Sir Richard Temple, 1st Baronet

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Sir Richard Temple II, 1st Baronet, GCSI, CIE, PC, FRS (8 March 1826 – 15 March 1902) was an administrator in British India and a British politician.

Early life[edit]

Temple was the son of Richard Temple I (1800-1874) and his first wife Louisa Anne Rivett-Carnac (d. 1837), a daughter of James Rivett-Carnac. His paternal ancestor, William Dicken, of Sheinton, Salop, married in the middle of the 18th century the daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Temple, 5th Baronet (1694-1760), of the Temple of Stowe baronets. Their son assumed the surname Temple in 1796, and inherited the Temple manor-house and estate of The Nash, near Kempsey in Worcestershire. Richard Temple (born 1826) inherited the estate on his father's death in 1874.[1]


"Burra Dick"
Temple as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, January 1881

After being educated at Rugby and the East India Company College at Haileybury, Temple joined the Bengal Civil Service in 1846. His hard work and literary skill were soon recognised; he was private secretary for some years to John Lawrence in the Punjab, and gained useful financial experience under James Wilson. He served as Chief Commissioner for the Central Provinces until 1867, when he was appointed Resident at Hyderabad. In 1867 he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India (KCSI). In 1868 he became a member of the supreme government,[which?] first as foreign secretary and then as finance minister.[2]

He was made lieutenant-governor of Bengal Presidency in 1874, and did admirable work during the famine of 1874, importing half a million tons of rice from Burma to bring substantial relief to the starving. The British government, dogmatically committed to a laissez-faire economic policy, castigated Temple for interfering in the workings of the market. He was appointed by the Viceroy as a plenipotentiary famine delegate to Madras during the famine of 1877 there. Seeing this appointment as an opportunity to "retrieve his reputation for extravagance in the last famine" Temple implemented relief policies that failed to relieve widespread starvation and prevent the death of millions.[3]

Temple tried to determine the minimum amount of food Indians could survive on. In his experiments, "strapping fine fellows" were starved until they resembled "little more than animated skeletons ... utterly unfit for any work", he noted. In the labour camps he set up, inmates were given fewer daily calories than in the Buchenwald concentration camp 80 years later.[4][dubious ]

His services were recognised with a baronetcy in 1876. In 1877 he was made Governor of Bombay Presidency, and his activity during the Afghan War of 1878-80 was untiring.[2]

In 1880, when Temple was departing India, it was proposed that a commemorative statue for his 33 years in the Indian Civil Service[a] be erected. The standing marble statue was completed by Thomas Brock in 1884. It shows him carrying his cloak over his arm and an elaborate 19th-century dress uniform with swags, ties and medals. They are, in fact, the costume of a Grand Commander of the Star of India, the formal attire for Governors of the Presidencies. The statue was unveiled with much pomp at the North end of Bombay's Oval. It was moved in August 1965 to the grounds beside the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla, Bombay (Victoria and Albert Museum).[5]

Five years later, in 1885, Temple was returned as a Conservative MP for the Evesham division of Worcestershire. Meanwhile, he produced several books on Indian subjects. In parliament he was assiduous in his attendance, and he spoke on Indian subjects with admitted authority. He was not otherwise a parliamentary success, and to the public he was best known from caricatures in Punch, which exaggerated his physical peculiarities and made him look like a lean and hungry tiger. In 1885 he became vice-chairman of the London School Board, and as chairman of its finance committee he did useful and congenial work. In 1892 he changed his constituency for the Kingston division, but in 1895 he retired from parliament. In 1896 he was appointed a Privy Councillor.[2]

Temple had kept a careful journal of his parliamentary experiences, intended for posthumous publication; and he self-published a short volume of reminiscences. He died at his residence at Hampstead on 15 March 1902, from heart failure.[1]


Works by Temple include:[1]

Temple also edited the 17th-century seaman Thomas Bowrey's A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, 1669 to 1679, published in 1905.[6]


Temple was twice married. First, in 1849, to Charlotte Frances Martindale, daughter of Benjamin Martindale. She died in 1855, leaving him with two young sons and a daughter:[1]

He remarried, in 1871, Mary Augusta Lindsay, daughter of Charles Robert Lindsay, of the Indian Civil Service, and a member of the family of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres.[1] Lady Temple was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Crown of India (CI) on its institution in 1878.[7] She died in 1924, and they had a son from the marriage:



  1. ^ The Indian Civil Service was established in 1858 after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Temple's 33 years includes his time in the civil service of the East India Company, which preceded this.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Death of Sir Richard Temple". The Times (36718). London. 18 March 1902. p. 4. 
  2. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ Davis, Mike (2001). Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-1-85984-382-6. 
  4. ^ Johann Hari: The truth? Our empire killed millions, The Independent, 19 June 2006.
  5. ^ Steggles, Mary Ann; Barnes, Richard (2011). British Sculpture in India: New Views and Old Memories. Norfolk, UK: Frontier. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-872914-41-1. 
  6. ^ Bowrey, Thomas (1905). Temple, Richard, ed. A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, 1669 to 1679. Hakluyt Society. 
  7. ^ "No. 24539". The London Gazette. 4 January 1878. p. 113. 
  8. ^ Alderman, C. J. F. (2004). "Temple, Charles Lindsay (1871–1929), colonial official and author". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2016-09-28.  (subscription or UK public library membership required)


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
George Campbell
Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal
Succeeded by
Sir Ashley Eden
Preceded by
Sir Philip Wodehouse
Governor of Bombay
Succeeded by
Sir James Fergusson, Bt.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frederick Dixon-Hartland
Member of Parliament for Evesham
Succeeded by
Sir Edmund Lechmere, Bt.
Preceded by
Sir John Ellis, Bt.
Member of Parliament for Kingston
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Skewes-Cox
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Kempsey)
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Carnac Temple, 2nd Baronet