BOYLE, Lionel, 3rd Earl of Orrery [I] (1671-1703).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



26 Feb. - 11 Oct. 1695
1698 - 1700
Dec. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

bap. 11 July 1671, 1st s. of Roger Boyle, 2nd Earl of Orrery [I], by Lady Mary Sackville, da. of Richard Sackville, 5th Earl of Dorset; bro. of Hon. Charles Boyle II*.  educ. Eton c.1682–5; travelled abroad (France, Netherlands, United Provinces, Germany, Switzerland, Italy) 1685–9.  m. c.23 Feb. 1693 (with £5,000), his 1st cos. Mary (d. 1714), illegit. da. of Charles Sackville†, 6th Earl of Dorset, s.pStyled Lord Broghill 1679–82; suc. fa. as 3rd Earl 29 Mar. 1682.1

Offices Held


The financial decline of the Orrery family, largely brought about by an excess of conspicuous consumption over income, was arrested – though not reversed – in the person of the 3rd Earl. Lionel Boyle was still confronted by debt and obliged to become a supplicant for court favour. In making his appeals for relief he never tired of citing ‘great losses and sufferings in the time of the late troubles in Ireland’, though ironically enough the rationalization of his estate management consequent upon the devastation of his Irish property by Jacobite troops proved ultimately the saving of his fortunes. When the Revolution took place he was abroad, and by the time he returned to England he had been attainted by James II’s Irish parliament as a ‘rebel’. After spending the winter of 1689–90 in England, consorting with émigré Irish Protestants, he made his way to Ireland. In August 1690 he was at home in county Cork organizing local Williamite forces when a Jacobite detachment attacked and burned his mansion at Charleville, ‘the best modern . . . built house in the kingdom’ (costing between £20,000 and £40,000 to construct and furnish) and also ‘laid waste’ his plantation towns of Charleville and Askeaton (at a further financial loss to him of some £1,000). But he was left with an estate of his own which he was able to set after the peace at £1,300 p.a., and which his lawyer believed might be increased to £2,000 when the untenanted lands were let, together with a right in reversion to his mother’s property, itself ‘reasonably computed at £1,200 a year’. Rather than devote himself to the work of reconstruction, however, he retired to England and to the household of his maternal uncle, the 6th Duke of Dorset, who had already taken the family under his protection. Orrery’s marriage not long afterwards to Dorset’s illegitimate daughter ‘made some noise abroad’ and raised some eyebrows, for it was easy, though probably unjust, to assume that Dorset had imposed on his fatherless nephew. The more likely explanation was that Orrery, a complacent young man whose principal ambition was the continued enjoyment of high living among sociable companions, slipped readily into a matrimonial arrangement that would guarantee the retention of his uncle’s goodwill.2

The benefits of Dorset’s patronage extended to a parliamentary seat, and Orrery was returned at a by-election in 1695 for the pocket borough of East Grinstead. Dorset recommended him again at the general election of that year, but on the latter occasion Orrery and the other Sackville nominee, Hon. Spencer Compton*, were defeated by two Tories. They petitioned unsuccessfully. Before the next election Dorset apparently concluded an agreement with his chief rival in the borough, John Conyers*, to share the representation, and Orrery was returned unopposed with Conyers in 1698. In the meantime he had at last taken his seat in the Irish house of lords, where he may have used his position to promote his claim, first brought up in a petition to the Treasury in April 1697, to the share in the so-called Irish ‘lapse money’ granted to his grandfather by Charles II, that is to say the forfeited subscriptions of the English Adventurers in the 1640s, amounting now to £8,000. Perhaps in order to embarrass the Dublin administration, he moved during the debate on the ratification of the articles of Limerick to question the lords justices as to why they had altered the heads of the enabling bill before transmitting them to England. On another occasion, however, he voted with the Court, on the bill for the better security of the King’s person and government. Whatever his tactics, they were adequate to ensure the granting of his request, and in January 1698 a warrant passed for the Irish treasury to levy Orrery’s share of the ‘lapse money’ on all Catholic beneficiaries of the Restoration land settlement in Ireland. Subsequently his younger brother Charles Boyle II petitioned for a half-share for himself, and in November 1699 officials in Ireland were ordered to withhold a moiety of the receipts pending a decision on his claim, which, it would appear, was then rejected. Presumably because of this grant, Orrery was included in a list of placemen in about September 1698. He was also classed as a supporter of the Court in a comparative analysis of the old and new Houses of Commons. But he was an inactive Member, his name appearing in the clerk’s list of 7 Mar. 1699 of those who had not attended at all during that session. In the following session he was given three months’ leave of absence on 24 Jan. 1700 ‘to go into Ireland, his lady being very ill’. A list dating from about this time marked him as a follower of the Whig Junto, but after he had stood down at the general election of January 1701 in favour of Dorset’s protégé Matthew Prior he made an approach to the new ministry, applying for a reversionary grant of some lands in Yorkshire worth £565 p.a. Dorset brought him back into Parliament for East Grinstead in December 1701, when his election was calculated as a ‘gain’ by Lord Spencer (Charles*) and he was classed as a Whig in Robert Harley’s* list. His debts were now so considerable that he felt obliged to have a bill brought in to enable him to sell off entailed property. Sir Henry Dutton Colt, 1st Bt.*, took charge of the measure in February 1702 and succeeded in piloting it through Parliament. Orrery himself remained an inactive Member, with no recorded speech to his credit. He was defeated at East Grinstead in the 1702 election by John Conyers and another Tory, the previous understanding between Conyers and Dorset having broken down, and soon after he applied himself to a powerful Tory connexion, Lord Rochester (Laurence Hyde†), who had married one of his cousins. Rochester promised to do what he could to help Orrery’s pretensions to office, whereupon he asked for a commissionership of trade, basing his request on ‘my losses on the late Revolution, which were very great’. He disclaimed any notion that he was asking ‘out of necessity’, for ‘God be thanked, I can live without it; but I am very ambitious and should be very proud of serving her [Majesty] and am very desirous of being particularly obliged to your excellency’. Nothing came forth.3

Orrery died at Earl’s Court, Kensington on 24 Aug. 1703, and was buried with the Sackvilles at Withyham in Sussex. In his will, dated in May 1699, he had ordered that his grant of the ‘lapse money’ be used to pay his debts. Besides a bequest of £100 to a ‘Mrs Susanna Louth’, all his personal estate was left to his widow, who took as her second husband another Boyle, the 2nd Viscount Shannon (Richard*).4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Eton Coll. Reg. ed. Sterry, 251; Centre Kentish Stud. Sackville mss U269/A10/3; U269/C139, St. John Brodrick to Simon Smith*, 1 June 1693; Cal. Orrery Pprs. ed. McLysaght (Irish Mss Commn.), pp. 313–70 passim; CSP Dom. 1686–7, p. 448; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 41.
  • 2. Cork: Hist. and Soc. ed. O’Flanagan and Buttimer, 316–33; Cal. Orrery Pprs. 317, 321, 372; Luttrell, ii. 121; Evelyn Diary ed. de Beer, v. 37; Sackville mss U269/A10/3; U269/C139; U269/C106, Lady Orrery to Dorset, 28 July; Add. 38847, f. 274; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 221–3; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1697–1702, p. 551; Diary of Dean Davies (Cam. Soc. lxviii), 91; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 490; E. Budgell, Mems. Earl of Orrery and Boyle Fam. (1732), 155.
  • 3. Add. 70294, reply of Sir Thomas Dyke and John Conyers to case of Orrery and Compton, [1695]; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 46, 221–3; xv. 213; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 26; 1699–1700, p. 297; J. G. Simms, Williamite Confiscation in Ire. 62; HMC Hamilton (Supp.), 139; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1697–1702, p. 551; CJ, xiii. 741–2, 747, 770, 774, 782; HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 417–18; Sackville mss U269/057; Clarendon Corresp. ed. Singer, ii. 444–5.
  • 4. PCC 172 Dogg.