Lieut-General Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, (1675–1749) was a British soldier and politician. He was known for his ownership of and modifications to the estate at Stowe and for serving as a political mentor to the young William Pitt. He was Governor of Jersey at a time of considerable turmoil, including the devaluation of the island’s currency and riots which forced several local officials to flee the island.
Yet, although in many ways Temple was the cause of the civil unrest, he seems personally to have had little or no involvement in island affairs, leaving his Lieut-Governors to bear the brunt of the problems.
Temple was born to a Whig family in the family estate of Stowe, located in Buckinghamshire. He was the son of Sir Richard Temple, 3rd Baronet and Mary Knapp. He was baptised on 1 November 1675 at St Paul's, Covent Gardens. He married Anne Halsey, daughter of Edmund Halsey.After attending Eton College and Cambridge University, Temple entered the military; however, in May 1697 at the age of 21, he inherited his father's baronetcy. He matriculated at Christ's College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, in October 1694. He held the office of Member of Parliament for Buckingham between 1697 and 1702.
By the age of 26, he was a Lieutenant Colonel, and he became a Lieutenant General at 34, which was an extremely young age. He had especially distinguished himself, like many other famous officers, during the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns in the War of the Spanish Succession, especially during the Siege of Lille in 1708.
Richard Temple was commissioned in 1685 with the rank of Ensign, in the service of the Prince George of Denmark's Foot. He was Colonel of the Regiment of Foot between 1702 and 1710. He held the office of Lieutenant of Buckingham in 1703. He gained the rank of Brigadier-General in 1706. He fought in the Flemish Wars in 1708, and distinguished himself at the siege of Lille. He gained the rank of Major-General in 1709. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-General in 1710. He was Colonel of the 4th Dragoons between 1710 and 1713. He was Envoy to Vienna between October 1714 and May 1715. He was created 1st Baron Cobham on 19 October 1714. He was Colonel of the Royal 1st Regiment of Dragoons between 1715 and 1721. He was Colonel of the King's Own Horse (1st Dragoon Guards) between 1721 and 1733. He gained the rank of General in 1735. He gained the rank of Field Marshal in 1742. He was Colonel of the 1st Horse Grenadier Guards between 1742 and 1744. He was Colonel of the 10th Dragoons (5th Dragoon Guards) between 1745 and 1749. He was Colonel of the 6th Horse in 1744/45.
In 1719 during the War of the Quadruple Alliance he led a force of 4,000 troops on a raid on the Spanish coastline which captured Vigo and occupied it for ten days before withdrawing.
When King George I ascended to the throne, he awarded Temple various peerages, first Baron Cobham in 1714, then the Viscounty of Cobham and Baron Cobham in 1718.
Temple's socioeconomic position moved high with the receipt of these titles and monies. From 1711 he made drastic changes to the estate of Stowe. As he made extensive renovations to the estate, he called upon the royal gardener, Charles Bridgeman, and his friend, John Vanbrugh, a skilled architect. When Vanbrugh died in 1726 he was replaced by another skilled architect, James Gibbs.
A determined Whig, he had supportered the government of Sir Robert Walpole since it had come to power in 1721 and generally voted with them in the House of Lords. Meanwhile, Cobham had become the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire. However, when he began disagreeing with Prime Minister Robert Walpole, he moved to the opposition party, causing his replacement by the Duke of Marlborough, son of his former commander. Nevertheless, he was ultimately given the rank of field marshal on 28 March 1742.
By 1734, Cobham had gone from government to opposition and had formed a faction in the Whig Party to oppose the Excise Bill of Robert Walpole. Cobham provided patronage to the rising star of the Whig Party, William Pitt, securing him a cornet's commission in his regiment. The group of Cobham's young supporters were known as the 'Cobham Cubs' and included George Grenville and George Lyttelton, as well as Pitt. After Walpole's fall as Prime Minister in 1742, they turned their attacks on his replacement - a government led by Lord Wilmington and Carteret.
In 1749 Cobham died. Most of his followers, now led by Pitt and his son, had moved to support the Ministry of Henry Pelham. The group would become the nucleas of what was known as the 'Pitt Faction' which followed Pitt when he entered government as Secretary of State in 1756. Another of Cobham's protege's Grenville, rose to be Prime Minister in 1763.
Cobham was also involved in the 1739 creation of the nation's first childcare charity, the Foundling Hospital, for which he was a founding governor. Cobham was admired by Alexander Pope, and Cobham's gardens were praised by Pope in his Epistle to Burlington as a wonder. Pope wrote a "moral epistle" to Cobham in 1733 and published it in 1734 as The Epistle to Cobham. Pope praises Cobham as a practical man of the world whose "ruling passion" was service to his country, whatever the cost
He died on 13 September 1749 at age 73, without issue. He was buried on 18 September 1749 at Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England. On his death, his barony of 1714 became extinct.
This narrative of the events of 1720 onward is taken from the Rev Alban E Ragg’s 19th century history of Jersey
- “We find the Island in one of the greatest monetary straits she ever experienced, so great, indeed, that it necessitated the still further prohibition of taking or sending even copper coinage over the amount of 5 livres tournois from her shores—it being on record that by 3 May 1720, there remained neither gold nor silver in circulation, the only metallic currency at that time being liards. Then it was that paper money seems first to have been decided upon. The individual value of the notes, however, was very small, amounting from only 20 sous (10d) to 50 livres; the aggregate value of the whole issue decided upon being 50,000 livres.
- This evidently did not improve matters very much, for in 1726 ‘free trade’ was allowed with regard to the liards, and a recommendation sent to the King (George I, and during the last year of his reign) in Council, regarding the relative value of coins on the Island, the ulterior sanction of which by an Order in Council, 21 May 1729, led to serious disturbances, the actual outcome of the whole being that the French liards were reduced to their original value of 2 deniers (7 deniers being equal to a British halfpenny); so that 6 liards had to be given for a sol (centime)-instead of 4; the proportion of the livre and the sol - in which values all accounts were made out - remaining the while at their old proportion.
- Six months, it is true, was allowed before the Order should come into operation, but it followed that if a man could not meet his liabilities within those six months they would increase 50 per cent, unless he could pay them otherwise than in liards. Another strong piece of evidence of the poverty of the Island at this period comes out in connection with the appointment of a successor to General Lumley as Governor of the Island in 1729—the patent of office being this time bestowed upon Sir Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham, to whom, as emolument, there was allowed the whole of the Royal revenue of Jersey (minus a small portion for fees and salaries of officers) estimated at 15,000 livres turnois per annum, a sum which in olden days would have been equivalent to as many English pounds sterling, but at this time were only worth one-tenth their former value.
- The result of this state of things (which it was ineffectually sought to remedy by appeals to the new King George II (1727-1760) in Council and all other known legitimate devices) - legalised robbery it was called - was a riot, which occurred on 29 August 1730, in which Philip Le Geyt, Lieut-Bailiff, narrowly escaped with his life, and fled to Elizabeth Castle, resolving to leave the Island where he was no longer safe ; a letter to which effect he addressed to the States on 8 September following. Jersey thus lost, for the time, one who was better versed than any man of his day in all its laws and customs.
No Bailiff or Lieut-Bailiff
- The direct result of the flight of Philip Le Geyt from Jersey was to leave the Island minus both Bailiff and Lieut-Bailiff (the former, Earl Granville, being resident in England), whereupon the members of the States at once proceeded to elect "juge delegue", which proceeding took place 10 September 1730, immediately subsequent to which the then Lieut.-Governor, Colonel George Howard, issued orders to the constables of the 12 parishes to remonstrate with the people with a view to restoring something like order and quietness, though the report of the constables was that the inhabitants of the country parishes seemed at that time to be well disposed and peaceably inclined.
- Then followed what had only once before taken place in Jersey. The Lieut-Governor was dismissed from office, or, in other words "removed from his post" by the King for neglect and disobedience. The way it came about was this: A report on the state of affairs then existing was made to the English Government, and an inquiry held before the Privy Council, during the course of which Philip Le Geyt (Lieut-Bailiff), William Dumaresq (Jurat and His Majesty's Receiver of Customs), John Le Hardy (Attorney-General), and the Rev Francis Payne (sworn in as Dean, 3 July 1729), being examined, among other things, alleged that they had left the Island in consequence of the insults and threats to which they had been subjected by the mob.
- They also complained that the States of Jersey and the Royal Court had, under pressure brought upon them by the mob, been forced into signing Acts directly contravening His Majesty's Order in Council, and legalising what was contrary to law : which Acts, being deemed a high insult to Royalty, were erased from the records, 30 August 1730. The Lieut.-Governor was then charged by Philip Le Geyt with having neglected his duty and acted with disobedience by not having upheld the States of Jersey and the magistrates sufficiently in supporting them to carry out the Order in Council of 21 May 1729, relative to the currency, and in not being active enough in suppressing the riots. Colonel Howard was accordingly summoned to appear before the Privy Council to answer these complaints - Colonel William Hargrave being sworn in as Lieut.-Governor, pro tem, on the 14 November - and the charges being confirmed against him, Howard was removed from his post by an Order in Council dated 8 April 1731.
- The same Order signified, as well, high displeasure at the conduct of several members of the States (among others Philip Patriarche and other members of the Royal Court, and also Elias Dumaresq, His Majesty's then Deputy Advocate), and severely reprimanded them; whilst, on the other hand, Le Geyt, William Dumaresq, Charles de Carteret, John Pipon, John Le Hardy and the Rev Francis Payne were applauded for having given ‘due obedience’ and shown ready compliance in carrying out the said disputed - and, to the generality of the people - hateful law. The whole thing, it seems, resulted in bitter feuds, cliques, personal animosities and party hatreds that were kept up for years after.
1749 - 1761