Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford(1676-1745), Prime Minister
Sitter in 27 portraits
In all but name, Robert Walpole was Britain’s first Prime Minister between 1721 and 1742. A Whig statesman, he came to office in the wake of the ‘South Sea Bubble’ financial crash and built up British prosperity in the long period of peace that followed. Walpole lost money during the crisis yet these losses were balanced by his investment in the Royal African Company which had a monopoly over the British slave trade. He obtained more power than any previous minister and remained in office for over twenty years, resorting to bribery to overcome his lack of popularity. His power came to an end when he was drawn into an unsuccessful conflict with Spain, which became known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. He was, however, made Earl of Orford in 1742 after his defeat in the House of Commons.
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
by Paul Fourdrinier (Pierre), after F. Dumouchel, and after J. Faget
line engraving, 1730
by John Pine
line engraving, published 1749
- Maria (née Walpole), Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh (granddaughter)
- Robert Walpole, 2nd Earl of Orford (son)
- George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford (grandson)
- Horatio ('Horace') Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (son)
- Horatio Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (nephew)
- Dorothy Viscountess Townshend (sister)
- Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole of Wolterton (brother)
- Catherine Walpole (née Shorter), Lady Walpole (wife)
- Sir Edward Walpole (grandfather)
- Galfridus Walpole (brother)
- Thomas Walpole (nephew)
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