TEMPLE, Sir Richard, 3rd Bt. (1634-97), of Stowe, Bucks. and Burton Dassett, Warws.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1679
1695 - 10 May 1697

Family and Education

b. 28 Mar. 1634, 1st s. of Sir Peter Temple, 2nd Bt., of Stowe by 2nd w. Christian, da. and coh. of Sir John Leveson of Trentham, Staffs. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1648; G. Inn 1648. m. 25 Aug. 1675 (with £4,000), his cos. Mary (bur. 15 May 1726), da. and coh. of Henry Knapp of Woodcote, South Stoke, Oxon., 4s. 6da. suc. fa. 12 Sept. 1653; KB 18 Apr. 1661.1

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. 1652-3, 1656-63, 1680-Feb. 1688, Sept. 1688-?d., Warws. 1653-63, 1680-90, 1692-6, Buckingham 1654-63; custos rot. Buckingham 1658-63, 1689-d.; commr. for militia, Bucks. 1659, Mar. 1660, oyer and terminer, Norfolk circuit July 1660, assessment, Bucks. and Warws. Aug. 1660-80, Buckingham 1663-4, Buckingham and Oxon. 1673-80, Westminster 1679-80, Oxon. Warws. and Westminster 1689-90, Bucks. and Buckingham 1690; col. of militia ft. Bucks. Apr. 1660, dep. lt. c. Aug. 1660-3, 1680-Feb. 1688, 1689-?d., Warws. 1670-Feb. 1688, 1689-?d.; steward, Buckingham 1684-Feb. 1688, Nov. 1689-d.2

Carver to the Protector ?1655-8; commr. for trade with Scotland 1668, plantations 1671-2, customs 1672-85, 1689-94; chairman of committees of supply and ways and means 21 Feb.-12 Mar. 1677.3


Temple’s ancestors were residing at Stowe as tenants of Osney Abbey in the reign of Henry VI. They were granted arms in 1567 and acquired the freehold of Stowe in 1590. In the previous year Temple’s grandfather had represented Andover, and his father sat for Buckingham, two-and-a-half miles from Stowe, in the Short and Long Parliaments. A Parliamentarian during the Civil War, he abstained from sitting after Pride’s Purge for several months, until compelled to take refuge from his creditors in the Rump. Temple inherited an estate of £6,000 p.a., but large families, long-lived widows, extravagance, and litigation had encumbered it with debts of £26,000, and for many years nine-tenths of his income had to be set aside to pay them off. He was returned for Warwickshire in 1654, under age, by special dispensation of the Protector, under whom he held a household appointment. In Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, and in eight of its nine successors, he sat for his father’s borough. He claimed to have raised 200 horse in support of Sir George Booth, but they seem to have escaped the notice of friend and foe alike.4

When George Monck halted at Stony Stratford on his march south in January 1660 Temple urged the gentlemen and freeholders of Buckinghamshire to petition for a free Parliament. A Republican colonel remarked contemptuously that Temple ‘would fain hold a trencher again to a single person, as he had done to Oliver’, and he was committed by the Rump to the custody of the serjeant-at-arms, where he remained until the return of the secluded Members. He hoped to be offered one of the Buckinghamshire seats at the general election, so that he might ‘with much civility devolve it’. This did not happen, but he carried Buckingham ‘plum on all sides’. Marked as a friend by Lord Wharton, he was moderately active in the Convention, with 13 committee appointments, 12 recorded speeches, and three tellerships. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges and those to consider the land purchases bill and (probably) the indemnity bill. He was sent to the Lords on 5 May to desire their concurrence in an order to stop further damage to the houses and lands of Sir John Stawell and two other prominent Royalists. In his eagerness to be sent as one of the commissioners to the King, he stooped to canvass so unlikely a supporter as Edmund Ludlow; but he was not successful on the ballot. He was teller against the motion to audit public accounts only from the establishment of the Commonwealth. When the name of the Independent preacher Nye was proposed for inclusion among the offenders to be disabled from office in the indemnity bill, Temple wished to charge him ‘with some capital crime’. It was reported in the press that his own name had been similarly proposed by Robert Beake as a ‘menial servant’ to the Protector. When he complained of breach of privilege, a committee was set up to inquire into the leak. He was among those ordered to investigate unauthorized Anglican publications on 30 June. Although he favoured a grand committee rather than a select committee to settle ecclesiastical livings, he was among those appointed to consider the bill, and later to manage a conference. He supported double taxation for recusants. On 17 Aug. ‘Sir Richard Temple intimated a desire to agree with the Lords’ on leaving all the regicides liable to the death penalty, ‘but did not conclude positively, and he was appointed to the committee to establish the names of those who had sat in judgment on Charles I. He applied for preferment to William Morice I, but the reply was discouraging:

I find the umbrage wherein you stand towards his Majesty is neither easily nor suddenly to be removed or cleared. Time may do much, and your patient and silent submission, but especially your readiness and diligence in acting in whatsoever may occur in the King’s service, may disperse the clouds and set you in a better light.

Wharton briefed him on the case for modified episcopacy with objections and answers, and on 27 Nov. he said that there was no repugnancy between the Worcester House declaration and the bill to give it statutory force.5

As soon as his parliamentary privilege lapsed Temple was thrown into a debtors’ prison by his half-sister, Lady Baltinglas. Nevertheless, he conducted a successful campaign for re-election, privately confirming an offer from his agent of £40 worth of timber to build a new town hall at Buckingham, an undertaking that earned him the nickname of ‘Sir Timber Temple’. Despite his embarrassing predicament he applied for the order of the Bath, a singularly pointless honour for one who already enjoyed the precedence of a baronet, in the hope that a sign of royal favour would induce the childless Sir Richard Leveson to leave him the Trentham estate. On the news of his election he announced that he would insist on his privilege. He was presumably released to take part in the coronation, and on 24 May 1661 he was named to his first committee in the Cavalier Parliament. Wharton continued to regard him as a friend, and he remained an active Member, with 263 committee appointments, 32 tellerships and over 200 recorded speeches. His first major committee was on the bill for the execution of those under attainder (26 Nov.). He ‘never spake better’ than in the long debate of 28 Jan. 1662 on cancelling the conveyances fraudulently obtained from Lady Powell during the Interregnum. He strongly opposed the hearth-tax, arguing that ‘fire is a thing of such absolute necessity in a cold country that no man can be without it’, and acting as teller against a proviso. He took the chair for the bill to prohibit the import of bone-lace, and carried it to the Upper House. He wished to agree with the Lords on allowances for nonconformist ministers, and helped to prepare reasons for a conference. But he opposed three amendments to the militia bill designed to safeguard the privilege of peers, and was added to the conference managers for the Commons on this measure. He also helped to prepare for conferences on relief for the loyal and indigent officers and on the poor law. On the last day of the session he was among those sent to request the King not to exercise his right to appoint to livings by default where the patrons’ presentations had been deferred by parliamentary proceedings.6

Despite the lack of recorded debates, it is clear that Temple had already signalized himself in opposition, and during the recess he looked around for a patron. As Daniel O’Neill wrote:

There is one Sir Richard Temple (that unfortunately the King made knight of the Bath) that once served Cromwell as a domestic servant. This fellow fastens a great friendship upon my Lord of Bristol, and being a nimble-tongued fellow overcame my lord’s easy nature so far as to believe he was able to carry anything in our House.

Bristol’s principal aim was to supplant Clarendon on a programme of support for the Declaration of Indulgence and a grant of supply sufficient to overcome the crown’s financial difficulties. Only to the first of these items did Temple offer effective support. After the rout of the crypto-Catholics on 25 Feb. 1663, he acted unsuccessfully as teller for adjourning the debate on indulgence to dissenters, and in the following month he was named to the committee on the bill to hinder the growth of Popery. He was more successful with the attack on the scale of offices, but unfortunately this implicated Clarendon’s enemy William Coventry even more than the lord chancellor. He proposed a committee of inquiry, in which he took the chair, and on his report he was teller for leave to bring in a bill. The motion was passed, but no bill was introduced before the prorogation. Temple’s final indiscretion was to act as teller against supply on 12 June. Retribution was swift; on the following day Henry Coventry informed the House that:

His Majesty had commanded him to impart to the House that a message was delivered to his Majesty by a person of quality from Sir Richard Temple, to the effect following: viz: that Sir Richard Temple was sorry his Majesty was offended with him that he could not go along with them that had undertaken his business in the House of Commons. But, if his Majesty would take his advice and entrust him and his friends, he would undertake his business should be effected and revenue settled better than he could desire, if the courtiers did not hinder it.

A committee of inquiry was set up under the friendly chairmanship of (Sir) Charles Hussey, and the ‘person of quality’ was revealed. Two of Bristol’s followers, John Vaughan and William Garway, were sent to acquaint him with the accusation. Delighted with the publicity, he dramatically confessed to the Commons that:

he did tell the King such a thing of Sir Richard Temple, but that upon his honour they were not spoke by Sir Richard, he having taken a liberty in enlarging to the King upon the discourse which had been between Sir Richard and himself lately; and took upon himself the whole blame, and desired their pardon, it being not to do any wrong to their fellow Member but out of zeal to the King.

The House accordingly resolved that Temple had not infringed any of their privileges, and gave him leave to petition the King for return to favour; but despite his protestations of innocence he was removed from local office.7

Temple vigorously opposed the repeal of the coercive clause in the Triennial Act in 1664, even to the point of challenging the venerable antiquary William Prynne on his own ground. His Buckinghamshire neighbour Sir Ralph Verney was told how Temple

made a very coxcombing of Prynne, confounding him demonstratively, causing several Acts to be read, showing his palpable mistakes and wilful perverting the text, and that the bill was not an act of grace, but the people’s right, and ought not to be denied them; nay, that it was a condescension in the Parliament and a waiving of part of their right, by taking a triennial when an annual Parliament was their due by former Acts of Parliament, which he caused to read, for which you may be sure he is farther become a Whitehall favourite, the clean contrary way.

He tried to gain time until Vaughan and other opposition Members could arrive by deferring the first reading and inserting an amendment on the third reading, but to no effect. He was added to the conference managers for the conventicles bill on 13 May, and was teller against a proviso touching the privilege of peers on the following day. In the autumn debates on supply he and Garway ‘chanted to the same tune’ as Vaughan, whose impeccably patriotic sentiments were not matched by any loosening of the purse-strings, and he helped to manage the conference of 9 Feb. 1665. Bristol’s political career was now at an end, and Temple, with other place-hunters, transferred himself to Buckingham. The group, which included Garway, Edward Seymour, and Sir Robert Howard, ‘were all bold speakers’, Clarendon wrote, ‘and meant to make themselves considerable by saying upon all occasions what wiser men would [not], whatever they thought’. On the first day of the Oxford session Temple introduced a bill to weaken the Irish administration of Clarendon’s ally Ormonde by imposing a total ban on the import of foreign cattle. He served on the committee and acted as teller for the third reading. But his proposal to finance the continuance of the second Dutch war by another subsidy was brushed aside. He was also named to the committee for the five mile bill, though he appears to have regarded the principle as indefensible. At the prorogation he was sent to the King with Brome Whorwood to ask for the preparation of disbursement accounts for the navy, ordnance, and stores, and when Parliament was reconvened, almost a year later, he was among those appointed to inspect them. On 11 Oct. 1666 he ‘caused a long and hot debate’ by proposing a supply of only £1,600,000 for the war, which the Government considered inadequate. He served on the deputation to ask the King to prohibit imports from France. He earned from Andrew Marvell the sobriquet of ‘conqueror of Irish cattle, and solicitor’ by his insistence on retaining Seymour’s description of the former as a public nuisance, and his success in obliging the latter (Heneage Finch) to withdraw his assertion that there was no precedent for the use of the expression in a bill. He helped to prepare reasons for one conference on the subject and to manage another. He was also among those ordered to prepare for a conference on the Canary Company patent. He was nominated to the abortive parliamentary accounts commission, and helped to draw up reasons for objecting to the Lords’ petition to the King while discussions were still in progress. He was one of the managers of Mordaunt’s impeachment.8

Temple naturally welcomed the fall of Clarendon. He was among those ordered to bring in a public accounts bill, to search for precedents for impeachment, and to reduce into heads the charges against the fallen minister, declaring that he ‘did not believe there was one there that would not be good’. He was among those entrusted with the preparation of reasons for the Commons’ proceedings, and the consideration of the banishment bill, though he declared that ‘his penalties are too low for his crimes’, and urged the House to ‘go higher; degrade him of honours; forfeit his lands’. On 18 Feb. 1668 he brought in without leave a triennial bill ‘blotched and interlined, which ought not to be when first presented’. With Vaughan promoted to the judiciary, he lacked an effective seconder, and had difficulty in securing even a first reading. A resolution was passed to prevent similar surprises, and the bill was withdrawn; ‘but from that time’, commented Anchitell Grey, ‘the gentleman that brought it in did not increase his interest in the House’. He suffered a further rebuff on the following day, when his motion for reading the terms of the Triple Alliance was rejected as unconstitutional. He attacked the ‘multitude of officers’ employed in the excise; but his chief concern in the closing weeks of the session was to protect his reversionary interest to the Trentham estate under a private bill promoted by the then owner. He was given leave to go to France during the recess for his health; but before he departed to drink the waters at Montpelier he composed a discourse urging the King to put all his trust in the anti-Clarendonians, with a policy of religious moderation and the punishment of all miscarriages. There is no evidence that it was ever presented. When Parliament resumed in 1669 Temple was included by Sir Thomas Osborne among the Members to be engaged for the Court by Buckingham. He argued strongly for a relaxation in the definition of an illegal conventicle and for the punishment of Sir George Carteret: ‘former merit does not annul a crime’. He was named to the committee on the bill to prevent transporting English convicts. On the second reading of the bill to renew the Conventicles Act on 9 Mar. 1670 he said:

You ought to make all your Acts as cheap to be obeyed as disobeyed. You have taken away all means from these people of getting their livings by their professions as ministers or schoolmasters, and what they do is for bread. He had a proviso in his hand ready that these dissenters ... who, though they come not to church ... yet live peaceably at home, shall not be prosecuted without special order from the King.

His proviso failed to obtain a hearing; but when the bill returned from the Lords he was named to the committee to consider the amendments made in the Upper House.9

Temple was one of the ‘five recanters of the House’, along with Howard, Seymour, Sir Robert Carr and Sir Frescheville Holles, who early in the next session ‘openly took leave of their former party to head the King’s business’. Marvell, as another servant of the Protectorate, was particularly shocked at his defection:

What scandal’s this! Temple, the wise, the brave To be reproached with term of turncoat knave; Whom France esteemed our chief in Parliament To be at home made such a precedent.

He supported Howard’s tender for a general farm of the revenue, and made his debut as a government speaker in the supply debate of 1 Dec. with an attack on his former colleagues: ‘he must needs be, that would have this debt unpaid, and advise what will not do it, an enemy to both King and kingdom’. As a court supporter he was able to persuade the Commons to grant a subsidy, based on real values, instead of the hated Civil War assessment, by which he hoped to ‘bury land-tax for ever’. Aware of the dangers of ‘partiality’, he provided for the nomination of commissioners by the King and not by the House. The new tax was ‘the product of the hardest and most constructive thinking by the Commons on the subject of direct taxation during the entire Restoration period’; but it failed to produce even half the estimated yield, and was never levied again. ‘Under the lash for his estate’, commented an opposition writer on Temple’s performance, ‘and to blot out the remembrance of holding Oliver’s trencher labours tooth and nail to project for the Court, witness the Law [Duties] Act’. After the assault on Sir John Coventry he opposed deferring all other business until the bill to punish the culprits had passed, urging the House to treat the money bills pari passu. He was among those ordered to consider the amendments to the Coventry bill received from the Lords (25 Jan. 1671). Before the session closed he helped to prepare or manage conferences on the subsidy, the new impositions, the growth of Popery, fraudulent cattle sales, and the prevention of wool exports. He still spoke in defence of the nonconformists, in such terms that Charles Cheyne complained: ‘Temple would have the Church join with them, and not they with the Church.’ Later in the same debate he declared that he

would have this bill look two ways, to unite as well as to punish. Is afraid that you handle all dissenters alike. ... The Presbyterians are not capable of toleration because they are an army with banners; they draw many from you. Separate them from Independents and Papists, and they will come into your Church. ... Independents are not capable neither of comprehension, but they are not capable of imposing; they may be allowed meeting-houses out of towns under what security you will.

Temple’s change of politics involved a second change of patron. Arlington now regarded him as a friend, and was responsible for appointing him to public office at the plantations board. The post was unpaid, but Arlington assured him that he was ‘gracious with the King, and that his Majesty is sensible you have served him this session. I know the rest will follow’. On 23 Mar. 1672 a warrant was ordered for his promotion to the board of customs with a salary of £2,000 p.a. backdated to the previous Christmas.10

When Parliament met again during the third Dutch war, Temple supported the motion of (Sir) John Bramston to add to the customary vote of thanks for the speech from the throne a promise to assist the King against his enemies. When the debate was resumed on 8 Feb. 1673 he defended the Declaration of Indulgence as an encouragement to immigration. ‘We want people, and this will bring them in’, he said, and was later named to the committee for the general naturalization bill. He helped to prepare the first address against the suspending power, but he hoped that the House would accept the King’s answer, which he declared to be ‘fraught with so much condescension as never yet came from a king’. Two days later, after several ineffectual attempts to speak on the same subject, he was told by Seymour from the chair that ‘it is not in my power to prevail with the House to hear you’, and he acted as teller for the minority on a motion to omit the word ‘unanimous’ from the second address. Still anxious ‘to provide for relief of dissenting brethren’, he was appointed to the committee for the bill of ease. With more consistency on the principle of toleration than was usually to be found in the country party, he opposed the test bill, and argued that the Queen’s servants were protected by international law. When Robert Thomas moved for the publication of the addresses concerning grievances and the King’s answers, he replied:

You would not let your transactions be printed in news-books; you have decried this printing, begun in the Long Parliament, as of ill consequence. Let these things, like appeals to the people, be avoided.

He took little part in the brief autumn session except for an attempt to water down the resolution against a standing army, which was resoundingly defeated. His unpopularity was so great that he was ‘the worst heard that can be in the House’, according to Sir William Temple.11

Temple was named on the Paston list, and defended his patron Arlington in January 1674, but joined with relish in the attack on Lauderdale. He urged the strengthening of the bill against illegal imprisonment, and was appointed to the committee. He helped to prepare for two conferences on peace with Holland, and together with (Sir) Thomas Clarges was given special responsibility for the bill to relieve poor prisoners for debt. His other committees included those to prevent illegal exactions, to regulate judges’ patents, and to inquire into the condition of Ireland. In April 1675 he stoutly defended Osborne, now Lord Treasurer Danby, against the abortive impeachment:

In all cases he has observed the treasurer to take the best advice he could, and has made the law his rule in all things within his observation. The customs were never so little changed as in this lord treasurer’s time. For the other charges against him, which are not public, we do not the nation’s service in charging these little things which have more sound than substance.

On the other hand he was the only official in the House to support the resolution of 17 May to receive no further bills that session, thereby thwarting Danby’s intention of securing further supply. He played a prominent role in the disputes over the jurisdiction of the Lords, which, he claimed, was responsible for ‘the late rebellion ... as much as anything’. He was named to all the important committees, reporting conferences on the cases involving (Sir) John Fagg I and Arthur Onslow. Though he admitted suffering some inconvenience himself from uncertainty whether he would be allowed to waive his privilege, he insisted that for the Commons to give way would ‘make you a Lower House indeed, ... to wear the lords’ coats and badges— below their footmen’.12

So far from emulating his brother Jack (usually omitted from the family tree), who ‘was tried for having fourteen wives at once’, Temple escaped matrimony until he was over 40, and then the assumption of the conjugal yoke may have been involuntary, for a son was born only two months later. This apparently short gestation reminded his constitutents of Temple’s failure after 14 years to build them a new town hall, especially as, by this time, his own exertions, backed by a handsome salary, had extricated him from his father’s debts. Meanwhile his name had appeared on the list of officials in the House and on the working lists, with the rest of the customs board, with those to be directly influenced by the King. Among the government speakers listed by Joseph Williamson about this time Temple stands second only to Robert Sawyer in the frequency of his contributions to debate. On 26 Oct. he opposed the motion for depositing in the chamber of London the revenue voted for the naval programme, and he both spoke and divided against an appropriation clause. In the debate on regulating elections, he said:

Anciently there was no vote in a borough but by burgage tenure, borough houses. We come now to freemen and salesmen, scotters and lotters; but such only had voice as were able to maintain the charge of their burgesses. Would tie up elections to such as have estates to answer their actions to the place they serve for. Would not have one chosen that has not an estate of £500 p.a., and restrain all charges and expenses, that elections may be free.

He was appointed to the committee to bring in a bill. Sir Richard Wiseman was suspicious of Temple, as a former follower of Arlington, and after the session reminded Danby that ‘your lordship every day speaks with him; I hope he will spoil no more votes’, presumably a reference to the resolution of 17 May 1675. When Parliament met again on 15 Feb. 1677 Temple denounced the view propounded by William Sacheverell that it had been automatically dissolved by the long recess. ‘Because the legality of our meeting is questioned by libels without doors, must we therefore make it a question within doors?’ he asked. ‘When a bill is read, you may punish the authors of these libels.’ Perhaps he had more personal matters in view; but he acted as teller for terminating the debate, and the House took no further action. Shaftesbury naturally marked him ‘thrice vile’. Mindful, no doubt, of his own experience, he was quick to defend the right of Sir Robert Holte to be released from a debtors’ prison to attend the service of the House. Danby had apparently satisfied himself of Temple’s loyalty, for he was the government nominee for the chair of the supply committee in this session; but the motion was carried by only 127 votes to 104, and Clarges was quick to repress any tendency on the chairman’s part to exceed his powers of intervention in debate. He presented six reports from the committee, eventually arriving at a grant midway between the £800,000 demanded by the Government and the £400,000 proposed by the Opposition. He was named on 22 Feb. to the committees for the bills to recall British subjects from the French service and to prevent illegal exactions. On 5 Mar. he again spoke against appropriation, and he was the first Member appointed to the small committee to bring in a bill for building 30 warships. He helped to manage conferences on the danger from France and the naturalization of the children of exiled Cavaliers, and acted as teller against a bill to prevent frauds and abuses in the import of Irish cattle. He was added on 12 Apr. to the committee ordered to prepare reasons for insisting that the naval accounts should be reported only to the Commons, and on the following day he was sent to the Lords to desire a conference. In the debate on foreign policy of 25 May he asserted that no previous Parliament had taken upon itself to refuse supply until alliances were declared. ‘Pressing the King to declare alliances, and advising them by Parliament’, he said, ‘is no rule of Parliament, and a dangerous precedent.’ So highly were Temple’s services valued by the Government at this time that when the salaries of the customs commissioners were reduced to £1,200 he was granted an excise pension of £800 to make up the difference.13

Temple condemned Sacheverell’s attempt to censure Seymour for irregular adjournments of the House, pointing out that he had acted on the King’s command. ‘No person can go about to make that the Speaker’s case which is wholly the King’s’, he objected, and the only regular procedure would be by impeachment. He still defended a subsidy, with all parties on oath, as ‘the equallest way that can be’, capable of sweeping into the net such diverse tax-evaders as the dignified clergy and shareholders in the East India Company. He helped to manage the conference on 9 Mar. 1678 on the river fishing bill. Listed as a court supporter, he was among those ordered to prepare reasons for a conference on the growth of Popery, but strongly opposed, both in debate and division, telling the Lords that until more effectual courses were taken the Commons could not consent to any further charge on the people. ‘Show your zeal but according to knowledge’, he adjured the House. He was named to the committee appointed on 30 Apr. to summarize the alliances, and acted as teller on 1 June against the opposition attack on the lord chancellor’s speech. A week later he was for accepting responsibility to repay £200,000 to the crown. He twice reported reasons for disagreeing with the Lords over the dates for the disbandment of the new-raised forces, and was sent to desire a conference. He was also among those appointed to prepare reasons for the measurement of craft in the colliery trade and to manage a conference on burial in woollen. Temple was initially sceptical of Titus Oates’s disclosures, but, after serving on the committees to translate Coleman’s letters and to impeach Lord Arundell of Wardour, he said: ‘Let us not call for more evidence of the Plot; we have enough before us at present to convince and awaken us’. Although he spoke in defence of the Lords’ amendment to permit the Duke of York to retain his seat, he was among those named to prepare reasons for a conference on the servants of the Queen and the duchess. He helped to draw up five addresses, of which the most important was to protest against the ‘private advices’ that had led to the royal veto on the militia bill. While not disputing the prerogative, he thought that there were precedents for bringing in another bill to the same effect. He helped to manage and to prepare for conferences on disbandment. He was one of the few Members to make any sustained effort to defend Danby, pointing out that Ralph Montagu had shown no reluctance to obtain money from France for a peace, urging the irregularity of appointing the impeachment committee without naming time or place of meeting, and denying that Parliament retained a declaratory power in cases of treason. On 23 Dec. he had leave to go into the country, but four days later he proffered to speak in defence of Sir George Jeffreys. Sir Thomas Littleton, 2nd Bt., objected that his presence in the House was absurd, to which he replied, ‘I never heard that leave was a command to go’.14

At the first general election of 1679 the Duke of Buckingham in person canvassed against Temple, and there was a double return. (Sir) Thomas Meres reported from the elections committee in favour of his opponent Sir Peter Tyrrell, and he was never allowed to sit in the first Exclusion Parliament. Although blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters, he defeated Tyrrell in the autumn in conjunction with Danby’s son, Lord Latimer (Edward Osborne). A brisk pamphlet war ensued. Temple was moderately active in the second Exclusion Parliament, with nine committee appointments and four speeches. Although he did not condemn exclusion outright, it is clear that he intended to sow dissension among its supporters by his speech of 6 Nov. 1680:

It may be you say farther than you intend in this bill. The Duke being disabled to inherit the crown, ... the question is whether anybody can claim any inheritance by, from and under him. ... I offer this to you, that nothing in the bill should alter your intent to a Protestant successor.

Nevertheless he was among those appointed to draft the address insisting on exclusion and to consider the bill for uniting Protestants, which he supported on the report stage. Re-elected in 1681, he was appointed to no committees in the Oxford Parliament, but spoke in the debate on the loss of the statute to repeal the Elizabethan law against Protestant nonconformists. ‘I fully concur in the weight and consequence of the matter’, he said, ‘and you are to take all the care that can be to secure it for the future.’15

After the dissolution Temple prosecuted one Barton, ‘a beggarly, lewd, idle fellow’ who claimed to have seen him scores of times at mass. He was sentenced to the pillory for subornation of perjury, but emerged with a whole skin, owing to the partiality of the under-sheriff and the Aylesbury mob. More satisfactory was the remodelling of the Buckingham corporation, in which he took an active part. He was nominated as steward for life in the new charter, but on the accession of James II he was removed from the customs commission for refusing to consent to the continued levy of revenue in anticipation of parliamentary sanction. After a long, wearisome and expensive campaign he was reelected for Buckingham, and became a very active Member, with 24 committee appointments and two tellerships. From the first day of the session Temple showed himself fractious and obstructive, perhaps as a consequence of the insomnia that he had contracted during his election. When the Speaker (Sir John Trevor) proposed to open proceedings as usual by reading a bill,

Sir Richard Temple stood up, and, after a short apology, minded the Speaker that his Majesty had not yet told us the reason why he called us together, and until that was done it was never known that the House entered upon any business. Thereupon the House adjourned.

He was among those instructed to recommend expunctions from the Journals, and on 12 June reported from the committee appointed to devise remedies for the falling price of wool and corn. He blamed the East India Company for importing silk and calico, and was given leave to bring in legislation. On the news of Monmouth’s landing Temple was named to the committees to draft an address promising to assist the King with life and fortune, and a bill laying a tax on new foundations. He favoured the general naturalization of Huguenot refugees and helped to draft the bill. He was also among those ordered to bring in a clause ‘that none shall move in either House of Parliament for alteration of the succession of the crown in the right line’. He was teller on 29 June for committing a bill for registering the deaths, burials, marriages and issue of the nobility and gentry. In the second session he did not oppose additional revenue on ‘the old beaten road of subsidies and land tax’, but urged that it should not be earmarked for the army.

I must concur with the King that the militia is not sufficient. I am for mending the militia. ... To trust to mercenary force alone is to give up all our liberties at once. ... There is no country in the world that has a law to set up an army. We have already made an ample supply for the Government. ’Tis for kings to come to the House from time to time on extraordinary occasions; and, if this army be provided for by a law, there will never more need coming to this House. Armies are useful, when occasion for them; but if you establish them, you can disband them no more.

Reports of this speech show variations in wording, and among Temple’s auditors Bramston for one was surprised that he voted to omit the words ‘for the supply of the army’. On 20 Apr. 1686 he was granted a pension of £1,200 p.a. in recognition of his good services in the late and present reigns. But he was horrified at the dismissal of Charles Herbert and Lord Worcester (Charles Somerset) without compensation for their refusal to support the King’s ecclesiastical policy, and lost county office himself when he signified his dissent to the lord lieutenant’s question on the repeal of the Test and the Penal Laws.16

Temple joined the Prince of Orange on 12 Dec. 1688, so late that, in his neighbours’ opinion, it signified little. A fortnight later he attended the meeting of Members of Charles II’s Parliaments. He was not among those appointed to prepare the address for a general election, but, together with Meres, ‘perplexed the committee very much’. Unlike Meres he held his seat at the general election, though he was accused of being ‘no friend to the Prince’. Nevertheless as soon as the Convention met he was among those ordered to draw up an address of thanks. After reciting the misdeeds of James II in a long and eloquent speech, he asserted:

He has quitted the government without assurance of anything. He has suppressed the Parliament writs, he has taken away the great seal, and here is an apparent end of the government. The King has fallen from the crown.

On the following day he reported an address for preventing ships from crossing to France, and presented it to the Prince. In grand committee on the state of the nation he declared that three reforms were essentially necessary, the removal of encroachment upon Parliaments ‘to provide for their certainty and frequency’, the appointment of judges for life on fixed salaries, and a new coronation oath, whereby the sovereign should be sworn to protect his subjects. He was named to the committee to bring in the heads of the essentials for securing religion, life and liberty, and took a leading part in the constitutional discussions of the next few days. ‘I desire you will not agree with the Lords’, he said. ‘If the throne be full, what do we here?’ He was among those appointed to prepare reasons for asserting that the King had abdicated and the throne was vacant. In the debate on the conference, he admitted himself to be at a ‘great disadvantage, to speak after so learned a gentleman’ as the Hon. Heneage Finch I, who had urged that the crown had descended to Princess Mary. ‘You have a pretended brat beyond sea, whom you cannot set aside’, he declared. He helped to manage the conference of 6 Feb., at which the Lords gave way, and to draw up the declaration of rights. On the Lords’ bill declaring the Convention to be a Parliament, he told the House: ‘Your elections were as free as ever; no precedent was ever a freer’. He helped to draft addresses thanking the new King for agreeing to the abolition of the hearth-tax and promising to assist him, like his predecessor four years before, with life and fortune. He supported the suspension of habeas corpus to enable Jacobite suspects to be detained without trial, and was named to the small committee to bring in a bill ‘with all convenient speed’. He was also among those appointed to discover the authors and advisers of grievances. He foresaw ‘little benefit and great inconvenience’ from the publication of proceedings. ‘In a great assembly, what is done must be with great reason; there ought to be no innovations. ... I hope we shall not imitate Holland, to go to our principals for instructions.’ His was the first name on the committee to bring in the mutiny bill, but he was teller against appointing a committee to estimate the defence expenditure necessary in time of peace. On 22 Mar. he was added to the committee for the bill of rights, in which he was anxious to insert a clause to disqualify from Parliament all placemen except those holding on life patents. He was among those ordered to manage a conference on the removal and disarming of Papists and to consider the repeal of the Corporations Act. On 2 Apr. he reported from the elections committee in favour of the Tory candidate for Essex. He helped to draw up two more addresses thanking William for his care of the Church and promising assistance for a war against France, and was rewarded, no doubt on Danby’s interest, with his old seat on the customs board. ‘I find he will be vicar of Bray still, let who will reign’, wrote an envious neighbour; ‘though all hate him, he gets what he aims at.’ On the same day that the warrant for his appointment was issued, he was named to a committee to consider a complaint of undue proceedings by the commissioners and their staff. He was the first Member ordered to bring in a bill to make the militia more effectual, carried up the bill to prevent doubts and questions about the revenue, and helped to prepare reasons on the assessment of peers for poll-tax. In the debates on the bill of indemnity he commended its predecessor of 1660 as an example of moderation. ‘If we go to persons’, he said, ‘we shall agree, for we know them; if to things, we are in a wood, and shall never get out of it.’ He proposed the punishment ‘only of notorious instruments’, such as Jeffreys, who had acquired a rival interest in Buckinghamshire. ‘A lawyer, and he to destroy the law!’ he exclaimed in horror. ‘I would except him from pardon in his honour and lands.’ On 6 June he was added to the committee to inspect the entries in the Lords Journals about Oates. Times had changed with Temple since his impecunious younger days; now he was mortgagee to William Palmes, and his agents were charged with breach of privilege for entering on the land in question. But on 1 July the case was dismissed. Before the recess he helped to prepare for conferences on the succession and on the duties on coffee, tea, and chocolate, and to manage a conference on attainting Jacobites.17

Temple was much less active in the second session. When the House met he moved for immediate consideration of the speech from the throne, rather than an inquiry into the state of the nation, by which the Whigs hoped to drive Danby (now Lord Carmarthen) out of office, and he was among those ordered to report on the accusations made against prisoners of state. On 21 Dec. he opposed an inquiry into the miscarriages of the war. Altogether he had been an active Member, with 51 committee appointments and about 40 recorded speeches. He was re-elected as a court Tory, but removed from the customs board as ‘good for nothing’ by the Whig Duke of Shrewsbury in 1694. He retained his seat at the general election of 1695, but died on 10 May 1697, and was buried at Stowe. His son Richard, whose first appearance in the world had caused so much embarrassment in 1675, represented both borough and county as a Whig, distinguishing himself as a soldier in Flanders under Marlborough before being raised to the peerage as Lord Cobham by George I.18

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Verney Mems. ii. 290; O. G. Knapp, Knapp Fams. 81-86; Huntington Lib. Q. ii. 437; vi. 291.
  • 2. Merc. Pub. 12 Apr. 1660; Bucks. RO, Buckingham corp. recs. 30, ff. 22, 28.
  • 3. Verney Mems. ii. 8; Bulstrode Pprs. 17; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 1054; ix. 82; x. 739.
  • 4. Her. and Gen. iii. 391-3; DNB; CSP Dom. 1654, p. 306; Huntington Lib. Q. vi. 265.
  • 5. HMC Popham, 208; Huntington Lib. Q. iv. 50-52, 82; Verney Mems. ii. 155, 159; Voyce from the Watch Tower, 122; CJ, viii. 53, 74, 106, 162; Bowman diary, ff. 9, 109, 140v, 147; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 28.
  • 6. Keble, Reps. i. 3, 16; Huntington Lib. Q. vi. 288; Reymes diary, 28 Jan. 1662; Stowe 304, ff. 70-71; C. D. Chandaman, Eng. Pub. Revenue, 79; CJ, viii. 383, 392, 395, 414, 421, 423, 429.
  • 7. Bodl. Carte 32, ff. 597-8; 47, f. 403; CJ, viii. 474, 501, 502, 507, 511, 513-14; Pepys Diary, 26 June, 1 July 1663; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 190.
  • 8. Stowe 180, ff. 88-90; Add. 35865, ff. 212-13; BL, M636/19, Denton to Verney, 25 Mar. 1664; CJ, viii. 536, 538, 565, 620, 623, 644, 661, 670, 681; Add. 32094, f. 26; Clarendon, Life, iii. 133; Carte 34, ff. 431-2, 442; Marvell ed. Margoliouth, i. 53; Milward, 15, 20.
  • 9. Clarendon Impeachment, 19-20; Add. 35865, f. 15; CJ, ix. 41, 52, 92; Grey, i. 82, 162, 172, 228; Milward, 191, 201, 246; Huntington Lib. Q. xx. 137-44.
  • 10. Marvell, i. 169; ii. 305; Grey, i. 281, 316, 321, 324, 420, 422-3; Harl. 7020, f. 33v; Chandaman, 149-50; Dering, 45, 47; CJ, ix. 212, 233, 237; Clarke, Jas. II, i. 434; Huntington Lib. Q. iv. 58; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 1054.
  • 11. Dering, 107; Grey, ii. 12, 28, 57, 99, 142-3, 175, 221; CJ, ix. 251, 257, 264, 275; Essex Pprs. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xlvii), 132.
  • 12. Grey, ii. 242-3, 283-4, 365; iii. 43, 221, 242; CJ, ix. 300, 305, 339, 340; Dering Pprs. 87.
  • 13. Verney Mems. ii. 290, 346; VCH Oxon. vii. 97; Bagford Ballads ed. Ebsworth, 766; CJ, ix. 365, 373, 374, 386, 398, 414, 415; Grey, iii. 451-2; iv. 3, 71, 78, 151, 185-6, 383; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 769, 1321, 1322.
  • 14. Grey, v. 10, 180-1, 201, 284; vi. 174, 246, 305, 361, 370, 379, 397-8; CJ, ix. 551, 555; Verney Mems. ii. 329.
  • 15. HMC 13th Rep. VI, 13, 20; CJ, ix. 648; Huntington Lib. Q. iv. 63-65; Grey, vii. 425; viii. 301; Exact Coll. Debates, 56; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 102.
  • 16. Huntington Lib. Q. iv. 63-64, 70-72; HMC Ormonde, n.s. vii. 322; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 697, 715, 889, 1039; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxxii), 198, 212; CJ, ix. 738; Christ Church, Oxf. Evelyn mss; Verney Mems. ii. 461.
  • 17. Verney Mems. ii. 469, 471; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 397; Simpson thesis, 29, 197; Grey, ix. 9-10, 31, 46, 49, 61-62, 104, 132, 144, 245, 248, 323; CJ, x. 15, 20, 56, 69, 78, 105, 202, 246; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 53.
  • 18. Morrice, 617; Grey, ix. 508; CSP Dom. 1694-5, p. 181; Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 110.