Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Temple, William (1555-1627)

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TEMPLE, Sir WILLIAM (1555–1627), fourth provost of Trinity College, Dublin, was a younger son of Anthony Temple. The latter was a younger son of Peter Temple of Dorset and Marston Boteler, Warwickshire, whose elder son, John, founded the Temple family of Stowe (cf. Lodge, Peerage, v. 233; Herald and Genealogist, 1st ser. iii. 398; Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, iii. 85 ; and see art. Temple, Sir Richard, 1634-1697). Sir William Temple's father is commonly identified with Anthony Temple (d. 1581) of Coughton, Warwickshire, whose wife was Jane Bargrave. But in this Anthony Temple's will, which was signed in December 1580 and has been printed in Prime's 'Temple Family' (p. 105), Peter was the only son mentioned; he was well under eighteen years of age, and was doubtless the eldest son. There may possibly have been an unmentioned younger son, William, but he could not have been more than fifteen in 1580. On the other hand, the known facts of our Sir William's career show that before that date he was a graduate of Cambridge and in that year made a reputation as a philosopher. Moreover he was stated to be in his seventy-third year at his death in 1627. The year of his birth cannot consequently be dated later than 1555, and when Anthony Temple of Coughton died in 1581, he must have been at least five-and-twenty.

William was educated at Eton, whence he passed with a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, in 1573 (Harwood, Alumni). In 1576 he was elected a fellow of King's, and graduated B.A. in 1577-8 and M.A. in 1581. Though destined for the law, he became a tutor in logic at his college and a earnest student of philosophy. 'In his logic readings,' wrote a pupil, Anthony Wotton [q. v.], in his 'Runne from Rome' (1624), ' he always laboured to fit his pupils for the true use of that art rather than for vain and idle speculations.' He accepted with enthusiasm the logical methods and philosophical views of the French philosopher Pierre de la Ramée, known as Ramus (1515-1572), whose vehement attacks on the logical system of Aristotle had divided the learned men of Europe into two opposing camps of Ramists and Aristotelians. Temple rapidly became the most active champion of the Ramists in England. In 1580 he replied in print to an impeachment of Ramus's position by Everard Digby (fl. 1590) [q. v.] Adopting the pseudonym of Franciscus Mildapettus of Navarre (Ramus had studied in youth at the Parisian College de Navarre), he issued a tract entitled 'Francisci Mildapetti Navarreni ad Everardum Digbeium Anglum admonitio de unica P. Rami methodo reiectis caeteris retinenda,' London (by Henry Middleton for Thomas Mann), 1580. The work was dedicated to Philip Howard, first earl of Arundel, whose acquaintance Temple had made while the earl was studying at Cambridge. Digby replied with great heat next year, and Temple retorted with a volume published under his own name. This he again dedicated to the Earl of Arundel, whom he described as his Maecenas, and he announced to him his identity with the pseudonymous 'Mildapettus.' Temple's second tract bore the title, 'Pro Mildapetti de unica Methodo Defensione contra Diplodophilum [i.e. Digby] commentatio Gulielmi Tempelli e regio Collegio Cantabrigiensi.' He appended to the volume an elaborate epistle addressed to another champion of Aristotle and opponent of Ramus, Johannes Piscator of Strasburg, professor at Herborn. Temple's contributions to the controversy attracted notice abroad, and this volume was reissued at Frankfort in 1584 (this reissue alone is in the British Museum). Meanwhile in 1582 Temple had concentrated his efforts on Piscator's writings, and he published in 1582 a second letter to Piscator with the latter's full reply. This volume was entitled 'Gulielmi Tempelli Philosophi Cantabrigiensis Epistola de Dialecticis P. Rami ad Joannem Piscatorem Argentinensem una cum Joannis Piscatoris ad illam epistolam responsione,' London (by Henry Middleton for John Harrison and George Bishop), 1582. Meanwhile, on 11 July 1581, Temple had supplicated for incorporation as M.A. at Oxford (Foster, Alumni Oxon.), and soon afterwards he left Cambridge to take up the office of master of the Lincoln grammar ' school. In 1584 he made his most valuable contribution to the dispute between the Ramists and Aristotelians by publishing an annotated edition of Ramus's 'Dialectics.' It was published at Cambridge by Thomas Thomas, the university printer, and is said to have been the first book that issued from the university press (Mullinger, Hist. of Cambridge University, ii. 405). The work bore the title, 'P. Rami Dialecticae libri duo scholiis G. Tempelli Cantabrigiensis illustrati.' A further reply to Piscator was appended. The dedication was addressed by Temple from Lincoln under date 4 Feb. to Sir Philip Sidney. In the same year Temple contributed a long preface, in which he renewed with spirit the war on Aristotle, to the 'Disputatio de prima simplicium et concretorum corporum generatione,' by a fellow Ramist, James Martin [q. v.] of Dunkeld, professor of philosophy at Turin. This also came from Thomas's press at Cambridge: it was republished at Frankfort in 1589. In the same place there was issued in 1591 a severe criticism of both Martin's argument and Temple's preface by an Aristotelian, Andreas Libavius, in his 'Quaestionum Physicarum controversarum inter Peripateticos et Rameos Tractatus' (Frankfort, 1591). Temple's philosophical writings attracted the attention of Sir Philip Sidney, to whom the edition of Ramus's 'Dialectics' was dedicated in 1584, and Sidney marked his appreciation by inviting Temple to become his secretary in November 1585, when he was appointed governor of Flushing. He was with Sidney during his fatal illness in the autumn of the following year, and his master died in his arms (17 Oct. 1586). Sidney left him by will an annuity of 30l. Temple's services were next sought successively by William Davison [q. v.], the queen's secretary, and Sir Thomas Smith [q. v.], clerk of the privy council (Birch, Memoirs of Elizabeth, ii. 106). But about 1594 he joined the household of Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, and for many years performed secretarial duties for the earl in conjunction with Anthony Bacon [q. v.], Henry Cuff [q. v.], and Sir Henry Wotton [q. v.] In 1597 he was, by Essex's influence, returned to parliament as member for Tamworth in Staffordshire. He seems to have accompanied Essex to Ireland in 1599, and to have returned with him next year. When Essex was engaged in organising his rebellion in London in the winter of 1600-1, Temple was still in his service, together with one Edward Temple, whose relationship to William, if any, has not been determined. Edward Temple knew far more of Essex's treasonable design than William, who protested in a letter to Sir Robert Cecil, written after Essex's arrest, that he was kept in complete ignorance of the plot (Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 4160, No. 78; Spedding, Bacon, ii. 364). No proceedings were taken against either of the Temples. William Temple's fortunes were prejudiced by Essex's fall. Sir Robert Cecil is said to have viewed him with marked disfavour. Consequently, despairing of success in political affairs, Temple turned anew to literary study. In 1605 he brought out, with a cation to Henry, prince of Wales, ' A Logicall Analysis of Twentye Select Psalmes performed by W. Temple ' (London, by Felix Kyngston for Thomas Man, 1605). He is apparently the person named Temple for whom Bacon vainly endeavoured, through Thomas Murray of the privy chamber, to procure the honour of knighthood in 1607-8 (Spedding, iv. 2-3). But soon afterwards his friends succeeded in securing for him a position of profit and dignity. On 14 Nov. 1609 he was made provost of Trinity College, Dublin. Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, the chancellor of the university, was induced to assent to the nomination at the urgent request of James Ussher [q. v.] Temple was thenceforth a familiar figure in the Irish capital. He was appointed a master in chancery at Dublin on 31 Jan. 1609-10, and he was returned to the Irish House of Commons as member for Dublin University in April 1613. He represented that constituency till his death.

Temple proved himself an efficient administrator of both college and university, attempting to bring them into conformity at all points with the educational system in vogue at Cambridge. Many of his innovations became permanent features of the academic organisation of Dublin. By careful manipulation of the revenues of the college he increased the number of fellows from four to sixteen, and the number of scholars from twenty-eight to seventy. The fellows he was the first to divide into two classes, making seven of them senior fellows, and nine of them junior. The general government of the institution he entrusted to the senior fellows. He instituted many other administrative offices, to each of which he allotted definite functions, and his scheme of college offices is still in the main unchanged. He drew up new statutes for both the college and the university, and endeavoured to obtain from James I a new charter, extending the privileges which Queen Elizabeth had granted in 1595. He was in London from May 1616 to May 1617 seeking to induce the government to accept his proposals, but his efforts failed. His tenure of the office of provost was not altogether free from controversy. He defied the order of Archbishop Abbot that he and his colleagues should wear surplices in chapel. He insisted that as a layman he was entitled to dispense with that formality. Privately he was often in pecuniary difficulties, from which he sought to extricate himself by alienating the college estates to his wife and other relatives (Stubbs, Hist. of the University of Dublin, 1889, pp. 27 sq.)

Temple was knighted by the lord-deputy, Sir Oliver St. John (afterwards Lord Grandison), on 4 May 1622, and died at Trinity College, Dublin, on 15 Jan. 1626-7, being buried in the old college chapel (since pulled down). At the date of his death negotiations were begun for his resignation owing to 'his age and weakness' His will, dated 21 Dec. 1626, is preserved in the public record office at Dublin (printed in Temple Prime's 'Temple Family,' pp. 168-9). He was possessed of much land in Ireland. His wife Martha, daughter of Robert Harrison, of a Derbyshire family, was sole executrix. By her Temple left two sons Sir John [q. v.], afterwards master of the rolls in Ireland, and Thomas with three daughters, Catharine, Mary, and Martha. The second son, Thomas, fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, became rector of Old Ross, in the diocese of Ferns, on 6 March 1626-7. He subsequently achieved a reputation as a puritan preacher in London, where he exercised his ministry at Battersea from 1641 onwards. He preached before the Long parliament, and was a member of the Westminster assembly. He purchased for 450l. an estate of 750 acres in co. Westmeath, and, dying before 1671, was buried in the church of St. Lawrence, Reading. By his wife Anne, who was of a Reading family, he left two daughters (Temple Prime, pp. 24-5).

[Authorities cited; Cole's Manuscript History of King's College, Cambridge, ii. 157 (in Addit. MS. 5815); Lodge's Peerage, s. v. 'Temple, viscount Palmerston,' iii. 233-4; Temple Prime's Account of the Family of Temple, New York, 3rd edit. 1896, pp. 23 sq., 105 sq.; Mind (new ser.), vol. i.; Ware's Irish Writers; Parr's Life of Ussher, pp. 374 et seq.; Ebrington's Life and Works of Ussher, 1847, i. 32, xvi. 329, 335.]

S. L.