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Catherine, Lady Walpole

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Catherine Shorter

Catherine, Lady Walpole (née Shorter; 1682 – 20 August 1737) was the first wife of British politician and Prime Minister Robert Walpole from 30 July 1700 until her death in Chelsea in 1737. She was buried on the Walpole estate at Houghton in Norfolk, England.

She was the daughter of Sir John Shorter (born 1660), a wealthy merchant from Kent, and Elizabeth Philipps (born c. 1664). She was the granddaughter of Sir John Shorter (1625–1688), the Lord Mayor of London in 1687. On her marriage to Walpole in 1700, she paid a dowry of £20,000.

She was renowned for her extravagant lifestyle, frequently attending the opera and buying expensive clothes and jewellery, but the couple became estranged during his Prime Ministership, and he had a succession of mistresses. He lived with Maria Skerrett in both Richmond and Houghton Hall in Norfolk while Lady Walpole was still alive. She herself courted controversy when it was noted that the Walpoles' youngest son Horace, born 10 years after his siblings when the marriage was cool, did not share looks or character with any siblings or his father. Lady Walpole's lover at that time was reported to be Lord Hervey.

Catherine and Robert Walpole had six children.

Styles from birth to deathEdit

  • Miss Catherine Shorter (1682–1700)
  • Mrs Robert Walpole (1700–1725)
  • Lady Walpole (1725–1737)


  • Lundy, Darryl. "FAQ". The Peerage.[unreliable source]


  • Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 3, page 4059.
Unofficial roles
New title Spouse of the Prime Minister of Great Britain
Title next held by
The 2nd Lady Walpole