George Walpole (British Army officer)

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The Honourable
George Walpole
Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
1806–1807
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Lord Grenville
Preceded by Robert Ward
Succeeded by Viscount FitzHarris
Personal details
Born 20 June 1758
Died May 1835
Nationality British

Major-General The Honourable George Walpole (20 June 1758 – May 1835), was a British soldier and politician. He gained distinction after suppressing the Maroon insurrection in Jamaica in 1795. After entering Parliament in 1797, he served as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1806 to 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents headed by Lord Grenville.

Background[edit]

Walpole was the third son of Horatio Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, by Lady Rachel Cavendish (d. 1805), third daughter of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire. Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole, was his grandfather.[1]

Military career[edit]

Walpole was commissioned as cornet in the 12th Light Dragoons on 12 May 1777, and became lieutenant in the 9th Dragoons on 17 April 1780. He returned to the 12th Light Dragoons as captain-lieutenant on 10 December 1781, and exchanged to the 8th Light Dragoons on 13 August 1782. On 25 June 1785 he obtained a majority in the 13th Light Dragoons, and became lieutenant-colonel of that regiment on 31 October 1792.[1]

Maroon insurrection in Jamaica, 1795[edit]

In 1795 Walpole went with the 13th Light Dragoons to the West Indies, and took a leading part in the suppression of the maroon insurrection in Jamaica. The Trelawney maroons, who had risen, numbered fewer than seven hundred, but they had been joined by about four hundred runaway slaves, and the insurrection threatened to spread. The country was extremely difficult for regular troops, and two of the detachments sent against the maroons fell into ambushes, and their commanders (Colonels Sandford and Fitch) were killed. At the beginning of October Walpole was charged with the general conduct of the operations, and the governor – Lord Balcarres – gave him the local and temporary rank of major-general. By skilful dispositions he captured several of the maroon "cockpits" or stockades. On 24 October the governor wrote to the secretary of state: "General Walpole is going on vastly well. His figure and talents are well adapted for the service he is upon, and he has got the confidence of the militia and the country."[1]

By 22 December Walpole had come to terms with the insurgents. They were to ask pardon, to leave their fastnesses and settle in any district assigned to them, and to give up the runaway slaves. On these conditions he promised that they should not be sent out of the island; and the terms were ratified by the governor. Only a few of the insurgents came in, and in the middle of January Walpole moved against them with a strong column, accompanied by dogs which had been brought from Cuba. They then surrendered, and were sent down to Montego Bay; and in March the assembly and the governor decided to ship them to Nova Scotia. Walpole strongly remonstrated against what he regarded as a breach of faith. He argued that the treaty might have been cancelled when the maroons failed to fulfil its terms, but that the governor had deliberately abstained from cancelling it. He declined a gift of five hundred guineas which the assembly voted for the purchase of a sword, and obtained leave to return to England. His letter declining the sword was expunged from the minutes of the house (cf. Dallas, Hist. of the Maroons, 1803; Gardner, Hist. of Jamaica, 1873, pp. 232–6). He was made colonel in the British Army on 3 May 1796, but retired from the service before 1799.[1]

Political career[edit]

In January 1797 Walpole was returned to Parliament for Derby, which he represented till 1806.[2] He was a follower of Charles James Fox, and voted for reform. He was George Tierney's second in his duel with Pitt on Putney Heath on 27 May 1798. When Fox came into office as Foreign Secretary, Walpole was appointed Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (20 February 1806); but he did not retain this office long after Fox's death. He was made comptroller of cash in the excise office for the rest of his life.[1] He was MP for Dungarvan from 1807 till 1820, when he resigned his seat.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Walpole died in May 1835, aged 76, unmarried.[1]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Lord George Cavendish
Edward Coke
Member of Parliament for Derby
1797–1801
With: Edward Coke
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Derby
1801–1806
With: Edward Coke
Succeeded by
Edward Coke
William Cavendish
Preceded by
William Greene
Member of Parliament for Dungarvan
1807–1820
Succeeded by
Augustus Clifford
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Ward
Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
(with Sir Francis Vincent)

1806–1807
Succeeded by
Viscount FitzHarris