WALTER, Peter (c.1663-1746), of Stalbridge, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b. c.1663. m. bef. Jan. 1694, Diana, niece of Richard Newman of Fifehead Magdalen, Dorset, 1s.
Clerk of the peace, Mdx. 1724-d.
The parentage of Peter Walter, the ‘very noted money scrivener’,1 i.e. moneylender, is unknown, but he probably came of a Dorset family. By 1694 he was the trusted clerk of Richard Newman, whose niece he married and who made him his executor in 1695.2 By 1707 he had become steward for life to John Holles, Duke of Newcastle,3 whose successor obtained for him a lucrative place. He also acted as agent for many of the nobility, including the 2nd and 3rd Earls of Essex and the 1st Earl of Uxbridge,4 whose name, Paget, he gave to his only son. Returned on petition in 1715 for Bridport, where he unseated a Tory, he voted for the Administration in all recorded divisions. He did not stand there for the 1727 election but was found a seat at Winchelsea in the following year.
By taking up mortgages and then foreclosing on the estates, Walter built up a large fortune. He was thus able to buy for himself Stalbridge and other valuable properties, chiefly in Dorset and Somerset, including those of Michael Harvey. For his unscrupulous methods he was portrayed by Fielding as ‘Peter Pounce’; Swift wrote of him as
That rogue of genuine ministerial kind, Can half the peerage by his arts bewitch, Starve twenty lords to make one scoundrel rich;5
If Peter deigns to help you to your own:
What thanks, what praise, if Peter but supplies!
And what a solemn face if he denies!
And lies to every Lord in everything, Like a King’s favourite—or like a King.6
He died 19 Jan. 1746, ‘reputed worth £300,000’.7
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: R. S. Lea
- 1. Gent. Mag. 1746, p. 45.
- 2. PCC 143 Bond.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702-7, p. 561; Walter to Ld. Pelham, 4 Dec. 1713, Add. 33064, f. 27.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiv. 511; HMC Portland, vii. 422; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1714-19, p. 89.
- 5. Epistle to Mr. Gay.
- 6. Second satire of Dr. John Donne.
- 7. Gent. Mag. 1746, p. 45.