TEMPLE, Sir Alexander (1583-1629), of Longhouse, Chadwell, Essex; Haremere, Etchingham, Suss. and Holborn, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

bap. 9 Feb. 1583,1 4th but 3rd surv. s. of John Temple (d.1603) of Burton Dassett, Warws. and Stowe, Bucks. and Susan, da. and coh. of Thomas Spencer of Everton, Northants; bro. of Thomas†.2 educ. L. Inn 1600.3 m. (1) 4 Dec. 1602,4 Mary, da. and coh. of John Somer, clerk of the Signet, of Newlands, St. Mary’s Hoo, Kent, wid. of Thomas Penyston of St. Margaret’s juxta Rochester, Kent, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) Margaret, da. of Peter Griffin of Stafford, Staffs., s.p.; (3) by 16 Jan. 1622, Mary (d. c.1655), da. of John Reve of Bury St. Edmunds, Suff., wid. of John Busbridge of Etchingham and Robert Bankworth, scrivener, of London, s.p.5 kntd. 14 Mar. 1604.6 d. by 19 Dec. 1629.7 sig. Alexand[e]r Temple

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Kent and Suss. 1604-d., Essex 1610-at least 1627, Kent 1610, Essex and Mdx. 1622, Essex, Mdx. and Kent 1625, Suss. 1625-at least 1627;8 asst. Rochester bridge, Kent 1604-14, snr. warden 1606, jnr. warden 1612;9 capt. West Tilbury fort, Essex 1619-d.;10 j.p. Suss. 1622-d., Essex 16 May-at least 25 July 1625;11 commr. subsidy, Essex, Suss. 1624,12 Forced Loan, Suss. 1627,13 martial law, 1627.14

Sub-commr. Navy inquiry, 1608.15

Member, Guiana Co. 1627.16


Temple’s grandfather settled in Warwickshire, where he prospered as a sheep-farmer. His elder brother, Thomas, sat for Andover in 1589, and became one of the original baronets in 1611.17 Temple himself received a legacy of £900 from his father and property in Buckinghamshire. His sister’s marriage to Sir Nicholas Parker† gave him a connection with Sussex, reinforced by his own first wife, whose first husband had owned property in that county. But initially he established himself on an estate at Chadwell, in south Essex, which had been purchased by Thomas in about 1607. Temple bought it shortly after for £3,160, and also surrendered his interest in the Buckinghamshire estate to his brother, although the land had been rejected by a possible purchaser ‘because the greatest part thereof was marshlands, subject to be surrounded by the overflowing and breaking of the river of Thames’.18

Temple was employed in 1608 by the commissioners for naval abuses to take depositions at Rochester, where his first wife owned property.19 In May 1619 he was appointed to the command of West Tilbury fort, situated near his Essex estate, thanks to Buckingham, the newly appointed lord admiral.20 He was first nominated for a parliamentary seat in February 1621, when his name was put forward at Boston by Theophilus Clinton (alias Fiennes), 4th earl of Lincoln, who was shortly to marry his niece.21 However, he failed to gain a place in the 1621 Parliament. By early 1622 he was a Sussex magistrate living in east Sussex, at Haremere in Etchingham, part of his property that had belonged to his third wife’s previous husband. In that year he was summoned before the Privy Council for failing to contribute to the Palatinate Benevolence, an offence for which his brother-in-law, William, 8th Baron Saye and Sele, was imprisoned. Temple escaped this fate, however, as he agreed to contribute £30 in June.22

In 1624 Temple stood for Parliament again, but was once more unsuccessful. This time his chosen seat was Winchelsea, three miles from Camber Castle, where his younger brother had previously served as captain,23 as well being close to Etchingham. It is possible that he had the support of Richard Sackville, 3rd earl of Dorset, Sussex’s joint lord lieutenant and the major magnate in the eastern part of the county. Temple’s third wife was the sister-in-law of (Sir) John Suckling*, who had begun his career in the service of Dorset’s grandfather, lord treasurer Buckhurst (Thomas Sackville†), and leased his London house from Dorset. Moreover, Temple himself served as a trustee for Suckling.24 He was opposed by John Finch I*, who enjoyed the support of the mayor. The latter suppressed letters of recommendation, probably including one from Nicholas Eversfield*, and claimed wildly that Temple was ‘of suspected religion, and allied to an arch-papist, the earl of Clanricarde’. The lord warden, Edward Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche, urged Temple not to contest the result, but Temple ignored him and obtained a resolution of the House declaring Finch’s return invalid. At the same time he was completely exonerated from all suspicion in religion. After losing the subsequent election he made a further complaint in May, but without success.25

There is no evidence that Temple sought election in 1625, but the following year he secured the backing of the Sussex gentry at their pre-election meeting held at Lewes on 17 Jan., apparently after Sir Thomas Pelham* and Sir John Shurley* had disclaimed any interest in standing, and he was subsequently returned for the county. He may have been recommended by Sir Edward Sackville*, who had succeeded as 4th earl of Dorset in 1624.26

Temple received 39 committee appointments in the second Caroline Parliament and made six recorded speeches. Possibly influenced by Dorset, an ally of the duke of Buckingham, he was initially concerned that the House should act quickly to improve England’s defences and not be sidetracked into a witch-hunt, arguing on 25 Feb. that ‘our house is on fire; shall we stay to see how did it?’27 However, on 18 Mar. Temple agreed that the employment of inexperienced offices in naval and military commands was a cause of the ‘evils’ of the kingdom, and, following suggestions that the Commons should investigate whether appointments had been procured by bribery, he stated that he would ‘begin with myself’, asserting that he was unfit for his command at Tilbury, a clumsy attempt, perhaps, to deflect attention from his patron.28

On 2 May, following Glanville’s report on the evidence given by Members of the Commons against Buckingham, Temple called for a pause for reflection as he ‘desired not the duke’s ruin’.29 Two days later he tried to deflect the accusation that Buckingham was responsible for an increase in Catholicism. Although he accepted that Everard, who claimed to have witnessed the duke adoring the host in Spain, should be examined, he was keen to exclude any evidence from Lord George Digby†, the son of Buckingham’s enemy, the earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*). He asserted, somewhat rashly, that ‘he would deliver some probable reasons why the duke should be hated both of papists and protestants’, but there is no evidence that he did.30

Temple may have been a puritan, and was certainly alarmed at the rise of anti-Calvinism. According to a correspondent of Joseph Mead, at meeting of the sub-committee to prepare for a conference with the Lords on 6 June, Temple declared that it was Arminianism that ‘tended most to faction and the disturbance of the commonwealth’ and that it was ‘a business of the greatest evil consequence against religion and the whole kingdom’. Contradicting Thomas Eden II, who had denied that there was any Arminianism in the University of Cambridge, he asserted that ‘he could as easily believe there was not one whore in the town of Cambridge as that the University was without an Arminian’.31

Religion features largely among Temple’s committee appointments. On 9 Feb. he was among those appointed to supervise the corporate communion, and was the following day named to the committee for religion. He was appointed to consider some dozen bills dealing with the church, including those for prevention of simony (14 Feb.), reform of the ministry (15 Feb.), observance of the Sabbath (1 Mar.), ‘the true and real conformity of popish recusants’ (8 May), and securing unity ‘in the church and commonwealth’ (14 June); he was the first named on 9 May to consider a bill to augment the stipends of ‘preaching curates’.32 In addition Temple was instructed to attend conferences with the Lords on Buckingham’s activity as lord admiral (4 Mar.) and on defence (7 Mar.), and was among those ordered on 14 Mar. to consider Sir Dudley Digges’s motion for financing a war at sea ‘by the voluntary joint stock of adventurers’. On 5 Apr. he was among those appointed to attend the king with the Remonstrance in defence of its proceedings.33 He was named to consider a number of private bills, including two for marshland along the Thames (28 Feb. and 28 Mar.) and one, on 17 Mar., for Lord Bergavenny (Sir Henry Neville II*), whose first wife had been a Sackville. He may have promoted the bill for the sale of the estates of Sir Henry Clere, an East Anglian landowner, since his name stands first on the committee list, although he had no known connection with Clere.34

Temple subsequently felt that he had incurred Buckingham’s ‘displeasure’ for ‘seeming errors’ during the 1626 Parliament, possibly for his suggestion on 4 May that the duke was hated by all shades of religious opinion. Consequently, applying to the duke in early in 1627 for arrears of pay due to himself as captain of West Tilbury, and to Capt. Smith, commander of the other Gravesend fort at Milton, and their gunners, he asked the duke to ‘tread under your feet all thoughts of revenge’. Since the authorities had been behindhand with these payments for years, it seems unlikely that the duke was moved by any such thoughts.35 Later in the year he was summoned before the Privy Council ‘for neglect of showing of light-horse at the musters’ in Essex, but discharged on promise of conformity.36 At about this time he engaged himself to subscribe £50 to the Guiana Company, but the money was still unpaid at his death.37 There is no evidence that he sought re-election in 1628 and he made his will while ‘sick in body’ on 21 Nov. 1629, instructing his executors to sell his lands to pay his debts. His will was proved on 19 Dec. and he was buried in Rochester Cathedral in the same month, although the exact date of his interment is unknown. His elder son having died in 1627 during Buckingham’s disastrous expedition to the Ile de RĂ©, it was his younger son, James, subsequently elected recruiter for Bramber to the Long Parliament in 1645 and a regicide, who inherited his estate.38

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Stowe Par. Reg. (Soc. Gen. Transcript), ex inf. John Matthews.
  • 2. Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 212-13; HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 481; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 149.
  • 3. LI Admiss.
  • 4. IGI.
  • 5. Temple, 48-9; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 135; Essex RO, D/DRu/T1/219; PROB 11/68, f. 387; 11/98, f. 148; 11/137, f. 113; 11/248, f. 306.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 130.
  • 7. PROB 11/156, f. 363.
  • 8. C181/1, f. 95v; 181/2, ff. 105v, 106; 181/3, ff. 43, 158v, 166v, 209v, 233v; 181/4, f. 32v.
  • 9. Traffic and Pols. ed. N. Yates and J.M. Gibson, 294.
  • 10. SO3/6, unfol.; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 361.
  • 11. C231/4, ff. 139, 187; ASSI 35/68/1; 35/71/10.
  • 12. C212/22/23.
  • 13. C192/12/2, f. 59v.
  • 14. C181/2, f. 87; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 461.
  • 15. HMC Laing, 111.
  • 16. English and Irish Settlement on the River Amazon ed. J. Lorimer (Hakluyt Soc. ser. 2 clxxi), 293.
  • 17. E.F. Gay, ‘Rise of an English Country Fam.’, HLQ, i. 375; HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 481.
  • 18. E.F. Gay, ‘Temples of Stowe and their Debts’, HLQ, ii. 401-3, 421; VCH Suss. ix. 154; VCH Bucks. iv. 241; C78/180/11.
  • 19. Jacobean Commissions of Enquiry 1608 and 1618 ed. A.P. McGowan (Navy Recs. Soc. cxvi), 181.
  • 20. SO3/6, unfol.
  • 21. Transcription of Mins. of Corp. of Boston ed. J.F. Bailey, ii. 323.
  • 22. Notes of Post Mortem Inquisitions taken in Suss. ed. E.W.T. Attree (Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv), 45; SP14/127/81; 14/156/15; M.L. Schwarz, ‘Lord Saye and Sele’s objections to the Palatinate Benevolence of 1622’, Albion, iv. 12.
  • 23. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 579; C142/377/62.
  • 24. W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. vii. 160; PROB 11/143, f. 209.
  • 25. J. Glanville, Reps. of Certain Cases (1775), pp. 12-24; CJ, i. 726a, 739b, 740a, 798a; Add. 37818, f. 147v; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 179v.
  • 26. Arundel, Autograph Letters 1617-32, Peers to Spiller, 16 Jan. 1626.
  • 27. Procs. 1626, ii. 131-2.
  • 28. Ibid. 314-15.
  • 29. Ibid. iii. 130.
  • 30. Ibid. 162.
  • 31. Ibid. iv. 292.
  • 32. Ibid. ii. 8, 13, 32, 44, 162; iii. 190.
  • 33. Ibid. ii. 195, 216, 280, 430.
  • 34. Ibid. ii. 147, 305, 385; iii. 155.
  • 35. SP16/50/17; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 361.
  • 36. APC, 1627, pp. 272, 290, 301.
  • 37. Bodl. Tanner 71, f. 161.
  • 38. PROB 11/156, f. 363; E. Hawkins, ‘Notes on some Monuments in Rochester Cathedral’, Arch. Cant. xi. 8; Temple, 48; HMC Skrine, 127.