WALDEGRAVE, the name of an English family, taken from its early residence, Walgrave in Northamptonshire. Its founder was SIR RICHARD WALDEGRAVE, or WALGRAVE, who was member of parliament for Lincolnshire in 1335; his son, Sir Richard Waldegrave (d. 1402), was speaker of the House of Commons in 1402. One of Sir Richard's descendants was Sir Edward Waldegrave (c. 1517-1561) of Borley, Essex, who was imprisoned during the reign of Edward VI. for his loyalty to the princess, afterwards Queen Mary. By Mary he was knighted, and he received from her the manor of Chewton in Somerset, now the residence of Earl Waldegrave. He was a member of parliament and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. After Mary's decease he suffered a reverse of fortune, and he was a prisoner in the Tower of London when he died on the 1st of September 1561. Sir Edward's descendant, another Sir Edward Waldegrave, was created a baronet in 1643 for his services to Charles I.; and his descendant, Sir Henry Waldegrave, Bart. (1660-1689), was created Baron Waldegrave of Chewton in 1686. Sir Henry married Henrietta (d. 1730), daughter of King James II. and Arabella Churchill, and their son was James, 1st Earl Waldegrave (1684-1741).
Educated in France, James Waldegrave soon crossed over to England, and under George I. he declared himself a Protestant and took his seat as Baron Waldegrave in the House of Lords. Having become friendly with Sir Robert Walpole, he was sent to Paris as ambassador extraordinary in 1725, and from 1727 to 1730 he was British ambassador at Vienna. In 1729 he was created Viscount Chewton and Earl Waldegrave, and in 1730 he succeeded Sir Horatio Walpole as ambassador in Paris, filling this post during ten very difficult years. He died on the nth of April 1741. Much of his diplomatic correspondence is in the British Museum.
His son JAMES, the 2nd earl (1715-1763), was perhaps the most intimate friend of George II., and was for a time governor of his grandson, the future king George III. He was very much in evidence during the critical years 1755-1757, when the king employed him to negotiate in turn with Newcastle, Devonshire, Pitt and Fox about the formation of a ministry. Eventually, in consequence of a deadlock, Waldegrave himself was first lord of the treasury for five days in June 1757. He died on the 28th of April 1763, leaving some valuable and interesting Memoirs, which were published in 1821.
His brother JOHN, the 3rd earl (1718-1784), was a soldier, who distinguished himself especially at the battle of Minden and became a general in 1772. He was a member of parliament from 1747 to 1763. His younger son, William Waldegrave (1753- 1825), entered the British navy in 1766, and after many years of service was third in command at the battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797. In 1800 he was created an Irish peer as Baron Radstock, and in 1802 he became an admiral. His son, George Granville, and Baron Radstock (1786-1857), followed in his father's footsteps, and was made a vice-admiral in 1851. In 1857 his son, Granville Augustus William (b. 1833), became 3rd Baron Radstock.