Walpole Surname Meaning, History & Origin
Marshland near the
Wash in Norfolk. Walpole, recorded
in a Saxon charter in 1050, derived from the Old English words welle
pol meaning “a pool surrounded by a wall.” According to the 1868 National Gazetteer, Walpole
was situated by
a Roman sea-wall.
Walpole Resources on
- History of Houghton Hall
Sir Robert Walpole’s home in Norfolk.
- Horace Walpole
Horace Walpole in Twickenham.
was the county with the highest number of Walpoles in the 1881 UK census.
The forefather of the Walpole family in
Norfolk is thought to have been Reginald de Walpole who lived at
Walpole in the
early 1100’s. A Walpole line established
itself a century or so later at Houghton and they became merchants in
Lynn who rose to gentry status by early Tudor times.
However, because they were Catholics, they dropped
out of public life under Elizabeth and were all but extinguished as a
family. Some of them had become Jesuit
priests – including Henry Walpole the
martyr who was executed in York in
1595 in the barbaric fashion of being hung, drawn and quartered.
Walpole line did survive and eventually prospered through the only
branch at Houghton. This line, the
line of the Sir Robert Walpole the future Prime Minister, began
generations earlier with Calibut Walpole in the late 1500’s.
These Walpoles were
pre-eminent in England during the 1700’s:
- Sir Robert Walpole, who might be
considered Britain’s first Prime Minister, held that position for over
years – from 1721 to 1742. Created
the Earl of Orford, he used his wealth to build his palatial home at
his youngest son Horace Walpole was the celebrated writer, art
historian, man of letters, and Whig politician later in the
century. He made his home at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, the
neo-Gothic house he had built in the 1750’s overlooking the Thames.
Charlotte Walpole was an illegitimate niece of
Horace Walpole. She
enjoyed a short career on the London stage in the 1770’s before moving
France where she was recruited as an agent and spy for the royalists. Her activities had no success despite her
spending considerable sums of her fortune on her missions.
Among later Walpoles were politicians, army
officers, and clergymen. Somerset
Walpole was an Anglican priest in New Zealand and New York before being
appointed Bishop of Edinburgh in 1910.
His son Hugh Walpole was a popular English novelist of the
Sir William Walpole moved into real estate in
the 1930’s which later proved highly profitable. The
Walpole Estate had an estimated £7.5
billion in assets in 2012. The holdings
of the Walpole Estate are held by the grandchildren and
Sir William Walpole.
Ireland. William Walpole was an
English Quaker who
came to Laios (then Queen’s county) in the late 1600’s and settled in
Mountmellick area. Later Walpoles did
well in the linen industry. Edward
Walpole invested its profits in the nid-19th century into ornamental gardens
at Mount Usher in county Wicklow.
These gardens remained with the Walpole family until 1980.
other Walpoles in Leitrim from the 18th century.
following two Walpoles who came to America were from Ireland:
- Mathew Walpole
from Leitrim came to New York in 1816, followed by his two sons Martin
Mathew a year later. The family settled
in Morgan county, Ohio.
- while Richard Walpole arrived in 1836 and farmed at
Schenectady in upstate New York. His son
Thomas ran a general truck and express business in Oswego.
Walpole from Little Harrowden in Northamptonshire came with his family
Australia on the Bolivar in 1850.
Henry built the Bolivar Hotel in Burton and ran it from 1854 to
1866. He died at Kapunda in 1875.
Walpoles in the 1881 Census
Henry Walpole, Jesuit Martyr. Perhaps the most famous native of the Norfolk village of Docking was Henry Walpole, a Jesuit priest who was born there in 1558,
eldest son of Christopher Walpole.
as a Protestant, Walpole converted to Catholicism after witnessing the
execution of Edmund Campion in 1581 at very close hand. He was
close to Campion that his clothes were spattered with Campion’s blood
Walpole took Catholic orders. He
then fled London for his father’s home in Norfolk and from
there he escaped his persecutors to France.
was later sent back secretly to England, landing at Flamborough in
1590. He was arrested and imprisoned at
York, before being moved to the Tower of London where he was tortured
rack numerous times. He was eventually
tried and convicted in York for the crime of Catholic priesthood,
hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1595.
Sir Robert Walpole’s Houghton Line.
Calibut Walpole (1561-1646) m. Elizabeth Bacon (who died
– Robert Walpole (1593-1663) m. Susan Barkham (1595-1622)
— Sir Edward Walpole (1621-1667), MP for King’s Lynn, m. Susan Crane (1630-1667)
— Robert Walpole (1650-1700), MP for Castle Rising, m. Mary Burwell (1654-1711)
—- Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), 1st Earl of Orford, m. Catherine Shorter (died in 1737).
Walpole’s Suckling Sword. Galfridus Walpole
was a younger brother of Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert
Walpole. In his youth he had joined the
Royal Navy. While commanding the Lion
in 1711, his ship was engaged in battle with the French off the
coastline. He was so badly injured
during the exchange of fire that his right arm had to be amputated by
According to legend, his
sword, used on HMS Lion,
was given to the young Horatio Nelson who
was reported to have been carrying it when he too lost his right arm in
Battle of Santa Cruz in 1797.
The Walpole sword, which had a silver-hilted
hanger with a 60 cm curved blade, was made by Nixon Cutlers of
London. Due to its provenance, the sword
is known as the Galfridus Walpole – Suckling Sword, having been
Walpole’s godson and great nephew Maurice Suckling whose sister
Suckling was Nelson’s mother.
William Suckling, Maurice’s brother, gave the sword to Nelson
his uncle’s valued gift in his early career.
The sword appears to have been returned subsequently to the
It was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in 2003 for 36,000 pounds, described as “believed to be that
carried by Captain (later Admiral Lord) Horatio Nelson.”
The Walpoles at Mount Usher in Wicklow. The Walpole family had made a fortune in the
thriving linen industry in Northern Ireland in the 19th century. Like many families of that type at that time
had become successful and wealthy, they reinvested much of their wealth
meaningful artefacts of beauty and splendor or works undertaken for
greater common good.
In the Walpoles’ case, Edward – the scion of the family
the mid 1880’s – took it upon himself to design and plant the gardens
Usher in county Wicklow.
Initially he had stayed at Hunters Hotel.
During his visits there had become friendly
with a local miller Sam Sutton. In due course, seeing the possibilities
beautiful setting, he initially bought the mill and two acres and then
about his life’s work.
Inspired by the ideas and ideals of William Robinson,
Edward started designing a garden of his own. William Robinson had more
created the idea of a ‘managed wild garden’ and this sheltered setting
idyllic River Vartry valley was the perfect place to realize these
the next four generations the Walpole’s bought more land, and continued
plant, design, and enhance Edward senior’s original and visionary work.
weirs and bridges were designed by Thomas Walpole and planting and
design continued apace as the property was handed down from generation
generation, until finally, over one hundred years later, the Walpole’s
association with Mount Usher finally ended in 1980.
- Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, held that position for over twenty years – from 1721 to 1742.
- Horace Walpole was a celebrated writer, art
historian, man of letters, and Whig politician in the mid/late 1700’s.
- Hugh Walpole was a popular English novelist of the 1920’s
and 1930’s who subsequently fell out of favor.
Select Walpole Numbers Today
- 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 1,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 1,300 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
Select Walpole and Like Surnames
From our surname selection here, these are the names of those who have risen in British politics to become Prime Minister from the time the office was first established in the 1730’s (although missing here are noteworthies such as Palmerston, Gladstone, Disraeli, Attlee, and Thatcher).
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