Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Temple, John
TEMPLE, Sir JOHN (1600–1677), master of the rolls in Ireland, eldest son of Sir William Temple (1555–1627) [q. v.], provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and Martha, daughter of Robert Harrison of Derbyshire, was born in Ireland in 1600. After receiving his education at Trinity College, Dublin, he spent some time travelling abroad, and on his return entered the personal service of Charles I. He obtained livery of his inheritance on 5 Jan. 1628, and was shortly afterwards knighted. Returning to Ireland, he was on 31 Jan. 1640 created master of the rolls there (patent 20 Feb.) in succession to Sir Christopher Wandesford [q. v.] (Smyth, Law Officers of Ireland, p. 67) and admitted a privy councillor. When the rebellion broke out in October 1641 he was of the greatest service to government in provisioning the city (Carte, Life of Ormond, i. 171). On 23 July 1642 he was returned M.P. for co. Meath, being described as of Ballycrath, co. Carlow (Official Return of M.P.s, Ireland, pt. ii. p. 627). In the struggle between the crown and the parliament his inclinations drew him to the side of the latter, and, in consequence of the vehement resistance he offered to the cessation, he was in August 1643 suspended from his office by the lords justices Borlase and Tichborne, acting on instructions from Charles, and, with Sir W. Parsons, Sir A. Loftus, and Sir R. Meredith, committed a close prisoner to the castle. He was specially charged with having in May and June written two scandalous letters against the king, which had been used to asperse his majesty as favouring the rebels (Carte, Life of Ormonde, i. 441–443). His imprisonment lasted nearly a year, when he was exchanged. In compensation for what was regarded as his harsh treatment, he was provided in 1646 with a seat in the English House of Commons as a ‘recruiter’ for Chichester, receiving at the same time its special thanks for the services he had rendered to the English interest in Ireland at the beginning of the rebellion.
That year Temple published his ‘Irish Rebellion; or an history of the beginning and first progresse of the generall rebellion raised within the kingdom of Ireland upon the … 23 Oct. 1641. Together with the barbarous cruelties and bloody massacres which ensued thereupon,’ in 2 pts. 4to. The book made an immediate and great sensation. As the production of a professed eye-witness and of one whose position entitled him to speak with authority, its statements were received with unquestioning confidence, and did much to inflame popular indignation in England against the Irish, and to justify the severe treatment afterwards measured out to them by Cromwell. But the calmer judgment of posterity has seen reason to doubt the veracity of many of its statements, and, though still occasionally appealed to as an authority, its position is rather that of a partisan pamphlet than of an historical treatise (Lecky, Hist. of Engl. ii. 148–150; Hickson, Irish Massacres, vol. i. introd. p. 140). A new edition appeared in London in 1674, much to the annoyance of government, but, on being questioned by the lord-lieutenant (the Earl of Essex) on the subject, Temple disclaimed having had any share in its reissue, saying that ‘whoever printed it did it without his knowledge’ (Essex, Letters, p. 2). So highly, indeed, were the Irish incensed against it that one of the first resolutions of the parliament of 1689 was to order it to be burnt by the common hangman (Egerton MS. 917, f. 108); but since then it has been frequently reprinted both in Dublin and in London.
In 1647, after the conclusion of the peace between Ormonde and the parliament, Temple was appointed a commissioner for the government of Munster, and on 16 Oct. the following year was made joint commissioner with Sir W. Parsons for the administration of the great seal of Ireland. But, having voted with the majority on 5 Dec. in favour of the proposed compromise with Charles, he was excluded from further attendance in the house; and during the next four years he took no part in public affairs, residing the while quietly in London. His personal experience, however, of the circumstances attending the outbreak of the rebellion led to his appointment on 21 Nov. 1653 as a commissioner ‘to consider and advise from time to time how the titles of the Irish and others to any estate in Ireland, and likewise their delinquency according to their respective qualifications, might be put in the most speedy and exact way of adjudication consistent with justice.’ His labours accomplished, he returned to England in the following year, and, the government of Ireland having grown into a settled condition, he expressed his willingness to resume the regular execution of his old office of master of the rolls. He accordingly repaired thither in June 1655, bearing a highly recommendatory letter from Cromwell to the lord-deputy Fleetwood and council of state in his favour (Commonwealth Papers, P.R.O. Dublin, A/28, 26, f. 60). In addition to an increased official salary he received from time to time several grants of money for special services rendered by him. In September that year he was joined with Sir R. King, Benjamin Worsley, and others in a commission for letting and setting of houses and lands belonging to the state in the counties of Dublin, Kildare, and Carlow, and on 13 June 1656 was appointed a commissioner for determining all differences among the adventurers concerning lands, &c. (ib. A/26, 24, ff. 115, 227). As a recompense for his services he received on 6 July 1658 a grant of two leases for twenty-one years, the one comprising the town and lands of Moyle, Castletown, Park, &c., adjoining the town of Carlow, amounting to about 1,490 acres, in part afterwards confirmed to him under the act of settlement on 18 June 1666; the other of certain lands in the barony of Balrothery West, co. Dublin, to which were added those of Lispoble in the same county on 30 March 1659 for a similar term of years. He obtained license to go to England for a whole year or more on 21 April 1659 (Smyth, Law Officers, p. 67). At the Restoration he was confirmed in his office of master of the rolls, sworn a member of the privy council, appointed a trustee for the '49 officers, and on 4 May 1661 elected, with his eldest son William, to represent co. Carlow in parliament (Official Return of M.P.s, Ireland, pt. ii. p. 607). On the 6th of the same month he obtained for the payment of a fine of 540l. a reversionary lease from the queen mother Henrietta Maria of the park of Blandesby or Blansby, Pickering, Yorkshire, for a term of forty years. He received a confirmation in perpetuity of his lands in co. Dublin, including those of Palmerstown, under the act of settlement on 29 July 1666; to which were added on 20 May 1669 others in counties Kilkenny, Meath, Westmeath, and Dublin. Other grants followed, viz. on 3 May 1672 of 144 acres formerly belonging to the Phœnix Park, and on 16 Nov. 1675 of certain lands, fishings, &c., in and near Chapelizod. He was appointed vice-treasurer of Ireland in 1673, but died in 1677, and was buried beside his father in Trinity College near the campanile, having that year made a benefaction of 100l. to the college to be laid out in certain buildings, entitling him and his heirs to bestow two handsome chambers upon such students as they desired.
By his wife Mary, daughter of Dr. John Hammond [q. v.], of Chertsey, Surrey, who died at Penshurst in Kent in November 1638, Temple had, besides two sons and a daughter who died young, Sir William, the statesman (1628–1699), noticed separately; Sir John (see below); Martha [see under Temple, Sir William, (1628–1699)]; and Mary, who married (1) Abraham Yarner, and (2), on 19 Dec. 1693, Hugh Eccles.
Sir John Temple (1632–1704), having received an education in England qualifying him for the bar, was on 10 July 1660 created solicitor-general of Ireland (patent, 1 Feb. 1661; Smyth, Law Officers, p. 177), and in March following appointed a commissioner for executing the king's ‘Declaration’ of 30 Nov. 1660 touching the settlement of the country. He was returned M.P. for Carlow borough on 8 May 1661, and was elected speaker on the first day (6 Sept.) of the second sessions of parliament in the place of Sir A. Mervyn (cf. Carte, Life of Ormonde, App. pp. 20–1), being shortly afterwards knighted. His reputation as a lawyer stood very high, and there was some talk in October 1679 of making him attorney-general of England (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. pt. i. p. 476). He was continued in his office of solicitorgeneral by James II till the violent measures of Tyrconnel compelled him to seek refuge in England [see Talbot, Richard]. His name was included in the list of persons proscribed by the Irish parliament in 1689, and his estates to the value of 1,700l. per annum sequestered. But after the revolution he was on 30 Oct. 1690 (patent, 21 March 1691) appointed attorney-general of Ireland in the place of Sir Richard Nagle [q. v.], removed, and continued in that office till his resignation on 10 May 1695. Afterwards retiring to his estate at East Sheen in Surrey, he died there on 10 March 1704, and was buried in Mortlake church. By his wife Jane, daughter of Sir Abraham Yarner, of Dublin, whom he married on 4 Aug. 1663, he had several children, of whom his eldest surviving son Henry (1673?–1757) [q. v.], was created Viscount Palmerston.[Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, v. 235–42; Allibone's Dict. of Authors; Webb's Comp. of Irish Biogr.; Wordsworth's Eccl. Biogr. v. 365; Gilbert's Contemp. Hist. of Affairs; Clarendon State Papers, ii. 134, and authorities quoted.]