BOYLE, Henry, Visct. Boyle (1771-1842), of Castle Martyr, co. Cork.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1801 - 1807
1807 - 20 May 1807
1807 - 20 May 1807

Family and Education

b. 8 Aug. 1771, 1st surv. s. of Richard, 2nd Earl of Shannon [I], by Catherine, da. of John Ponsonby, Speaker of house of commons [I]. educ. Winchester 1785-8; continental tour. m. 7 or 9 June 1798, Sarah, da. of John Hyde, MP [I], of Castle Hyde, co. Cork, 3s. 6da. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl of Shannon [I] and 2nd Baron Carleton 20 May 1807; KP 5 Apr. 1808.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1793-1800; recorder, Youghal 1817-31.

Clerk of the pells [I] 1808-22; PC [I] 19 Sept. 1809.

Custos rot. co. Cork 1807; ld. lt. 1831-d.

Capt. yeomanry 1796.1


Before the Union, Viscount Boyle was one of his father’s 11 members in the Irish House of Commons who supported government. Lord Shannon received £37,500 compensation for the loss of five of them and the reversion of the Irish pells (which fell to Boyle after his father’s death) ‘in acknowledgement of the most important support ... from any individual’ for the Union, since he did not wish for promotion in the peerage.2 In the Imperial Parliament, Boyle continued to sit for county Cork, for which he had been chosen in 1797. He took his seat in January 1801 and supported ministers throughout, when present; in 1803 he was of the civil list committee. He commanded several yeomanry corps in Ireland and in June 1805 resisted an attempt to persuade him to return to his parliamentary duty by reference to Lady Boyle’s advanced stage of pregnancy.3 Only one speech is known, 22 Feb. 1803, when he seconded Lord Euston’s loyal address on the exposure of Col. Despard’s conspiracy. On 25 Apr. 1805 he was appointed to the committee to examine the tenth report of the naval commissioners. He also sat on the Irish finance committees of 1805 and 1806. He voted against Catholic relief, 14 May 1805.

Boyle’s father stood well with government: Wickham reported, 5 Dec. 1802, ‘Lord Shannon and his set are the best by far ... with what a good grace he has taken the refusal of two jobs’.4 When Shannon further obliged government in 1805 by surrendering his office as first lord of the Irish treasury to John Foster, Boyle ‘very frequently expressed himself to be much dissatisfied that no arrangement has been made in consequence of his father’s very handsome resignation’. Long, then Irish secretary, suggested to Pitt in November 1805 a pension from the civil list savings and ‘a step in the British peerage’ for Boyle after his father’s death.5 The imminence of the latter gave the Grenville ministry the satisfaction of predicting the return of one of their friends and his relatives, the Ponsonbys, for Cork, when Boyle succeeded to the title.6 His support for that ministry was unostentatious.

In 1807, with his father dying, Boyle gave up the county seat and was returned for two of the family borough seats, for Bandon Bridge on 15 May and for Youghal on 18 May. On 20 May he became 3rd Earl of Shannon. The Portland ministry had been apprehensive about him, but he supported them, and as he was one of the last Irishmen whom any government would wish to see in opposition, he was rewarded with a light blue ribbon and an Irish privy councillorship.7 In 1812 the Duke of Richmond reported that Shannon, ‘in spite of his connections has supported us most strenuously’, and agreed with the premier that he was ‘the fittest person in Ireland’ to move the address on the Regent’s opening Parliament, not least as ‘a steady Protestant’, though he declined to do so.8 Yet in 1817 he quarrelled with government over Cork politics and forfeited extensive patronage by going over to opposition.9 He died 22 Apr. 1842.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Arthur Aspinall


  • 1. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 78 credits him with the command of seven different corps in Ireland.
  • 2. Cornwallis Corresp. iii. 323; PRO 30/8/327, f. 51.
  • 3. Wilson (1806), 78; Add. 31230, f. 18; 35716, f. 81.
  • 4. Wickham mss 1/46/31, Wickham to Addington, 5 Dec. 1802.
  • 5. PRO 30/8/328, ff. 257, 265.
  • 6. Spencer mss, Irish list, May 1806.
  • 7. Wellington Supp. Despatches , v. 19, 22; Add. 38568, ff. 153, 155.
  • 8. NLI, Richmond mss 62/480, 483; 74/1804, 1925.
  • 9. Add. 38195, f. 84; 40298, f. 9.