Horatio Walpole (1678-1757), known as Horace, was born at Houghton, the fifth son of Robert Walpole, and was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge. Having briefly considered the law as a career, he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1700 but soon changed to politics, in which field he remained, a staunch Whig, for the rest of his life. His first seat was for Castle Rising in 1702 and he later represented Devon, Cornwall and Norwich. At 28 he was appointed secretary to General James Stanhope, envoy to Spain, and succeeded this with travels as secretary to ministers in The Hague and elsewhere. The post of under-secretary under his mentor Lord Townshend followed, and shortly after his elder brother Robert's (1676-1745) appointment as chancellor of the exchequer he was made secretary of the treasury, though continuing his diplomatic efforts particularly in The Hague. Thereafter his fortunes followed those of the chief Whigs, departing and returning to office with his brother and Townshend. He married in 1720, Mary, daughter of Peter Lombard, and had three daughters and four sons, the eldest of whom succeeded as 2nd Baron.
Walpole's posts included life auditor general of the plantation (American) revenues of the crown; and in 1724 his most important role to date, envoy extraordinary at Paris where he achieved a 'thorough confidence' with the powerful Cardinal Fleury which was to assist in establishing a defensive alliance between Great Britain, France and Spain at the Treaty of Seville in 1729.
In 1733, now a privy councillor to King George II, Walpole was sent again to The Hague on a confidential mission, to escort the Prince of Orange to England for his marriage to the Princess Royal. This led to his appointment as minister-plenipotentiary there. He seems to have employed his time chiefly in keeping Great Britain out of the War of the Polish Succession, and in advocating a Prussian alliance and indeed an understanding between Austria and Prussia, both greatly contrary to the King's wishes. He returned from The Hague in November, 1739 and continued in politics, though somewhat more quietly, through the downfall of his brother as Prime Minister in 1742. In 1756 he was created 1st Baron Walpole of Wolterton, a rise in rank attributable at least in part to the marriage of his daughter to a son of the Duke of Devonshire. He died the following year of 'the stone' and was buried in the parish church of Wickmere.
A Gold Badge and Chain
Upon the conclusion of his appointment at The Hague in November, 1739 Walpole returned to England bearing 'a gold badge and chain, given by the States of Holland' according to Jones (see Literature) which he turned over to be made into the present cup and cover. He appears to have done so very soon after his return to England, since the date-letter is that of 1739-40. The cup would thus have been made between November, 1739 and May, 1740 when the date letter changed.
David Willaume II
David Willaume II (1693-1761) was the son of the Huguenot David Willaume (1658-1741), one of the greatest goldmiths of his age, who numbered among his patrons many of the highest ranking aristocrats of the day including Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu for whom he produced his only known work in gold, the Monthemer/Montagu cream-jug of 1705 (sold Christie's, London, 20 November, 2001). David, junior was apprenticed to his father on 6 March 1707 and was free on 2 May 1723. He is known to have produced two works in gold, the Conyers Gold Cup of 1732 (see E.A. Jones, Old English Gold Plate, London, 1907, p.19, illustrated pl.XXI) and the present cup of 1739. He entered his marks as largeworker in 1728 and 1739, the address given as 'St James Street of St George Hanover Square.' In 1737 he is recorded as High Sheriff of Bedfordshire where his retired father had purchased the Manor of Tingrith and which from 1730 served as the family seat, an indication of their wealth and prestige. David II is presumed to be the 'Williams' Subordinate Goldsmith to the King from 1744. He was married twice, to Marianne daughter of Samuel Le Févre in 1721 while still a journeyman, and secondly to Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Dymoke of Ampthill, Bedfordshire; he had in all four sons and two daughters.