Birth of Sir Robert Walpole, Whig statesman and Prime Minister 1721-42

Elected Whig MP for Castle Rising 1701-02 and King’s Lynn 1702-12 & 1713-42, Robert Walpole came from a strong Whig family and first achieved office under Lord Godolphin during the reign of Queen Anne. Following the formation of a Tory ministry, Walpole found himself impeached and expelled from the House of Commons. Re-elected on a wave of public sympathy Walpole and the Whigs returned to power with the accession of George I. In 1720 the collapse of the South Sea Bubble lead to the disgrace of many leading Whigs and led to Walpole’s appointment as First Lord of the Treasury. As Prime Minister Walpole consolidated Whig power through use of Royal patronage and pursued a policy of avoiding war, low taxes and reducing the national debt. Ironically it was Britain’s involvement in the War of Jenkin’s Ear that lead to his downfall. On his resignation, Walpole was appointed to the House of Lords as Earl of Orford.