WALPOLE, Horatio II (1678-1757), of Houghton, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



10 Jan. - 21 Sept. 1710
1713 - 1715
1715 - Nov. 1717
2 Dec. 1718 - 1722
1722 - 1734
1734 - 4 June 1756

Family and Education

b. 8 Dec. 1678, 5th but 2nd surv. s. of Robert Walpole I*; bro. of Galfridus† and Robert Walpole II*.  educ. Eton 1693–8; King’s, Camb. 1698, fellow 1702–14, BA 1703, MA 1713; L. Inn 1700.  m. 21 July 1720, Mary Magdalen, da. and coh. of Peter Lombard (d. 1725) of Burnham Thorpe, Norf., 4s. 5da. cr. Baron Walpole of Wolterton 4 June 1756.1

Offices Held

Sec. to envoy to Spain 1706–7, to chancellor of the Exchequer 1707–Feb. 1708; under-sec. of state Feb. 1708–10, 1714–15; sec. to ambassadors extraordinary and plenip. at The Hague May 1709–Apr. 1711; cpl. yeomen of the gd. Apr. 1710–12; minister to The Hague Jan.–Apr. 1715, Oct. 1715–16, May–July 1722; sec. to Treasury 1715–17, 1721–30; surveyor and auditor gen. of the revenue in America 1717–d.; chief sec. [I] 1720–1; PC [I] 1720; envoy to Paris 1723, envoy extraordinary 1724, ambassador extraordinary May 1724–7, ambassador extraordinary and plenip. 1727–30; plenip. and jt. ambassador, congress of Soissons 1728; cofferer of the Household 1730–41; PC 1730; ambassador and plenip. to The Hague 1734–7, June–Nov. 1739; teller of the Exchequer 1741–d.2

Freeman, King’s Lynn 1712, Great Yarmouth 1723, Norwich 1732.3


A staunch Whig from the first, ‘old Horace’ followed in the wake of his brother Robert. His college fellowship did not really satisfy him, but with a fortune of only £1,500 he considered it essential to have help to get on in the world. He admitted to Robert in 1702:

When I begin to consider (and I think it is high time now) where I am, and what I am about, I find myself very easy in a college life; in the constant enjoyment of the best company, both within and without doors, whether I converse with the living and the dead, I can’t forbear thinking this is the best part of my life, while my diligence and study on one side bear proportion with my pleasure and diversion on the other. But when I look a little forwards, and one would think with a great deal of joy and satisfaction too, to have the noble prospect of London and the law, those two spacious fields of pleasure and of profit, I can’t forbear being somewhat uneasy to think how willing I am to step forwards, and how unable my legs are to carry me.

He thought briefly of the army, while at the same time casting about for some patron or influential connexion, until in 1706 he received his first appointment as secretary to his brother’s great friend James Stanhope* in Spain. He subsequently served in the same capacity to another of Robert’s political associates, Hon. Henry Boyle*, as chancellor of the Exchequer and secretary of state; he also knew Boyle himself from his Cambridge days. Then, in 1709, Lord Townshend obtained for him the post of secretary to the embassy due to begin peace negotiations at The Hague. This appointment brought Walpole into close touch with Marlborough and Lord Godolphin (Sidney†), through whose influence he was to come into Parliament. He had been a friend of Marlborough’s son, Lord Blandford, and had already come to Godolphin’s notice too; indeed, in 1708 the lord treasurer had considered bringing him into Parliament. The following year Townshend tried in vain to get him chosen at a by-election for Great Yarmouth. Walpole wrote to his brother, ‘I am willing to go as far as £100 or so to serve the Queen in Parliament, as Maynwaring [Arthur*] says’. He was eventually returned in January 1710, on Godolphin’s recommendation, at Lostwithiel. He voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, and in April 1710 was appointed by Townshend, the captain of the yeomen of the guard, as a corporal or exon. Discussing the possibility of having to seek re-election on account of this appointment, a possibility that, because of the dissolution, never materialized, he wrote, ‘I would willingly continue in Parliament, but, since ’tis but for one year, upon easy terms’; all the same, ‘I would not lose time in being exon’.4

Walpole’s attitude to the ministerial changes of 1710 was uncompromising. He declared to his brother in August that he would be quite unconcerned at the prospect of a dissolution of Parliament:

Supposing we could be assured that people’s eyes are so far opened, and the Whig interest so strong in the country as to be able to have a majority of the right side of a new election . . . At all events, I hope our friends will be very careful about coming to any bargains, for the other side, who have all the power with the Queen, will never make any advances for that end, until they find they are not able to support the violent measures they had at first concerted, so that a composition on our side I think can have no other effect than to give the enemy a present advantage, and divide the Whigs.

It had been more or less agreed in June 1710 that in the event of a general election Walpole would take his brother Robert’s place at King’s Lynn, Robert intending to stand for the county, but the Tory landslide forced the abandonment of this scheme: Robert kept his seat at Lynn and Horatio, dropped at Lostwithiel, was left out in the cold. To Horatio’s displeasure, the other family seat, at Castle Rising, remained with his Tory uncle Horatio Walpole I*, who as trustee for their father’s estates had a financial hold over Robert. Horatio did not follow the advice of a fellow diplomat in November 1710 to ‘save yourself if you can; your sins are only venial yet, and the Whigs can’t blame you for occasional conformity’. He felt he ‘must perish with those’ he was ‘embarked with’. He had already lost his place as under-secretary with the dismissal of Boyle, and in April 1711 forfeited his other secretaryship when Townshend was recalled. In the following June Robert Walpole petitioned the Treasury on his behalf for the payment of nearly £2,000 owing him for his allowance and expenses as secretary to the embassy, ‘such a sum being a great share in a younger brother’s fortune’. The money was paid in October, and a further £850 for expenses in January 1712, but at about the same time Walpole was dismissed from his sole remaining place, as corporal of the yeomen. He was a member of the Hanover Club, and when his uncle Horatio was appointed to office in 1712 and had to seek re-election, Godolphin, Marlborough and Townshend all urged Robert Walpole to take the opportunity to bring in the younger Horatio instead, but Robert did not give in to this pressure until the general election of 1713, when he finally agreed to nominate his brother for Castle Rising.5

Walpole was quite active in the Commons in 1714, alongside his brother Robert, one of the Whig leaders in the House. In speaking he seems to have made a speciality of foreign affairs, where he could claim some expertise, constantly attacking the peace and emphasizing the continuing threat from France. On 5 Mar., in a debate on the Address, he was reported by a government supporter to have

made an harangue against the conditions of the treaties, and complained of the great distress the Empire and the States were in, since the former power could obtain no peace at all with France, nor the latter with Spain. This happened some hours after we had received advice that the peace between the Empire and France had been concluded at Rastadt.

He spoke in the debate on 18 Mar. on the expulsion of Richard Steele, following his brother and amplifying one of the less important proofs Robert had adduced in support of Steele’s contention that King Louis had already broken the terms of the peace, namely the recent French decree prohibiting the children of French refugees born outside the kingdom from returning into France without permission. Warming to his subject, he

deplored the lamentable condition of their ministers, and the poor among them, to whom the lord treasurer had not paid one penny of the £15,000 per annum voted by Parliament, and allowed in the civil list, towards their assistance and relief, since he came into his office.

Naturally he voted against the expulsion. On 15 Apr., in a committee on the state of the nation with regard to the succession, he made a fairly lengthy speech, arguing that the Hanoverian succession was certainly in danger, since ‘it is the interest and inclination of France to impose [the] Pretender on us and he has power to do it’. The peace provided no guarantee, for ‘we are by this peace in [the] state of one that is even robbed to his shirt but has saved himself’. He spoke again on 22 Apr., against agreeing with the Lords’ address of thanks for the treaties of peace and commerce with Spain, delving into technical details to disparage the commercial concessions ministers claimed to have won and to show that British merchants were in fact worse off as a result. On 13 Aug. he moved that the committee on the bill for the civil list be introduced to receive a clause for the payment of the Hanoverian troops. He was marked as a Whig in the Worsley list.6

Walpole died on 5 Feb. 1757.

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Genealogical Mag. ii. 391.
  • 2. Boyer, Anne Annals, ix. 413; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvi. 114; xxvii. 517; info. from Prof. R. O. Bucholz.
  • 3. Cal. Freemen King’s Lynn, 219; Cal. Freemen Gt. Yarmouth, 157; Norf. Rec. Soc. xxiii. 103.
  • 4. Coxe, Ld. Walpole, i. 5–7, 11; Walpole, ii. 3–4; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 1257, 1260–1; HMC Townshend, 334–5; Norf. RO, Bradfer-Lawrence mss, Ashe Windham* to [Ld. Townshend], 14 June 1709; Walpole mss at Wolterton Hall, Stephen Poyntz to Walpole, 17 Jan. 1710 N.S., Walpole to Robert Walpole II, 22 Apr. 1710 N.S.
  • 5. Coxe, Walpole, ii. 33; Bradfer-Lawrence mss, Windham to [Townshend], 8 June 1710; Walpole mss, Walpole to Robert Walpole II, 12 Sept. 1710 N.S.; HMC Townshend, 76; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708–14, p. 278; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 483; xxvi. 114; Coxe, Ld. Walpole, i. 13; HMC Portland, v. 228–9.
  • 6. HMC Portland, v. 390; Chandler, v. 70; Douglas diary (Hist.of Parl. trans.), 15, 22 Apr. 1714; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 215–16; Add. 17677 HHH, f. 349.