Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham

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The Viscount Cobham
Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham by Jean Baptiste van Loo.jpg
Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham
Born 24 October 1675
Died 14 September 1749 (aged 73)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Field Marshal
Battles/wars War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Quadruple Alliance

Field Marshal Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham PC (24 October 1675 – 14 September 1749) was a British soldier and Whig 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.

Early life[edit]

Temple was the son of Sir Richard Temple, 3rd Baronet of Stowe and his wife Mary Knapp, daughter of Thomas Knapp of Oxford.[1] The family politics were Whig. After attending Eton College and Cambridge University, Temple entered the military.[2] In 1697, at the age of 21, he inherited his father's baronetcy.[2]

Military career[edit]

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.[2]

Post-war[edit]

Cobham's estate at Stowe House.

In 1715 he married heiress Anne Halsey,[2] whose wealthy ancestry allowed him to extensively work on the estate of Stowe, while buying off two cousins to keep them from inheriting the estate. 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 (with special remainder) in 1718.[2] Cobham became a Privy Councillor in 1716.[3]

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.[4]

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 his friend, John Vanbrugh, a skilled architect,[2] and the future royal gardener, Charles Bridgeman.[2]

Politics[edit]

Cobham was a mentor and Patron to a number of young Whigs, the most notable being William Pitt. Collectively they became known as Cobham's Cubs. Two of them, Pitt and Cobham's nephew George Grenville went on to be Prime Minister.

A determined Whig, he had supported the government of Sir Robert Walpole since it had come to power in 1721 and generally voted with them in the House of Lords.[2] Meanwhile, Cobham had become the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire and Governor of Jersey (1723–1749). However, when he began disagreeing with Prime Minister Robert Walpole, he moved to the opposition party,[2] causing his replacement by the Duke of Marlborough grandson 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.[2] Cobham provided patronage 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'[2] 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.[2]

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.

In 1749 Cobham died.

Legacy[edit]

Cobham's signature and seal on a marriage settlement of 1734

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 the same year as An Epistle to the Right Honourable Richard Lord Visct. Cobham. Pope praises Cobham as a practical man of the world whose "ruling passion" was service to his country, whatever the cost. Basil Williams said Cobham "had all the coarse, roystering bluffness of the hardened old campaigners of that time".[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Account of the Temple family
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Matthew Kilburn, ‘Temple, Richard, first Viscount Cobham (1675–1749)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2005, accessed 17 Aug 2010.
  3. ^ Julian Hoppit, A Land of Liberty? England. 1689–1727 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), p. 274.
  4. ^ Rodger p. 229
  5. ^ Williams, p. 40.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • J. V. Beckett, The Rise and Fall of the Grenvilles: Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos, 1710 to 1921 (Manchester University Press, 1994).
  • Michael Bevington, Stowe: The Garden and the Park (Paul Holberton, 2002).
  • Christine Gerrard, The Patriot Opposition to Walpole: Politics, Poetry, and National Myth, 1725–1742 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).
  • Albert R. Temple, Lord Cobham: The Life of Sir Richard Temple, Viscount (1765–1749) (The Temple Family Association, 1976).
  • L. M. Wiggin, The Faction of Cousins: A Political Account of the Grenvilles, 1733–1763 (Yale University Press, 1958).
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Richard Temple, Bt
Alexander Denton
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
1697–1702
With: Alexander Denton 1697–1698
Sir Edmund Denton, Bt 1698–1702
Succeeded by
Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Roger Price
Preceded by
The Viscount Newhaven
Goodwin Egerton
Member of Parliament for Buckinghamshire
1704–1707
With: The Viscount Newhaven 1704–1705
Robert Dormer 1705–1706
William Egerton 1706–1707
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Roger Price
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
May – December 1705
With: Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Browne Willis
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Buckinghamshire
17071708
With: William Egerton
Succeeded by
Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Richard Hampden
Preceded by
Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Browne Willis
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
17081713
With: Alexander Denton 1708–1710
Thomas Chapman 1710–1713
Succeeded by
Thomas Chapman
John Radcliffe
Military offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Essex
Colonel of the Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Dragoons
1710–1713
Succeeded by
William Evans
Preceded by
The Earl of Strafford
Colonel of The Royal Regiment of Dragoons
1715–1721
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Hotham, Bt
Preceded by
The Viscount of Irvine
Colonel of The King's Own Regiment of Horse
1721–1733
Succeeded by
The Earl of Pembroke
Preceded by
James Dormer
Captain and Colonel of the
1st Troop Horse Grenadier Guards

1742–1745
Succeeded by
Richard Onslow
Preceded by
Clement Neville
Colonel of Viscount Cobham's Regiment of Horse
1744–1745
Succeeded by
Thomas Wentworth
Preceded by
Charles Churchill
Colonel of Viscount Cobham's Regiment of Dragoons
1745–1749
Succeeded by
Sir John Mordaunt
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Northumberland
Constable of Windsor Castle
1716–1723
Succeeded by
The Earl of Carlisle
Preceded by
The Duke of Bridgwater
Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire
1728–1738
Succeeded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Viscount Cobham
1718–1749
Succeeded by
Hester Temple
Baron Cobham
1714–1749
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Richard Temple
Baronet
(of Stow)
1697–1749
Succeeded by
William Temple