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Margaret Rolle, 15th Baroness Clinton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Margaret Rolle, Baroness Clinton, by John Theodore Heins, matching pair with portrait of her first husband, Lord Orford
Margaret Rolle, Countess of Orford & suo jure Baroness Clinton (1709–1781) by a follower of Herman van der Mijn. The pose is very similar to the portrait of Lady Frances Finch,[1] wife of Viscount Courtenay by Thomas Hudson

Margaret Rolle, 15th Baroness Clinton suo jure (17 January 1709 – 13 January 1781),[2] was a wealthy aristocratic Devonshire heiress, known both for eccentricity and her extramarital affairs.

By her first husband Robert, 1st Baron Walpole, later 2nd Earl of Orford (1701–1751) and eldest son of Sir Robert Walpole, she gave birth to a legitimate heir, George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford, who succeeded her in the title of Baron Clinton.

Family background

The only surviving daughter and sole heiress of Samuel Rolle, MP (1646–1719), of Heanton Satchville, Petrockstowe, by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Roger Tuckfield, of Raddon Court, Devon, a junior branch of the Tuckfield family of Little Fulford, near Crediton, she inherited from her uncle, Roger Tuckfield, MP for the family's pocket borough of Ashburton, following the purchase of the manor of Ashburton in 1702. The Rolle family of Heanton Satchville was a wealthy cadet branch of the Rolles of Stevenstone, one of Devon's biggest landowners, descended from George Rolle, MP (d.1552) who acquired lands at the dissolution of the Monasteries. She was also an heiress-in-her-issue of her paternal grandmother, Lady Arabella Clinton, wife of Robert Rolle, MP, High Sheriff of Devon and aunt of Edward Clinton, 5th Earl of Lincoln, 13th Baron Clinton (1645–1692). The earldom of Lincoln had devolved upon her kinsmen who became Dukes of Newcastle.[3]


Margaret's first husband, Robert Walpole, 2nd Earl of Orford, painted by John Theodore Heins, forms a pair with her own portrait by the same artist

As senior co-heiress to the ancient barony of Clinton, abeyant upon the death in 1751 of her cousin, Hugh Fortescue, 1st Earl Clinton, in 1760 this title was called out of abeyance in her favour by the House of Lords Privileges Committee. Apart from many lucrative manors, she also inherited from her father patronage of the Rolle pocket borough of Callington in Cornwall, to which in 1761 she nominated as MP her Devon agent Richard Stevens (1702–1776), of Winscott, Peters Marland, adjacent to her estate at Petrockstowe, and brother-in-law of a distant cousin, Henry, 1st Baron Rolle (1708–1750).


Margaret Rolle married twice:

Arms of Rolle: Or, on a fesse dancettée between three billets azure each charged with a lion rampant of the first three bezants
Walpole arms: Or, on a fesse between two chevrons sable three crosses crosslet of the field[4]


The Countess of Orford eloped to Florence with her lover Revd Samuel Sturgis, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. In his letters, Horace Walpole (later 4th Earl of Orford) made several mentions of his sister-in-law, Margaret Rolle, mostly disparaging in their nature, as was his norm: "if, like other Norfolk husbands, I must entertain the town with a formal parting, at least it shall be in my own way: my wife shall neither 'run to Italy after lovers and books'..."[9]

Sir Horace Mann, 1st Baronet (1706–1786), HM Resident at Florence, wrote to her brother-in-law, the diarist Horace Walpole: "You are infinitely mistaken in thinking that my lady took the reception ill from her Count. There are pieces of sincerity and freedom that spoil nothing. I hear that he has ordered a very fine chariot, which is to cost 600 crowns, and to be presented to her."[10]

During her second marriage she became involved with Emmanuel de Nay, Comte de Richecourt, Minister of the Imperial Regency Council of Tuscany (1749–1757), originally from Lorraine but who died at Florence in 1768.


Lady Clinton died 1781 at Pisa in Tuscany, and was buried at Leghorn. Her friend, the Countess of Huntingdon (formerly Lady Selina Shirley), later declared that she was "a woman of very singular character and considered half mad."[11]


Her son, George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford (1730–1791), succeeded as the 16th Baron Clinton, but died without issue; the title of Baron Clinton then became abeyant again, being successfully claimed in 1794 by Robert George William Trefusis, 17th Baron Clinton (1764–1797), a cousin by descent from Margaret's aunt Bridget Rolle (1648–1721).[2]

The heirs male of the 3rd Earl of Orford tried to claim the Heanton Satchville estates, but after a long and complex court case involving the examination of entails made by Sir Samuel Rolle, these lands were adjudged in favour of the Trefusis family.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Frances, Viscountess Courtenay by Thomas Hudson
  2. ^ a b Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  3. ^ "LINCOLN, E" Burke's Peerage & Baronetage (
  4. ^ Debrett's Peerage (1968 edn), Baron Walpole, p.1128
  5. ^ Horace Walpole Letters to Sir Horace Mann, 17 June 1746, OS Mann, 203
  6. ^ Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley The House of Commons: 1690-1715
  7. ^ Editor's note in Letters of Horace Walpole, no 263, to Sir Horace Mann in Florence, 15 June 1755
  8. ^ Letters from Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, British Envoy at Florence, ed. Lord Dover
  9. ^ The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume 2
  10. ^ Dr Doran, 'Mann' and manners at the court of Florence, 1740-1786 (founded on the letters of Mann to Walpole), 2 volumes, vol 1, London UK, 1876.
  11. ^ Countess of Huntingdon, Selina (1839). The Life and Times of Selina Countess of Huntingdon. William Edward Painter. p. 477. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  12. ^
Small text
Peerage of England
In abeyance
title last held by Hugh Fortescue
Baroness Clinton
1760–1781 | style="width: 30%; text-align: center;" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 5 June 2023, at 15:33
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