Temple, Sir John (1600–77), officeholder and politician, was the eldest son of Sir William Temple (qv), provost of TCD, and his wife Martha, daughter of Richard Harrison of Derbyshire, England. He commenced BA in Trinity in 1617, was elected the College's first medical fellow in 1618, and proceeded MA in 1620. In June of the same year he entered Lincoln's Inn, but may not have completed his studies: he was never called to the bar and is said to have spent some time travelling in Europe. In June 1627, shortly after the death of his father, he married his first cousin Mary, daughter of Dr John Hammond (formerly physician to King James and Prince Henry), of Chertsey in Surrey, and his wife Mary Harrison. Temple sued his livery on 5 January 1628, with licence to alienate lands in Co. Monaghan, and lent a substantial sum to John O'Neill, Esq., of Dublin, probably as payment for the lease of land in Co. Carlow, in March 1629.
He entered the personal service of Charles I, accompanied him as a gentleman pensioner to Scotland on his coronation visit, and was one of twelve knights created by Charles after the ceremony on 18 June 1633. He spent some time in Ireland in 1637–8, attending to his estate in Carlow. Temple's closest associate at court was Robert Sidney, 2nd earl of Leicester, for whom he acted as agent during his ambassadorship to France, both lobbying on his behalf (at first, from 1637, for the office of secretary of state and later, from 1639, for the lord lieutenancy of Ireland) and keeping him informed of developments at home. The connection stemmed from his father's friendship with the Sidney family and was reinforced by Leicester's appointment of Mary's brother, Henry Hammond, as rector of Penshurst, the Sidney family seat in Kent. It was at Penshurst, where her mother resided and her brother tutored the Temples' eldest son William (qv), that Mary died in November 1638, having borne seven children.
In the spring of 1639 Temple accompanied the king to Berwick. Later in the year, after a further visit to Ireland, he arranged to lend £2,200 to the earl of Ormond (qv) on the security of a ninety-nine-year lease on lands at Rathvilly and Hackettstown in Co. Carlow, and Kilderry in Co. Kilkenny. On 31 January 1640 he was appointed master of the rolls (on payment of £2,000) and privy councillor in Ireland. Despite objections that the post should be reserved to lawyers, his patent was issued on 20 February 1641. He delayed in England till August, attending the trial of Strafford (qv) and undertaking business for Leicester, who was appointed lord lieutenant in June.
After the outbreak of rebellion in October, Temple was a continuously active member of the council till July 1643. In January 1642, in order to ensure supplies of provisions for the army, he was given special responsibility for managing the mills and weirs at Kilmainham, with the profits to be reserved to the king's use. In the following July he was returned to the Irish commons for Co. Meath. In March 1643 he secured a royal grant to protect his interest in Kilmainham against that of the outlawed owner. Two months later, as a result of an information laid by the solicitor general (prompted by the commissary general, Philip Percival (qv)), the king ordered a commission of inquiry and Temple was found to have defrauded the king and betrayed the trust of the privy council; he was required to surrender the mills and weirs and make good profits of £410.
On 1 August, by the king's order, he was suspended from office and imprisoned in Dublin castle together with his fellow councillors Sir William Parsons (qv), Sir Adam Loftus (qv) (d. 1643), and Sir Robert Meredith. All four were opposed to the negotiations towards a cessation with the rebels and were suspected of parliamentarian sympathies; the proceedings against them reflected the increased influence of royalists in the Irish government after Parsons was replaced as lord justice by Sir Henry Tichborne (qv) in May. The particular charges against Temple cited letters written in May and June in which he was alleged to have aspersed the king by implying that he favoured the rebels. Benefiting from a prisoner exchange almost a year later, Temple spent some time in Dublin before making his way to London in November 1644.
It was during this period that he began to prepare an account of the outbreak and first months of the rebellion from official records and refugee depositions, which may have been intended to vindicate his opposition to the truce concluded with the confederate catholics in September 1643. In London Temple became involved in the factional disputes of the English parliament. Associating himself with the Independent party, and particularly with Leicester's heir, Lord Lisle (qv), and brother-in-law, the earl of Northumberland, he secured a recruiter seat in the English commons for Chichester, where Leicester's son Algernon was governor, late in 1645 and he significantly influenced parliament's Irish policy as the civil war came to an end. Temple urged that the English parliament should undertake the final conquest of Ireland without compromising with either the confederates or Ormond's royalists and without collaborating with the Scots, and he adapted and enlarged his manuscript to support this case. His work, The Irish rebellion, was published in an unfinished state in April 1646, the month in which Lisle was formally appointed as lord lieutenant of Ireland: its emphasis on the universal complicity of catholics in the rebellious plot and its detailed depiction of the massacre of protestants with which the rebellion was alleged to have begun were designed to justify the uncompromising measures of suppression advocated by the Independents.
Temple was appointed a commissioner for the sale of bishops' lands in June 1646 and played an active part in the business of the committee of both houses for Irish affairs from June to December in that year. In January 1647 he was appointed a member of Lisle's privy council and he both accompanied Lisle to Munster in February and returned with him in April, when a brief shift in power in parliament brought his lieutenancy to an end. Temple strenuously opposed the admission of Sir Philip Percival to the commons, on grounds both of corruption and of having ‘had a hand’ (Egmont MSS, i, 430) in the cessation of 1643. The recovery of the Independents in August allowed him to take his place on the Irish affairs committee and he was implicated in the publication in September of a defamatory tract, Ormonde's curtain drawn, by Sir Robert Meredith's son, Adam. On 16 October 1648, with Sir William Parsons, he was made commissioner for the administration of the great seal of Ireland.
Temple voted for the continuation of negotiations with the king on 5 December 1648 and was secluded from the commons in ‘Pride's purge’. He lived privately in London till 21 November 1653, when he was appointed to a short-lived commission, charged with advising on the adjudication of the claims of delinquents in Ireland, which was overtaken by the appointment of the Loughrea commission in January 1654. In June 1655 he went to Ireland, with the approval of Oliver Cromwell (qv), to resume his duties as master of the rolls. In September 1655 he was appointed a commissioner for the letting of properties in the counties of Dublin, Carlow, and Kildare (which were excluded from the land settlement) and on 6 July 1658 benefited from a twenty-one-year lease of some 1,500 acres in the vicinity of Carlow town. He was also a member of the commission for resolving adventurers' disputes, appointed on 13 June 1656, and a commissioner for Ireland under the terms of the act for the security of the lord protector, passed on 27 November 1656.
On 21 April 1659 he was given leave to spend a year in England, where he was readmitted to the commons with the other secluded members in February 1660 and, at the instance of Gen. George Monck (qv), appointed a member of the council of state on February 25. His sons William and John (qv) served as members of the Dublin convention in 1660, while Temple himself was elected to the convention parliament in England for Tregony in Cornwall (20 April 1660) and was one of the managers of the declaration prohibiting ‘all Irish papists from disturbing the possession of any English protestant in Ireland’ which was issued as a royal proclamation on 1 June. From that day till 30 September he was nominally a commissioner for the government of Ireland, but he stayed in England, where he continued to play a modestly active part in the English commons. Temple was confirmed as master of the rolls, appointed to the privy council of Ireland, and made a trustee for the satisfaction of the arrears of the ’49 officers who had served the royalist cause in Ireland before 5 June 1649. He did not seek reelection to the English parliament but was returned to the Irish parliament for Carlow county, with his son William, on 4 May 1661. He was unhappy with the conduct of affairs and confided to Leicester his fear that the favour shown by Charles II to catholic claimants for restoration to their estates might encourage others to set about recovering their property by force. Subsequently, however, Ormond praised his cooperative attitude.
Temple obtained a forty-year lease of lands at Pickering, Yorkshire, from the queen mother on 6 May 1661 and had his 1658 Carlow lease confirmed in part under the act of settlement in 1666, together with other property in Queen's Co. (Laois), Kilkenny, and Westmeath, the whole amounting to about 3,000 profitable acres. The Co. Dublin lands commonly attributed to him belonged to his son John, who was appointed solicitor general of Ireland on 10 July 1660 and knighted in 1661. Temple was appointed judicial vice-treasurer of Ireland on 18 October 1673, but resigned in favour of Viscount Ranelagh (qv) before 4 June 1674. It was in the same year that he had occasion to assure the lord lieutenant, the earl of Essex (qv), that he had been unaware of the republication of The Irish rebellion, which was regarded in the context of the declaration of indulgence and the duke of York's (qv) catholicism as subversively intended. Republished again in 1679 and many times thereafter, it became ‘a provider of the raw material from which protestant memories were shaped and reshaped over generations’ (Gillespie, ‘Temple's fate’, 333).
Temple, of Staplestown, Co. Carlow, died on 12 November 1677, bequeathing gifts to the value of almost £6,000, and was buried beside his father in Trinity College, to which he had presented some months previously a perhaps timely benefaction of £100. He was survived by four children: William, who had received a reversionary grant of the office of master of the rolls on 7 April 1664, John, Martha, and Mary.