Papers of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

Scope and Content

Letters from Lord Palmerston and Lady Palmerston, some notes and envelopes.

Administrative / Biographical History

Prime Minister. The eldest of five siblings, Henry John Temple was born in 1784 in Westminster. His father, Henry Temple 2nd Viscount Palmerston, served as an MP for 40 years. After attending Harrow and Edinburgh University, where he lodged and studied with the political economist Dugald Stewart, Temple entered St John's College in 1802. His father died in the same year, and Temple took the title of Lord Palmerston. Partly in Cambridge to launch his political career as a supporter of Pitt the Younger, Palmerston narrowly failed to be elected to a University seat vacated by Pitt's death. He succeeded in entering Parliament as MP for Horsham in 1807 and, after being unseated on petition, became Member for Newport, a pocket borough on the Isle of Wight. He was made Secretary of War in 1809, a post he retained until 1827. In 1811 he finally won a University seat which he held until 1831. Ostensibly a Tory, by the 1820s Palmerston had become disillusioned with the slow pace of Parliamentary reform and resigned from Canning's cabinet. Thereafter he saw himself as a Liberal.

Palmerston lost his University seat in 1831 and was eventually elected MP for Tiverton in 1835, a post he held until his death. He was made Foreign Secretary in 1830 by Earl Grey, a post which Viscount Melbourne also gave him in 1835, and he was a successful and popular minister. He tried to diffuse British liberalism abroad through example and persuasion. He was also a keen supporter of the reforms of 1832. In 1839 he married his longtime mistress Emily Lamb, recently widowed from the 5th Earl Cowper.

The Tories came to power in 1841 and Palmerston was out of office, but in 1846, under the new administration of Lord John Russell, he was reinstated as Foreign Secretary. Palmerston lasted six years until he was forced out, his foreign policy being deemed by the cabinet to be putting Britain at risk. This action proved unpopular and the government fell, replaced by a coalition administration in which Palmerston was given the role of Home Secretary. In 1855 the failure of the campaign in the Crimea led to the downfall of Lord Aberdeen. Public opinion was behind Palmerston and he became Prime Minister. Another general election was called in 1859 and Palmerston's experience in foreign affairs at a time of heightened tension in Europe stood him in good stead and he was returned to Downing Street. A further election in 1865 increased his majority but Palmerston died before he could begin his new term.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Note

Prime Minister. The eldest of five siblings, Henry John Temple was born in 1784 in Westminster. His father, Henry Temple 2nd Viscount Palmerston, served as an MP for 40 years. After attending Harrow and Edinburgh University, where he lodged and studied with the political economist Dugald Stewart, Temple entered St John's College in 1802. His father died in the same year, and Temple took the title of Lord Palmerston. Partly in Cambridge to launch his political career as a supporter of Pitt the Younger, Palmerston narrowly failed to be elected to a University seat vacated by Pitt's death. He succeeded in entering Parliament as MP for Horsham in 1807 and, after being unseated on petition, became Member for Newport, a pocket borough on the Isle of Wight. He was made Secretary of War in 1809, a post he retained until 1827. In 1811 he finally won a University seat which he held until 1831. Ostensibly a Tory, by the 1820s Palmerston had become disillusioned with the slow pace of Parliamentary reform and resigned from Canning's cabinet. Thereafter he saw himself as a Liberal.

Palmerston lost his University seat in 1831 and was eventually elected MP for Tiverton in 1835, a post he held until his death. He was made Foreign Secretary in 1830 by Earl Grey, a post which Viscount Melbourne also gave him in 1835, and he was a successful and popular minister. He tried to diffuse British liberalism abroad through example and persuasion. He was also a keen supporter of the reforms of 1832. In 1839 he married his longtime mistress Emily Lamb, recently widowed from the 5th Earl Cowper.

The Tories came to power in 1841 and Palmerston was out of office, but in 1846, under the new administration of Lord John Russell, he was reinstated as Foreign Secretary. Palmerston lasted six years until he was forced out, his foreign policy being deemed by the cabinet to be putting Britain at risk. This action proved unpopular and the government fell, replaced by a coalition administration in which Palmerston was given the role of Home Secretary. In 1855 the failure of the campaign in the Crimea led to the downfall of Lord Aberdeen. Public opinion was behind Palmerston and he became Prime Minister. Another general election was called in 1859 and Palmerston's experience in foreign affairs at a time of heightened tension in Europe stood him in good stead and he was returned to Downing Street. A further election in 1865 increased his majority but Palmerston died before he could begin his new term.

Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Papers of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

Archivist's Note

8 May 2007

Additional Information

Published