Boyle. I. Richard, earl of Cork, an English politician, born at Canterbury, Oct. 3, 1566, died Sept. 15, 1643. He was born a commoner, and became clerk to Sir R. Manwood, chief baron of the court of exchequer. Not seeing any prospect of advancement, he went to Ireland, where he married a lady who died and left him a landed estate worth about £500 a year. His abilities, and the growth of his possessions, raised him up a host of enemies and detractors; and the rebellion of Munster reduced him to poverty. He returned to England, and visiting Ireland again in the suite of the earl of Essex, his presence renewed the malice of his detractors, who having brought formal charges against him, he pleaded his cause with such force before Elizabeth in person that the queen took him into favor. He was made clerk of the council of Munster, and bought considerable estates, which he colonized with Protestant tenants, and managed so well as to call forth a remark from Cromwell, that had there been an earl of Cork in each county there had been no rebellion. In 1616 he was created Baron Boyle of Youghal, in 1620 earl of Cork, and in 1631 lord high treasurer of Ireland, which office was made hereditary in his family.
His " True Remembrancer of his Life " is included in Dr. Birch's "Life of Robert Boyle" (London, 1766). II. Roger, third son of the preceding, born in Ireland, April 26, 1621, died Oct. 16, 1679. He was known as Lord Broghill during the protectorate, and earl of Orrery in the reign of Charles II. He was won to the cause of the commonwealth in Ireland by Cromwell, at a period when he was known to be engaged in favoring the return of Charles II., and was of material assistance in reducing Ireland to subjection. After the protector's death he was one of Richard Cromwell's privy council, but favored the restoration of Charles II. He wrote a romance, "Parthenissa " (3 vols., 1665), and many tragedies, comedies, and poems, besides "State Letters," published in 1742. III. Robert, 5th son and 14th child of the first earl of Cork, born at Lismore castle, Ireland, Jan. 25, 1626, died in London, Dec. 30, 1691. At Eton, whither he was sent at nine years of age, he showed irregular application and development, and after four years was placed under the care of private tutors. With M. Marcombes, a Frenchman, he travelled on the continent.
He returned to England in 1644, his father having meanwhile died, and left him property in Ireland and the Stalbridge estate, where he chiefly resided from 1646 to 1650, occupied in study, especially of chemistry. At this time he was one of a society of learned men, called by him the " Invisible College," out of which ultimately grew the royal society. In 1652 he went to Ireland on private business. After his return he resided at Oxford for the most part, using its advantages for study, and associating with men of science in their investigations, till 1668, when he settled in London, at the residence of his elder sister, Lady Ranelagh. He has been called the inventor of the air pump, which was perfected for him in 1658 or 1659 by Robert Hooker, then his chemical assistant, and by it Boyle demonstrated the elasticity of the air. He also associated and corresponded with eminent oriental and Biblical scholars. On the restoration Boyle was favorably received at court, and urged to enter the church; but he thought he could serve religion better as a layman, and published in 1660 "Some Motives and Incentives to the Love of God," which was several times reprinted and translated into Latin. In 1662 a grant was made him of a lease of forfeited impropriations in certain parishes in Ireland, but he relinquished all private benefit, and appropriated two thirds of the net proceeds to the wants of the parishes, and printed the church catechism and the New Testament in Irish at his own expense.
The other third he gave to the society for propagating the gospel in New England, of which he was afterward made governor. In 1663 he was one of the first council of the newly incorporated royal society. He became a director of the East India company, helping to procure its charter. In 1676 he wrote a letter pressing upon that body the duty of promoting Christianity in the East, and in 1677 he caused the Gospels and the Acts to be translated into Malay at his cost by Dr. Thomas Hyde, and gave a large reward to the translator of Gro-tius's Be Veritate into Arabic. A selection of his works was published in Latin at Geneva in 1677, though without his consent or knowledge. In 1680 he was elected president of the royal society, but declined from a conscientious scruple. He gave pecuniary aid to Burnet while the latter was compiling his " History of the Reformation." The revolution cut off his resources from Ireland, and his health being impaired, he resigned his presidency of the society for the propagation of the gospel in 1689. His sister, with whom he had lived for 23 years, died in 1691, and he did not survive her a week. Boyle was tall, pale, and of delicate health. He never married. His habits were very careful, regular, and abstemious, and he was noted for reverential piety.
His philosophical experiments gave him a very high reputation in science, and he has been called " the great Christian philosopher." His works, with an autobiography, were published in London in 1744, in 5-vols, folio. Among them may be mentioned the " Disquisition into the Final Causes of Natural Things," "Free Inquiry into the received Notions of Nature," " Discourse of Things above Reason," " Considerations about the Reconcilableness of Reason and Religion," "Excellency of Theology," and "Considerations on the Style of Scripture." . IV. Charles, 4th earl of Orrery, born at Chelsea in August, 1676, died in August, 1731. He was the great-grandson of the first earl of Cork, and second son of the second earl of Orrery. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. An edition of the epistles of Phalaris, the preface of which contained a disparaging allusion to Richard Bentley, having been published under his name, he became complicated in a famous controversy between Bentley, Atterbury, and other scholars. (See Bentley, Richard.) In 1700 Mr. Boyle was elected to parliament, and in 1703 he succeeded to the title of earl of Orrery. He served as major general under Marlborough in Flanders, and after the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 was sent as envoy to the states of Brabant and Flanders, and created a peer of Great Britain as Lord Boyle. Under George I. he was one of the lords of the bedchamber, but in 1722 was confined six months in the tower for high treason as an accomplice in Sayer's plot.
In the latter part of his life he amused himself with philosophical subjects. It was in his honor that George Graham, the inventor, gave the name of the orrery to the instrument exhibiting the planetary revolutions. V. John, only son of the preceding, born Jan. 2, 1707, died Nov. 16, 1762. He succeeded his father as earl of Orrery in 1731, and in 1753, on the death of his second cousin, became fifth earl of Cork. In the house of lords he constantly opposed the administration of Sir Robert Walpole. He edited the dramatic works and state papers of the first earl of Cork, Pliny's letters, and the " Life of Robert Cary, Earl of Monmouth " (1759), and contributed to various periodical publications; but he is best known by his "Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift, in a Series of Letters " (London, 1751), the publication of which brought upon him a great deal of censure.