WALPOLE, Robert I (1650-1700), 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



1689 - 18 Nov. 1700

Family and Education

b. 18 Nov. 1650, 1st s. of Sir Edward Walpole† of Houghton; bro. of Horatio Walpole I*.  educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1667, MA 1669.  m. lic. 22 Feb. 1671, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Jeffrey Burwell of Rougham, Suff., 10s. (7 d.v.p.) 7da.  suc. fa. 1668.1

Offices Held

Freeman, King’s Lynn 1681.2


Though far from uncultured, Walpole was very much a country squire, devoted to the management of his estates. He suffered ill-health throughout the last decade of his life and was often absent from the House. Returned again in 1690 at Castle Rising, where he enjoyed a substantial and growing interest of his own, he was classed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Whig and a Court supporter in lists of the new Parliament, and on 14 Apr. 1690 was a teller, with a Whig and opposite two High Tories, in favour of recommitting a private naturalization bill. But on 16 Nov. 1691 he was one of several Members ordered to be taken into custody for non-attendance. He was given leave of absence on 26 Feb. 1694 to recover his health, and a year later wrote, in explanation of his continued absence, ‘it is well known that I have been for a great while in a very weak condition’. He had, he said, been consumptive for two years and did not expect to live ‘many months’. He was able to come up to the House in the following winter, 1695–6, though ‘being ill some part of the time’, and was forecast in January 1696 as a probable voter on the government side over the proposed council of trade. He signed the Association, and was recorded as having voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. On 2 Apr. he was given leave of absence on health grounds, but was present in the next session on 25 Nov. to cast his vote in favour of the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Yet another grant of absence was accorded him in April 1698, this time limited to a fortnight.3

Walpole supported the Whig, Sir Henry Hobart, 4th Bt.*, in the Norfolk county election in 1698, and was included in a list of the Court party in about September of that year. He probably took little part in the ensuing Parliament: his by now usual leave of absence was granted on 1 Feb. 1699. In November he was still at Houghton, and shortly before Christmas was reported by his son Robert II* to be recovering from serious illness. Nevertheless, he was regarded by Archdeacon Prideaux of Norwich as the ‘chief man’ among the Norfolk Whigs after the death of Hobart in 1698.4

Walpole died on 18 Nov. 1700, ‘much lamented’ according to the Post Boy, and was buried, as he had wished, ‘among his ancestors’ at Houghton.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Gen. Mag. ii. 301–3.
  • 2. Cal. Freemen King’s Lynn, 191.
  • 3. J. H. Plumb, Men and Places, 136–63; Camb. Univ. Lib. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss, Walpole to John Relfe, 5 Feb. 1695; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 430, 432; Norf. RO, Howard (Castle Rising) mss, Walpole to Thomas Howard*, 30 June 1696; Warws. RO, Mordaunt of Walton Hall mss CR1368/iii/2, Robert Walpole II to Sir John Mordaunt, 5th Bt.*, 20 Dec. 1699.
  • 4. East Anglian, n.s. v. 67; Prideaux Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. xv), 195; Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss, Ld. Mordaunt to Walpole, 28 Nov. 1699.
  • 5. Post Boy, 21–23 Nov. 1700; PCC 30 Dyer.