Select Temple Surname Genealogy

The Temple surname is indisputably associated with the Knights Templar, crusaders of the 12th century.  Temple here could apply to a horse soldier employed as a Templar, to someone who worked at the Knights’ headquarters known as the Temple, or to someone who lived on Templar lands.

In England the surname Temple was also given to foundlings baptized at the Temple Church in London, so called because it was built on land belonging to the Templars.  The surname may also be Scottish from the parish of Temple in Edinburgh, so called because it was the site of the local headquarters of the Knights Templar

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EnglandThe Knights Templar owned land throughout England and the Temple place-name was to be found in many places – for example in London (the Inns of Temple), in Lincolnshire (Temple Bruer), in Yorkshire (Temple Newsam), in Leicestershire (Rothley Temple), and in Cornwall (Temple on Bodmin Moor). 

The Temples of Leicestershire claimed a pre-Norman ancestry.  Henry de Temple was the first to adopt the Temple name in the 13th century.  W.H. Whitmore’s 1856 book Account of the Temple Family covered the early lineage.  The family home was Temple Hall near Wellsborough where they were to remain until the 1660’s.  Peter Temple, a staunch Puritan there, had signed the King’s regicide in 1649 and his property was forfeited on the Restoration. 

However, Temples by the 1600’s had established themselves elsewhere:
  • Peter Temple leased Stowe manor in Buckinghamshire in 1571 and his grandson Thomas was able to purchase a baronetcy for himself in 1611.  The last of the Stowe line was Field Marshal Richard Temple, created Viscount Cobham, who died childless in 1749.
  • but this Temple name re-established itself in 1796 when Richard, whose mother was a Temple, assumed the Temple name.  These Temples were 19th century British administrators in India and made baronets.
  • meanwhile Thomas Temple of the family had been made Provost of Trinity College in Dublin in 1609.  His son and grandson both lived in a city townhouse that is now part of the Temple Bar in Dublin.  Thomas was the forebear of an Anglo-Irish dynasty that included First Lords of the Admiralty, Secretaries of State, First Lords of the Treasury, and the 19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston.  His name came from the family estate that is now a Dublin village.  
There was another Temple family in Wiltshire, at Bishopstrow House near Warminster.  William Temple from Devon had acquired the estate in 1635 and it remained with the Temple family until 1950.  William Temple endowed the local St. John’s church that was built in 1865. 

However, Temples in the south have been outnumbered by the Temples in the north, in particular in the northeast running down from Northumberland to the Temples in north Yorkshire. 

William Temple had been born in Berwick-on-Tweed, just across the border in Scotland, around the year 1650.  His son George and grandson William held the post there of General Riding Surveyor and were important merchants in the town.  Later Temples of this family were: 
  • the Rev. William Temple, an English cleric and essayist of the late 18th century, now remembered as a correspondent of James Boswell  
  • and the Rev. Frederick Temple who served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1896 until his death in 1902.  His son William Temple was also Archbishop of Canterbury, from 1942 to 1944.
Other Temples of NE England were: 
  • a Temple line, beginning with Lionel Temple of Hutton Buscell near Scarborough in Yorkshire, dating from the late 1500’s  
  • George Temple, of possible Scottish origin, who married Margaret Partis in Elsdon, Northumberland in 1751.  George died there in 1815 at the grand age of ninety five.  
  • Simon Temple, father and son shipbuilders in South Shields, Durham in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
  • while Thomas Temple, born in 1797 in Skelton near York, was an ancestor of Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge. 
Scotland.  The Knights Templar were also in Midlothian in Scotland.  The Temple surname in Scotland, originally Tempill, came from the Temple village there. 

  The census of 1659 recorded the Temple name in Dublin, this being the illustrious Anglo-Irish family. Another English implant was the Temples at Tipperary and later at Cork.  Captain Robert Temple departed Cork for America in 1717. 

The Temple name later surfaced in Donegal.  John Magee had opened a small drapers shop in Donegal Town in 1866.  His cousin Robert Temple joined the business a few years later and acquired it in 1900.  Magee of Donegal, well-known for its tweeds and knitwear, is now run by the 3rd and 4th generation of Temples. 

.  Temple descendants in America were traced in Levi Temple’s 1900 book Some Temple Pedigrees. 

New England.  The first Temple in America was Abraham Temple who had come to Salem, Massachusetts in 1636, but died four years later.  His origins are uncertain (although he has been linked with the Stowe Temples).

One son Richard made his home in Concord, another son Robert Temple departed to Saco, Maine.  However, after Robert’s death in 1675, the family reassembled in Massachusetts.  His eldest son Richard was the forebear of the Temples of Reading, Massachusetts. 

Captain Robert Temple arrived in Boston from Ireland in 1717 and immediately started plans for a Scots Irish settlement in Maine.  Several hundred immigrants arrived at Temple Bar (now Bath in Maine).  But the settlement was not a success and the immigrants dispersed.  Captain Temple returned to Boston and acquired the Ten Hills farm on the Mystic river. 

William Temple came to Virginia sometime in the 1680’s.  His line was covered in Lucy Temple’s 1978 book William Temple of Prince George County. 

Joseph Temple, the son of a Bristol merchant, arrived in 1722 and started the Pres’quile plantation in King William county.  His son Benjamin inherited the estate and later fought in the Revolutionary War. 

“Benjamin Temple fought on the American side in the Revolutionary War, even though his cousin George Grenville had been the British Prime Minister who had been the author of the odious Stamp Acts.  Benjamin forfeited his rights to titles and estates which might have come to him from England.” 

.  George Temple had arrived in Maryland in the mid-1700’s.  He purchased land in Queen Anne’s county that came to be known as Templeville.  His grandson William became Governor of Delaware in 1846 at the young age of thirty two. 

Alexander Temple came to upstate New York from Aberdeenshire in Scotland sometime in the 1780’s.  His son Robert, who based himself in Pennsylvania, was a drummer boy in the War of 1812.  A descendant was Shirley Temple, the famous child actress of the 1930’s. 

Heading West.
  Jonathan Temple from Reading, Massachusetts departed first for the Hawaiian islands and then came to Los Angeles while it was still Mexican territory in 1828.  Known as Don Juan Temple, he became a leading merchant there and was one of its earliest developers. 

The momentum was continued by his younger half-brother Pliny Fisk Temple who arrived from Massachusetts in 1841.  The Temple and Workman families, connected by marriage, were prominent in Los Angeles’s later development under the US flag. 

  Two Temples came to New Brunswick in the early 1800’s in different guises.  William Temple arrived in St. John from London in 1820 and soon established himself as one of the leading Methodist ministers in the Maritime provinces.  Thomas Temple meanwhile came with the British army in the 1830’s.  He later was a prominent businessman and political figure in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Select Temple Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Temple Names

Henry Temple, better known as Lord Palmerston, was a British statesman who dominated its foreign policy in the mid-19th century and twice served as its Prime Minister.
Jonathan Temple
was a prominent early merchant and developer of Los Angeles in the mid-19th century. 
Shirley Temple
was an American actress who was Hollywood's number one box-office draw as a child actress in the late 1930’s.

Select Temples Today
  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

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