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

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1654 - 1655
1659 - Jan. 1679
Oct. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1690 - 8 May 1697

Family and Education

b. 28 Mar. 1634, o. s. of Sir Peter Temple†, 2nd Bt., of Stowe and Burton Dassett, Warws. 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), Mary (d. 1727), da. of Henry Knapp of Woodcote, South Stoke, Oxon. 4s. 6da. (2 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 12 Sept. 1653; KB 18 Apr. 1661.1

Offices Held

Commr. settling trade with Scotland 1668; customs 1672–85, 1689–94; member, council of foreign plantations 1671–2.2

High steward, Buckingham 1684–Feb. 1688, Nov. 1688–d.3


By the time of his election in 1690 Temple was one of the most experienced MPs in the House, having been a very active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. His reputation as a man of fluid principles was evinced shortly after the Revolution when his steward alerted him in February 1689 to rumours that he was ‘for a Commonwealth and against kingly government’. In fact, after 1688, Temple renewed his support for the Earl of Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne†) and in April 1689 was restored to his post in the customs commission. After the 1690 election, Danby, now Marquess of Carmarthen, classed Temple as a Court Tory and thereafter his name appears on most of Carmarthen’s lists of supporters and on various lists of placemen. In the opening session of the new Parliament, Temple spoke on 31 Mar. 1690 in the debate on the supply, informing the House that ‘the customs in time of peace, never rise to more than £600,000 per annum . . . I believe they are not now £400,000’. On 26 Apr. he was listed by Roger Morrice as being ‘in the Hall and the Speaker’s chamber’ during the debates on the rejection of the abjuration bill. On the 29th he intervened twice in a debate in committee of the whole on the heads of a bill to secure the government. On 15 May he strongly opposed a move by the Lords to nominate their own commissioners for the poll tax, and moved for a committee ‘to state these irregularities’.4

Temple was evidently present during the opening days of the 1690–1 session, being appointed on 6 Oct. to an address committee. On 7 Nov. he refused to move an adjournment of the Radnor case in the committee of elections as it would have meant opposing his ‘cousin’ Robert Harley*. On 8 Dec. he was one of the ‘principal men’ supporting the petition from the City’s Tory common councillors for redress against the Whig-dominated aldermanic bench, and on the 29th he presented to the Commons information from the customs commissioners. On 27 Oct., in the next session, he moved for an address congratulating the King on his safe return from Ireland and promising the assistance of the Commons in carrying on the war against France, and was appointed to the resultant committee. In November he attempted to assist the Treasury spokesmen in the Commons in forwarding supply. Thus, on 9 Nov. he was appointed to the drafting committee on naval estimates, and spoke in the Commons when the committee reported on the 14th in favour of allocating £30,000 for the marine regiments. On the army estimates he spoke on the 19th against considering them head by head, thinking ‘it was necessary to have what force we can. For if we have no more than last year, we shall at the end of next year be at the same pass as we are now.’ He then defeated a move by Harley’s group to fix exact quotas of troops to serve abroad, saying that it would impair the manoeuvrability of troops. November and December saw him repeatedly defend the East India Company as ‘able and sufficient to carry on the trade’. He was named on 30 Nov. to a conference with the Lords regarding amendments to the bill abrogating Irish oaths. It was on this difference with the Lords that Temple supported Sir Thomas Clarges in advocating the appointment of a small committee to compare the Lords’ clause allowing lawyers to practise in Ireland with the articles of Limerick, to ascertain if they were compatible. On 11 Dec. he spoke for agreeing with the Lords’ amendment to the bill regulating treason trials, that all peers should be summoned for a trial of one of their number. He helped to persuade the House on 15 Dec. to give the Dutch troops in English service the same pay as their English equivalent, even though they received less pay when in Dutch service. On 31 Dec. Temple received two weeks’ leave. He was back in the Commons by 22 Jan. 1692, when he opposed the first reading of the bill to set up a new East India company, and argued on the 27th that the Old Company be given a copy of the bill. On the 25th he advised the House on how it might proceed over a Lords’ amendment to the treason trials bill, noting that since the Lords had rejected the Commons’ amendments to it, the House could still vote on the whole clause. On the 28th, he strongly opposed an amendment to the bill for appointing commissioners of accounts by which the Lords named four commissioners of their own, not Members of the House, saying:

I am against your agreeing with the Lords in this amendment. They are daily growing upon you. They offered at this thing in King Charles II’s time but it was denied. It will behove you to be very careful, for the Lords are endeavouring to be meddling with your money and in time they will put their hands in your pockets. For this is a matter of money for they do not intend, I suppose, these gentlemen shall serve for nothing.

He was afterwards one of the managers of a conference with the Lords on this aspect of the bill.5

Shortly before the beginning of the 1692–3 session Temple presented an address to Queen Mary, presumably from his borough. Once the session was under way Temple strongly defended Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) from the attack of the Junto Whigs, opposing a motion on 26 Nov. 1692 that all matters of state be referred to the Privy Council rather than the ‘Cabinet’: ‘there is no government but has a secret council for some matters. You complain of your councils being betrayed, but do you think by having them discovered to more persons they will be the more concealed?’ As the Whigs continued their attack on Nottingham for refusing to recognize William as de jure King, Temple rounded on them on the 30th:

I am of opinion your mischiefs proceed from some men getting into places and endeavouring to promote men of their own faction, hence [has] come our divisions. And therefore I think the best way is to advise his Majesty to remove such men as are for promoting factions and particular interests and do not endeavour the public service.

This led to an exchange with Comptroller Wharton (Hon. Thomas), in the course of which Temple declared, ‘nor have I observed greater zeal or diligence in any man in carrying on the government in his station than this noble Lord [Nottingham]’. On 3 Dec. he supported the move to consider the army estimates as a whole rather than piecemeal ‘because I had rather we should fight for Flanders than for England’. Having presented a bill to the Commons on 8 Dec. to prevent the export of gold and silver, he underlined the point in the committee of the whole drawing up ‘advice’ to the King, noting that the flow of funds abroad could be limited if the army was supplied with provisions from England; accordingly, he was first-named to the committee to look into it. On 13 Dec. he supported a land tax by a pound rate, rather than by monthly assessment, making use of a constant theme of his in which he sought to associate the pound rate with monarchy and its alternative with a commonwealth and ‘troublesome times’. It was probably in preparation for debates on such revenue issues that he used the material published anonymously as An Essay on Taxes during the summer of 1693. In it he attacked the monthly assessment or land tax as ‘the most impolitic and unreasonable method of raising great sums by, that was ever introduced in any nation’ and as ruinous to the estates of the nobility and gentry. He also opposed a general excise as destructive of trade, and because it would require premises and houses to be searched by an army of excise officers. On 15 Dec. 1692, in the committee of ways and means, he supported moves to set up a perpetual fund to pay interest on the public debts. On 28 Dec. he urged that the King rather than the House should name the commissioners for the land tax. Not surprisingly on the 31st he supported the committal of the bill preventing the export of gold and silver.6

The new year saw Temple particularly active in debates on the land tax bill: on 3 Jan. 1693 he sought to amend the clause on the double taxation of papists to exclude those willing to take the oath of allegiance. On the 10th he told against a clause to suspend for the duration of the war all pensions not allowed by the barons of the Exchequer, on the grounds that many people depended on them and that the subject required a separate bill. On 17 Jan. he spoke against the Lords’ amendments to the land tax bill whereby they appointed their own commissioners, and was appointed to a conference on the issue. On the 19th he spoke for the abortive bill to encourage woollen manufactures, its opposers regarding it as a design chiefly to promote the interest of Blackwell Hall. On the same day he backed an amendment favouring the privileges of the Hamburg Company in a debate on the bill preventing the export of wool. On 28 Jan. he strongly opposed the triennial bill sent down from the Lords:

I have ever been for triennial Parliaments, yet this bill is the most dangerous thing that ever hath been in the House, since this is provided for by other laws, this is designed for something else, plainly to end this House. It is directly against the King’s prerogative of dissolution, and I doubt that new elections may set the nation in a ferment in a time of war, and I doubt this is the design.

In the committee of the whole on the bill on 7 Feb. Temple opposed the first clause requiring a Parliament every year on the grounds that the circumstances which had necessitated this in the past, such as judicial functions, no longer obtained. At the report stage on the 9th, Temple opposed the clause setting a date for the dissolution of the present Parliament. On the same day he opposed the bill’s third reading because the three main provisions – a meeting of Parliament each year, a new Parliament every three years and the dissolution of the present Parliament at a certain date – ‘are novelties against law, and all of them against the King’s prerogative as now settled by law, and some of them highly destructive to it, and, in my opinion, no less injurious and of dangerous consequence to the subject’. February 1693 saw Temple chair a committee of the whole on the mutiny bill (4th), and after reporting it on the 11th, he was deputed to draft an additional clause. On the 20th he was one of those opposing the wish of John Grobham Howe to speak against the clause in the expiring laws bill for reviving the Licensing Act. On the 25th he spoke against addressing the King to dissolve the East India Company. On 1 Mar. he joined those who advocated a conference with the Lords in the interests of preserving a good correspondence between the Houses, no peers having appeared for a conference on the bill to prevent malicious informations in King’s bench, and was duly added to the committee to manage it. Five days later he spoke for Lord Pembroke’s (Hon. Thomas Herbert†) private bill setting aside amendments made to legal records. On the 13th Temple expressed his view that the Lords’ amendment to the bill for encouraging privateers, namely a payment of £10 by the customs commissioners (rather than prizes) for every gun captured, should be treated strictly as a money matter, and suggested that the Commons’ rights could be best safeguarded if the commissioners of excise were the agent of payment. He was appointed to the resulting conference committee on this matter, even though the House had rejected the Lords’ amendment outright. Grascome’s list of the spring of 1693 noted Temple as a placeman, though not as a Court supporter.7

In the 1693–4 session, Temple acted as a teller on 14 Nov. 1693 in favour of reading the bill for regulating treason trials immediately upon its presentation. He continued to defend Lord Nottingham, who had resigned the seals on 6 Nov., voting on the 18th against retaining the words ‘and treacherous’ in the resolution imputing the loss of the Smyrna convoy to his mismanagement. On 25 Nov. he was appointed to draft a bill for a registry of deeds. On 21 Dec. he was named to a conference with the Lords on a place bill and next day told against the passage of the triennial bill. Following the King’s veto of the place bill, Temple opposed successfully on 27 Jan. 1694 a paragraph of the Commons’ subsequent representation to the King which hinted heavily at a prorogation to allow the bill to be reintroduced. The remainder of the session saw him named to three more conference committees and act as a teller (31 Mar.) to pass the bill against hawkers and pedlars.8

In late April 1694 Temple was reported to be very ill, prompting Alexander Denton I* to remark that if he ‘was like to lose his place, I wish it may not be by death’. Temple duly recovered, but was dismissed from the customs commission in August, according to the Dutch envoy because ‘dans la dernière séance du parlement, il a harangué d’une manière différente de ce qu’il avait fait au commencement’. Shrewsbury informed the King that ‘the reasons for removing Sir Richard Temple are corruption, disaffection, neglect, and in short being good for nothing’. In fact, his removal was part of Lord Sunderland’s plan to replace Carmarthen’s managers in the Commons by Junto Whigs. Temple thus went into opposition, but was much less active in the House. He received leave of absence on 22 Dec. for three weeks, having succumbed to a ‘fit of sickness’, but was in attendance again by 6 Feb. when his name reappears in the Journal.9

Re-elected for Buckingham in 1695, Temple continued to be involved routinely in the business of the House. He was forecast in January 1696 as likely to oppose the government on the proposed council of trade, speaking on that day against the resolution that the commissioners of trade should take an oath declaring William right and lawful sovereign. Temple was particularly interested in the debate about the recoinage and the price of guineas, to which, in March 1696, he contributed his own thoughts, Some Short Remarks upon Mr Locke’s Book, in answer to Mr Lowndes. James Tyrell informed Locke that its genesis was part of a coffee house disputation between them, and noted that Temple had been ‘very earnest of late in the House of Commons to raise silver and keep up guineas to 25s. or 26s. but without any effect’. An acquaintance of the Verneys sent Temple’s ‘book’ into Buckinghamshire with the comment that Temple was clearly ‘not pleased at the fall of guineas’. Certainly, Temple supported William Lowndes* in arguing for a devaluation, and an undated fragment of a debate recorded him as saying ‘there is no reducing guineas except you have plenty of money’. In his published tract he argued that ‘to keep up an old standard under an old denomination below the value of bullion is the greatest folly imaginable and what is not practised by any other nation, for which we have paid dear and yet are not grown wiser’. Not surprisingly, he voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. He also signed the Association.10

In the 1696–7 sesson Temple remained one of the ministry’s opponents. On 27 Oct. 1696 Vernon informed Shrewsbury that the resolutions for supply had passed smoothly ‘notwithstanding [Sir Edward] Seymour, Temple and Harley would have offered some rubs’. Temple was also one of the bitterest opponents of the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† in November. On the 6th he proposed that Fenwick’s information be declared scandalous, which would have had the effect of discrediting his testimony, only for an amendment to be carried that Fenwick’s evidence was merely a contrivance to stifle discovery of the real plot. Temple and others then ‘laid themselves out’ against the motion for a bill of attainder. On the 13th, when Fenwick’s counsel requested that no evidence be produced except that which related to the allegations in the bill, Temple felt that the prosecuting counsel must likewise keep to the allegations in the bill. Three days later Temple made strenuous attempts to hinder the prosecution, which led to an observation from Sir Thomas Mompesson that it had been Temple who had moved for the impeachment of Monmouth in 1685, to which Temple replied that he had done so because there were three witnesses who had seen the Duke in actual rebellion. On the 17th Temple opposed the bill’s committal, offering ‘three considerable objections’, namely that it allowed Fenwick to be condemned by one witness, without a legal trial, and attempted ‘to force a confession . . . under no less pains than that of high treason’. He asked:

will you sit upon a judgment that is not only not tied to the rules of Westminster Hall, but is not tied to the laws of the land, and attaint a man without a legal trial, without legal evidence, and upon one witness, when the law says you shall have two, and after all, say it is a reasonable proceeding?

At the third reading of the bill on 25 Nov. Temple intervened to condemn it as a bad precedent: it was a bill ex post facto, made in a particular man’s case against the laws of the land, destroyed life without trial, used less evidence than allowed for judgments in inferior courts, and tried to force a confession which incriminated other people. Only the need to preserve the kingdom warranted such severity, but Fenwick had been kept in prison for six months with two witnesses available and the matter only ‘came before us from a private person for his vindication’. Needless to say, he voted against its third reading.11

After his efforts in this case, Temple was granted leave of absence on 18 Dec., which was renewed for an extra ten days on 2 Jan. 1697 after a division. He had returned by 2 Feb. when he presented a bill to regulate the court of Chancery. By mid-March, as his health deteriorated, he was given leave of absence. He died on 8 May 1697 and was buried at Stowe. As the vicar of Stowe reported: ‘his sickness was long and tedious . . . his death quiet, and easy to admiration [sic]’. He was succeeded in his estates and Parliament by his son.12

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Collins, Peerage, ii. 413; Verney Mems. 17th Cent. ii. 290; Huntingdon Lib. Q. vi. 256, 291; O. G. Knapp, Knapp Fams. 86.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 1054; ix. 82; x. 739.
  • 3. Bucks. RO, Buckingham corp. recs. vol. 21.
  • 4. Huntington Lib. Stowe mss STT 410, William Chaplyn to Temple, 3 Feb. 1688[–9]; Grey, x. 27–28, 146–7; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, p. 138; Bodl. Rawl. A.79, ff. 88–89.
  • 5. Add. 70014, f. 355; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, p. 222; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/45, John Verney* (Ld. Fermanagh) to Lady Osborne, 4 Oct. 1691; HMC 7th Rep. 204–5, 207; Luttrell Diary, 32, 45, 86–88, 92, 148, 154, 161–2, 176–7; A. Browning, Danby, i. 495.
  • 6. Verney mss mic. 636/46, John to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 8 Oct. 1692; Luttrell Diary, 263, 276, 290, 301, 311, 322, 338, 343; Grey, 300–1; Stowe 304, ff. 184–5; Add. 47131, ff. 4–6; Huntington Lib. Q. iv. 79–80.
  • 7. Luttrell Diary, 348–9, 359, 370, 374–5, 392, 406, 412, 415, 449, 456, 469, 477; Add. 47131, ff. 2–4; Surr. RO (Guildford), Onslow pprs. 173/226, Arthur Onslow’s† notes 20 Feb. 1692[–3].
  • 8. SP 9/22, f. 180; Ranke, vi. 237; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 127.
  • 9. Verney mss mic. 636/47, Sir Ralph to John Verney, 27 Apr. 1694, Denton to Sir Ralph Verney, 30 Apr. 1694; Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 537; Shrewsbury Corresp. 41; Feiling, Tory Party, 296; Huntington Lib. Ellesmere mss EL 9539, Temple to Bridgwater, 2 Feb. 1694[–5].
  • 10. HMC Hastings, ii. 253; Somers Tracts, xi. 604–6; Locke Corresp. ed. de Beer, v. 585–6; Verney mss mic. 636/44, Lady Gardiner to Sir Ralph Verney, 4 Apr. 1696; HLRO, HC Lib. mss 12, f. 115; Stowe 323, f. 42.
  • 11. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 30, 49–50, 244; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 1007, 1022–3, 1095, 1139–40; State Trials, xii. 584, 596–7, 613; Ralph, Hist. Eng. 697; Stowe 163, ff. 174–6; 180, ff. 91–92.
  • 12. Verney mss mic. 636/50, Anne Nicholas to John Verney, 11 May 1697; Camb. Univ. Lib. Add. 2, f. 185; Post Man, 13–15 May, 1697; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 244; Add. 17677 RR, f. 326.