Temple, Sir John (1632–1705), lawyer and politician, was born in Blackfriars, London, second son of Sir John Temple (qv), master of the rolls for Ireland and author of The Irish rebellion (1646), and his wife Mary Hammond of Chertsey, Surrey. His grandfather, Sir William Temple (qv), had been provost of TCD, while his elder brother, also William Temple (qv), would enjoy a distinguished career as a diplomat and author. John Temple was admitted as a pensioner to Pembroke College, Cambridge, on 30 January 1647. In 1648 he was at Christ Church, Oxford, graduating BA (1649). On 4 July 1649 he was granted adventurers' land in Tipperary, subsequently obtaining further lots in Kilkenny and Westmeath. On 4 May 1650 Temple entered Lincoln's Inn, and subsequently Gray's Inn. He received an MA in 1652, but whether from Oxford or Cambridge is uncertain. Having come to Ireland c.1653, Temple was admitted to King's Inns in Dublin on 28 January 1656, and was called to the Irish bar c.1656–7.
Temple sat in the 1660 convention in Dublin for Bangor, and was appointed solicitor general of Ireland by letters patent of 10 July 1660, with new patents issued on 1 February 1661. On 19 March 1661 he was appointed one of the commissioners for the settlement of the kingdom. He was subsequently MP for Carlow borough (1661–6), serving as speaker of the house of commons (6 September 1661–19 April 1662) in the absence of Sir Audley Mervyn (qv); he was subsequently voted the thanks of the house ‘as a due testimony of his merit’ (Commons jn. Ire., i, 494). On 15 August 1663 he was knighted by the viceroy, James Butler (qv), duke of Ormond, who held him in high regard and to whom Temple remained close. In 1663 he was involved in attempts to secure the Clanmalier estate for Henry Bennett, Lord Arlington. On 19 January 1664 he was granted lands worth £300, as a reward for the vigorous prosecutions he conducted in the aftermath of the so-called ‘Blood's plot’ (1663). On 21 November he was appointed to a commission to assess rents due from specified lands under the act of explanation.
Prominent in chancery cases from the 1650s, Temple operated a lucrative private legal practice in tandem with his post as solicitor general. In 1666 he purchased a mortgage on the Palmerston estate, near Chapelizod, Dublin, for £2,000, subsequently obtaining the property on the basis of a decree of the court of claims. Patents enrolled under the land settlement in 1666–7 saw him reap enormous profits from his official post, and he used these to build his mansion at Palmerston, subsequently becoming a prominent figure in Dublin's social and cultural life. He continued to supervise the improvement of the house and estate, devoting particular attention to its gardens and the cultivation of fruit. In August 1670 he was appointed to commissions investigating outstanding revenue arrears, and the value of Irish ecclesiastical lands. By now his yearly income was c.£1,800; an enormous sum for an Irish lawyer. Held in high esteem by Charles II, and close to Arthur Capel (qv), earl of Essex, during his viceroyalty, Temple continued to amass property throughout the 1670s. In July 1678 Ormond considered Temple as a possible speaker for the planned Irish parliament. However, it was noted in September 1678 that the massive profits Temple and his brother William, the master of the rolls, might obtain (via the confirming of their patents under the proposed bill of confirmation) would very likely arouse dissatisfaction. Temple was involved in the drafting of prospective legislation, and its subsequent defence at the privy council in London, and as late as September 1680 he was still deeply involved in the preparations for a parliament which never met. On 9 July 1681 he received patents for lands in the counties of Dublin, Meath, and Tipperary. On 15 July 1682 he was granted royal land adjacent to the Phoenix Park; he had requested this, having constructed a wall enclosing the southern edge of the park.
In the early 1680s Temple was involved in the investigations of the financial and military establishments, including the accounts of Richard Jones (qv), earl of Ranelagh; he kept Ormond informed of these matters after the latter's departure from Ireland in April 1682. After the accession of James II (qv), Temple's patent as solicitor general was renewed on 4 March 1685. He continued to invest in property both in Ireland and England; by 1686 his rents outstripped his legal earnings, which in Irish terms were huge. However, Temple in time suffered as a result of the catholic revival; he left Ireland in 1688, and, with his brother, was attainted by the 1689 Jacobite parliament. He was replaced as solicitor general on 25 July 1689 by Sir Theobald Butler (qv). In England, Temple attended on William of Orange (qv), who consulted him on Irish affairs. In January 1689, at William's request, Temple and Sir William Harbord (qv) were involved in drafting a declaration inviting Irish Jacobites to surrender. Temple was unhappy with this, and at the hostility and suspicion it provoked towards him among the protestant exiles in London; it was abandoned, and his absence from a subsequent meeting of the Irish gentry in London was noted.
Temple was appointed attorney general of Ireland on 21 March 1690, but never resumed his private practice in Ireland. Viewed again as a prospective speaker of the Irish house of commons, he did not seek election to the 1692 parliament, in order to avoid the post. He was replaced as attorney general by Robert Rochfort (qv) on 6 June 1695, and retired to his estate at East Sheen, Surrey, where he continued his interest in horticulture. He died there on 10 March 1705, and was buried in Mortlake church.
Temple married (4 August 1663) Jane, daughter of Sir Abraham Yarner of Dublin. They had four sons and seven daughters. The eldest son, Henry, was later created Viscount Palmerston (12 March 1722). A substantial collection of Temple's personal papers is retained in the Palmerston papers in the University of Southampton.