History

Sir William Temple

History

In the south aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey is a marble memorial to statesman and author Sir William Temple, his wife Dorothy, daughter Diana and sister Martha Giffard, all of whom are buried nearby. The Latin inscription can be translated:

"To himself and these most dear to him DIANA TEMPLE his most beloved daughter, DOROTHY OSBORN his most loving wife. And MARTHA GIFFARD his best of sisters. This monument was erected at the care of WILLIAM TEMPLE of Moor Park, in the county of Surrey, Baronet.

Di. T. died 1679 aged 14

Do.O. died 1694 aged 66

Will.T. died 1698 aged 70

Mar.G. died 1722 aged 84"

The dates on the memorial are in Old Style dating and the memorial was obviously prepared before William died and the last dates were added afterwards. Above is shown a coat of arms: "Quarterly of four: 1&4 or, an eagle displayed sable, 2&3 argent two bars sable charged with three martlets or, an escutcheon of Ulster "(for Temple) impaling "argent a bend between two lions rampant sable" (for Osborn). The monument was repainted in 1963.

William was born in London on 25 April 1628, a son of Sir John Temple and his wife Mary (Hammond). His brothers were Sir John and Henry. He was educated at Cambridge university and travelled abroad. In 1654 he married Dorothy, daughter of Sir Peter Osborn. William's sister Martha had married Sir Thomas Giffard in 1662 but he died just a few days after the marriage and she lived with William and Dorothy. William was appointed ambassador to The Netherlands and on his return to England published several books and succeeded his father as master of the rolls in Ireland. He wrote the first political memoirs published in English and was also a gardener, introducing several varieties of fruit into England. His daughter Diana died of smallpox and his son John drowned himself in 1689. Dorothy died on 7 February 1695 and William on 27 January 1699 (his heart is buried at Moor Park).

 

A photograph of the monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004, for William and his father

"The Brave Courtier. Sir William Temple" by Richard Faber (1983)