Temple Surname Genealogy

The Temple surname is indisputably associated
with the Knights Templar,
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
England the surname Temple was also given to foundlings baptized at the
Church in London, so called because it was built on land belonging to
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.
Select Resources on The Internet

Temple Ancestry

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

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
    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.  

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
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

  • 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

  • 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
    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.
Temple surname in Scotland
, originally Tempill, came from the
village there. 

Ireland.  The census of 1659 recorded
the Temple name
in Dublin, this being the illustrious Anglo-Irish family. Another
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. 

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

New England.  The first
Temple in America was Abraham
Temple who had come to Salem, Massachusetts in 1636, but died four
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
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. 

Virginia.  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
plantation in King William county.  His
son Benjamin inherited the estate and later fought in the Revolutionary

“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. 

West.  Jonathan Temple from Reading,
Massachusetts departed first for the Hawaiian islands and then came to
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

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

Canada.  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
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

Temple Miscellany

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

Temple Names

Henry Temple, better known as Lord
was a British statesman who dominated its foreign policy in the
century and twice served as its Prime Minister.


was a prominent early merchant and developer of Los Angeles in the

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)



Leave a Reply