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Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1676-1745), Prime Minister

Sitter in 27 portraits
Walpole was a Whig statesman but in all but name he was Prime Minister, 1721-42. He came to office in the wake of the South Sea Bubble crisis and built up British prosperity in a long period of peace by his economic reforms. He obtained more power than any previous minister and remained in office for over twenty years, resorting to bribery and patronage to overcome unpopularity. His reign came to an end when he was drawn into an unsuccessful war with Spain, which came to be known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. He was, however, made Earl of Orford in 1742 after his defeat in the House of Commons.

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