Michael Boyle (Archbishop of Armagh)
Boyle was apparently educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he proceeded M.A., and on 4 November 1637 was incorporated M.A. of Oxford. In 1637 he obtained a rectory in the diocese of Cloyne, received the degree of D.D., and became dean of Cloyne in 1640. During the war in Ireland acted as chaplain-general to the English army in Munster.
In 1650 the Protestant royalists in Ireland employed Boyle, in conjunction with Sir Robert Sterling and Colonel John Daniel, to negotiate on their behalf with Oliver Cromwell. The Marquess of Ormonde resented the conduct of Boyle in conveying Cromwell's passport to him, which he rejected.
At the Restoration, Boyle became privy councillor in Ireland, and was appointed Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. In addition to the episcopal revenues, he continued to receive for a time the profits of six parishes in his diocese, on the ground of being unable to find clergymen for them. For Boyle's services in England in connection with the Irish Act of Settlement 1662, the Irish House of Lordsat Dublin ordered a special memorial of thanks to be entered in their journals in 1662. Boyle was translated to Archbishop of Dublin in 1663, and appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1665. Though the appointment of a cleric as Lord Chancellor had previously been common enough Boyle was the last such appointment and it appears he was offered the position only because no professional lawyer of standing could be found to take it. In the event he proved to be hard working and incorruptible, and earned the regard of successive Lord Lieutenants. While he undoubtedly used his influence to advance the career of his son-in-law, Sir William Davys, appointed Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1680, such use of patronage was an accepted part of seventeenth-century politics.
In the county of Wicklow Boyle established a town, to which he gave the name of Blessington, and at his own expense erected there a church, which he supplied with plate and bells. In connection with this town he in 1673 obtained the title of Viscount Blessington for his eldest son, Murragh. In 1675 Boyle was promoted from the see of Dublin to that of Armagh.
On the accession of James II, Boyle was continued in office as lord chancellor, and appointed for the third time as lord justice in Ireland, in conjunction with the Earl of Granard, and held that post until Henry, Earl of Clarendon, arrived as lord-lieutenant in December 1685.
In Boyle's latter years his faculties are stated to have been much impaired :" his memory gone, deaf and almost blind, a mere wreck of the past."; after about 1683 he was unable to personally perform the functions of his office. He died in Dublin on 10 December 1702, in his ninety-third year, and was interred in St. Patrick's Cathedral there. Little of the wealth accumulated by Boyle was devoted to religious or charitable uses. Letters and papers of Boyle are extant in the Ormonde archives at Kilkenny Castle and in the Bodleian Library. Portraits of Archbishop Boyle were engraved by Loggan and others.
He married firstly Margaret Synge, daughter of George Synge, Bishop of Cloyne and secondly Mary O'Brien, daughter of Dermod O'Brien, 5th Baron Inchiquin. In addition to his son Lord Blessington, he had five daughters, Elizabeth, Mary, Eleanor, Martha, who married Sir William Davys, and Honora, who married Thomas Cromwell, 3rd Earl of Ardglass .
- Gilbert 1886, p. 113
- Letters of Boyle on these matters were printed in the second volume of the Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland, 1641–1652 (Gilbert 1886, p. 113).
- Ball 1926, pp.276–277
- An autograph of Boyle at the time he was promoted to the see of Armagh, has been reproduced on plate lxxix of 'Facsimiles of National MSS. of Ireland,' part iv. p. 2 (Gilbert 1886, p. 113)
- According to the Archbishop of Canterbury in Read v Bishop of Lincoln ( 1889 ) 14 PD 88
- Ball, F. Elrington (1926). The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921. London: John Murray.
- Gilbert, John Thomas (1886). "Boyle, Michael (1609?–1702)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 6. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 113. sources:
- Carte's Life of Ormonde, 1736;
- Anthony Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 498;
- Ware's Works (Harris), i. 130;
- Journals of Lords and Commons of Ireland;
- Peerage of Ireland;
- Biographia Dramatica, 1812;
- Richard Mant, History of Church of Ireland, 1840;
- Granard Archives, Castle Forbes;
- Elrington's Life of Ussher, 1848;
- Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, 1851;
- Reports of Royal Commission on Hist. MSS.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilbert, John Thomas (1886). "Boyle, Michael (1609?–1702)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 6. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 113.
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