that would re-elect him at every subsequent general election for the next forty years.
Like his father, Robert Walpole was a zealous member of the Whig Party, which was then more powerful than the opposing Tory Party. In 1705, Walpole was appointed a member of the Council of the Lord High Admiral (then Prince George of Denmark, the husband of Queen Anne), a body which oversaw naval affairs. His administrative skills having been noticed, Walpole was promoted by Lord Godolphin (the Lord High Treasurer and leader of the Cabinet) to the position of Secretary at War in 1708; for a short period of time in 1710 he also simultaneously held the post of Treasurer of the Navy. Walpole's service in these offices made him a close advisor of the Duke of Marlborough, the commander of British forces in the War of the Spanish Succession and a dominant force in British politics. Robert Walpole himself quickly became one of the most important members of the Cabinet.
Despite his personal clout, however, Walpole could not stop Lord Godolphin and the Whigs from pressing for the prosecution of Henry Sacheverell, a minister who preached anti-Whig sermons. The trial was extremely unpopular with much of the country, causing the Sacheverell riots, and was followed by the downfall of the Duke of Marlborough and the Whig Party in the general election of 1710. The new ministry, under the leadership of the Tory Robert Harley, removed Walpole from his office of Secretary at War but allowed him to remain Treasurer of the Navy until 2 January 1711. Harley attempted to entice him to join the Tories, but Walpole rejected the offers, instead becoming one of the most outspoken members of the Whig Opposition. He effectively defended Lord Godolphin against Tory attacks in parliamentary debate, as well as in the press.
Angered by his political attacks, the Tories sought to ruin and discredit him along with the Duke of Marlborough. In 1712, they alleged that he had been guilty of corruption as Secretary at War; these charges, however, stemmed from political hatred rather than fact. Walpole was impeached by the House of Commons and found guilty by the overwhelmingly Tory House of Lords; he was then imprisoned in the Tower of London for six months and expelled from Parliament. The move, however, backfired against the Tories, as Walpole was perceived by the public as the victim of an unjust trial. His own constituency even re-elected him in 1713, despite his earlier expulsion from the House of Commons. Walpole developed an intense hatred for Robert Harley (by then Earl of Oxford and Mortimer) and Lord Bolingbroke, the Tories who had engineered his impeachment.
Stanhope/Sunderland Ministry 
Queen Anne died in 1714, to be succeeded by a distant German cousin George I under the Act of Settlement 1701. George I distrusted the Tories who he believed opposed his right to succeed to the Throne. (The Act of Settlement had excluded several senior relatives of Anne on the grounds of their adherence to Roman Catholicism). Thus 1714, the year of George's accession, marked the ascendancy of the Whigs who would remain in power for the next fifty years. Robert Walpole became a Privy Councillor and rose to the position of Paymaster of the Forces in a Cabinet nominally led by Lord Halifax, but actually dominated by Lord Townshend (Walpole's brother-in-law) and James Stanhope. Walpole was also appointed chairman of a secret committee formed to investigate the actions of the previous Tory ministry. The individuals who had brought about Walpole's impeachment in 1712 were now themselves attacked for purely political reasons: Lord Oxford was impeached, and Lord Bolingbroke suffered from an act of attainder.
Lord Halifax, the titular head of the administration, died in 1715. Walpole, recognised as an assiduous politician, was immediately promoted to the important posts of First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer; in this position, he introduced the sinking fund, a device to reduce the national debt. The Cabinet of which he was a member was often divided over most important issues. Normally, Walpole and Lord Townshend were on one side, with Stanhope and Lord Sunderland on the other. Foreign policy was the primary issue of contention, for Walpole and Townshend believed that George I was conducting foreign affairs with the interests of his German territories—rather than those of Great Britain—at heart. The Stanhope-Sunderland faction, however, had the King's support. In 1716 Townshend was removed from the important post of Northern Secretary and put in the lesser office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Even this change did not appease Stanhope and Sunderland who secured the dismissal of Townshend from the Lord-Lieutenancy in April 1717. On the next day, Walpole resigned from the Cabinet to join Townshend in the Opposition. In the new Cabinet, Sunderland and Stanhope (who was created an Earl) were the effective heads.
Soon after Walpole's resignation, a bitter family quarrel between the King and the Prince of Wales split the Royal Family. Walpole and others who opposed the Government often congregated at Leicester House, the home of the Prince of Wales, to form political plans. Walpole also became a close friend of the Prince of Wales's wife, Caroline. In 1720 he improved his position by bringing about a reconciliation between the Prince of Wales and the King.
Walpole continued to be an influential figure in the House of Commons. He was especially active in opposing one of the Government's more significant proposals, the Peerage Bill, which would have limited the power of the monarch to create new peerages. Walpole brought about a temporary abandonment of the bill in 1719 and the outright rejection of the bill by the House of Commons in the next year. This defeat led Lord Stanhope and Lord Sunderland to reconcile with their opponents; Walpole returned to the Cabinet as Paymaster of the Forces and Townshend was appointed Lord President of the Council. By returning to the Cabinet, however, Walpole lost the favour of the Prince of Wales (the future King George II) who still harboured disdain for his father's Government.
Rise to power 
Soon after Walpole returned to the Cabinet, Britain was swept by a wave of over-enthusiastic speculation which led to the South Sea Bubble. The Government had established a plan whereby the South Sea Company would assume the national debt of Great Britain in exchange for lucrative bonds. It was widely believed that the Company would eventually reap an enormous profit through international trade in cloth, agricultural goods, and slaves. Many in the country, including Walpole himself, frenziedly invested in the company. By the latter part of 1720, however, the company had begun to collapse as the price of its shares plunged. Walpole was saved from financial ruin by his banker who had earlier advised him to sell his shares; other investors, however, were not as fortunate.
In 1721 a committee investigated the scandal, finding that there was corruption on the part of many in the Cabinet. Among those implicated were John Aislabie (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), James Craggs the Elder (the Postmaster General), James Craggs the Younger (the Southern Secretary), and even Lord Stanhope and Lord Sunderland (the heads of the Ministry). Craggs the Elder and Craggs the Younger both died in disgrace; the remainder were impeached for their corruption. Aislabie was found guilty and imprisoned, but the personal influence of Walpole saved both Stanhope and Sunderland. For his role in preventing these individuals and others from being punished, Walpole gained the nickname of "Screenmaster-General".
The resignation of Sunderland and the death of Stanhope in 1721 left Walpole as the most important figure in the administration. In April 1721 he was appointed First Lord of the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. Walpole's de facto tenure as "Prime Minister" is often dated to his appointment as First Lord in 1721. In reality, however, Walpole shared power with his brother-in-law Lord Townshend, who served as Secretary of State for the Northern Department and controlled the nation's foreign affairs. The two also had to contend with the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, Lord Carteret.
Premiership under George I 
Under the guidance of Walpole, Parliament attempted to deal with the financial crisis brought on by the South Sea Bubble. The estates of the directors of the South Sea Company were confiscated and used to relieve the suffering of the victims, and the stock of the company was divided between the Bank of England and East India Company. The crisis had significantly damaged the credibility of the King and of the Whig Party, but Walpole defended both with skilful oratory in the House of Commons.
Walpole's first year as Prime Minister was also marked by the discovery of a Jacobite plot formed by Francis Atterbury, the Bishop of Rochester. The exposure of the scheme crushed the hopes of the Jacobites whose previous attempts at rebellion (most notably the risings of 1715 and 1719) had also failed. The Tory Party was equally unfortunate even though Lord Bolingbroke, a Tory leader who fled to France to avoid punishment for his Jacobite sympathies, was permitted to return to Britain in 1723.
During the remainder of George I's reign, Walpole's ascendancy continued; the political power of the monarch was gradually diminishing and that of his ministers gradually increasing. In 1724 the primary political rival of Walpole and Townshend in the Cabinet, Lord Carteret, was dismissed from the post of Southern Secretary and once again appointed to the lesser office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In Ireland, Lord Carteret used his power to secretly aid in the controversy over Wood's Halfpence and support Drapier's Letters behind the scenes and cause harm to Walpole's power. Walpole was able to recover from these events by removing the patent. However, Irish sentiment was situated against the English control.
Now, Walpole and Townshend were clearly the supreme forces in the ministry. They helped keep Great Britain at peace, especially by negotiating a treaty with France and Prussia in 1725. Great Britain, free from Jacobite threats, from war, and from financial crises, grew prosperous, and Robert Walpole acquired the favour of George I. In 1725 he was created a Knight of the Bath, and in 1726 a Knight of the Garter (earning him the nickname "Sir Blustering"). Moreover, his eldest son was granted a barony.
Premiership under George II 
Walpole's position was threatened in 1727 when George I died and was succeeded by George II. For a few days it seemed that Walpole would be dismissed but the King agreed to keep him in office upon the advice of Queen Caroline. Although the King disliked Townshend, he retained him as well. Over the next years Walpole continued to share power with Townshend but gradually became the clearly dominant partner in government. The two clashed over British foreign affairs, especially over policy regarding Austria, but Walpole was ultimately victorious, with his colleague retiring on 15 May 1730. This date is often given as the beginning of Walpole's unofficial tenure as Prime Minister. In the wake of his triumph Walpole was able to conclude the Treaty of Vienna creating the Anglo-Austrian alliance.
Walpole, a polarising figure, had many opponents, the most important of whom were in the Country Party, such as Lord Bolingbroke (who had been his political enemy since the days of Queen Anne) and William Pulteney (a capable Whig statesman who felt snubbed when Walpole failed to include him in the Cabinet). Bolingbroke and Pulteney ran a periodical called The Craftsman in which they incessantly denounced the Prime Minister's policies. Walpole was also satirised and parodied extensively; he was often compared to the criminal Jonathan Wild as, for example, John Gay did in his farcical Beggar's Opera. Walpole's other enemies included Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, and Dr Samuel Johnson.
Despite such opposition, Walpole secured the support of the people and of the House of Commons with a policy of avoiding war which, in turn, allowed him to impose low taxes. He used his influence to prevent George II from entering a European conflict in 1733 when the War of the Polish Succession broke out. In the same year, however, his influence was seriously threatened by a taxation scheme he introduced. The revenue of the country had been severely diminished by smugglers so Walpole proposed that the tariff on wine and tobacco be replaced by an excise tax. To countervail the threat of smuggling, the tax was to be collected not at ports but at warehouses. This new proposal, however, was extremely unpopular and aroused the opposition of the nation's merchants. Walpole agreed to withdraw the bill before Parliament voted on it but he dismissed the politicians who had dared to oppose it in the first place. Thus, Walpole lost a considerable element of his Whig Party to the Opposition.
After the general elections of 1734, Walpole's supporters still formed a majority in the House of Commons although they were less numerous than before. Though he maintained his parliamentary supremacy, his popularity began to wane. In 1736 an increase in the tax on gin inspired riots in London. The even more serious Porteous Riots broke out in Edinburgh after the King pardoned a captain of the guard (John Porteous) who had commanded his troops to shoot a group of protesters. Though these events diminished Walpole's popularity, they failed to shake his majority in Parliament. Walpole's domination over the House of Commons was highlighted by the ease with which he secured the rejection of Sir John Barnard's plan to reduce the interest on the national debt. Walpole was also able to persuade Parliament to pass the Licensing Act of 1737 under which London theatres were regulated. The Act revealed a disdain for Swift, Pope, Fielding, and other literary figures who had attacked his government in their works.
While the "country party" attacked Walpole relentlessly, he subsidized writers who spoke up in his behalf. William Arnall and others defended Walpole from the charge of evil political corruption by arguing that corruption is the universal human condition. Furthermore, they argued, political divisiveness was also universal and inevitable because of selfish passions that were integral to human nature. Arnall argued that government must be strong enough to control conflict, and in that regard Walpole was quite successful. This style of "court" political rhetoric continued through the 18th century.
The year 1737 was also marked by the death of Walpole's close friend Queen Caroline. Though her death did not end his personal influence with George II, who had grown loyal to the Prime Minister during the preceding years, Walpole's domination of government continued to decline. His opponents acquired a vocal leader in the Prince of Wales who was estranged from his father, the King. Several young politicians including William Pitt the Elder and George Grenville formed a faction known as the "Patriot Boys" and joined the Prince of Wales in opposition.
Walpole's failure to maintain a policy of avoiding military conflict eventually led to his fall from power. Under the Treaty of Seville (1729), Great Britain agreed not to trade with the Spanish colonies in North America. Spain claimed the right to board and search British vessels to ensure compliance with this provision. Disputes, however, broke out over trade with the West Indies. Walpole attempted to prevent war but was opposed by the King, the House of Commons, and by a faction in his own Cabinet. In 1739 Walpole abandoned all efforts to stop the conflict and commenced the War of Jenkins' Ear (so called because Robert Jenkins, a Welsh mariner, claimed that a Spaniard inspecting his vessel had severed his ear).
Walpole's influence continued to dramatically decline even after the war began. In the 1741 general election his supporters secured an increase in votes in constituencies that were decided by mass electorates but failed to win in many pocket boroughs (constituencies subject to the informal but strong influence of patrons). In general the government made gains in England and Wales but this was not enough to overturn the reverses of the 1734 election and further losses in Cornwall where many constituencies were obedient to the will of the Prince of Wales (who was also Duke of Cornwall). These constituencies returned Members of Parliament hostile to the Prime Minister. Similarly, the influence of the Duke of Argyll secured the election of members opposed to Walpole in some parts of Scotland. Walpole's new majority was difficult to determine because of the uncertain loyalties of many new members, but contemporaries and historians estimated it as low as fourteen to eighteen.
In the new Parliament, many Whigs thought the aging Prime Minister incapable of leading the military campaign. Moreover, his majority was not as strong as it used to be, his detractors being approximately as numerous as his supporters. In 1742 when the House of Commons was prepared to determine the validity of an allegedly rigged by-election in Chippenham, Walpole and others agreed to treat the issue as a Motion of No Confidence. As Walpole was defeated on the vote, he agreed to resign from the Government. The news of the naval disaster against Spain in the Battle of Cartagena de Indias also prompted the end of his political career. As part of his resignation the King agreed to elevate him to the House of Lords as the Earl of Orford and this occurred on 6 February 1742. Five days later he formally relinquished the seals of office.
Later years 
Lord Orford was succeeded as Prime Minister by Lord Wilmington in an administration whose true head was Lord Carteret. A committee was created to inquire into Walpole's ministry but no substantial evidence of wrongdoing or corruption was discovered. Though no longer a member of the Cabinet, Lord Orford continued to maintain personal influence with George II and was often dubbed the "Minister behind the Curtain" for this advice and influence. In 1744 he managed to secure the dismissal of Carteret and the appointment of Henry Pelham whom he regarded as a political protégé. He advised Pelham to make use of his seat in the Commons to serve as a bridge between the King and Parliament, just as Walpole had done.
His health, never good, deteriorated rapidly toward the end of 1744; Lord Orford died in London in 1745, aged nearly sixty-nine years; he was buried in the parish church of his home estate at Houghton, Norfolk. His earldom passed to his eldest son Robert who was in turn succeeded by his only son George. Upon the death of the third Earl, the Earldom was inherited by the first Earl's younger son Horace Walpole (a famous writer and friend of poet Thomas Gray), who died without heirs in 1797.
Walpole's influence on the politics of his day was tremendous. The Tories became a minor, insignificant faction, and the Whigs became a dominant and largely unopposed party. His influence on the development of the uncodified constitution of Great Britain was less momentous even though he is regarded as Great Britain's first Prime Minister. He relied primarily on the favour of the King rather than on the support of the House of Commons. His power stemmed from his personal influence instead of the influence of his office. Most of his immediate successors were, comparatively speaking, extremely weak; it would take several decades more for the premiership to develop into the most powerful and most important office in the country.
Walpole's strategy of keeping Great Britain at peace contributed greatly to the country's prosperity. Walpole also managed to secure the position of the Hanoverian Dynasty, and effectively countervailed Jacobitism. The Jacobite threat was ended, soon after Walpole's term ended, by the defeat of the rebellion of 1745. Later in the century, the Whig MP Edmund Burke "admitted him into the whig pantheon". Burke wrote:
He was an honorable man and a sound Whig. He was not, as the Jacobites and discontented Whigs of his time have represented him, and as ill-informed people still represent him, a prodigal and corrupt minister. They charged him in their libels and seditious conversations as having first reduced corruption to a system. Such was their cant. But he was far from governing by corruption. He governed by party attachments. The charge of systematic corruption is less applicable to him, perhaps, than to any minister who ever served the crown for so great a length of time. He gained over very few from the Opposition. Without being a genius of the first class, he was an intelligent, prudent, and safe minister. He loved peace; and he helped to communicate the same disposition to nations at least as warlike and restless as that in which he had the chief direction of affairs...With many virtues, public and private, he had his faults; but his faults were superficial. A careless, coarse, and over familiar style of discourse, without sufficient regard to persons or occasions, and an almost total want of political decorum, were the errours by which he was most hurt in the public opinion: and those through which his enemies obtained the greatest advantage over him. But justice must be done. The prudence, steadiness, and vigilance of that man, joined to the greatest possible lenity in his character and his politics, preserved the crown to this royal family; and with it, their laws and liberties to this country.
Lord Chesterfield was sceptical whether "an impartial Character of Sr Robert Walpole, will or can be transmitted to Posterity, for he governed this Kingdom so long that the various passions of Mankind mingled, and in a manner incorporated themselves, with every thing that was said or writt concerning him. Never was Man more flattered nor more abused, and his long power, was probably the chief cause of both". Chesterfield claimed he was "much acquainted with him both in his publick and his private life":
In private life he was good natured, Chearfull, social. Inelegant in his manners, loose in his morals. He had a coarse wit, which he was too free of for a Man in his Station, as it is always inconsistent with dignity. He was very able as a Minister, but without a certain Elevation of mind...He was both the ablest Parliament man, and the ablest manager of a Parliament, that I believe ever lived...Money, not Prerogative, was the chief Engine of his administration, and he employed it with a success that in a manner disgraced humanity...When he found any body proof, against pecuniary temptations, which alass! was but seldom, he had recourse to still a worse art. For he laughed at and ridiculed all notions of Publick virtue, and the love of one's Country, calling them the Chimerical school boy flights of Classical learning; declaring himself at the same time, No Saint, no Spartan, no reformer. He would frequently ask young fellows at their first appearance in the world, while their honest hearts were yet untainted, well are you to be an old Roman? a Patriot? you will soon come off of that, and grow wiser. And thus he was more dangerous to the morals, than to the libertys of his country, to which I am persuaded that he meaned no ill in his heart...His Name will not be recorded in History among the best men, or the best Ministers, but much much less ought it to be ranked among the worst.
Another part of Walpole's legacy is 10 Downing Street. George II offered this home to Walpole as a personal gift in 1732 but Walpole accepted it only as the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, taking up his residence there on 22 September 1735. His immediate successors did not always reside in Number 10 (preferring their larger private residences) but the home has nevertheless become established as the official residence of the Prime Minister (in his or her capacity as First Lord of the Treasury).
Walpole also left behind a famous collection of art which he had assembled during his career. Many of the works in this collection were sold by his grandson, the 3rd Earl of Orford, to the Russian Empress Catherine II in 1779. This collection—which was regarded as one of the finest in Europe—now lies in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The town of Walpole, Massachusetts, USA was founded in 1724 and named after Sir Robert Walpole.
Walpole Street in Wolverhampton is named after Sir Robert Walpole.
Styles from birth to death 
- Mr Robert Walpole (1676–1701)
- Mr Robert Walpole, MP (1701–1714)
- The Rt Hon. Robert Walpole, MP (1714–1725)
- The Rt Hon. Sir Robert Walpole, KB, MP (1725–1726)
- The Rt Hon. Sir Robert Walpole, KG, KB, MP (1726–1742)
- The Rt Hon. The Earl of Orford, KG, KB, PC (1742–1745)
See also 
- Walpole/Townshend Ministry (1721–1730)
- Walpole Ministry (1730–1742)
- List of Prime Ministers of Great Britain
- Marquess of Cholmondeley
- Baron Delamere
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Robert Walpole|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
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- Venn, J.; Venn, J. A., eds. (1922–1958). "Walpole, Robert". Alumni Cantabrigienses (10 vols) (online ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Jonathan Swift and Ireland by Oliver W. Ferguson
- Jonathan Swift: Volume III by Irvin Ehrenpreis
- Memoirs of the Life and Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford by William Coxe, 1978
- Isaac Kramnick, Bolingbroke and His Circle: The Politics of Nostalgia in the Age of Walpole (1992)
- Stuart Handley, M. J. Rowe, and W. H. McBryde, "Pulteney, William, earl of Bath (1684–1764)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online Oct 2007, accessed 27 Aug 2011
- Simon Varey, "The Craftsman," Prose Studies, April 1993, Vol. 16 Issue 1, pp 58-77
- J. A. Downie, Jonathan Swift: Political Writer (1986)
- Thomas Horne, "Politics in a Corrupt Society: William Arnall's Defense of Robert Walpole," Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 41, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1980), pp. 601-614 in JSTOR
- Browning p.117
- Jonathan Aotes, "Sir Robert Walpole after his Fall from Power, 1742–1745," History, April 2006, Vol. 91 Issue 302, pp 218-230
- Stephen Taylor, ‘Walpole, Robert, first earl of Orford (1676–1745)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 19 Dec 2010.
- Edmund Burke, An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs (The Library of Liberal Arts, 1962), pp. 62-63.
- Colin Franklin, Lord Chesterfield. His Character and ‘Characters’ (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1993), p. 114.
- Franklin, pp. 114-115.
- Black, Jeremy (2001), Walpole in Power, Stroud: Sutton Publishing, ISBN 0-7509-2523-X.
- Browning, Reed (1975), The Duke of Newcastle, New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-01746-4.
- Dickinson, Harry T. (1973), Walpole and the Whig Supremacy, London: English Universities Press, ISBN 0-340-11515-7.
- Field, Ophelia (2008), The Kit-Cat Club: Friends Who Imagined a Nation, Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0-00-717892-6.
- Hill, Brian W. (1989), Sir Robert Walpole: Sole and Prime Minister, London: Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 0-241-12738-6.
- Morley, John (1889), Walpole, London: Macmillan and Co.
- Napierała, Piotr (2008), Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745) – twórca brytyjskiej potęgi [the architect of British Power], Wydawnictwo Naukowe Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, ISBN 978-83-232-1898-2.
- Pearce, Eward (2008), The Great Man: Sir Robert Walpole, London: Pimlico, ISBN 978-1-84413-405-2.
- Plumb, John Harold (1956–1960), Sir Robert Walpole (2 volumes), London: Cresset Press.
- Plumb, John Harold (1967), The Growth of Political Stability in England 1675–1725, London: Macmillan and Co.
- Rodger, N. A. M. (2006), Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815, London: Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-102690-1.
- Sir Robert Walpole on the Downing Street website.
- Houghton Hall
- Cholmondeley Castle
- Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford at the National Portrait Gallery, London