WALPOLE, Horatio, Lord Walpole (1783-1858), of Wolterton, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



9 Mar. 1809 - 15 June 1822

Family and Education

b. 14 June 1783, 1st s. of Hon. Horatio Walpole* by 1st w. Sophia, da. and coh. of Col. Charles Churchill. educ. Eton 1797-1801; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1801. m. 23 July 1812, Mary, da. and coh. of William Augustus Fawkener, clerk of the Privy Council, of Brocton Hall, Salop, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl of Orford 15 June 1822.

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. Board of Control June 1818-Feb. 1822.

Constable, Castle Rising 1822-d.; col. W. Norf. militia 1822-d.


Walpole, described by Lady Harriet Leveson Gower as ‘no bigger than my thumb’ after a serious illness in 1810, was launched by his father in the diplomatic line. His father’s brother George Walpole was under-secretary to Fox at the Foreign Office in 1806 and it was to Fox that Lord Orford applied, securing a promise of employment for his son. It was implemented on Thomas Grenville’s recommendation and Walpole was whisked off to St. Petersburg as attaché.1 After acting in the same capacity at Madrid, he came home and succeeded to his father’s seat for Lynn, which he retained unopposed until he succeeded to the title. On 26 Jan., 23 Feb. and 5 Mar. 1810 he voted with opposition on the Scheldt expedition, which doubtless encouraged them to believe that he was destined to be one of their ‘thick and thin’ supporters. Their error was seen at the time; in December 1810 Walpole, who had appeared in no more minorities, was reported to have deserted opposition on the Regency question2 and on 1 Jan. 1811 he appeared in a government minority on it. His second cousin Thomas Walpole was Spencer Perceval’s brother-in-law. In June 1811 he accepted a place at the Admiralty board and first spoke in defence of a court martial, 18 July. He voted against sinecure reform, 21, 24 Feb., 4 May 1812. On 21 May he spoke and subsequently voted against Stuart Wortley’s motion for a stronger administration, describing it as an unconstitutional attempt to dictate to the crown its choice of ministers.

Walpole opposed Catholic relief, 22 June 1812. At that time he was at loggerheads with his father over his resolution to marry an allegedly illegitimate heiress. While she had ‘no great objection to a little husband and a large title’, his father was ‘bit with the furious mania against the children of nature’ which also inspired the Cavendishes when Henry Frederick Compton Cavendish married the lady’s sister.3 Before joining Lord Cathcart’s mission to Russia, Walpole voted against Catholic relief, 24 May 1813, and in favour of Christian missions to India, 22 June 1813. On his return from Russia late in 1815 he did not press for further diplomatic employment: he had for some time wished to be relieved, owing to the expense of St. Petersburg.4 He continued to vote steadily with administration. In 1818 he was placed at the Board of Control, where he remained until shortly before his father’s death in 1822. He died 29 Dec. 1858.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Letters of Countess Granville, 2; NLW mss 2790, Walpole to Williams Wynn, 11 Mar. 1806.
  • 2. Fortescue mss, Fremantle to Grenville, half past 5 [Mar.]; Lonsdale mss, Long to Lonsdale, 5 Dec. 1810.
  • 3. Farington, vii. 101; Barnard Letters, 197.
  • 4. Castlereagh Corresp. x. 324, 356; xi. 73.