Britain in the Age of Walpole by Jeremy Black

By Jeremy Black

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The Political Management of Sir Robert Walpole, 1720-42 EVELINE CRUICKSHANKS 1720 rather than 1721 should be the starting point of Walpole's career as 'the great man', the chiefminister, the prime minister. At the reconciliation brought about in 1720 between George I and the Prince of Wales (later George II) and between Sunderland and Walpole and Townshend, Walpole, though nominally only paymaster, was in charge of the Treasury, with John Aislabie the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a mere figurehead.

18 He and Pulteney, the leader of the Whig opposition, could hurl invective at one another in debates and next be seen talking and laughing together on the benches - a very modern touch. 19 At the heart of Walpole's political management was his control of patronage, used more systematically and ruthlessly than his predecessors had been able or, in the case of Oxford, willing to use it. Not everyone could be satisfied but, generally speaking, he did not make promises, at least to those that mattered, that he did not keep.

The chief beneficiaries were THE POLITICAL MANAGEMENT OF SIR ROBERT WALPOLE 37 two of the commissioners, Denis Bond and Sergeant Birch, as well as Sir John Eyles, Walpole's manager for the City of London. When all this came out, Walpole 'found such universal displeasure at the foul proceedings of the commissioners and purchasers of this estate, that he saw it was in vain to oppose it and therefore sat silent' . Bond and Birch were expelled from Parliament, but Walpole was able to save Eyles, who got away with a mere reprimand.

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