Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Temple, Henry (1739-1802)

TEMPLE, HENRY, second Viscount Palmerston (1739–1802), son of Henry Temple (d. 1740) by his second wife, and grandson of Henry, first viscount [q. v.], was born on 4 Dec. 1739. At a by-election on 28 May 1762 he was returned to parliament in the interest of the family of Buller for the Cornish borough of East Looe, and sat for it until 1768. He subsequently represented the constituencies of Southampton (1768–74), Hastings (1774–80 and 1780–84), Boroughbridge in Yorkshire (1784–90), Newport, Isle of Wight (1790–96), and Winchester (1796 to death). He seconded the address in December 1765. In the same month he was appointed to a seat at the board of trade. From September 1766 to December 1777 he was a lord of the admiralty, and from the latter date to the accession of the Rockingham ministry in March 1782 he was a lord of the treasury. He was a member of the committee nominated by Lord North in November 1772 to inquire into the affairs of the East India Company, but he did not attain to distinction in political life.

Throughout his life Palmerston was fond of travel, of social life, and of the company of distinguished men. He was walking with Wilkes in the streets of Paris in 1763 when the patriot was challenged by a Scotsman serving in the French army. Late in the same year he passed through Lausanne, when Gibbon praised his scheme of travel and prophesied that he would derive great improvement from it. He was elected a member of the Catch Club in 1771, and Gibbon dined with him on 20 May 1776 at ‘a great dinner of Catches.’ He was created a D.C.L. of Oxford on 7 July 1773. At his first nomination on 1 July 1783 for ‘The Club’ he was, against Johnson's opinion, rejected; but on 10 Feb. 1784 he was duly elected (Boswell, ed. Napier, iv. 163). A letter from him in 1777 is in Garrick's ‘Correspondence’ (ii. 270–1); Sir Joshua Reynolds often dined at his house, and Palmerston was one of the pall-bearers at the funerals of Garrick and Reynolds. Under the will of Sir Joshua he had the second choice of any picture painted by him, and he selected the ‘Infant Academy.’

William Pars [q. v.] accompanied Palmerston to the continent in 1767, and made many drawings of scenes which they visited. When at Spa they met Frances, only daughter of Sir Francis Poole, bart., of Poole Hall, Chester. She was ten years older than Lord Palmerston, but ‘agreeable, sensible, and so clever,’ that, although he desired a fortune and she was poor, he married her on 6 Oct. 1767 (Mrs. Osborn, Letters, p. 174; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vii. 340). She died at the Admiralty, Whitehall, London, on 1 June 1769, having had a daughter born on 17 May, and was buried in a vault under the abbey church of Romsey, Hampshire. A mural tablet to her memory, with an inscription in prose by her husband, was placed under its west window. His lines on her death, beginning with the words

Whoe'er, like me, with trembling anguish brings
His heart's whole treasure to fair Bristol's springs,

have been much admired, and are often attributed to Mason.

Palmerston married, as his second wife, at Bath, on 5 Jan. 1783, Mary, daughter of Benjamin Thomas Mee, and sister of Benjamin Mee, director of the Bank of England; like her husband, she revelled in society. The house at Sheen, their favourite resort, is described as ‘a prodigious, great, magnificent old-fashioned house, with pleasure-grounds of 70 acres, pieces of water, artificial mounts, and so forth;’ and their assemblies at the town house in Hanover Square were famous (Dr. Burney, Memoirs, iii. 271–2). No schoolboy was ‘so fond of a breaking-up as Lord Palmerston is of a junket and pleasuring.’ Their life is made a ‘toil of pleasure.’

Early in April 1802 Palmerston was very ill, but ‘in good spirits, cracking his jokes and reading from morning to night.’ He died of an ossified throat at his house in Hanover Square, London, on 16 April 1802. His widow died at Broadlands (the family seat near Romsey, Hampshire, which Palmerston had greatly enlarged and adorned) on 20 Jan. 1805. Both of them were buried in the vault under Romsey church, and against the west wall of the nave a monument, by Flaxman, was erected to their memory. Of their large family, the eldest was the statesman, Henry John Temple, third viscount Palmerston [q. v.]

Palmerston's ‘Diary in France during July and August 1791’ was published at Cambridge in 1885 as an appendix to ‘The Despatches of Earl Gower, English Ambassador at Paris’ (ed. O. Browning).

Verses by Lord Palmerston are in Lady Miller's ‘Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath’ (i. 12, 52–7, 60–3), the ‘New Foundling Hospital for Wit’ (i. 51–9), and Walpole's ‘Royal and Noble Authors’ (ed. Park, v. 327–8). Those in the first of these collections are described by Walpole as ‘very pretty’ (Letters, vi. 171), but they were ridiculed by Tickell in his satire, ‘The Wreath of Fashion.’ His mezzotint portraits were sold by Christie & Manson in May 1890; his pictures in April 1891.

[Lodge's Irish Peerage, ed. Archdall, v. 244; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Gent. Mag. 1802 i. 381, 1805 p. 95; Spence's Romsey Church, pp. 40–2; Brayley and Britton's Beauties of England and Wales, vi. 223; Pratt's Harvest Home, i. 78; Courtney's Parl. Rep. of Cornwall, p. 124; Grenville Papers, i. 443–6; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 382, v. 620, 3rd ser. i. 388; Walpole's Journals, 1771–1783, i. 168, ii. 174; Croker Papers, i. 17; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, vii. 4; Wooll's Warton, p. 84; Walpole's Letters, vi. 178, 217, 269–70, vii. 54; Alger's Englishmen in the French Revolution, pp. 105–7; Chatham Corresp. ii. 350; Lord Minto's Life, passim; Gibbon's Letters, i. 50, 283; Leslie and Taylor's Sir Joshua Reynolds, i. 380, 386, ii. 53, 414, 632, 636.]

W. P. C.