[Sir] John Temple (1600-77)

b. Dublin, eldest son of Sir William Temple, Provost of TCD, who had previously been sec. to Sir Philip Sidney; ed. TCD, BA 1618; MA 1620; Lincoln’s Inn, 1620; entered personal service of Charles I; knighted 1628; became Master of the Rolls in Ireland, 1640; assisted government at outbreak of Rebellion of 1641, but declared for Parliament and suffered imprisonment in Dublin Castle;
re-appointed Master, 1655; MP for Meath, 1642, 1646; issued The Irish Rebellion, True and Impartial History (1644), an exaggeration of the ‘massacres’ which inflamed Protestant indignation against the native Irish; indentifying English rule with God’s will and depicting the Irish Catholics as ingrates; contributed to the severity of the Cromwellian campaign of 1649-52; burnt by the public hangman on the orders of the short-lived Jacobite Parliament, Dublin 1689;
his History of the General Irish Rebellion in Ireland (1646) frequently reprinted in the following century, moulding the mentality of the Protestant ascendancy and forming the basis of several histories of the period; Temple held minor office during the Protectate; joint-administrator of the great seal of Ireland, 1647; voted for compromise with Charles I, and excluded from House; served on commissions; received grants of land in Co. Dublin and appointed privy councillor on Restoration, when he was also confirmed in the office of Master of the Rolls; vice-treasurer of Ireland, 1673;
Sir John Temple is buried beside his father in Trinity College; he is thought by some (such as Denis Johnston) to be the father of Jonathan Swift; when the Temple family was ennobled it assumed the Palmerston title associated with a region in Co. Dublin, later incorporated in the city - viz., Palmerston Rd. and Palmerston Park (Dartry-Milltown), Dublin 7; the family property was held in Sligo [see Notes, infra]. ODNB FDA OCIL

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  • Raymond Gillespie, ‘Temple’s fate: reading The Irish Rebellion in late seventeenth-century Ireland’, in British Interventions in Early Modern Ireland, ed. Ciaran Brady & Jane Ohlmeyer (Cambridge UP 2005) [Chap. 14];
  • Sarah Covington, ‘“Those Savage Days of Memory”: John Temple and His Narrative of the 1641 Uprising’, in The Body in Pain in Irish Literature and Culture, ed. Fionnuala Dillane, et. al. [New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature] (London: Palgrave 2016), pp.57-75.

See also Jarlath Killeen, Gothic Ireland: Horror and the Anglican Imagination in the Long Eighteenth Century (Dublin: Four Courts 2005), which identifies the episteme of the Anglican imaginationin Ireland with Temple's Irish Rebellion.

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Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (Amsterdam 1986), p.385 notes: ‘The Irish parliament commemorated the rebellion each 23 October with anti-Catholic services [and] Temple’s history [The Irish rebellion, London 1646] was regularly reprinted. If one wished to ameliorate the Ascendancy’s image of Gaelic Ireland - leading to a relaxation of the penal laws - one had to start with 1641’. Reprints, 1713, 1716, 1724, 1746, 1766. [ftn.384, p.483.]

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), pp.119-20 notes: Agrarian disturbances in Munster treated as popish rebellion, ignoring similar troubles from the Steelboys in Ulster; edition of Sir John Temple’s Irish Rebellion and Archb. William King’s State of the Protestants of Ireland printed in Clonmel in 1766 for sectarian reasons. The publishers J. & P. Bagnell’s brother played a significant role as a magistrate in the events in Tipperary.

Loreto Todd, The Language of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmilan 1989): ‘In 1646 Sir John Temple advised steps so that “there may be [...] such a wall of separation set up betwixt the Irish and the British, as it shall not be in their power to rise up (as now and in all former ages they have done)”’ (p.16.)

Q. auth., [anniversary account of the 1641 Rebellion], in Fortnight 299 [n.a.] (Oct. 1991), p.23: This violence and sense of betrayal [occasioning the professional soldier Owen Roe O’Neill on his return to command the Catholic forces in 1642 to write, ‘for on both side there is nothing but blood and cruelties such as are not even usual among the Moors and Arabs’] soon entered the popular Protestant mind as one of the defining characteristics of the native Irish. The details of the atrocities were gathered together in depositions taken from those attacked in 32 volumes are still preserved in the library of TCD. In 1646 an official of the Dublin Govt., Sir John Temple, published a book composed mainly of extracts from three depositions highlighting the cruelties of the native Irish ... The History of the Rebellion in Ireland, subtitled ‘together with the barbarous cruelties and bloody massacres which ensued thereupon.’

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Muriel McCarthy & Caroline Sherwood Smith, Hibernia Resurgens: Marsh’s Irish Books [Catalogue of 1994 Exhibition] (Dublin: Marsh’s Library 1994), records that his Irish Rebellion was first printed in 1646, in keeping with the title-page date of the copy held; gives obit. date 1749 [err: ODNB 1677]. The Stillingfleet Collection of Marsh’s Library holds The Irish Rebellion (London: R. White for Samuel Gellibrand 1646), 4o.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1: among his children by Mary Hammond were Sir John Temple, attorney general, and Sir William Temple, pol. writer and controversialist [who patronised Jonathan Swift.]

Ulster Libraries: Belfast Public Library holds The History of the Rebellion in Ireland 1641 (1646; 1679; 1746). Belfast Linen Hall Library holds The Irish Rebellion, True and Impartial History (1644). University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds The Irish Rebellion, or an history of the attempts of the Irish Papists to extirpate the Protestants in the Kingdom of Ireland (1812).

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On the Irish, ‘These people of late times were so much civilised by their cohabitation with the English as that the ancient animosities and hatred which the Irish had ever observed to bear upon the English nation seemed now to be quite deposited and buried in a firm conglutination of their affection and national obligations passed between them. .. Nay they had had as it were a kind of mutual transmigration into each other’s manners, many English being strangely degenerated into Irish affections and customs, and many Irish, especially of the better sort, having taken up the English language, apparel, and decent manner of living in their private houses.’ Quoted Nicholas Canny, ‘The Formation of the Irish Mind ..1580-1750’, in Past and Present, 95 (May 1982).

Irish justice?: ‘[T]here is no nature of people under the sunne that doth love equall and indifferent Justice better than the Irish; or will rest better satisfied with the execution thereof, although it be against themselves, so as they may have the protection and benefit of the law, when, upon just cause they may desire it.’ (Quoted by ‘Quidnunc’ [Seamus O’Sullivan] in cutting from Irish Times, c.1945; slipped into Albert le Brocquy’s copy of Stephen Gwynn, History of Ireland, 1923. Note that O’Sullivan calls Temple ‘one of the shrewdest judges of Irish character’.)

Irish Rebellion (1641) - on mutilation and decapitation of English soldiers by the Irish: ‘And to make the manner of their burial, and the heads themselves yet more contemptible; the rebels (over the hole where the heads were laid) set up a long stick, whereto they fixed papers, that all may take notice of the place: and after, and from that time, the rebellious roguish boys, took up, and frequently used the oath, ‘by the cross of the seven devils heads buried on St James’s-Green.’ (Sir John Temple, The History of the General Rebellion in Ireland. [7th edn.] Cork: Bagnell 1766), p.202; quoted in Sinéad Sturgeon, ‘Seven Devils’: Gerald Griffin’s “The Brown Man” and the Making of Irish Gothic’, in The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, No. 11 (June 2012) - online; accessed 23.08.2015.)

Note: Sturgeon identifies the phrase ‘seven devils’ in the opening of Gerald Griffin’s story “The Brown Man” (in Hollandtide, 1229) with Temple’s Irish Rebellion as its source - and goes on to say: “The popularity of Temple’s work was durable and, as Kathleen Noonan argues, “played a particularly powerful role in fixing a negative image of the Irish in the minds of the English,” finding an enthusiastic audience in London where its frequent re-publications marked periods of heightened public fears about the security of the state: “[w]ars with the French, Jacobite rebellions, even the Home Rule agitation of the late nineteenth century’.(Kathleen M. Noonan, ‘“Martyrs in Flames”: Sir John Temple and the Conception of the Irish in English Martyrologies’ Albion, 36, 2, Summer 2004, p.224, 225.) Jarlath Killeen has demonstrated how Temple’s text and its “imagology of horror” were crucial components in the formulation of Irish-Anglican Gothic, and its subsequent evolution in the eighteenth century in the work of William Molyneaux, William King, Jonathan Swift, Edmund Burke and Maria Edgeworth. (Killeen, Gothic Ireland: Horror and the Irish Anglican Imagination in the Long Eighteenth Century, Four Courts Press, 2005, p.29.)  The spectre of Temple in “The Brown Man”, though, is at best equivocal in its historical resonances. By echoing Temple in its opening line, the story positions itself in relation to the well-established colonialist view of an island that was self-consuming in its irredeemable savagery, but, given the teasing tone of the opening paragraph and its pert questioning of originary national narratives, the relation is more likely than not an ironic one which points to how history, like any other fiction, may be consumed and cloaked by myth. Thus, one outrageous, extravagant Irish fiction points to another, initiating a sub-current of self-reflexive anxiety over the very act of writing - the ways in which textual representation might compromise or jeopardize the integrity of the self - that may be discerned in other aspects of the narrative (a point that will be returned to presently)." (Ibid., online; accessed 23.08.2015.)

Amelioration of the Irish under the influence of the Ulster plantation: ‘These people of late times were so much civilised by their cohabitation with the English ... &c.’ (Quoted in Fortnight magazine (Oct. 2991), as supra.

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Pewholder: Sir John Temple is listed as a pewholder among ninety names at the Restoration, pew no. 43, in company with Wm. Domville, Attorney gen. (47), Sir James Ware, MP for the University (48), Sir Theo. Jones, MP for Meath, nephew of James Ussher (42), William Dodwell, father of FTCD (20), Mr John Parnell (24). Almost the same people are found subscribing for the Puritan minister of 1659. Also rated in the Parish at that time were Earl of Angelesey, Viscount Ranelagh, Sir William Petty, MP for Innistioge; Sir Henry Tichbourne; Col. James Napper, MP for Enniscorthy. (See The Church of S. Werburgh Dublin, by S. C. Hughes, 1899, p.18.)

Lord Palmerston [1]: Henry John Temple, the British Foreign Secretary was a Temple whose title and seat were Palmerston, Co. Dublin, and whose rents came from Cliffoney, Co. Sligo; in 1841 he visited Sir Robert Gore-Booth at Lissadell, and developed the fishing harbour of Mullaghmore, with help from the Board of Works. The family home in Sligo was Classiebawn House at Broadlands, built by him using Mountcharles sandstone in the 1860's. The property belonged to the titled Ashley branch of the family and ultimately passed to Edwina [dg. of Lord Ashley], who became the wife of Lord Louis Mountbatten and was herself a descendent of Sir John Temple who received the property during the 17th c. It was from the harbour that Palmerston built at Mullaghmore that Mountbatten set out on the fishing trip that ended with his assassination/murder by the Provisional IRA on 27 Aug. 1979. There is a website on Classiebawn and its occupants at Sligo Heritage detailing its game-keeper/poacher history, its hostage role in the War of Independence, and illustrated by the Mountbatten crest on the Classiebawn gate-pillars photographed in 2006. The website, though informative and reliable, is epitomised by an unironic allusion to ‘the infamous Queen Victoria’ and adjoining references to ‘Lord Palmerston’s excesses in famine times, or Queen Victoria's apathy’. Details of the destruction of the Shadow V and casualties involved - Nicholas (a grandson of Mountbatten), Lady Brabourne and Paul Maxwell dead, and Lady Patricia, her husband and Timothy (another grandson) badly injured - are also given. The event coincided with the Warrenpoint explosion with killed 18 British soldiers. The site gives interesting coverage to the Mountbattens partially sympathetic attitude to Irish nationalism: ‘On the day of the killing [..] young Knatchbull asked his mother, Lady Pamela Mountbatten: “Why did they do this to Grandpapa?” Her enigmatic reply was: “Oh, they have their reasons son, they have their reasons.”’ See Sligo Heritage - online [accessed 05.07.2011].

Lord Palmerston [2] - See Martin Mansergh, review of Palmerston: A Biography, by David Brown, in The Irish Times (Sat. 15 Jan. 2011, Weekend, p.13): Palmerston ‘was famous for his gunboat diplomacy in the Don Pacifico addair, in 1850, when he threatened force to protect the rights of British citizens abroad, in the manner of ancient Rome (“civis Romanus sum”). This principle was later a casus belli in starting the Boer War. He famously stated that Britain had no eternal allies and no eternal allies and no perpetual interests. As junior lord of the admiralty he justified a pre-emptive attack in 1807 on the navy of neutral Denmark by invoking Britain's right of self-preservation, the same principle invoked by Churchill vis-à-vis Ireland in his May 1945 broadcast.’ Mansergh cites a lively biography of Palmerston by Jasper Ridley.

Daddy, daddy! Sir John Temple was believed by Denis Johnston (In Search of Swift, 1959) to be the father of Jonathan Swift, and was followed in this conviction by Sybil Le Brocquy - who also held that Swift and his Vanessa had a child together, leading to his tragic break with Stella at their last Celbridge meeting (Cadenus, 1963).

The Honourable Sir John Temple, Knight (Master of the Rolls) contributed £20 to the construction of the Hospital at Oxmantown, Dublin - as recorded in Narrative and an Accompt Concerning the Hospital at Oxmantown-Green, Dublin, containing the sums of money [...] subscribed [...] together with the hopeful beginnings of Gifts towards future annual maintenance ([1671; rep. by Charles Lucas] (Dublin: Esdall 1749).

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