[Sir] Richard Boyle

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1566-1643 [1st Earl of Cork]; b. 25 Jan. Canterbury; arrived in Dublin, 1588; as Clerk of the Council of Munster, he acquired estates of Sir Walter Ralegh in Youghal, with other lands to the extent of 40,000 acres for the nominal sum of 1,000 in 1604; appt. Lord Justice of Ireland, 1627; Lord High Treasurer of England, 1631; wrote in 1632 his True Remembrances (ed. Alexander B. Grosart, 5 vols., 1886); successfully defended his estate during Rebellion of 1641; improvements there included an iron-foundry; twice married; children including Roger Boyle (Earl of Orrery), Richard Boyle (Lord Burlington), and the Hon. Robert Boyle, the chemist; ostentatious monument to his second wife, Catherine Fenton and her parents, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, moved to one side by Archbishop James Ussher [var. Laud] and accounted the first Renaissance edifice in Ireland; bore witness against Strafford. RR ODNB OCIL

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Criticism
Brian Fitzgerald, The Anglo-Irish, Cork, Ormonde, Swift (1952); Nicholas Canny, The Upstart Earl: A Study of the Social and Mental World of Richard Boyle, First Earl of Cork, 1566-1643 (Cambridge 1982;1983); Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica, Irish Worthies (1821), vol. I, p.128.

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Commentary
R. F. Foster
Modern Ireland (Lane 1988), calls him ‘epitome of Elizabethan adventurer-colonist in Ireland’, and cites his death-date as 1647 [err.] (pp.7-8).

W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; this ed. 1984), writes of Boyle monument, St Patrick’s Cathedral (1631), which James Ussher had removed from a central position; the details are among the first elements of renaissance neo-classicism in Ireland. Bibl. cites Mary Pollard, Hermathena, cix (1969), 51-53, cites Musarum Lachrymae, 48 quarto pages of elegies on death of Countess of Cork; for other Latin verses addressed to the Butler family see Ormonde Papers, Historical Manuscript Commission 14 App. vol. xii (London 1895), 106-118. (Stanford, p.179.)

Rev. Alexander Leeper, DD, Canon of St Patrick’s, Historical Handbook of St Patrick’s Cathedral (1891), Boyle monument located south-west part of nave; erected by Boyle in memory of his wife Catherine, Countess of Cork; also her father and mother, Sir Geoffrey and Lady Fenton; her gf. Robert Weston, Dean of S. Patrick’s and Lord Chancellor of Ireland; four tiers; sixteen figures; black stone and alabaster; arms, God’s providence is our Inheritance [copies inscription]; Robt. Boyle, his youngest child, supposed to be represented in the lowest central arch; spent 700 for Irish translation of Gospel, and sent 500 copies to Ireland; original position of monument where the high altar stood, gave offence to Archbishop Laud who complained to Lord Strafford, and afterwards the King himself, that ‘this structure occupied the place of God’s altar’; removed to its present position; Earl of Cork one of the principal witnesses against Strafford; Swift mentions in a letter to Lord Carteret that he had applied with success to Lord Burlington to repair this monument of his ancestor;Cromwell declared that ‘if there had been an Earl of Cork in every province, it would have been impossible to have had a rebellion’ (Richard Cox, History of Ireland, pref. Vol. II.); Earl bur. Youghal. (p.53-55.)

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Quotations
True Remembrances [autobiography] (1632): ‘It pleased the Almighty by his Divine providence to take me, I may say, just by the hand, and lead me into Ireland. When I arrived in Dublin on 23 Jan. 1588, all my wealth was 27.3d ... [&c].’ (Quoted in Rev. Alexander Leeper, Historical Handbook of St Patrick’s Cathedral, 1891).

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References
Arthur Ponsonby, Scottish and Irish Diaries &c (1927), contains Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, and his daughter Mary Rich ... et al. [from author Of English Diaries From The 16th To The 20th Centuries, Methuen 1923].

Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast, holds Countess of Cork & Orrery, ed., The Orrery Papers, 2 vols. (London 1903).

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Notes
Sir Robert Southwell’s account of Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork, was sold by Sotheby's (London) as part of the Phillipps collection of manuscripts and acquired by the National Library of Ireland in 1972.

Myrtle Lodge: Sir Richard Boyle and earlier Sir George Carew resided in Myrtle Lodge, Co. Cork, a house in the garden of which there is a group of rare yew trees traditionally said to have been planted there by Sir Walter Raleigh. The house was originally the residence of the wardens of the collegiate church, and closely resembled ‘an ordinary English manor house of the sixteenth century’. (See Hall’s Ireland: Mr & Mrs Hall’s Tour of 1840, ed. Michael Scott, London: Sphere Books 1984, [Vol. 1], p.35.)

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