TEMPLE, Henry, 2nd Visct. Palmeston [I] (1739-1802), of Broadlands, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



28 May 1762 - 1768
1768 - 1774
1774 - 1784
1784 - 1790
1790 - 1796
1796 - 16 Apr. 1802

Family and Education

b. 4 Dec. 1739, o.s. of Hon. Henry Temple by 2nd w. Jane, da. of Sir John Barnard of Clapham, Surr. educ. Clare, Camb. 1757; Grand Tour 1763-5. m. (1) 6 Oct. 1767, Frances (d. 1 June 1769), da. of Sir Francis Poole, 2nd Bt., of The Friars, Lewes, Sussex, s.p.s.; (2) 5 Jan. 1783, Mary, da. of Benjamin Mee of Bath, Som., 2s. 3da. suc. gdfa. Henry Temple as 2nd Visct. Palmerston [I] 10 June 1757.

Offices Held

Ld. of Trade Jan.-Oct. 1766, of Admiralty Sept. 1766-Dec. 1777, of Treasury Dec. 1777-Apr. 1782.


After 28 years in the House, Palmerston still had no sure seat, though he had developed the knack of finding one. More connoisseur than politician, he abandoned a minor public career with Lord North in 1782 and from 1784 was in opposition to Pitt’s ministry. On this account the Duke of Newcastle declined to return him again for Boroughbridge, April 1789. The Whig organizers noted that he was in quest of a seat and willing to pay £3,500 for one. In fact he paid £4,200 for his return on the Holmes interest at Newport, attending the election with his colleague Lord Melbourne, whose daughter his heir was to marry many years later. Their canvass consisted of asking ‘the votes of about a dozen shopkeepers who looked as if they thought we might as well have saved ourselves the trouble’ and the election ceremony was ‘extremely private’ and ‘took up about an hour’.

Palmerston, who stuttered, made no known speech in the House after 1790, but attended the first two sessions regularly, acting with the Portland Whigs. He voted against Pitt on the Oczakov question, 12 Apr. 1791. On 20 Apr. 1791, reporting the debate on the slave trade, in which Pitt, in his opinion, outshone Fox, he admitted that he was averse to immediate abolition, but saw the need for ‘some effectual reformation’. That month his attitude to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland was in doubt. A constant traveller, from July to September 1791 he was in Paris, attending the debates in the constituent assembly. He brought letters from Fox dissuading delegates from urging extreme measures against the royal family. He was again in the minority against Pitt’s Russian policy, 1 Mar. 1792. In July he went abroad again with his wife and family and, leaving Paris to its excesses, they proceeded to Switzerland and Italy, whence they did not return home until 2 Oct. 1794. In his absence he was counted as having gone over to government with the Portland Whigs. He was a detached observer the following session, but warmed to Pitt towards the end of that Parliament.

In November 1795 he commissioned Lord Lavington to ‘sound the ground a little’ as to his prospects of an English peerage. Finding them slim, he engaged the Duke of Portland, through Lord Malmesbury, to secure him another seat ‘upon fair and reasonable terms’. Portland, knowing that Henry Penton, Member for Winchester, wished to retire, induced him to substitute Palmerston on his interest there. The plan, approved by Pitt, succeeded without demur at the election of 1796. He was subsequently beset by financial difficulties, though he subscribed £20,000 to the loyalty loan for 1797. He owed £30,000; half his income of £12,000 came from the Sligo estates and it was evaporating. He sold English property and mortgaged Broadlands. He admired Pitt sufficiently to swallow his taxes. Apparently under the impression that Anglo-Irish union would disqualify him for a seat in the Commons, he applied to Pitt, 2 Oct. 1798, for an English peerage or an Irish representative peerage. It remained his ambition, and by November 1801 he had resolved not to seek re-election to the Commons, if only because of the expense. So he again applied to Addington, through Lord Pelham, but did not succeed. He died 16 Apr. 1802.

B. Connell, Whig Peer, 166, 207, 208, 212-13, 215-29, 261-305, 326, 331-4, 378-9, 392-6, 402-4, 448, 451-3; Ginter, Whig Organization, 258, 259; Portland mss, PwF9253; PwV110, Portland to Palmerston, 25, 28 Jan., to Malmesbury, 28 Jan., to Penton, 28 Jan. 1796; PRO 30/8/165, f. 38.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Arthur Aspinall / R. G. Thorne