Walpole, George (DNB00)

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WALPOLE, GEORGE (1758–1835), major-general, born on 20 June 1758, was the third son of Horatio, second lord Walpole of Wolterton, who in 1797 succeeded his cousin Horatio Walpole, fourth earl of Orford [q. v.], as fourth Lord Walpole of Walpole, was created Earl of Orford in 1806, and died on 24 Feb. 1809, aged 86. Horatio Walpole, first lord Walpole [q. v.], was his grandfather. His mother was Lady Rachel Cavendish (d. 1805), third daughter of William, third duke of Devonshire. He was commissioned as cornet in the 12th light dragoons on 12 May 1777, and became lieutenant in the 9th dragoons on 17 April 1780. He returned to the 12th light dragoons as captain-lieutenant on 10 Dec. 1781, and exchanged to the 8th light dragoons on 13 Aug. 1782. On 25 June 1785 he obtained a majority in the 13th light dragoons, and became lieutenant-colonel of that regiment on 31 Oct. 1792.

In 1795 he went with it to the West Indies, and took a leading part in the suppression of the maroon insurrection in Jamaica. The Trelawney maroons, who had risen, numbered fewer than seven hundred, but they had been joined by about four hundred runaway slaves, and the insurrection threatened to spread. The country was extremely difficult for regular troops, and two of the detachments sent against the maroons fell into ambushes, and their commanders (Colonels Sandford and Fitch) were killed. At the beginning of October Walpole was charged with the general conduct of the operations, and the governor—Alexander Lindsay, sixth earl of Balcarres [q. v.] —gave him the local and temporary rank of major-general. By skilful dispositions he captured several of the maroon ‘cockpits’ or stockades. On 24 Oct. the governor wrote to the secretary of state: ‘General Walpole is going on vastly well. His figure and talents are well adapted for the service he is upon, and he has got the confidence of the militia and the country.’ By 22 Dec. he had come to terms with the insurgents. They were to ask pardon, to leave their fastnesses and settle in any district assigned to them, and to give up the runaway slaves. On these conditions he promised that they should not be sent out of the island; and the terms were ratified by the governor.

Only a few of the insurgents came in, and in the middle of January Walpole moved against them with a strong column, accompanied by dogs which had been brought from Cuba. They then surrendered, and were sent down to Montego Bay; and in March the assembly and the governor decided to ship them to Nova Scotia. Walpole strongly remonstrated against what he regarded as a breach of faith. He argued that the treaty might have been cancelled when the maroons failed to fulfil its terms, but that the governor had deliberately abstained from cancelling it. He declined a gift of five hundred guineas which the assembly voted for the purchase of a sword, and obtained leave to return to England. His letter declining the sword was expunged from the minutes of the house (cf. Dallas, Hist. of the Maroons, 1803; Gardner, Hist. of Jamaica, 1873, pp. 232–6).

He was made colonel in the army on 3 May 1796, but he retired from the service before 1799. In January 1797 he was returned to parliament for Derby, which he represented till 1806. He was a follower of Fox, and voted for reform. He was Tierney's second in his duel with Pitt on Putney heath on 27 May 1798. When Fox came into office as foreign secretary, Walpole was appointed under-secretary (20 Feb. 1806); but he did not retain this office long after Fox's death. He was made comptroller of cash in the excise office for the rest of his life. He was M.P. for Dungarvan from 1807 till 1820, when he resigned his seat. He died in May 1835, unmarried.

[Gent. Mag. 1835, ii. 547; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, v. 674; Lord Lindsay's Lives of the Lindsays, iii. 1–146 (for the maroon war); Lord Holland's Memoirs of the Whig Party, i. 142; Burke's Peerage.]

E. M. L.