TEMPLE NUGENT GRENVILLE (afterwards TEMPLE NUGENT BRYDGES CHANDOS GRENVILLE), Richard, Earl Temple (1776-1839), of Stowe, Bucks. and Avington Park, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Mar. 1776, 1st s. of George Grenville† (afterwards Nugent Temple Grenville), 1st Mq. of Buckingham, and bro. of Lord George Grenville*. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1791. m. 16 Apr. 1796, Lady Anne Elizabeth Brydges, da. and h. of James Brydges†, 3rd Duke of Chandos, 1s.; took names of Brydges Chandos by royal lic. 15 Nov. 1799. suc. fa. as 2nd Mq. of Buckingham 11 Feb. 1813; KG 7 June 1820; cr. Duke of Buckingham and Chandos 4 Feb. 1822.
Commr. Board of Control July 1800-Mar. 1801; PC 5 Feb. 1806; vice-pres. Board of Trade and jt. paymaster-gen. Feb. 1806-Mar. 1807; ld. steward of Household July-Nov. 1830.
Ld. lt. Bucks. 1813-d.
Capt.-lt. Bucks yeoman cav. 1800, maj. Mid Bucks. 1803; col. Bucks. militia 1803-d., his own batt. militia 1814.
Temple was succinctly described in 1805 as ‘Lord Grenville’s fat nephew’ and his Falstaffian proportions provided inspiration for cartoonists on the formation of the ‘broad bottom’ administration in 1806. By his marriage, which was tentatively arranged when he was ten years old, he added substantial property in Hampshire to the extensive estates held by the senior branch of the family. He outdid even his father in egotism, pride and conceit and was apparently incapable of the engaging familiarity which mitigated Lord Buckingham’s faults. A regular visitor to Stowe found him ‘not so agreeable as his father, having great pride and a manner less pleasant’.1
On coming of age, Temple was returned for the county seat controlled by his father. In his maiden speech in the debate on the failure of the recent peace negotiations, 10 Nov. 1797, he claimed to ‘stand forward a plain independent country gentleman’, though he could not have expected the boast to have been taken seriously. Reflecting the distaste for peace overtures which Lord Grenville had voiced in cabinet, he rejoiced in their failure, but Pitt made it clear that he could not subscribe to his young cousin’s ‘extreme Burkisms against peace’, as Charles Abbot described them. Temple accepted the increases in the assessed taxes, 4 Dec. 1797, but regretted that they would largely affect people of modest means and that ‘there were many capitalists in this country who by no means contributed their fair proportion to the public exigencies’, sentiments which provoked malicious press comment on the ‘enormous fees’ drawn by his father from his sinecure tellership. In the debate on the newspaper regulation bill, 4 Apr. 1798, Tierney recurred to this theme with the jibe that Temple’s much vaunted ‘stake in the country’ had been ‘stolen out of the public hedge’. A dedicated officer of militia, he accompanied his father to Ireland with the Buckinghamshire corps during the rebellion of 1798 and returned an enthusiastic advocate of the Union, which he supported at length in debate, 14 Feb. 1799.2
Temple’s request to Pitt for the lord lieutenancy of Hampshire in April 1799 was ignored, and when he heard a report that Lord Bolton was to be appointed he begged Lord Grenville to intercede with the prime minister, but if his uncle did so it was to no avail. When he turned his eyes to minor office the following year, Grenville doubted whether his hopes of a place at the Treasury could be realized immediately, but he apparently managed to secure from Pitt a promise to consider Temple on the next vacancy. Temple was inclined to share his father’s disgust at ‘the implied breach of engagement to me’, on hearing rumours that he was to be offered a seat on the Admiralty board in the reshuffle precipitated by Dundas’s retirement as treasurer of the navy, but reserved his indignation until the facts were accurately established. Grenville was authorized to offer him an immediate place at the Admiralty, or a promise of the next vacancy at the Treasury, but Temple felt that ‘Mr Pitt has hardly done fair by me in offering to me the lowest situation in office’, in view of the precedent of Lord Hawkesbury’s first appointment having been to the Board of Control, where a vacancy happened to exist at present, and he could not ‘reconcile to my feelings the coming into office in a situation beneath that in which other young men of my own rank have been placed’. Grenville considered Temple’s and Buckingham’s objections to the Admiralty to be unreasonable, raised several objections to their suggestion of his being unofficially attached to the Board of Trade and advised them to take what was offered. A satisfactory compromise was reached whereby Temple was attached to the Board of Control as a supernumerary commissioner without salary. In November 1800 he asked Grenville to see if any advantage, preferably in the shape of admission to the Privy Council, might accrue to him from the promotion of Sylvester Douglas.3
After the Ferrol fiasco in September 1800 he told his uncle, Thomas Grenville, that ‘if anything would drive me into opposition it would be the seeing the force of this country frittered away in these petty expeditions’,4 and he supported the call for an inquiry, 19 Feb. 1801. Shortly before resigning office with Pitt, he began his vendetta against John Horne Tooke, the validity of whose return for Old Sarum he disputed, ostensibly on the ground of his ineligibility as an ordained clergyman to take his seat. On 10 Mar. 1801 he moved for and conducted the examination of witnesses at the bar of the House and secured the appointment of a select committee of inquiry. On 4 May he moved a new writ for Old Sarum, arguing that Tooke’s ineligibility was proven, but, to his annoyance, it was opposed and defeated by Addington. He supported the bill brought in by government to settle the problem, 6 May, only after commenting caustically on their feebleness.
Temple was hostile to Addington’s ministry from the start, more so than most of his relatives. Speaking in support of Grey’s motion for inquiry into the state of the nation, 25 Mar. 1801, he declared his unbroken loyalty to Pitt and refused to place confidence in untried ministers. He supported the address, 29 Oct. 1801, but criticized the terms of the preliminary peace treaty, which he denounced on 3 Nov. His passing attack on Fox was evidently not well received by the House and Tierney thought the violence of his onslaught on the government had done the Grenvilles ‘great harm’ in public opinion. He grudgingly supported the address concerning the northern convention, 13 Nov. He still refused to have any truck with the ‘old’ opposition, and opposed Manners Sutton’s motion advancing the claims of the Prince of Wales to the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall, 31 Mar. 1802. He led the opposition to Burdett’s motion for inquiry into Pitt’s war policy, 12 Apr., but shortly afterwards Canning expressed reservations as to his suitability as a steward for the forthcoming Pitt dinner, although it is not clear whether they arose from doubts about his loyalty or from mere personal aversion. He was willing to sponsor any motion critical of the peace treaty which might be adopted, but in the event had to be content with pressing for information on Malta and the treaty of Luneville, 6 May, and making a supporting speech to Windham’s attack on the Treaty of Amiens, 14 May.5
In the debate on the address, 24 Nov. 1802, Temple denied charges that the Grenvilles ‘wished for war at any rate in preference to peace on any terms’, and again belaboured the government for their feebleness. He welcomed the ‘spark of spirit’ shown by the increase in the military establishment, 8 Dec., but censured ‘the conduct of ministers ever since the peace, for having constantly observed a system of reduction’, and stated his wish to see Pitt back in control. Later in the month he resisted the passage of the bill to appoint commissioners to inquire into abuses in naval administration, on the grounds that the powers it proposed to confer were too extensive. Fox heard that Sheridan, who was flirting with the government, was, not surprisingly, ‘out of humour with Lord Temple’; while the Duchess of Devonshire on 17 Dec. 1802 quoted Lord Spencer’s report that Temple had become ‘quite odious’ to many of Lord Grenville’s associates. He was relatively inactive in the session of 1803, probably because of illness, but supported Patten’s motion of censure, 3 June, and demands for information on the recent insurrection in Ireland, 11 Aug. On 2 Dec., however, he accepted the continued suspension of habeas corpus in Ireland. When supporting Wrottesley’s motion for inquiry into the conduct of the Irish government over Emmet’s rebellion, 7 Mar. 1804, he attacked the ‘inconsistency, fickleness and indecision’ of ministerial policy. He retired to Avington for Easter and missed the divisions against the government’s Irish militia bills, having been informed that they were unlikely to be contested, but came up to vote in the final stages of the general attack on Addington’s ministry. On 7 June 1804 he opposed Wilberforce’s bill for the abolition of the slave trade, principally ‘because he believed the moment this bill was passed, the death warrant of every white man in the West Indies would be sealed’.6
With the rest of his family, Temple remained in opposition on the formation of Pitt’s second ministry, and he attacked the ‘oppressive and unconstitutional’ additional force bill, 18 June 1804. By questioning Pitt’s motives in consenting to act with a sizeable remnant of an administration which he had recently denounced as incompetent, Temple provoked a tart rejoinder. This turned upon the Grenvilles’ public declarations, at the height of their opposition to Addington, that the admission of Pitt to the ministry would mitigate their objections to it; and on the curious circumstance of their refusing to join him in office on account of the exclusion of Fox, their long-standing enemy. Convinced that Pitt’s ‘character and consequence have both suffered by going to bed to the Doctor’, he was very active in opposition in 1805 and led the attack on the militia enlistment bill, 21 Mar. He was prepared to defend his uncle’s friend, Lord Wellesley, the retiring governor-general of Bengal, against threatened attacks on his conduct, but as Francis’s motion of 5 Apr. was couched in very general terms, confined himself to a brief assertion that any censure should fall not on Wellesley, but on the directors of the East India Company. He was prominent in the resistance to the Duke of Atholl’s claim to compensation for the revenues of the Isle of Man in June and July. He did not vote in the division on Whitbread’s motion of censure on Melville, 8 Apr., but on 11 June ‘trusted the House would not lose anything of its dignity by giving up a prosecution in a case where corruption was notoriously apparent’, and voted first for impeachment and then for criminal proceedings. He was appointed a manager of the impeachment, 26 June. He supported Grey’s motion for information on the state of foreign relations and war prospects, 20 June 1805.7
Eager to please Lord Grenville, he supported Lascelles’s motion to provide Pitt with funeral honours, 27 Jan. 1806, and, as spokesman for the family, praised his cousin’s ‘transcendent talents’, though Lady Bessborough claimed that he had been ‘coarse and unfeeling’ in his private reaction to Pitt’s death. He was appointed joint paymaster-general and vice-president of the Board of Trade in the ‘Talents’ ministry, and was compelled by Thomas Grenville’s distaste for active participation in politics to add the role of Lord Grenville’s principal representative in the Commons to his ministerial duties. In neither capacity did he distinguish himself. He was ‘excessively sore’ at criticism of the appointment of Ellenborough to a seat in the cabinet which, he contended, 3 Mar. 1806, was justified by ‘the principle of constitutional law’, and spoke in favour of the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 17 Apr. In his official capacity Temple handled the woollen export bill, 5 Mar., and, less comfortably, the American intercourse bill, over which he fought a tetchy running battle with George Rose. He secured the introduction of a new bill, 22 May, but was repeatedly forced by demands for further information to postpone the second reading, was attacked by Perceval and Rose for his displays of ill-temper, and only forced the measure through the House on 8 July. He again volunteered to lead the defence of Wellesley in the Commons, but his task was complicated by the fact that his uncle’s Foxite colleagues were disposed to allow James Paull* at least a fair hearing, and he was criticized by Canning, perhaps too harshly, for his handling of the business.8
Temple was distressed in May 1806 when his father, jealous of Lord Grenville’s eminence and slighted by the lack of attention paid to his political advice and claims, threatened to sever relations with his brother. He resolved to resign if matters came to this pass, but with the aid of Thomas Grenville a breach was averted.9 In general he approved of Windham’s military arrangements, but suspected him of hostility towards the militia and, after an unsuccessful private appeal, clashed with him and Richard Fitzpatrick in the House, 14 July 1806, when he unavailingly pressed the claims of militia captains to be included in the proposed increase of pay. He was employed by Lord Grenville to collect information and prepare lists for a possible dissolution, and from July 1806 shared the work with the new secretary to the Treasury, Fremantle, his father’s acolyte. He was satisfied with the rearrangement of the government after Fox’s death, but wished privately that ‘greater exertions had been made to separate and join individually some of the opposition’. His intervention in Hampshire at the 1806 election, in which he was encouraged by his father and backed by government, was successful in that it resulted in the return of two government supporters, but it brought him into further bitter dispute with Rose and involved the ministry in a motion of censure in February 1807.10
On 4 Feb. 1807 he opposed Perceval’s motion against the recent order in council and defended ministerial policy. He pressed Howick, 10 Feb., to delay the second reading of the slave trade abolition bill and paired in favour of abolition in five years’ time in the division of 6 Mar. In February Temple, ‘without distinct authority, but from a general and perfect knowledge of his uncle’s disposition’, sounded Canning on the possibility of his joining the government, using Pitt’s niece, Lady Hester Stanhope, as the intermediary. Subsequently, he was ‘distinctly authorised’ to inform Canning of Grenville’s friendly inclinations, and Lady Holland noted the irony of the fact that it was ministerial weakness in Commons debate, where Temple himself was ‘not listened to’, that made Grenville keen to recruit his support. Temple’s own professed desire to see him in office was attributed by Canning to the gentle treatment he had received at his hands over the Hampshire election petition and to Rose’s discovery of ‘a most flagrant job that T. has been doing at the pay office’. Temple was ready to accept Canning’s recruitment although, as his father observed, ‘personally to him the consequences of this arrangement will be necessarily the putting at a greater distance any views of his own’; but he cavilled at the prospect of any countenance being given to Rose’s claims and expressed to his father, who took up the point with Grenville, ‘the most earnest hope that the result of all the trouble he has taken for the strengthening your government may not be the sacrifice of himself on this new altar to George Rose’. Grenville told him that if the question arose, ‘your own consideration would be very much lowered in the public opinion by the appearance of your resting on such a point’. Temple nevertheless arranged the meeting of 5 Mar. between Canning and his uncle. On the same day in the House he made a spirited defence of the Roman Catholic army and navy service bill in the name of toleration. During the crisis caused by George III’s objections to the bill, he evidently received further communications from Lady Hester, but felt unable to act without Grenville’s sanction, which was not forthcoming. His proposed solution to the government’s difficulties was the removal of Sidmouth, ‘either directly or by taking such an accession of strength as will counterbalance Lord S’s designs and ultimately make him leave a government he only wishes to betray’. An attempt by Temple ‘to plunder the stationery office of every scrap of paper in their possession on the very day he resigned his place’ was commemorated extensively in contemporary cartoons and confirmed in 1831 by his colleague at the pay office, Lord John Townshend.11
Temple favoured a swift blow against the new government in the hope of winning the allegiance of the independents and was ‘sorry to say that Lord Grenville throws cold water upon any proposal for vigorous measures’. The successful protest against Perceval’s holding the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster for life satisfied him and he subsequently advocated restraint. He voted for Brand’s motion condemning the ministerial pledge, 9 Apr., and Lyttelton’s regretting the change of administration, 15 Apr., but evidently did not speak, despite Buckingham’s report of 5 Apr. that he seemed ‘very anxious to put himself forward’. He was only provoked into criticizing the government for their exploitation of the ‘No Popery’ cry in the debate on the address, 26 June, by Ryder’s attack on Lord Grenville; and, while he voted for the amendment, he privately observed that its heavy defeat ‘has confirmed all my predictions, and has proved how good a cause was hurt by an imprudent division’. He voted for inquiry into the state of the nation, 6 July, but was not present for the debates later in the month on Castlereagh’s army bills.12
Pessimism was Temple’s prevailing mood during the recess, when he lamented the Buenos Aires fiasco (for which he thought Windham might justifiably take part of the blame), feared that ministerial policy towards America would destroy world trade, could see no solution to the country’s financial difficulties and doubted the wisdom of ‘harassing opposition’, despite the ostensible weakness of government. There is no evidence that he was seriously entertained as the successor to Howick as leader of the opposition in the Commons, but Lord Grenville’s friend, Sir John Newport, felt it pertinent to remark that ‘Lord Temple with very many excellent qualities and considerable ability has not the art of making himself generally acceptable to those who do not know him intimately, and besides, the warmth of his temper would render him unfit to take a lead’. He was pleased with the choice of George Ponsonby, as ‘nothing would have induced me to act with an opposition led by Henry Petty or by Whitbread’. He strongly disapproved of the seizure of the Danish fleet and participated fully in the parliamentary attack on it. Anxious that the charges hanging over Wellesley ‘should be brought to a speedy vote’, he spoke in his defence, 15 Mar., when he voted against Folkestone’s hostile resolutions and for Anstruther’s successful motion approving Wellesley’s conduct. He attacked the orders in council, 18 Feb., marshalling evidence from Magna Carta and Montesquieu to support his contention that they were ‘contrary to the established principles of municipal law,’ and voted for the Liverpool petition against them, 3 Mar. According to Whitbread, he thought the Russian mediation should have been accepted, but he did not vote for Whitbread’s peace resolutions, 29 Feb. 1808. On 18 May Lord Albemarle wrote to Lord Holland of his concern at Lord Grenville’s ‘non-attendance’ in the House of Lords, ‘particularly as the non-attendance of Lord Temple and others of his family and connections in the House of Commons has been frequently remarked to me’, but Temple was present to support motions on behalf of Irish Catholics, 5, 25 and 30 May 1808. When Sheridan moved for papers on the situation in Spain, 15 June, Temple challenged Canning’s principle ‘of considering any power that should be at war with France as in alliance with us’, and argued ‘that they should not be considered as our allies any longer than whilst they would fight with us to obtain a secure and honourable peace’. In the summer of 1808 he offered government the services of himself and his militia corps in the Peninsula, but no opening presented itself.13
News of the convention of Cintra prompted him to assure Lord Wellesley of his support for his brother, but he wrote to his father that the affair looked ‘very bad, and we must take great care not to hang a millstone about our necks’. In November 1808 Tierney found him ‘in a noble passion’ with the Irish Catholic bishops over their denunciation of the royal veto and ‘quite ready to cut the whole Catholic connection’, and he shared the general view of opposition leaders that ‘nothing further can be done for that cause in Parliament, unless the bishops in some way or another withdraw, or destroy the effect of their late resolution’. He anticipated ‘a very active session’, but saw no prospect of driving ministers out of office as long as they kept their nerve and the King’s confidence. He registered his protest against Cintra by voting for Petty’s motion, 21 Feb., and continued his championship of the militia by objecting to the militia enlistment bill, 2 Feb., and attempting, 15 Mar., to secure the inclusion in the proposed militia completion bill of an option permitting the force to be brought up to strength at any time, rather than merely in emergencies. He was summoned to Carlton House in March 1809 by Thomas Tyrwhitt to help to persuade the Prince of Wales to remain neutral in the issue of the Duke of York’s alleged abuse of army patronage, and was chagrined when, two weeks later, he learnt that the Prince had submitted to the King’s pressure to the extent that his position had become ambiguous. Lady Hester Stanhope reported that Temple, who had no sympathy for the extremists but thought the proven existence of abuses could not be ignored, ‘only seemed to wish to act kindly by the duke, and to vote for any moderate motion but Perceval’s’ and ‘intended to speak in the duke’s favour’. When he obtained a hearing on 15 Mar. he acquitted the duke of ‘corruption, of participation in corruption, or of connivance at corruption’, but judged him to have been ‘highly guilty and deeply criminal in allowing Mrs Clarke to interpose with his official duties’. Accordingly he opposed both Wardle’s address and Perceval’s amendment and voted for Bankes’s motion acquitting the duke of corruption but suggesting that he was no longer fit to continue as commander-in-chief. On 20 Mar., while disclaiming any desire to pursue the issue vindictively, he voted for Althorp’s amendment in protest against Perceval’s attempt to extort from the House ‘the admission of a fact which is assumed, not proved, the entire innocence of the Duke of York’.
Temple voted for Hamilton’s motion, 25 Apr. 1809, accusing Castlereagh of corruption (in defiance, according to Castlereagh himself, of ‘promises, most unnecessarily and voluntarily made’) but left the House to avoid the division on Madocks’s charges against Perceval and Castlereagh, 11 May. He supported the introduction of Curwen’s reform bill, 4 May, because it turned on the principle inherent in the Grenville Act and ‘took away one of the greatest arguments in favour of parliamentary reform’, but he did not vote for Folkestone’s amendment to the title of the emasculated bill, 12 June. He moved for papers concerning the medical condition of the British army in Spain, 3 May, and secured 111 votes against 230 for resolutions attributing military failures in Spain directly to the ‘incapacity and mismanagement’ of government, 9 May 1808.14
Temple’s delight in Wellesley’s victory at Talavera was tempered by the reflection that it came ‘too late to do any permanent good’, a view confirmed for him by the Walcheren fiasco. At the end of September 1809 he believed that the government would soon fall into his uncle’s hands, but he approved the response given by him and Lord Grey to Perceval’s overtures, was convinced that the new ministry would be short-lived and thought that opposition had only to ‘remain quiet’ and to give ministers ‘rope enough’. In October he was involved in another family squabble when his father took such strong exception to his handling of a disciplinary matter in the county militia as to threaten to resign the lord lieutenancy. Temple announced that such an action would lead him to give up his commission and his seat in Parliament, but Thomas Grenville’s intervention again resolved the crisis.15 He favoured ‘a short comprehensive vote of general censure’ on the Walcheren expedition and the Spanish campaign, to be moved as an amendment to the address, but he accepted Whitbread’s amendment advocating early consideration of economical reform, 25 Jan. 1810, on the equivocal ground that ‘the House should show a disposition to probe and examine into every abuse; for otherwise the people would be apt to think that abuses were greater than they were’. He supported Porchester’s motion on Walcheren the following day. His speech in support of Whitbread’s resolutions condemning Chatham’s narrative, 5 Mar., when he deplored attempts ‘to throw the shade’ of Pitt’s ‘talents and his virtues over the unconstitutional conduct of his brother’ and observed that ‘this is the first time that I have ever ceased for a moment to regret the death of Mr Pitt’, was thought in some quarters to have been an unnecessarily vindictive attack on the brother of the ‘great aggrandizer and benefactor’ of his family. Although he was believed to have favoured ‘one lumping vote of censure upon the whole’ business, he voted for Porchester’s unsuccessful resolution on the Walcheren affair, 30 Mar., which he, like most of the opposition, expected to be carried. He was appointed to the bullion committee, 19 Feb., and renewed his demands for assurances that the medical facilities of the army had been improved, 26 Feb. He took a hard line on the question of the commitment of Burdett, 10 Apr., when he complained of the ‘impotent vacillation’ and ‘hesitating imbecility of ministers’.
Temple stayed away from the House for several weeks after mid April 1810. His absence from the debate of 21 May on Brand’s motion for parliamentary reform, which he would have opposed, arose from Tierney’s failure to tell him when it was to come on, but he deliberately evaded the debates and division on the Catholic question because he felt unable to vote for its further consideration, knowing that the Catholics themselves would object to any measure which he could support. He asked Fremantle to dispel the prevalent notion that his absence had its origin in ‘private pique’ and to let interested parties know that it was the result of his despair over the divided and chaotic state of the Whig opposition. Although he felt that his cousin Charles Williams Wynn’s resolutions on privilege were moved ‘too late to do any good’, he was so incensed by the handling of the Burdett incident and by the attitude of ‘both parties in the House, who seem to have but one common object and that is to support the ministry at the expense of the privileges of Parliament’, that he broke his resolution to stay away and came up to support Williams Wynn on 8 June. In the autumn of 1810 he again volunteered his military services in the Peninsula, but took offence at Lord Wellesley’s long silence and withdrew the offer, which government were unable in any case to accept.16
On 5 Oct. 1810 Temple told Williams Wynn that he hoped to see ‘as little as possible’ of the House in the next session:
I see nothing in the state of general politics, nothing in that of party politics, to induce me to depart from the resolution I have formed of attending no opposition meeting, of probably speaking de mon propre chef, on the first day ... and then of shutting my mouth, and amusing myself my own way.
The King’s illness brought him to town, however, and in the proceedings to make provision for a Regency he took his cue from Lord Grenville and the precedent of 1788, though his uncle put no pressure on him to attend. He voted with government for the adjournment, 15 Nov., and spoke and voted for the proposal to proceed by Act of Parliament rather than by an address to the Prince, 20 Dec. 1810. Tierney remarked that he ‘took away 3 with him to the other side, but to do him justice made no exertions against us’. He subsequently joined the main body of the Whigs in resisting the proposed restrictions on the Regent’s authority. He was eager for office in the anticipated Whig ministry, but his pretensions to the secretaryship at war caused Lord Grenville some embarrassment and his uncle’s inability to make a firm promise provoked a fit of pique.17 The Regent’s disappointment of Whig hopes evidently drove him into retreat and he does not appear in any of the remaining division lists of 1811, though he attacked the militia interchange bill, 17 May. He fancied that Milton’s motion denouncing the reappointment of the Duke of York as commander-in-chief placed him in a dilemma between his ‘wish and feeling’ to vote for it and his anxiety to avoid compromising Lord Grenville in the event of his being called on to form a government. His uncle declined to influence his decision in any way and Temple stayed away, congratulating himself on having avoided the necessity of dividing ‘almost exclusively with those with whom I have no wish to be seen acting in political union’; but his satisfaction might have been less complete had he been aware of Grenville’s private disappointment that he had not joined his younger brother in voting for the motion.18
Ironically, the Regent in his overtures to Lords Grenville and Grey through the Duke of York in February 1812 said that if Grenville ‘insisted on including Lord Temple and others he would be very unreasonable’. For his own part, Temple believed that ‘the communication will certainly be of the hollowest description’; and in the debate on Turton’s motion for inquiry into the state of the nation, 27 Feb., he defended the conduct of the Whig leaders on the Catholic issue and in the recent negotiations and described the Regent’s offer as ‘a mockery’. When Castlereagh succeeded Wellesley at the Foreign Office, Temple, who believed that if the problem of ‘Lord Grenville’s pertinacity on the Spanish question’ could be overcome so that an understanding could be reached with Canning on the issue, ‘an opposition could be formed, before which Perceval could not stand the session’, passed on to Canning through Huskisson his desire to see informal co-operation between him and the Whigs.
For all this, he was not particularly active in the 1812 session. He voted for Morpeth’s motion on the state of Ireland, 4 Feb., Bankes’s attacks on the sinecure of paymaster of widows’ pensions, 21 and 24 Feb., and Brougham’s motion on the orders in council, 3 Mar., but was so disgusted by the equivocal attitude of Whig leaders to Creevey’s threatened attack on Lord Buckingham’s sinecure tellership that he resolved to cut his connexions with the party if it was given official countenance. Even when Creevey was persuaded to drop the question, he interpreted the move as stemming ‘from no feeling friendly to us, but from a fear of the discussion being a perplexing one to them’. He came up to support Grattan’s motion on Roman Catholic disabilities, 24 Apr., but was unable to catch the Speaker’s eye. He construed Perceval’s as ‘the speech of a falling minister’ and contemplated postponing his return to the country in case Lord Grenville received overtures from Carlton House, but evidently departed before the end of the month and did not reappear until 21 May, to vote for Stuart Wortley’s call for the formation of a stronger administration. ‘Though very unwell, and very unfit for a night in the House of Commons and very careless whether the question is carried or not’, he agreed, ‘as the party makes such a point of it’, to attend in order to vote for Stuart Wortley’s motion regretting the failure of negotiations for a new administration, 11 June. He left town after its failure, declaring that he would not return for Canning’s motion to take Roman Catholic claims into early consideration. Pressed by Grey to use his influence to change Temple’s mind, Lord Grenville replied:
What you desire ... exceeds my power ... with a character full of good qualities, and an excellent heart, he is liable to occasional fits of impatience in which there is nothing to be done but to leave him with his own excellent sense and good disposition. If in the very moment of the strongest of these impressions he thought he could render the smallest service to his friends he would go through fire and water to do so.
In November 1812 Temple was in communication with Lord Wellesley over the possibility of his cooperating with opposition, but early in 1813 Lord Grenville warned him not to ‘rely too much on the statements made ex parte Wellesley’ about the management of affairs in Spain as the basis for a motion in the House. His last known speech before succeeding to the peerage in February 1813 was in support of the Regent’s message advocating the grant of relief to Russia, 17 Dec. 1812.19
As a peer, he assumed the leadership of the Grenville connexion when his uncle withdrew from politics, separated from the Whigs on the issues raised by the response to post-war unrest, experimented briefly with a ‘third party’ stance, but aligned himself with Liverpool’s ministry late in 1821. The dukedom with which he was rewarded did not satisfy his immense ambition and he continued to press his claims to high office. His greed, his inflated conception of his own ability and importance and the unattractiveness of his personal character made him an increasingly odious and contemptible figure in serious political circles, where many would have endorsed the comment of Mrs Arbuthnot that he was ‘utterly without talent or the respect of one human being’.20 He died 17 Jan. 1839.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Leveson Gower, ii. 52; M. D. George, Cat. Pol. and Personal Satires, viii. 10709, 10719; Gronow, Reminiscences (1900), ii. 217; HMC Fortescue, i. 259; Farington, ii. 276.
- 2. Colchester, i. 119; Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, ii. 403.
- 3. PRO 30/8/182, f. 110; HMC Fortescue, v. 15, 67; vi. 192-3, 235-6, 239-41, 247-8, 393; Buckingham, iii. 52, 75; Geo. III Corresp. iii. 2180.
- 4. Add. 41854, f. 6.
- 5. Leveson Gower, i. 310; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 17 Dec. 1801; PRO 30/29/8/2, f. 226; Add. 41854, f. 7.
- 6. Chatsworth mss, Fox to Duchess of Devonshire, 16 Dec. 1802; CJ, lviii. 206; Add. 41854, f. 15.
- 7. NLW, Coedymaen mss 20, Temple to Williams Wynn [9 Jan. 1805]; PRO 30/8/120, f. 230.
- 8. HMC Fortescue, vii. 338; viii. 206, 221; Rose Diaries, ii. 241; Leveson Gower, ii. 164; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lowther, 20 Feb., 15 Mar. 1806; Buckingham, iv. 27; Add. 37284, ff. 58, 88; Romilly, Mems. ii. 159-60; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 5 July 1806.
- 9. Add. 41854, ff. 23, 24, 26; Buckingham, iv. 37.
- 10. Add. 34456, f. 483; 34461, f. 175; 37884, f. 66; Fremantle mss, Buckingham to Fremantle, 22 July, Temple to Fremantle, 24 July 1806; see HAMPSHIRE.
- 11. Spencer mss, Beckett to Spencer, 7 Mar.; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 10, 16, 18 Feb. 1807; Buckingham, iv. 125-7, 140; HMC Fortescue, ix. 53-57; Add. 41854, f. 33; 51570, Townshend to Lady Holland, 9 Sept. 1831; M. D. George, viii. 10721, 10722; Jnl. of Mrs Arbuthnot, i. 194.
- 12. Buckingham, iv. 147, 180; Grey mss, Temple to Howick [25 Mar.], 1 Apr.; Fremantle mss, Buckingham to Fremantle [5 Apr. 1807]; Add. 34457, f. 274; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 3508.
- 13. Add. 34457, f. 369; Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle, 19 Nov.; Fortescue mss, Newport to Grenville, 13 Dec.; Coedymaen mss 20, Temple to Williams Wynn, 24 Dec. 1807; Wellesley Pprs. i. 237; Add. 51593; Buckingham, iv. 231-2, 239-40.
- 14. Buckingham, iv. 258-9, 263-7, 273-5, 313-14, 325-31; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 10 Nov. 1808; Coedymaen mss 20, Temple to Williams Wynn, 15 Jan.; Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle [29 Jan.]; Bucks. RO, Grenville mss D.55, Lady H. Stanhope to Grenville [11 Mar.] 1809; HMC Fortescue, ix. 281; Geo. III Corresp. v. 3867; Malmesbury mss, FitzHarris to Malmesbury, 12 May 1809.
- 15. Buckingham, iv. 353, 356; Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle, 15 Aug., 20 Sept., 19 Oct. 1809; Add. 41854, ff. 37, 39, 43, 45, 48; HMC Fortescue, ix. 374, 384.
- 16. Add. 37292, f. 161; 41854, ff. 55, 57; HMC Fortescue, x. 5; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 12 Mar.; NLI, Richmond mss 62/522, 73/1710; Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle, 25  May 1810; Buckingham, iv. 445, 447.
- 17. Coedymaen mss; HMC Fortescue, x. 72, 85, 104; Buckingham, iv. 463, 465, 477; Add. 41854, f. 61; Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle, 10 Nov.; Richmond mss 73/1664; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 22 Dec. 1810; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 287; Blair Adam mss, Townshend to Adam, 1 Feb. 1811.
- 18. HMC Fortescue, x. 141, 143-5, 147-8; Buckingham, Regency, i. 98; Add. 41853, f. 227.
- 19. HMC Fortescue, x. 205, 245, 288, 318-20; Regency, i. 222, 247, 280-2, 311, 409-13; ii. 14; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 22 Feb.; Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle, 14 , [20 Apr.], [10 June]; Grey mss, Grenville to Grey, 16 June 1812.
- 20. Jnl. of Mrs Arbuthnot, i. 194.