TEMPLE, Sir Richard, 4th Bt. (1675-1749), 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



17 Dec. 1697 - 1702
8 Nov. 1704 - 1708
1708 - 1713

Family and Education

b. 24 Oct. 1675, 1st s. of Sir Richard Temple, 3rd Bt.*  educ. Christ’s, Camb. 1694.  m. ?1715, Anne (d. 1760), da. of Edmund Halsey*, s.psuc. fa. as 4th Bt. 10 May 1697; cr. Baron Cobham 19 Oct. 1714, Visct. Cobham 23 May 1718.1

Offices Held

High steward, Buckingham 1697–d.; ld. lt. Bucks. 1728–38.2

Col. of ft. 1702–10, 4 Hussars 1710–13, 1 R. Drags. 1715–21, 1 Drag. Gds. 1721–33, 1 tp. horse Grenadier Gds. 1742–?5, 5 Drag. Gds. 1744–5, 10 R. Hussars 1745–d.; brig.-gen. 1706, maj.-gen. 1709, lt.-gen. 1710, gen. 1735, f.m. 1742; comptroller clothing the army 1708, army accts. 1722.3

Envoy extraordinary to Vienna Oct. 1714–May 1715; constable, Windsor Castle 1716–23; gov. of Jersey 1723–d.; PC 6 July 1716.


The son of a veteran MP, little is known about Temple’s early life except that he recovered from a bout of smallpox while in London in the autumn of 1694. Although only 22, Temple was returned for Buckingham at the by-election caused by his father’s death in 1697, subsequently defending the seat in the general election the following year. He was soon afterwards classed as a Court supporter, and in the opening session voted on 18 Jan. 1699 against the disbanding bill. Already it was apparent that Temple was taking a different line from that pursued by his father, it being noted in the summer of 1699 that he had ‘come over’ to Lord Wharton’s (Hon. Thomas*) party. Significantly, in an analysis of the Commons early in 1700 he was noted as a follower of Henry Boyle*.4

Re-elected for Buckingham in January 1701, Temple was the foreman of the grand jury at the Buckingham assizes in August 1701 which produced a partisan address to the King (see BUCKINGHAMSHIRE). Returned again in December 1701, he was classed by Robert Harley* as a Whig. The accession of Anne and the outbreak of war saw Temple embark on a long military career. He was given the colonelcy of a newly raised foot regiment stationed in Ireland and served as a ‘volunteer’ in the campaign in Flanders, taking part at the siege of Venlo. Unfortunately, this activity meant he was absent from England during the 1702 general election and he lost his seat.5

Contemporaries had no difficulty in identifying Temple’s Whiggishness, and though he was now out of the House he was assumed, erroneously, to have voted on 13 Feb. 1703 in favour of the Lords’ amendments to the bill extending the time requirements for taking the Abjuration. It was reported in March that he had laid down his commission, but in fact was keen to transfer his regiment to Flanders, which appears to have been accomplished by January 1704. Temple’s chance to re-enter the Commons occurred with the death of the county Member, Hon. Goodwin Wharton, in late October 1704. Immediately, he left his regiment to return to England, a course of action subsequently agreed by the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). Having been duly elected, Temple was thus on hand on 28 Nov. to vote against the Tack.6

Temple was returned for both the county and borough of Buckingham in 1705. He was variously classed as a High Church courtier, as a placeman, and as a Whig ‘gain’ by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) on his recapture of his seat at Buckingham. On 20 Oct. he was reported to have newly arrived from Holland and was present on the 25th to vote for the Court candidate as Speaker. On 21 Nov. he opted to sit for the county constituency. Unfortunately, the Whigs then lost the borough seat he had vacated. He voted for the Court on the regency bill proceedings on 18 Feb. 1706, and by May was on active service again. Not surprisingly an analysis of early 1708 classed him as a Whig.7

Returned unopposed for Buckingham in 1708, Temple was once more classed as a Whig. Having been ‘the commanding brigadier’ at the successful siege of Lille, he was despatched by Marlborough to England in October 1708 with an account of its surrender, whereupon he ‘was received with particular distinction by the Queen, in regard to the considerable part he had in that service’. Temple, being a ‘discreet young man’, was also entrusted with Marlborough’s and Prince Eugene’s future plans, which Temple felt would be accepted ‘if some people who desire to be thought the most zealous for carrying on the war with vigour can be prevailed with to lay aside their little politics for the beginning of the sessions’, a reference perhaps to Whig attacks on the Court. With the session due to begin shortly, Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†) forbade Temple to return to the Continent. Thus, he had the satisfaction of the report made by the Commons on 16 Dec. 1708 which found his regiment fully mustered. He voted for naturalizing the Palatines early in 1709 and sailed to Flanders in May to join the campaign.8

January 1710 saw Temple drawn into the dispute over which general officer should have the Earl of Essex’s regiment of dragoons. Marlborough favoured Thomas Meredyth*, while the Queen favoured John Hill*, brother of Abigail Masham. Many felt that the impasse could be resolved through the appointment of Temple who was a ‘creature’ of the Whigs. While this matter remained unresolved, Temple voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell and then at the end of March went over to Flanders still unsure of his fate. In June he was granted Essex’s regiment, but no sooner had his commission been signed than the Whig hold on power began to look precarious. On 25 June Temple wrote to his friend Robert Walpole II*,

If the rout is to be general among the Whigs, it will be better for us and easier to be borne than if it fall upon a part, where he that has the least honesty will be sure to take care of one. It is a miserable thing that at this juncture when all at home and abroad is at stake, that any one Whig should be suspected of trying to play a double game.9

In mid-September 1710 Temple returned from Flanders and retained his seat at the election in October. In the new session he was one of the placemen who angered Harley by voting for the motion demanding ‘No Peace without Spain’ on 7 Dec. 1711. With Marlborough, he attended the dinner given by Lord Stair on 30 Jan. 1712 in honour of Prince Eugene. Temple was omitted in April from the list of general officers for the forthcoming campaign in Flanders, and there were rumours in July that he had been ordered to sell his regiment of dragoons. In April 1713 Swift reported that Temple, ‘the greatest Whig in the army’, had lost his regiment. Peter Wentworth heard ‘no reason assigned, but that he has never been at court, or with any of the ministry, since the change’. Not surprisingly, Temple remained in opposition to the ministry, voting on 18 June 1713 against the French commerce bill. He was also a stalwart of the Kit-Cat Club.10

Defeated at Buckingham in 1713, Temple petitioned on 3 Mar. 1714 but without success. His preparations to contest the election following the Hanoverian succession were cut short by his elevation to the peerage as Lord Cobham (his maternal grandmother being a descendant of William Brooke†, 10th Lord Cobham, d. 1597). Before he departed as envoy to Vienna he signed the electoral agreement in Buckinghamshire, dividing the county seats between the two parties, and continued to exercise an influence at Buckingham during the new reign through a group of aspiring politicians known as ‘Cobham Cubs’. He died on 13 or 14 Sept. 1749, and was buried at Stowe on the 18th.11

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Verney Letters 18th Cent. ii. 169.
  • 2. Bucks. RO, Buckingham corp. recs. vol. 21.
  • 3. N. B. Leslie, Suc. of Cols. 5, 7, 12, 15, 19, 25; Post Boy, 17–19 Feb. 1708; HMC Townshend, 138.
  • 4. BL, Verney mss mic. 636/47, Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, to John Verney* (Ld. Fermanagh), 25 Aug. 1694, John to Sir Ralph Verney, 30 Sept. 1694; 636/51, Lady Gardiner to John Verney, 25 July 1699.
  • 5. Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 79; HMC Mar and Kellie, 224; A. Cunningham, Hist GB, i. 294; Verney mss mic. 636/52, Lady Gardiner to John Verney, 30 July 1702.
  • 6. Verney mss mic. 636/52, Lady Gardiner to John Verney, 9 Mar. 1702[–3]; Boston Pub. Lib. K.5.5., Marlborough to Somerset, 16 Aug. 1703; Marlborough Letters and Despatches ed. Murray, i. 224, 542; Add. 61307, f. 173; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 398.
  • 7. HMC Portland, iv. 264; Murray, iv. 530.
  • 8. Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 57(2), p. 68; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 1128, 1130; Murray, iv. 274; Boyer, Anne Annals, vii. 245; Add. 61312, ff. 134–5; Grosvenor mss at Eaton Hall, Andrew Forrester to Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Bt.†, 10/21 May 1709.
  • 9. Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 263; Archaeologia xxxviii. 11; Add. 31143, ff. 445–7; Lockhart Pprs. i. 316; Coxe, Walpole, ii. 20, 21, 25, 27–28; BL, Walpole of Wolterton mss, Walpole to Marlborough, 28 Mar. 1710.
  • 10. Luttrell, vi. 630; Boyer, Pol. State, iii. 59; Add. 17677 FFF, f. 147; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 1 July 1712; Swift Stella ed. Davis, 656; Wentworth Pprs. 330.
  • 11. Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 317; ii. 91; Lipscomb, iii. 110.