Catherine, Lady Walpole

Catherine, Lady Walpole, wife of Sir Robert Walpole, Viscount Walpole and Baron Houghton, has a white marble memorial in the south aisle of Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey. The square plinth is by sculptor J.M. Rysbrack surmounted by a copy of a Roman statue of Modesty by F. della Valle. Her son Horace (or Horatio), Earl of Orford, put up the memorial and wrote the following inscription:

To the memory of Catherine Lady Walpole, eldest daughter of John Shorter, Esqr. of Bybrook in Kent and first wife of Sir Robert Walpole, afterwards Earl of Orford, Horace her youngest son consecrates this monument. She had beauty and wit without vice or vanity, and cultivated the Arts without affectation. She was devout, tho' without bigotry to any sect, and was without prejudice to any party tho' the wife of a minister, whose power she esteemed but when she could employ it to benefit the miserable or to reward the meritorious. She loved a private life, tho' born to shine in public; and was an ornament to courts, untainted by them. She died Aug. 20 1737.

Her father was a timber merchant and her mother was Lady Elizabeth Philipps. Her grandfather Sir John had been Lord Mayor of London. On 30th July 1700 she married Robert, who became Prime Minister. Their sons were Robert, Earl of Orford, Edward who died unmarried, and Horace. Their daughters were Mary who married George Cholmondeley, Viscount Malpas, and Catherine who died unmarried. The couple were very extravagant and ran up large debts and eventually they led separate lives. She was buried at Houghton in Norfolk. Her husband had several illegitimate children.

Further reading for Robert and Horace

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Died

20th August 1737

Location

Lady Chapel

Memorial Type

Statue

Material Type

Marble

Catherine, Lady Walpole
Lady Walpole monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster