Boyle, Richard

, a celebrated statesman, descended from an ancient and honourable family, and distinguished by the title of the great earl of Cork, was the youngest son of Mr. Roger Boyle of Herefordshire, by Joan, daughter of Robert Naylor of Canterbury, and born in the city of Canterbury, Oct. 3, 1566. He was instructed in grammar learning by a clergyman of Kent; and after having been a scholar in Ben’et college, Cambridge, where he was remarkable for early rising, indefatigable study, and great temperance, became student in the Middle Temple. He lost his father when he was but ten years old, and his mother at the expiration of other ten years; and being unable to support himself in the prosecution of his studies, he entered into the service of sir Richard Manwood, chief baron of the exchequer, as one of his clerks: but perceiving few advantages from this employment, he resolved to travel, and landed at Dublin in June 1588, with a very scanty stock, his whole property amounting, as he himself informs us, to 271. 3s. in money, two trinkets which his mother gave him as tokens, and his wearing apparel. He was then about two-and-twenty, had a graceful person, and all the accomplishments for a young man to succeed in a country which was a scene of so much action. Accordingly he made himself very useful to some of the principal persons employed in the government, by penning for them memorials, cases, and answers; and thereby acquired a perfect knowledge of the kingdom and the state of publia affairs, of which he knew well how to avail himself. In 1595 he married at Limeric, Joan, the daughter and coheiress of William Ansley of Pulborough, in Sussex, <esq. who had fallen in love with him. This lady died 1599, | in labour of her first child (born dead) leaving her husband an estate of 500l. a year in lands, which was the beginning of his fortune. Some time after, sir Henry Wallop, of Wares, sir Robert Gardiner, chief justice of the king’s bench, sir Robert Dillam, chief justice of the common pleas, and sir Richard Binghim, chief commissioner of Connaught, envious at certain purchases he had made in the province, represented to queen Elizabeth that he was in the pay of the king of Spain (who had at that time some thoughts of invading Ireland), by whom he had been furnished with money to buy several large estates; and that he was strongly suspected to be a Roman catholic in his heart, with many other malicious suggestions equally groundless. Mr. Boyle, having private notice of this, determined to come over to England to justify himself: but, before he could take shipping, the general rebellion in Minister broke out, all his lands were wasted, and he had not one penny of certain revenue left. In this distress he betook himself to his former chamber in the Middle Temple, intending to renew his studies in the law till the rebellion should be suppressed. When the earl of Essex was nominated lord-deputy of Ireland, Mr. Boyle, being recommended to him by Mr. Anthony Bacon, was received by his lordship very graciously; and sir Henry Wallop, treasurer of Ireland, knowing that Mr. Boyle had in his custody several papers which could detect his roguish manner of passing his accounts, resolved utterly to depress him, and for that end renewed his former complaints against him to the queen. By her majesty’s special directions, Mr. Boyle was suddenly taken up, and committed close prisoner to the Gatehouse: all his papers were seized and searched; and although nothing appeared to his prejudice, yet his confinement lasted till two months after his new patron the earl of Essex was gone to Ireland, At length, with much difficulty, he obtained the favour of the queen to be present at his examination; and having fully answered whatever was alledged against him, he gave a short account of his behaviour since he first settled in Ireland, and concluded with laying open to the queen and her council the conduct of his chief enemy sir Henry Wallop. Upon which her majesty exclaimed with, her usual intemperance of speech, “By God’s death, these are but inventions against this young man, and all his sufferings are for being able to do us service, and these | complaints urged to forestal him therein. But we find him to be a man fit to be employed by ourselves; and we will employ him in our service: and Wallop and his adherents shall know that it shall not be in the power of any of them, to wrong him. Neither -shall Wallop be our treasurer any longer.” Accordingly, she gave orders not only for Mr. Boyle’s present enlargement, but also for paying all the charges and fees his confinement had brought upon him, and gave him her hand to kiss before the whole assembly. A few days after, the queen constituted him clerk of the council of Munster, and recommended him to sir George Carew, afterwards earl of Totness, then lord president of Munster, who became his constant friend; and very soon, after he was made justice of the peace and of the quorum, throughout all the province. He attended in that capacity the lord president in all his employments, and was sent by his lordship to the queen with the news of the victory gained in December 1601, near Kinsate, over the Irish, and their Spanish auxiliaries, who were totally routed, 1200 being slain in the field, and 800 wounded. “I made,” says he, “a speedy expedition to the court, for I left my lord president at Shannon -castle, near Cork, on the Monday morning about two of the clock; and the next day, being Tuesday, I delivered my packet, and supped with sir Robert Cecil, being then principal secretary of state, at his house in the Strand; who, after supper, held me in discourse till two of the clock in the morning; and by seven that morning *


Poor Budgell, who, when he wrote his “Lives of the Boyles,” was out of humour with all mankind, and espeially with ministers of state, says on this early visit, “If we reflect upon the hours our ministers keep at present, we shall be the less surprised to find that our affairs are not managed altogether so successfully as in the days of queen Elizabeth.” Lives, p. 15.

called upon me to attend him to the court, where he presented me to her majesty in her bedchamber.” A journey so rapid as this would be thought, even in the present more improved modes of travelling, requires all his lordship’s authority to render it credible.

Upon his return to Ireland, he assisted at the siege of Donboy, near Beer-haven, which was taken by storm, and the garrison put to the sword. After the reduction of the western part of the province, the lord president sent Mr. Boyle again to England, to procure the queen’s leave for his return; and having advised him to purchase sir Walter Raleigh’s lands in Munster, he gave him a letter to sir | Robert Cecil, secretary of state, containing a very advantageous account of Mr. Boyle’s abilities, and of the services he had done his country; in consideration of which, he desired the secretary to introduce him to sir Walter, and recommend him as a proper purchaser for his lands in Ireland, if he was disposed to part with them. He wrote at the same time to sir Walter himself, advising 1 him to sell Mr. Boyle all his lands in Ireland, then untenanted, and of no value to him, having, to his lordship’s knowledge, never yielded him any benefit, but, on the contrary, stood him in 200l. yearly for the support of his titles. At a meeting between sir Robert Cecil, sir Walter Raleigh, and Mr. Boyle, the purchase was concluded by the mediation of the former .*


Sir Walter Raleigh’s estate consisted of twelve thousand acres in the counties of Cork and Watei ford (Cox’s Hist, of Ireland, vol. 1. p. 35-2), which was’ so much improved in a few years by Mr. Boyle’s diligence, that it was not only well tenanted, but in the most thriving condition of any estate in Ireland. Cox’s History of Ireland, vol. II. Pref.

In 1602, Mr. Boyle, by advice of his friend sir George Carew, paid his addresses to Mrs. Catherine Fenton, daughter of sir Geoffry Fenton, whom he married on the 25th of July, 1603, her father being at that time principal secretary of state. “I never demanded,” says he, “any marriage portion with her, neither promise of any, it not being in my considerations; yet her father, after my marriage, gave me one thousand pounds in gold with her. But that gift of his daughter to me, I must ever thankfully acknowledge as the crown of all my blessings; for she was a most religious, virtuous, loving, and obedient wife to me all the days of her life, and the mother of all my hopeful children .

An absurd story is. told by Dr. Anthony Walker in his funeral sermon on the countess of Warwick, daughter to our nobleman, that Mr. Boyle happening to call on sir Geoffry Fenton who then was engaged, amused himself with an infant in the nurse’s, arms; and on sir Geoffry’s appearance told him he would be happy to marry her when grown up, Sec. Dr. JJirek has shewn how little foundation Dr. Walker had for this account.

He received on his wedding day, July 23, 1603, the honour of knighthood from his friend sir George Carew, now promoted to be lord-deputy of Ireland: March 12, 1606, he was sworn a privy counsellor to king James, for the province of Munster Feb. 15, 1612, he was sworn a privy counsellor of stete of the kingdom of Ireland Sept. 29, 1616, he was created lord Boyle, baron of Youghall: Oct. 16, 1620, viscount of Dungarvon, and earl of Cork. Lord Falkland, the lord-deputy, having represented | his services in a just light to king Charles I. his majesty sent his excellency a letter, dated Nov. 30, 1627, directing him to confer the honours of baron and viscount upon the earl’s second surviving son Lewis, though he was then only eight years old, by the title of Baron of Bandonbridge, and viscount Boyle of Kinalmeaky in the county of Cork.

On the departure of lord-deputy Falkland, the earl of Cork, in conjunction with lord Lortus, was appointed one of the lords justices of Ireland, Oct. 26, 1629, and held that office several years. Feb. 16th following, the earl lost his countess, by whom he had fifteen children. Nov. 9 1631, he was constituted lord high treasurer of Ireland, and had interest enough to get that high office made hereditary in his family. Nevertheless, he suffered many mortifications during the administration of sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards earl of Strafford, who, before he went to Ireland, had conceived a jealousy of his authority and interest in that kingdom, and now conceived that if he could humble the great earl of Cork, nobody in that country could give him much trouble. On the breaking out of the rebellion in Ireland in 1641, the earl of Cork, as soon as he returned from England (where he was at the time of the earl of Strafford’s trial), immediately raised two troops of horse, which he put under the command of his sons the lord viscount Kinalmeaky and the lord Brogbill, maintaining them and 400 foot for some months at his own charge. In the battle which the English gained at Liscarrol, Sept. 3, Io42, four of his sons were engaged, and the eldest was slain in the field. The earl himself died about a year after, on the 15th of September, in the 78th year of his age; having spent the last, as he did the first year of his life, in the support of the crown of England against Irish rebels, and in the service of his country. Though he was no peer of England, he was, on account of his eminent abilities and knowledge of the world, admitted to sit in the house of lords upon the woolpacks, ut consiliarius. When Cromwell saw the prodigious improvements he had made, which he little expected to find in Ireland, he declared, that if there had been an earl of Cork in every province, it would have been impossible for the Irish to have raised a rebellion.

He affected not places and titles of honour until he was well able to maintain them, for he was in the 37th year of | his age when knighted, and in his 50th when made A baron. He made large purchases, but not till he was able to improve them; and he grew rich on estates which had ruined their former possessors. He increased his wealth, not by hoarding, but by spending; for he built and walled several towns at his own cost, but in places so well situated, that they were soon filled with inhabitants, and quickly repaid the money he had laid out, with interest, which he as readily laid out again. Hence, in the space of forty years, he acquired to himself what in some countries would have been esteemed a noble principality; and as they came to years of discretion, he bestowed estates upon his sons, and married his daughters into the best families of that country. He outlived most of those who had known the meanness of his beginning; but he delighted to remember it himself, and even took pains to preserve the memory of it to posterity in the motto which he always used, and which he caused to be placed upon his tomb, viz. “God’s providence is my inheritance.

It is much to be regretted that so faithful a servant of the public should have lived at variance with the earl of Strafford, himself a man of virtue, talents, and patriotism, and afterwards a sacrifice to the fury of the republican party in England; yet it cannot be denied that the earl of Strafford behaved in a very arrogant and haughty manner to the earl of Cork; and that the conduct of the lord deputy was such, as it could not reasonably be expected any man of spirit would patiently submit to, and especially a man of so much worth and merit as the noble subject of this article. His lordship gave evidence at Strafford’s trial, that when he had commenced a suit at law, in a case in which he apprehended himself to be aggrieved, the earl of Strafford, in the most arbitrary manner, forbad his prosecuting his suit, saying to him, “Call in your writs, or if you will not, I will clap you in the castle; for I tell you, I will not have my orders disputed by law, nor lawyers.” We have, however, already seen that lord Cork had other enemies, who took various opportunities of displaying their jealousy of his power and talents. One singular opportunity was taken on the death of his second lady, which we shall detail, as including some traits of the taste and prejudices of the times. This lady was privately interred on the 27th of February 1629-30, but her funeral was publicly solemnized | on the llth of March following; soon after which$ the earl of Cork purchased from the dean and chapter of St. Patrick’s church, the inheritance of the upper part of the chancel where the vault was, in which the bodies of her grandfather by the mother’s side, the lord chancellor Weston, and of her father sir Geoffry Fenton, were laid, over which the earl her husband caused a fine marble tomb to be erected. This presently gave offence to some people, who suggested that it stood where the altar ought to stand, of which they complained to the king, who mentioned it to Dr. Laud, then bishop of London; who after the lord Wentworth was made lord deputy of Ireland, and himself archbishop of Canterbury, moved him that it might be inquired into, as it was, and this affair made afterwards a very great noise. The earl of Cork procured a letter from Dr. Usher, then lord primate of Ireland, and also from Dr. Launcelot Bulkeiey, then archbishop of Dublin, justifying, that the tomb did not stand in the place of the altaf, and that instead of being an inconvenience, it was a great ornament to the church; which letters archbishop Laud transmitted to the lord deputy, and at the same time acquainted^ him that they did not give himself any satisfaction. The postscript to this letter, dated Lambeth, March 11, 1634, is very remarkable, and shews both the rise and the falsehood of the common opinion, that it was the lord deputy, afterwards earl of Strafford, who set this matter on foot out of prejudice to the earl of Cork. “I had almost forgot to tell you, that all this business about demolishing my lord of Cork’s tomb is charged upon you, as if it were done only because he will not marry his son to my lord Clifford’s daughter, and that I do it to join with you; whereas the complaint came against it to me out of Ireland, and was presented by me to the king before I knew that your lordship was named for deputy there. But jealousies know no end.” The archbishop afterwards wrote in very strong terms to the earl of Cork himself, in which he affirms the same thing, and deals very roundly with his lordship upon that and other subjects, advising him to leave the whole to the lord deputy and the archbishops. As to the issue of the affair, it appears clearly from a letter of the lord deputy Wentworth’s, dated August 23, 1634, to the archbishop, in which he delivers himself thus: “I have issued a commission, according to my warrant, for viewing the earl of Cork’s tomb: the two archbishops and | himself, with four bishops, and the two deans and chapters, were present when we met, and made them all so ashamed, that the earl desires he may have leave to pull it down without reporting further into England; so as I am content if the miracle be done, though Mohammed do it, and there is an end of the tomb before it come to be entombed indeed. And for me that my lord treasurer do what he please; I shall ever wish his ways may be those of honour to himself, and dispatch to my master’s affairs; but go it as it shall please God with me, believe me, my lord, I will be still tlwrow and thorowout one and the same, and with comfort be it spoken by myself, and your grace’s commendations.” It may be added that though the tomb has been taken away above a century, yet the inscription that was upon it is still extant. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Budgell’s Lives of the Boyles. Birch’s Life of Robert Boyle.