BOYLE, Hon. Charles I (1660-1704).
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Family and Education
b. 30 Oct. 1660, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Charles Boyle†, Baron Clifford of Lanesborough, Yorks. (2nd s. d.v.p. of Richard Boyle†, 2nd Earl of Cork [I] and 1st Earl of Burlington) by his 1st w. Lady Jane Seymour, da. of William Seymour†, 2nd Duke of Somerset; bro. of Hon. Henry Boyle*. educ. travelled abroad 1683–6. m. 26 Jan. 1688, Juliana (d. 1750), lady of the bedchamber to Queen Anne, da. and h. of Hon. Henry Noel† of North Luffenham, Rutland, 1s. 6da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as Visct. Dungarvan [I] and Baron Clifford of Lanesborough 12 Oct. 1694; gdfa. as 3rd Earl of Cork [I] and 2nd Earl of Burlington 15 Jan. 1698.1
Gov. co. Cork 1691; ld. lt. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1699–d.; v.-adm. Yorks. 1701–d.
Ld. treasurer [I] 1695–d.; gent. of the bedchamber 1697–1702; commr. union with Scotland 1702.2
PC [I] 1695–d.; PC 8 Jan. 1702.3
There was little in his character to distinguish Boyle from the other sparkish young aristocrats of his acquaintance. His pedigree was his greatest asset, obtaining for him a succession of honorific (and occasionally remunerative) appointments, and inducing in the minds of some unreflecting commentators the conventional opinion that he was ‘one of the hopefullest young gentlemen in England’. In fact, his most famous exploit was probably his unsuccessful attempt in 1696 to seduce the actress Anne Bracegirdle, which for a time was something of a cause célèbre among the coffee-house wits.4
Boyle was returned for Appleby in 1690, almost certainly on the interest of Lord Thanet (Thomas Tufton†), to whom he was connected through the marriage of his aunt to Thanet’s deceased elder brother, the 3rd Earl. Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), a fellow Yorkshireman, classed him as a Whig in an analysis of the new Parliament in March 1690, probably in reference to the moderate Whig sympathies of his father, Lord Clifford, and during the following winter considered him a potential recruit to the ranks of the Court managers in the Commons. He was ‘to be spoken to by Lord Ranelagh [Richard Jones*]’ but, Carmarthen noted, ‘he is governed by Sir Thomas Lee [1st Bt.*]’. However, in Robert Harley’s* list of April 1691 he appeared as a supporter of the Country party. His political associations were certainly Whiggish, and he may, like his brother Henry, have cultivated a pose of independence. In 1692 he stood bail for the Earl of Marlborough (John Churchill†), alongside his father’s former mentor Lord Halifax (Sir George Savile†) and the Earl of Shrewsbury. Once his brother was returned to the House, on 21 Nov., it becomes impossible, on all but exceptional occasions, to separate out their parliamentary activity. Boyle appears under his full name in the Journals on 25 Feb. 1693 when he reported from the committee on a private bill on behalf of his great-uncle Francis, Lord Shannon. Narcissus Luttrell* noted that he was a teller on 7 Feb. 1693 in committee on the triennial bill against a Court amendment ‘that nothing in the Act should extend to take away the King’s prerogative to dissolve any Parliament sooner than three years’. However, in Grascome’s list, compiled later that year, he was included on the Court side.5
After he succeeded to his father’s titles in October 1694, Boyle seems to have become increasingly conscious of his own importance. He attended the Irish house of lords while in Dublin in 1695 and cherished pretensions to the highest offices in the Castle administration, so that failure to secure what he considered his due may explain his vote at Westminster in 1696 against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. In general during this Parliament he joined his brother Henry in opposition to the Whig ministry. He exhibited passive sympathy for the causes espoused by Irish ‘patriots’, and did what he could to help his friends Lords Coningsby (Thomas*) and Romney (Henry Sidney†) to obtain legislative confirmation in Ireland of their grants from the Irish forfeitures, against the intrigues of the Irish Court Whig faction linked to the Junto and led by the brothers Alan† and Thomas Brodrick*. He had already been permitted to succeed his grandfather in 1695 in the prestigious but otherwise largely unrewarding sinecure of lord treasurer of Ireland, and in 1697 was made a gentleman of the bedchamber to King William, with an annuity of £1,000, in what appears a flagrant bid to buy his goodwill. The size of the salary soon became irrelevant, however, for with his grandfather’s death in 1698 he inherited massive estates in England and Ireland, reputed to be worth £22,000 a year. In 1699 there were unfounded rumours that he would be given the Irish viceroyalty, a dukedom or even the Garter, to all of which his new wealth would have fitted him. But he had to be content with the lord lieutenancy of the West Riding when Carmarthen (now Duke of Leeds) was removed. Like his brother, Boyle had by this time returned to the Whig fold. In 1701 he voted in the Lords against finding Lord Somers (Sir John*) guilty on impeachment, and in two recorded divisions in 1703 opposed both the first and second occasional conformity bills. In local politics in Yorkshire his loyalties were staunchly Whiggish. But his health was now failing, and after a brief illness he died at his house in Chiswick, Middlesex, on 9 Feb. 1704. As far as posterity was concerned, this relatively early death may not have been unfortunate, for he had already contracted such debts as would necessitate the subsequent disposal of entailed property (freed by Act of Parliament). According to one commentator, ‘the sense of what he had done struck him so severely for the great wrong he had done his family, that he could not die in peace before he had obtained their pardon’. However, his only son could still inherit intact the bulk of the vast family estates, which financed his own later development into a celebrated virtuoso: collector, patron and even amateur architect, to whom the revival of Palladianism in England was principally due.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Lismore pprs. box 28, Countess of Cork’s jnl. (ex. inf. Dr T. C. Barnard); Thoresby, Ducatus Leodiensis, i. 63; Lodge, Peerage of Ire. (1754), i. 100.
- 2. Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniae ed. Lascelles, ii. 42.
- 3. A. B. Beaven’s list of Irish PCs, Hist. of Parl.
- 4. Wood, Life and Times, iii. 470; Poems on Affairs of State ed. Ellis, v. 370.
- 5. A. Browning, Danby, iii. 179; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/13/162, John Pulteney* to Ld. Coningsby, 16 June 1692; H. C. Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 152–3; Luttrell Diary, 408.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1696, p. 204; 1698, p. 36; 1699–1700, p. 137; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 336; Trinity, Dublin, Lyons (King) mss 1999/547, 557, Boyle to Abp. King, 30 Oct., 23 Nov. 1697; King letterbks. 750/1, pp. 138–40, King to Boyle, 4 Dec. 1697; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 332; Luttrell, iv. 562, 573, 672; Browning, i. 548; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 426; HMC Var. viii. 85; HMC Portland, iii. 623; Nat. Lib. Ire., ms 6146; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 289; Grosvenor mss at Eaton Hall, pprs. of 4th Bt.†, ‘misc. pprs.’, Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Bt.†, to Peter Shakerley*, 5 June 1705.