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Sir Robert Walpole

Sir Robert Walpole, (1676-1745). British Whig states-man, regarded as Britain’s first prime minister. He served as chancellor of the exchequer (1715-17) and took up this office again in the aftermath of the South Sea Bubble crisis (1720), a major financial crash. Having restored economic stability and confidence in Britain following the crisis, Walpole remained the most powerful figure in the land until 1742. During this period he was able to use royal patronage to further his political ends and, by granting positions in the church, army, and royal household, to increase his voting strength in the House of Commons. Accusations of corruption were made against him at various stages of his career, but were dropped through lack of evidence. His unpopular foreign policy culminated in the War of Jenkins’s Ear (1738-48) with Spain, which brought about Walpole’s resignation (1742). He was created earl of Or ford.

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