Talk:Robert Boyle

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Former good article nominee Robert Boyle was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
March 26, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed

Wording confusion[edit]

The "Middle Years" usage of the Continent is unclear that it refers to the Europe mainland. Kobitate94 (talk) 01:15, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

No problem. I changed it. --John of Lancaster (talk) 15:57, 22 November 2010 (UTC)


Can this page be given some kind of protection for a while? We seem to have a class of special-needs kids attacking it one by one. Bmcln1 (talk) 16:49, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Boyle's father, the Great Earl of Cork, was not noted as having scientific or philosophical inclinations, so it would be interesting to hear from anyone who knew more about Robert Boyle's father's influence upon Robert himself.

Sceptical or Skeptical[edit]

While this site shows an original with the c, the spelling of chymist would suggest that the spelling either need remain the same, or modernized, (which I assume is what is involved in the next external link.

A google test show that k is the most used one, and the NCBI shows this listing (for what that's worth).

While lists c as a variant of k, the OED lists otherwise.

That would be because "skeptical" is the American spelling and "sceptical" is the English spelling Baggabagga 13:20, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Opposition to Boyle's work[edit]

Everything I read about Mr. Boyle suggests that his theories, laws, experiments, etc. were universally celebrated and accepted as 'the way things were'. My limited studies of other scientists who have engineered similarly groundbreaking ideas--Ohm and Galileo, to name just a couple of the many examples--lead me to believe that it could not have been that easy for Boyle to make all of the innovations he made without any substantial opposition. Granted, his fellow scientists at the Invisible College probably wouldn'tve had any motivation to cause him hardship, but that governments and laymen seemingly accepted his work with no trouble whatsoever seems difficult to understand. One example of opposition is mentioned in the article; are there any others? Did people really just say "oh, well, you must be right, I never looked at it that way"? Or did he ever suffer negative consequences, or at least substantial naysaying, from his work? Dis bomber 20:33, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

Probably, because most famous people I have read about have at least been taunted about their work. Moses was considered crazy because he was building an ark in the middle of the desert because God told him to. And it ended up raining for 40 days and 40 nights. So Moses wasn't crazy after all, and since he obeyed God, him and his family were the only human beings left on the earth..along with two of every kind of animal on the earth.FroggyJamer 23:32, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

Er, that was Noah with the ark... Niehoff 17:47, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

It was definitely Moses. It rained frogs, locusts and blood for 40 days and nights, remember? Baggabagga 13:21, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Failed GA[edit]

Needs a bigger Lead and more refrences instead of the 2, one of them 1911 EB that is currently listed -- 23:21, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Natasha Benoit[edit]

Removed a line saying he married Natasha Benoit during his time at Eton, because I couldn't find this verified anywhere (and I also find it hard to believe he got married between the ages of eight and eleven as an Eton student). AniBunny 21:22, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Inventor of the smiley?[edit]

See p. 66, line 6 of the Sceptical Chymist. [1]. :) --Itub 12:01, 22 February 2007 (UTC)


Should Boyle's nationality not be Irish rather than British, 3 others mentioned in this same article are described as either English or Scottish?

  • Robert Hooke, English
  • Francis Bacon, English
  • Gilbert Burnet, Scottish

--Chris.exton (talk) 18:59, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Robert Boyle left Ireland at age 8 and never returned again, except for one visit at age 25. (The visit occurred in 1652-53 during the establishment of Cromwellian land legalities, and his purpose was to clarify the legal status of some land he had inherited from his father). Boyle's father grew up in England, as did Boyle's mother's father. During the few years that Boyle lived in Ireland as a child, Ireland and England were a single country for nearly all practical purposes -- that's true at least if you'll confine your view to the legal and cultural milieu that Boyle's father and mother lived in. All of Boyle's scientific and theological output was done in England, with the benefit of dialog with other Englishmen, and this too qualifies Boyle to be labelled as English. But I'd say further that when you look at Boyle's state of mind, and the state of Ireland during his lifetime, he'd still be properly labelled as British (or even English) even if he had opted to reside in Ireland. Seanwal111111 (talk) 18:44, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

It could be said that his visit to Italy and the influence of Galileo was a major factor in career rather than dialog with other Englishmen, but that does not make him Italian. In addition if "Ireland and England were a single country for nearly all practical purposes" then whats the problem in calling him Irish as it means the same thing and that is where he was born

--Chris.exton (talk) 18:55, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

--He may have been born there, but his father was English and only moved there after being made the 1st Earl of Cork. Not only that Robert lived in England for the rest of his life, he went to school in England, went to university in England, lectured in England, worked in England, did all his science in England and founded his institutes in England. Calling him Irish is like calling Emma Watson French. Ireland at the time was not even independent. Colt .55 (talk) 15:15, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

"Ireland at the time was not even independent." By that reasoning, should we also call George Washington English? If he was born in Ireland he should be known as Irish, it's quite simple. Where he chose to do his work is irrelevant. Dylan (talk) 19:12, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
So, should Tom Clarke and James Connolly not be described as Irish because they weren't born in Ireland? Being born in a stable dosen't make you a horse. --John of Lancaster (talk) 18:17, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Wellingtons alleged racist quote doesn't belong here and if you read both articles they are not described as being Irish. Mo ainm~Talk 19:02, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Oh, the good old race card. What do you mean Clarke and Connolly aren't described as Irish? The lead sentences in both articles describe them as Irish. Can you not read? --John of Lancaster (talk) 19:23, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Clarke is described as an an Irish revolutionary leader as he was a leader of an Irish revolutionary movement and Connolly as an Irish socialist leader as he was the leader of an Irish socialist movement. And yes you played the race card saying Ireland is a stable. Mo ainm~Talk 19:27, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Then why does the word "Irish" in the lead sentence of the article on Connolly link to Irish people? Were they a movement, too? Also, I did not say that Ireland was a stable. I used that saying to demonstrate a point. Sorry if you took it so seriously. --John of Lancaster (talk) 19:37, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Well change the dab link, when you use comments like that coupled with your major interest in removing any kind of link to Ireland it is in bad taste. But I will accept that you weren't using it in a derogatory way. Mo ainm~Talk 19:42, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Since when do I have a "major interest in removing any kind of link to Ireland"? Name one instance where I removed a link to Ireland. --John of Lancaster (talk) 19:50, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
The last one I remember without looking back as I can't be arsed going through your contributions was the removal by you of all the Irish Categories. Mo ainm~Talk 19:54, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
So, I have a "major interest in removing any kind of link to Ireland" because I believe that one man should not be described as Irish? Of course, the flipside to that is that you have a major interest in trying to describe Boyle as Irish. --John of Lancaster (talk) 20:07, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
By the way, if you read my edit summary, I gave a perfectly legitimate reason as to why the categories are not appropriate. --John of Lancaster (talk) 20:21, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I am the one who removed the reference be it English or Irish as can be seen if you check I have said, were there are conflicting claims per NPOV you can't only use one. I have never argued for the inclusion of Irish above another. And also if that was the case why didn't you remove English cats? Is it because I have stated and shown you are trying to remove any reference to his "Irishness"Mo ainm~Talk 20:25, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
You believe that there is no way that Boyle could have been British even though there are sources that describe him as British, so don't act like you're being any more neutral than me. You have never argued the inclusion of Irish above another? Do you not remember saying this? If you're so concerned about neutrality, why did you make this edit back in February? It looks to me like the article was neutral before you made it and had you not, maybe the whole neutrality dispute wouldn't have happened. --John of Lancaster (talk) 20:59, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

The English oppress once more[edit]

It saddens me to see that the English editors on Wikipedia are once again trying to oppress everything that is Irish. If someone was born in Britain i.e. Chris de Burgh, but lived all his life in Ireland, the editors on here demand him to be categorised as British. However, when it's vice versa, they are not happy to admit that Robert Boyle is Irish. It's about time British imperialists on this site leave the ancient hypocrisy of their ancestors behind them.--MaxPride (talk) 02:24, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

I completely agree with the editor above. British editors (and there are a huge many compared to those Irish) are being un-neutral and territorial about this. He is Irish as he was born there, which was the rule of the time to nationality.--Theosony (talk) 21:14, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I also agree. It seems Wikipedia has become a playground for the remnants of British imperialists. They are constantly trying to claim successful Irish people as British. It’s a complete joke. If they fail to claim them they usually begrudgingly put “Irish born” or “Anglo-Irish”. It’s a pity this abhorrent behaviour is not just limited to Wikipedia. I recently heard an English Sky Sports boxing commentator referring to Darren Sutherland as “home grown talent”! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rondolfus (talkcontribs) 22:26, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
You are joking aren't you? Although I see Rondolfus has a history of spreading discord in articles such as this. How utterly imperialistic of this article to ignore the obvious Irish influences upon a man born to an English father in an English controlled part of Ireland, educated in England and whom pursued all of his work in England. How oppressive to think that his nationality might have more to do with who he was, what he did and where he spent the rest of his life, rather than where he was born due to his fathers business interests.
How about you base what this article says on the facts of the matter and not on what sky sports said the other day, or what you would like to add to your list of Irish inventions. Edd17 (talk) 11:23, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

--He may have been born there, but his father was English and only moved there after being made the 1st Earl of Cork. Not only that Robert lived in England for the rest of his life, he went to school in England, went to university in England, lectured in England, worked in England, did all his science in England and founded his institutes in England. Calling him Irish is like calling Emma Watson French. Ireland at the time was not even independent. Colt .55 (talk) 15:15, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Agree with editors above Boyle was Irish. Mo ainm~Talk 22:43, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
First of all, Chris de Burgh was born in Argentina, not Britain. There goes your credibility. Secondly, his official website says that he holds British nationality, not Irish nationality, which is why he is described as British in the article, not because we are trying to "oppress the Irish". Thirdly, Robert Boyle was born in Ireland to English parents, moved to England when he wasn't even eight years old, was educated in England, spent his entire career in England, and lived in England for the rest of his life. If you're seriously going to insist on labeling him as Irish in spite of those simple facts, you are either not smart enough to be editing Wikipedia or you are an editor of bad faith who only wants the article saying what you want it to say and not what is accurate. --John of Lancaster (talk) 22:39, 15 June 2010 (UTC)


I have changed his nationality to Irish and his citizenship to British hope as I think that seems to represent both sides --Chris.exton (talk) 13:53, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Citizenship sounds more like a legal situation and nationality carries connotations of identity. Given that the man had little to do with Ireland beyond birthplace and part of his childhood, and that Britain as a political entity did not exist at that time; I don't think this is a good way to describe him. It also means that the frame says one thing while the body of the article says another.Edd17 (talk) 17:15, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

I have removed the nationality aspect from the body of the article as the information is available via the frame anyway so was in fact redundant --Chris.exton (talk) 19:01, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

He died 110 years before the act of union, so he certainly was not "British" by citizenship. He bore a Gaelic surname, so he certainly wasn't "Anglo-Irish" either.(Struck this as incorrect. 08:33, 26 August 2010 (UTC)) --rannṗáirtí anaiṫnid (coṁrá) 21:11, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
Encyclopedia Britannica lists him as Anglo-Irish. Why can't it be used here ? Dylan (talk) 22:49, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

British in lead[edit]

It states that Boyle was British in the lead this is factually incorrect for a couple of reasons, he was born in the Kingdom of Ireland and died 110 years before the Act of Union 1801, the other point being used is because his father was British which also is factually incorrect as his father was born in the Kingdom of England and died 54 years before the Act of Union 1707 established Britian. Mo ainm~Talk 10:23, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Copied from Mo ainm talk page[edit]

Boyle may have died 110 years before Ireland became part of the United Kingdom, but he was born to British parents and didn't even live eight years of his life in Ireland before moving to Britain and living there for the rest of his life. He was only born in Ireland because his father, Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, acquired land there during the Tudor reconquest of Ireland. During this time, many native Irish landowners were displaced by British settlers, such as Boyle's father, who took over their land. Besides, a reliable source has been provided that describes Boyle as British. Feel free to provide a reliable source that describes him as Irish if you are so convinced that that is the case. Cheers. John of Lancaster (talk) 06:12, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Not true his father was born in the Kingdom of England and died in 1653 which was 54 years before the Act of Union in 1707 so he was not British. There are numerous sources to back up his birth place I can add dozens if you want but would rather reach consensus on the issue. Mo ainm~Talk 10:13, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Then he should be described as English, shouldn't he? John of Lancaster (talk) 15:08, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
A compromise for you maybe Anglo-Irish which is the term used to describe him in this book [2] and the reference used to say he is British is actually list in Encyclopedia Britannica as Robert Boyle (Anglo-Irish scientist). Bjmullan (talk) 15:10, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
@ John, can't for the life of figure out how you come to the conclusion that he should be called English, could you care to explain? Mo ainm~Talk 15:48, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
He was born to English parents, moved to England when he wasn't even eight years old, was educated in England, spent his entire career in England, and lived in England for the rest of his life. It's not that hard to figure out. John of Lancaster (talk) 15:54, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

That's a very good point, Mo, so "British" is nonsense. I think the situation is the same as with Rudyard Kipling. If Wiki describes him as Indian, I'm willing to go along with Boyle as Irish. I think the fact that he was born in Ireland and had family estates there is important, though. My suggestion would be to change "British" to English but add his places of birth and death to first line. Really his "national" status appears quite clearly in the second section. Bmcln1 (talk) 15:53, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

I think the most factually correct way to describe him is as Irish born with it pipped to Kingdom of Ireland. Not he was Irish or British or English. IMO it is NPOV as it is just stating were he was born and nothing else, which is not in dispute. Also I have notified other editors who have stated an opinion on this in the hope of reaching a clear consensus while the page is semi protected. Mo ainm~Talk 16:05, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Fine with me. John of Lancaster (talk) 16:13, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Please see WP:MOSBIO. What is supposed to be stated in the lead is the nationality or citizenship of the subject at the time they became notable. If Boyle's family moved to England when he was 8, then he should be described as British or English. If we have a cited source, we use what it says. Yworo (talk) 16:21, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

I can't seem to make anyone happy, can I? *Sigh* John of Lancaster (talk) 16:40, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Just came across this ... Robert Boyle tops ‘greatest Irish scientist’ poll [3]
Doesn't change the rules for the lead sentence, but birthplace can be used in the infobox and early life section. Being noted as "greatest Irish scientist" should be usable in the lead if it is a neutral source. However, that looks like a web-poll, which are never considered accurate reliable. Yworo (talk) 16:32, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
  • We are arguing about the guy's "nationality", which is a concept not clarified by 20th century thinkers like Gladstone, Parnell, Churchill, Hitler, De Valera and President Woodrow Wilson until centuries after Boyle was dead. Let's just cross out the silly word "British" and leave it at that. However, I think the result of the Irish newspaper poll is very interesting and should be covered near the end of the article. Come along, guys, it's time to stop squabbling and get back to work. Look at that appallingly vandalized list of Categories, for example. Bmcln1 (talk) 16:49, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Uh, nationality is required in the lead sentence by the Manual of Style. It should be either British or English. For now, it should remain "British", but if there is agreement to change it to "English" surely a source could be found. Yworo (talk) 16:54, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Oh, and it's not a newspaper poll, it's a web poll. I don't think it qualifies as reliable. Yworo (talk) 16:56, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

WP:MOSBIO It says "3. Context (location, nationality, or ethnicity);" I don't think we'll be excommunicated if we cross out "British". I'm willing to chance it if you are. For the sake of chemistry. Bmcln1 (talk) 17:00, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

I insist that either British or English be in the lead sentence as required. I do not agree with deleting it. If you prefer English to British, please say so. Yworo (talk) 17:14, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

(Not in reply to anyone in particular.) All words ending in -ish should be used with great care in the introduction to articles. They rarely add anything worthwhile to an article. It is a natural tendancy among editors is to turn articles into nationalist pissing matches, with each nationality "claiming" so-and-so for themselves. Definitively answering whether Boyle was Irish, British or English is not the role of Wikipedia and it is most important matter for the subject of this article. It would be sufficient to say that he was born in Waterford to an English father and was educated from the age of eight in Eaton. Also, before any editor goes pasting in references to support his or her individual POV, please consider that various sources will describe Boyle by different nationality. For example:

  • "Boyle. Robert 1627-91 - Irish physicist and chemist." – The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary of Biography, 2003
  • "Robert Boyle – Irish chemist, physicist, and inventor" – Clifford A. Pickover, Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them, Oxford University Press

We do not just pick one that suits us and say that it is sufficient. That is not NPOV. That's just POV. Having a reference does not make a add "N" to POV so long as there are references to the counter. All need to be considered in light of each other in a balanced and neutral way. In short, less nationalist posturing and Wiki-laywering please and more concentration on the subject of this article and what it means to hold a NPOV on a subject. --RA (talk) 17:07, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

The rules for what is stated in the lead sentence are very clear. There is nothing prohibiting the explication of all the detail later in the article; in fact, this is encouraged to be done in the section titled "Early life". This is how all other articles are done and this article should not be an exception. Yworo (talk) 17:12, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
IMO British is out per my reasoning above, I think the best was to solve this is to just say he was born in Ireland, no POV used. As RA says the ...ish words do tend to imply POV and leaves it open to further edit wars.Mo ainm~Talk 17:21, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Not acceptable, per WP:MOSBIO. It must be British or English in the lead sentence. Please choose which you prefer. What is stated here is citizenship at time of becoming notable, not birthplace, not ethnic origin... citizenship. Yworo (talk) 17:26, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Well he couldn't have been British as there was no such thing, have you a source to say he was English? Or in fact he was an English citizen. Mo ainm~Talk 17:34, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Citizenship is derived from the parents, not from the place of birth. In particular, the child will definitely have the citizenship of the father. Sometimes if the mother is of a different citizenship the child will have dual citizenship. Boyle's father was English and was a subject of the English throne. His son was therefore also a subject of the English throne, what we refer to now as being an English citizen. Unless you happen to have sources that say otherwise? Yworo (talk) 20:40, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Also you keep using MOSBIO which states modern-day cases... a man who died 319 years ago is hardly a modern day case. And you are talking about citizenship did the concept even exist at the time? Mo ainm~Talk 17:50, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
It looks like you got your wish; he's no longer described as British in the article. A source has been provided that describes him as English. You should be happy. John of Lancaster (talk) 18:13, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
MOS:BIO is a guideline which has occasional exceptions. It's incorrect to insist it contains strict rules which must always be followed. I don't have any problem with a more neutral description such as Irish-born or possibly Anglo-Irish. Barret (talk) 18:25, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, Irish born does not belong in the lead sentence. That is universally observed, though some articles may temporarily include violate it. The reason the guideline exists is precisely to stop this type of edit-warring. Allowing exceptions leads to edit-warring, thus the rule should be strictly followed. I have been involved in many, many cases with respect to this and in every single one, only sticking to the rule stopped the edit warring. Yworo (talk) 20:36, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
MOSBIO is not a rule it is a guidline, now as shown above, sources for him being Irish can also be found, more than are just listed, so to include one over another is to take a POV. And an article must be wrote with WP:NPOV and that is a rule. Mo ainm~Talk 20:50, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, the nationality in the lead is about citizenship. It is also about where he was when he became notable. Ethnicity is excluded from the lead sentence for very good reasons. How was he Irish if his parents were English and Ireland was not even a country at the time. The sources are unreliable, and most likely have been influenced by the same type of POV-pushing you are currently engaged in. Yworo (talk) 20:59, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
However, if you can find a reference that specifically says that he was a citizen of Ireland when he became notable, please provide it. Different publications have different rules. Some may use place of birth, thus leading to the confusion. Wikipedia uses citizenship at time the subject became notable. That's our editorial rules and we do not have to bow to any other publication that used or uses different rules. Source his Irish citizenship, please. I don't believe he was ever a citizen of Ireland. Yworo (talk) 21:03, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

OK, I may have said this somewhere else; calling Robert Boyle Irish, is like calling Emma Watson French (similar circumstances). But even in Emma Watson's case, France was a country at the time. Ireland was not. Colt .55 (talk) 17:29, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Exactly. Robert Boyle was not Irish. People who can't face that fact need to just get over it. John of Lancaster (talk) 18:17, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Happy insistence, Yworo. I'm off to get on with other articles. Good grief, at least the schoolkids' vandalisms were amusing! Bmcln1 (talk) 17:35, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
"... France was a country at the time. Ireland was not." The time was the 17th century and Ireland was a separate kingdom. Ireland and Great Britain did not form a union until almost two centuries after Boyle's birth. --RA (talk) 08:18, 7 July 2010 (UTC)


The subject's place of birth is clearly visible in the infobox when the article is scrolled to the top. That is one of the reasons WP:MOSBIO is written the way it is. It is redundant to state "Irish-born" when one can clearly and easily glance over to the infobox for that detail. For this reason, articles with this sort of conflict which don't have an infobox should have one added. Details of birthplace, ethnic heritage, etc. belong in the early life section unless they are significant to the individual's notability. Is anyone here arguing that having been born in Ireland somehow made Boyle notable? I don't think so. Yworo (talk) 20:45, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

I think this discussion has degenerated into bad wikilawyering. If the intro is going to mention Boyle's nationality, I think its clear it should be "Anglo-Irish." The term seems to best describe Boyle. His father is listed as an Anglo-Irish peer in the Anglo-Irish article. There are several sources that describe Boyle as Anglo-Irish, so its easy to reference. Boyle clearly wasn't Gaelic Irish, and the Anglo-Irish were a distinct group so British or English doesn't suffice. Selectively citing Britannica editions to lay claim that Boyle is one nationality or another isn't constructive. The 1902 edition says he was Irish[4] while other editions variously claim he was "British" or "Anglo-Irish." Cherry-picking editions for citations isn't going to resolve this, but I don't think battling back and forth with citations is even necessary; Boyle clearly seems to fall into the category of "Anglo-Irish" and something is lost when describing him as anything else.--Bkwillwm (talk) 04:11, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
It's not a vote. Being born in Ireland to non-Irish parents does not make anyone Irish. Yworo (talk) 04:32, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I realize it's not a vote. That was a figure of speech. Way to ignore what I wrote and only respond to the edit summary. "Anglo-Irish" is different from "Irish." Eventually you have to respond to other people's points instead of wikilawyering about WP:MOSBIO. To start with... why shouldn't "Anglo-Irish" be used?
There wasn't a drop of Irish in him. It's completely inappropriate. Yworo (talk) 05:39, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
The attempts at Wiki-laywering via WP:MOSBIO are a sham and mistaken even in terms of WP:MOSBIO. In particular, we are not talking about a modern-day subject and the MOS states explicity that, "Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability." It this case, it is not. Boyles context can be expressed through other ways.
More importantly however is that we act on policy, foremost, not guidelines. In particular, this is an instance of verifiability and neutral point of view. Different sources list Boyle as "Irish", "English" and "Anglo-Irish". ("British" is peculiar since the first British state didn't come into being for almost a century after his birth and the United Kingdom proper did not come into being for nearly two centuries.) We must treat sources neutrally. That is non-negotiable. It is a core policy of this encyclopaedia.
I would urge editors to strike a balance between what is supported by the various sources rather than pushing that they "know" to be the case based on their own national perspectives or wiki-laywering based on mis-understanding of MOS guidelines. I the mean time, I've marked the statements as disputed and dropped two example counter references in as invisible text. --RA (talk) 08:33, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Here is a possible source [5]. I don't think we should force todays standards on the bio and should use the contemporary view, which is probably English from what I've seen. As a compromise I don't see a problem with Irish-born English, but it is in the infobox. Verbal chat 14:11, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

WP:MOSBIO very specifically excludes such langauage. It does so for a reason. Yworo (talk) 14:19, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Agree with RA and as I have stated above NPOV trumps a guidline every time. As it stands this article is portraying a POV with the claim that Boyle was English. How about something along the lines of
Robert Boyle (25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) born in Ireland was a natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor, also noted for his writings in theology.
This adheres to policy as it is neutral and makes no assumptions of his citizenship. Mo ainm~Talk 15:02, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Let's follow the lead at Nikola Tesla and not even list place of birth in the first sentence. See how that article introduces the birth/citizenship topic in the second paragraph. Yworo (talk) 15:24, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I have no problem with Irish, English or British being removed from the lead. It will then IMO meet NPOV. Mo ainm~Talk 15:32, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't see how describing Boyle as English in the lead isn't neutral. It's obvious that he was English, as he was born to English parents, lived in England for nearly his entire life, and was in England at the time he became notable. I don't see why we should have to leave his nationality out of the lead jut because some people can't admit that he wasn't Irish. John of Lancaster (talk) 17:04, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I would agree if it were not for WP:V and WP:NPOV. Neutrality refers to what is written in an article with respect to what is written in reliable source on the same subject. In this case, depending on the source, Boyle is described as "Irish", "English", "Anglo-Irish" even (it would seem, and bizarrely to me) "British". A prosaic explanation of his lineage, birth and career somewhere in the lead would clear it up without us here deciding definitively whether he was "Irish", "English" or "Anglo-Irish" when sources are not in consensus. It is not for us to decide the definitive answer to these things, no matter how "obvious" the turth is to us.
The Nikola Tesla article seems like a good example. Failing that, it would be easier if some people could just admit that he wasn't English ;-) --RA (talk) 17:35, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Except that Boyle really WAS English, so admitting that he wasn't won't change that. At this point, I could really care less what the lead says as long as it doesn't describe him as Irish, as that would be false. John of Lancaster (talk) 18:06, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
According to you John, this is why we use NPOV, your opinion that Boyle is English can be backed up with a source but so too could a claim that he was Irish. To pick one source over another is not being neutral. Mo ainm~Talk 18:20, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Nobody disputes that he was born in Ireland. But he became notable in England. And we use when the subject became notable in notating their citizenship in the lead. The sources that say "Irish" are simply noting his birthplace. They simply use a different rule than we do. Is that so hard to understand? Yworo (talk) 19:23, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Using our rule in the lead and calling him English would only be POV if we left out discussion, in the proper places, of where he was born. Nobody has proposed doing that. His birthplace is in the infobox and discussed in the "Early life" section. Wikipedia simply does not base citizenship/nationality in the lead sentence on the nation of birth, we base it on the nation in which the subject was a citizen when they became notable. It's simply a matter of what is placed where in the article. It is not POV to follow our established guidelines on where information is to be placed. Yworo (talk) 19:28, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
My "opinion" can also be backed up with the fact that Boyle's parents were English and he lived almost his entire life in England. John of Lancaster (talk) 18:59, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Allegiance and citizenship[edit]

Okay, how about we leave Boyle's nationality out of the lead and in the early years section mention that he was born to English parents? The article on Tesla leaves his nationality out of the lead and says that he was born to Serbian parents in the early years section. I think this should work. John of Lancaster (talk) 19:19, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Was his mother not born in Limerick and buried in Cork, both in Ireland? Mo ainm~Talk 19:32, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Being born and buried in Ireland does not make you Irish. His mother was the daughter of Geoffrey Fenton. I highly doubt she was Irish. John of Lancaster (talk) 19:37, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Whether you higly doubt or not is irrelevant. You have stated that we should use English because of his parents, I have shown that there is also ambiquity about his mother due to being born in Ireland, living in Ireland and also being buried in Ireland, and now you say because her father was English, i'm sure if we go back far enough we will find some blood not tainted by Ireland. Can you really not see that when we have conflicting sources saying Irish, English, British we have to remain neutral and not make a judgement call and just stick to the facts as we have them. Mo ainm~Talk 19:52, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Okay, let me repharse that. I KNOW that his mother wasn't Irish. I AM sticking to the facts as we have them. It is a simple fact that if you are born in Ireland to English parents, you are English. If you are born in Antartica to English parents, you are English. Why is that so hard for you to figure out? Both Boyle and his mother were born in Ireland to English parents. The fact that we have conflicting sources saying Irish, English, and British is irrelevant. His nationality in the lead should be based on where he was when he bacame notable, not where his mother was born and buried. John of Lancaster (talk) 20:16, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
John you are the one bringing up his father and mother not me. Mo ainm~Talk 20:21, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I was suggesting that we leave his nationality out of the lead, which is what I thought you wanted. John of Lancaster (talk) 20:25, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
The nationality in the lead sentence is not based on "blood", i.e. ethnicity. It is based on the citizenship and country of residence when the subject became notable. You are ignoring this standard in your arguments. Nationality at the time was based on that of the father. A son was subject to the same crown that the father was. Notability was attained in residence of that country. Please acknowledge that this is what WP:MOSBIO says should be used. The subject's mother was also subject to the English crown because her father was. There is no ambiguity at all. Some works attribute his nationality to his birth place. That is not our standard, and we don't use them. Yworo (talk) 19:59, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Please also note that in all other cases, when the subject moves before he attains majority, becomes notable in the country to which he moved, and does not return or do anything significant in his country of birth, his nationality is described as of the country in which he became notable. Would you like a list of example articles? Yworo (talk) 20:03, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Were did you get all thses facts about citizenship in the Kingdom of England, I would be interested to read it. Mo ainm~Talk 20:22, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
It's pretty much common knowledge to those familiar with English history. Blackstone is a decent source. Be sure to read the footnotes. Yworo (talk) 20:36, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
You are linking to a book that was published 169 years after the Kingdom of England ceased to be. And you are using it to make claims about something that no longer existed. Unless you can point to the exact part which states that 169 years previous as you claim "Nationality at the time was based on that of the father. A son was subject to the same crown that the father was" Then your comments are just original research.Mo ainm~Talk 20:44, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
The book describes the system of allegiance dating from feudal times. This is simply how allegiance to a monarch has always worked in England, then Britain. It was also used pretty much universally throughout Europe. Boyle's father was a colonialist who colonized Ireland on behalf of his monarch. He and his were English, kept their allegiance to their English monarch, which bond they were born into, and were welcomed back as loyal subjects when they returned to England. If you claim it worked differently during this particular period of history, please provide a source. Yworo (talk) 20:53, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Scroll down to the next page, it gives examples dating back to 1329. This is a history of law. Yworo (talk) 20:55, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I don't make any claims you are the one who is doing that. I know that his family were planters and have never said otherwise. You said this book backs up your claims made above I asked you how as would be interested to read what it says. Mo ainm~Talk 20:59, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
You've been making the claim that Boyle was a citizen of Ireland. Please show exactly how and when he became such. By default, throughout English and British history, one's allegiance was to the King and Country of your father and grandfather. To change such allegiance would have been an adult act, and a treasonous one. Boyle would have been kicked out of England had he done so. So the burden is on you to show how and when he became an Irish citizen. Yworo (talk) 21:04, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Nice. I see we've gone from selectively reading WP:MOSBIO to ignoring WP:V and WP:NPOV and now we've moved onto WP:SYNTHESIS. Where will this magical journey take us next? Yworo, when ever you choose to come join us in the land of WP:V and leave the land of WP:SYNTHESIS behind, you will be welcome.
John of Lancaster, your suggestion at 19:19, 7 July 2010 is good. --RA (talk) 21:18, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
This is not synthesis. This is how nationality was always determined in a monarchy. Place of birth never had any place in nationality. This is common knowledge. WP:MOSBIO is very clear that citizenship or nationality is what is to be used. Some people are very confused about how nationality is inherited. They have claimed that there was no such thing as nationality during the time period under discussion. The source I provided shows that there was. King was synonymous with country. A person was a citizen of the country of the king to whom they owed allegiance. I'm an American and even I know that. John of Lancaster is I presume British and he's been saying this is how it worked for quite some time here. He is right. Those questioning it are wrong. These are objective and verifiable facts, and they are used on other articles to simply state nationality in the lead sentence. Yworo (talk) 21:21, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Yworo, we have sources for Irish, English, Anglo-Irish and even British are we just to ignore other sources and use the ones you think are correct? How about this sentence it seems to have some agreement:
Robert Boyle {{bdd|January|25|1627|December|31|1691}} was a natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor, also noted for his writings in theology. Mo ainm~Talk 21:40, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
He was English. You might also want to note that he was a Fellow of the Royal Society. RS rules state that Fellows who are not subjects of the English crown must call themselves "Foreign Fellows". There is no doubt whatsover of his nationality. There is no reason to exclude it from the lead. Yworo (talk) 21:47, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Yworo, Source A + Source B = Statement C is WP:SYNTHESIS. All statements added to Wikipedia need to be referencable to a single reliable source that explicitly supports them. Where sources give different views, as in this case, they need to be balanced to form a neutral point of view.
(Also, you do know that the King of Ireland, the King of England and the King of Scotland at the time of Boyle were the same person - and indeed a Scottish person at that, not an English one? Herein lies the danger of WP:OR and WP:SYTHESIS.) --RA (talk) 21:55, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Where did Boyle reside when he achieved notability? That's what Wikipedia uses for nationality. Yworo (talk) 21:57, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Are you purposly not listening or do you really not understand WP:NPOV, I have numerous sources which say he is not English but Irish, Anglo-Irish and British but because your opinion is that he is English then that is what goes in the article. And also when Boyle was in the RS it initially had no rules or methods, and the primary goals were to organise and view experiments and communicate their discoveries to each other, we can't retrospectivly say what is the norm today was when he was part of it at the start.Mo ainm~Talk 22:01, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
No, Wikipedia does not use that to decide nationality. Wikipedia uses verifability and NPOV in all circumstances. Those are non-negeotiabe. Also, Wikipedia does not use original research or synthesis. That is also non-negeotiable.
With respect to the MOS for biographies: "Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability." Additionally, a 17th century natural philosopher is not a "modern-day case", so please no more talk about citizenship or nationality. We can set Boyle's context in another way that approaches reliable sources on this topic from a neutral point of view. --RA (talk) 22:22, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
You forgot this quote (emphasis added) "the country of which the person is a citizen or national, or was a citizen when the person became notable." Yworo (talk) 22:27, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

What about these sources, and what about the statements made by Boyle during his lifetime that show that he did not self-identify as Irish, but rather made the sort of derogatory statements one would expect of a colonizer who identified as an Englishman:

Please list your sources that say Irish like this so we can compare their relative reliablity. Yworo (talk) 22:24, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

I believe a consensus is emerging to tackle this issue by rephrasing the lede. Do we need to test consensus on this or can we move on and agree text? --HighKing (talk) 22:42, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Some examples, Yworo:

  • "Boyle. Robert 1627-91 - Irish physicist and chemist." – The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary of Biography, 2003
  • "Robert Boyle – Irish chemist, physicist, and inventor" – Clifford A. Pickover, Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them, Oxford University Press
  • "Robert Boyle (1627-1691), an Irish scientist and philosopher…" - Philosophy of Science: An Historical Anthology (Timothy McGrew, Marc Alspector-Kelly, Fritz Allhoff), Wiley, 2009
  • "Robert Boyle, Irish scientist, born 1627, died 1691." - The Oxford Children's Book of Famous People, Oxford University Press, 2003
  • "[[[John Dury]]] married a relative of Sir Robert Boyle, the Irish scientist." - Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650-1800 (Richard Henry Popkin), Brill, 1988
  • "Robert Boyle (Irish chemist, physicist and inventor, 1627-1691)" - Emerging Physics (Avinash W. Joshi, et al.), Pearson Education, 2010

--RA (talk) 22:58, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Adds: just to be clear, I'm not pushing for "Irish"; rather that the question be treated neutrally with respect to sources, which would mean a outline context. --RA (talk) 23:00, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

This dispute is going nowhere. If WP:MOSBIO says that nationality should be based on where the person was when they became notable, why don't we just leave English in the lead and be done with it? Following guidelines is not POV. John of Lancaster (talk) 23:20, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree with you. Nobody is arguing that mentions of his birthplace be removed. Simply that the correct nationality be the one used in the lead sentence as described by WP:MOSBIO. I'd have no objection to the details being given in the second paragraph of the lead as they are in some other articles (e.g. Audrey Hepburn, born in Brussels but citizen of Britain). Yworo (talk) 23:25, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, let's not follow POV. Refer to WP:NPOV to see what that means. Different sources say "Irish", "English" or "Anglo-Irish". We respect the different sources and don't just run with which ever one suits our national POVs.
Also, John, WP:MOSBIO does not say that nationality should be based on where the person was when they became notable. WP:V is policy. We go with sources. Always. --RA (talk) 00:14, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
(e/c - and pretty much a repeat of what RA is also saying)Because we have numerous sources which differ. For example, I don't see any sources claiming Audrey Hepburn was Belgian, so I don't believe that case is comparing like with like. If this debate was purely based on place of birth, and sources cited Boyle as British, then I believe the consensus would agree with you. Because we have different sources, policies such as NPOV must be followed, and that is why a consensus is emerging to deal with this article a little differently. --HighKing (talk) 00:16, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Actually, edit warriors are continually trying to called her Belgian, or Dutch, or Dutch-British or Belgian-Dutch-British. The consensus on the talk page is that she was a British citizen, who happened to have a Dutch mother and coincidentally born in Belgium, but was never a citizen of the Netherlands or Belgium, and she was a British citizen when she achieved notability. Yworo (talk) 01:17, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

One telling incident in Boyle's life: When Cromwell defeated the Irish in 1652, he gave Irish lands to English lords. He gave lands to Boyle. Cromwell didn't give land to the Irish, he gave land to loyal subjects of the English throne. From this we can conclude that Boyle was considered English during his lifetime. [6]: "Cromwell, leading the parliamentary forces, defeated the Scots in 1650, again in 1651, and the Irish were also defeated by Cromwell in 1652. Boyle went to Ireland in 1652 to look after his estates there. He ended up a very rich man when Cromwell apportioned Irish lands to the English colonists." Yworo (talk) 01:23, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Your arguments are pretty ridiculous. You keep on bringing up WP:MOSBIO even though it refers to biographies for "modern" people. The "modern" part is key because present day notions of nationality and citizenship are anachronistic. Boyle lived before there was formal British nationality. Boyle was born in the Kingdom of Ireland to a father who held a peerage under the Irish crown. The Kingdom of Ireland had not been joined with the other Kingdoms that went on to form the British crown and was still technically its own state. People were considered subjects of the crown regardless of which kingdom the lived in, so there was no concept of changing citizenship. Your argument that, per WP:MOSBIO, only citizenship at time of notability matters, doesn't fit here because Boyle never changed his citizenship and the very idea of a citizenship change from Ireland to England is anachronistic. Your best argument is that Boyle was ethnically English, but your favored MOSBIO standard says not to include ethnicity in the opening. I really don't understand why "Anglo-Irish" is not an acceptable term. It refers to the group of Protestants of English heritage that made up the ruling class of Ireland. The Wikipedia article even says they often spent much of their time in Britain as Boyle did. Using "Anglo-Irish" precisely indicates Boyle's social group without having to contort modern concepts of citizenship and nationality that clearly don't fit here. By the way, the group that Cromwell rewarded for fighting the Catholic Irish were the Anglo-Irish, so you attempted OR actually favors my argument. So far your only rebuttal to the use of "Anglo-Irish" was that Boyle didn't have a "drop of Irish in him." This makes it seem like you're actually concerned with his ethnicity, which, once again, is specifically precluded from the opening by your favored Wikipedia standard here.--Bkwillwm (talk) 04:16, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Anglo-Irish is not an acceptable term because there are sources that describe him as Anglo-Irish, but there are other sources that describe him as English, British, and Irish and people are saying that we can't choose one source over another source or else that wouldn't be NPOV. I also find it interesting how those same people were previously so ready to dismiss a source that describes him as British because they believed that that description wasn't accurate. In fact, isn't that what started this whole bloody dispute? John of Lancaster (talk) 06:32, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Ahem - you are critcising another editor for doing the same thing that you are doing? (Save that he/she arrives at another arbitrary choice of sources.)
Are you OK with a describing Boyle's background in the lead to set his birth, context, lineage and background rather than simply picking one term from sources and running with it? --RA (talk) 08:21, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
He was suggesting that we use Anglo-Irish in the lead and I was merely telling him that that editors such as yourself wouldn't let him use that term because while there are sources that describe Boyle as Anglo-Irish, there are also sources that describe him as English, British, and Irish, so according to you, the term Anglo-Irish wouldn't be NPOV. John of Lancaster (talk) 19:14, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
"He gave lands to Boyle. Cromwell didn't give land to the Irish, he gave land to loyal subjects of the English throne." Oh dear. Cromwell was a republican. He gave lands to those who were loyal to Parliament and he removed it from those who were loyal to the throne. Hence most of Irish nobility lost their lands. Herein lies the danger of original research and synthesis. --RA (talk) 06:03, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Deletion of material trying to spin Robert Boyle into a subject of Irish interest[edit]

This is the paragraph I've just deleted. I'm being asked to defend the deletion, so I'm going to critique the paragraph.

As a infant, Boyle was fostered to an Irish family until his formal schooling began.<ref>{{cite|title=Physicists of Ireland: Passion and Precision|first1=Mark|last1=McCartney|first2=Andrew|last2=Whitaker|publisher=Insitute of Physics Publishing|year=2003|location=London}}</ref> In his later life, Boyle was outspoken in his view that the clergy of the (Protestant) [[Church of Ireland]] should be fluent in the [[Irish language]]. Boyles concern for a Irish-language was not the normal attitude of Irish Protestants to Gaelic during his day, who were generally hostile to the Irish language and culture.<ref>{{cite|first=Adrian|last=Hastings|title=The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationalism|publisher=Cambridge University Press|location=Cambridge|year=1997}}</ref> In 1680, despite political opposition, he personally funded the production of an [[Irish language|Irish-language]] [[New Testament]] to replace the 1602 version that had gone out of print,<ref>{{cite|first=William|last=Killen|title=The Ecclesiastical History of Ireland: From the Earliest Period to the Present Times | publisher=MacMillan |year=1875|location=London |url=}}</ref> even having the printer instructed in the Irish language for the purpose of printing it.<ref>{{cite|first=Talbot|last=Baines Reed|title=A History of the Old English Letter Foundries: with Notes, Historical and Bibliographical, on the Rise and Progress of English Typography|publisher=E. Stock|year=1887}}</ref> Despite his birth in Ireland, Boyle described it as "a barbarous country where chemical spirits were so misunderstood and chemical instruments so unprocurable that it was hard to have any Hermetic thoughts in it."<ref>quoted in Silver, Brian. ''The Ascent of Science'', p. 114. Oxford University Press US, 2000. ISBN 9780195134278</ref>

(1) Quote: "As a infant, Boyle was fostered to an Irish family until his formal schooling began. REF" The referenced support for that is the book Physicists of Ireland -- Google Books Preview Available, which actually says "Robert was raised, as was the tradition at the time in wealthy families, by a wet nurse (foster mother) and then taught by private tutors at home. He was sent at the age of eight to Eton." I have changed the statement to make it say what the book is actually saying. It is very clear to me that the statement "Boyle was fostered by an Irish family" is motivated by a foolish desire to put an Irish spin on Robert Boyle.

(2) Quote: "In his later life, Boyle was outspoken in his view that the clergy of the (Protestant) Church of Ireland should be fluent in the Irish language. Boyles concern for a Irish-language was not the normal attitude of Irish Protestants to Gaelic during his day, who were generally hostile to the Irish language and culture.REF" The first of those two sentences is unsourced and perhaps untrue. The second sentence is sourced and true, but it's confounding two different things. Boyle favoured the use of Gaelic in religious activities among native Gaelic speakers, but he did not have any particular favour for Gaelic itself. Rather, he had the Protestant idea that religion should be in vernacular language. The Robert Boyle wikipedia article has been saying for many years that Boyle "spent large sums... translating the Bible or portions of it into various languages". I have today added the following:

Like the great of majority of British Protestants, Boyle supported the policy that the Bible should be available in the vernacular language of the people (in contrast to the Latin-only policy of the Roman Catholic church at the time). The government, following this policy, had financed the publication of the Bible in the Gaelic language 1602, but by Boyle's later years this had gone out of print and had not been replaced. In 1680 Boyle personally financed the printing of the New Testament in Gaelic.SAME REF -- A History of the Old English Letter Foundries.

(3) Quote: "Despite his birth in Ireland, Boyle described it as "a barbarous country where chemical spirits were so misunderstood and chemical instruments so unprocurable that it was hard to have any Hermetic thoughts in it.REF" I deleted that just because I couldn't find a place to put it in, and I think it's to tangential and peripheral. But if you want to restore it somewhere, I don't mind. Seanwal111111 (talk) 00:01, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

A few notes on what is written above:
  • On point (1), what is noteworthy is that Boyle was not simply raised by a wet nurse (in the English style) but was fostered (in the Irish style). The difference being that a wet nurse lived with the child's family and raised the child in the fashion of the family. Whereas a fostered child is raised among the foster family's children and in their style. This was a tradition among the wealthy Gaelic Irish and Old (Gaelicised) English in Ireland.
  • On point (2), "British" Protestantism in Ireland at the time is noted for its absence in preaching in Irish. Boyle, probably more "protestant" than others, was amongst a very small number of the Ascendancy that sought to preach in Irish. Boyle is particularly noted for having put his money where his mouth was against the common trend. (And yes, "Irish" is correct at the time - even in Scotland, where the language was known as "Erse". To call the language, "Gaelic", became fashionable during the 19th century.)
--RA (talk) 13:24, 23 August 2010 (UTC)


I quote from the third sentence of the introduction of this article:

"Although his research clearly has its roots in the alchemical tradition, he is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of modern chemistry."

So even though he might have been the "...first modern chemist" and " of the founders of modern chemistry", it sounds to me that he was still [also] an alchemist. Shouldn't he also be listed and included under the "alchemy" and "alchemist" categories? (talk) 19:29, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Someone added a couple of related citation needed tags. I don't have time to work on right now, but here are some sources [7], [8], [9], [10], [11]. There are others; just say something from the sources and cite them. Keep in mind that the boundary between alchemy and chemistry is not really a clean one, just a way of separating more modern notions from earlier ideas that were mostly not on a very useful track of explanation, but did include a lot of good scientific experimentation. Dicklyon (talk) 23:50, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

Robert O'Boyle[edit]

There seems to be consensus on this page that describing him as Irish is too simplistic. The same applies about English. But "not mentioning the war" and dodging the question by omitting all mention of nationality does not work - too many drive-by editors see the "omission" and amend it usually describing him as Irish. This is unsatisfactory and so I propose that it's better to be honest and acknowledge the complexity and debate round this issue.Straw Cat (talk) 22:40, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

I've added a little more detail explaining his English/Irish/Anglo-Irish descendency, including the context of his father's arrival in Ireland and his maternal grandparents. --RA (talk) 14:20, 9 July 2011 (UTC)


I thought it was common knowledge that Boyle experienced an epiphany of Christian faith in Switzerland, during a thunderstorm, that led him to devote his life to science, so abandoning his life of dissolution, as he saw it at that time. I thought this was a matter of record in his personal writings. Is there some special reason this is not included in this article? I will state that I myself have no motive of Christian proselytization, but only of fairness and accuracy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mammel (talkcontribs) 06:44, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Sure enough, it says something along those lines here. The bit about the pedophile Friars attacking him would also be interesting. Dicklyon (talk) 07:19, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Those with a serious interest in Boyle may consult The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for an account of his religious conversion and its influence on his life and work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:51, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Royal Society[edit]

The correct full title of the Royal Society, as given in its Royal Charter, is "The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge", not "The Royal Society of London for the Improvment of Natural Knowledge". See Please can this be changed in "The Middle Years". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:25, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Fixed. — HHHIPPO 21:17, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Perpetual Motion Devices[edit]

There is the picture of Robert Boyles perpetual motion device, but I was interested in why the topic didn't warrant getting mentioned in the Scientific Investigator section? Robert Boyle is mentioned on the perpetual motion page and I thought his work on creating a possible device might warrant more of a mention in the main article. Dradoowdrad (talk) 06:46, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

national pathos[edit]

Nationality is odd and the ascription of nationality is even odder. I think that someone like Boyle simply resists having any nationality thrust upon him. The need felt by some people to ascribe nationality in this way('one up for us') says a lot about where they want to position themselves in this particular discourse which I can describe only as one of national pathos. Pamour (talk) 15:59, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

- Absolutely, nationality didn't even exist in a modern sense back then and it should be definitely left out. If the person in question didn't make it clear, then let the readers decide for themselves. - (talk) 15:39, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Agree. We avoided it in the past. There were wars of "Irish", "English", and "Anglo-Irish". I've replaced it with a description: "born in Ireland of English descent". --RA (talk) 16:03, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Possible replacement image for Robert Boyle[edit]

I'm not sure of the etiquette around replacement of an image used on a page, so I'm bringing this to the talk page.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation has recently released a higher resolution scan (1,195 × 1,500 pixels, file size: 690 KB) of File:The Shannon Portrait of the Hon Robert Boyle.jpg The original painting has been purchased by them and is on display at the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The image currently linked to from the Robert Boyle page and others, File:Robert Boyle 0001.jpg is relatively low resolution (523 × 663 pixels, file size: 119 KB). It also has been lightened, which makes it look very grainy.

I appreciate that someone did the work to provide the earlier image. However, I would like to propose that the larger image, which is truer to the original colors of the portrait, be used instead of the the image currently on the page. Mary Mark Ockerbloom (talk) 13:11, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done --Tóraí (talk) 16:30, 2 October 2013 (UTC)


I cited Encyclopedia Britannica, which describes Boyle as Anglo-Irish, but other editors keep changing his description to simply Irish. Calling him just Irish is misleading and shows a lack of understanding of the political situation in Ireland at the time. The editors' reasoning is that WP:MOSBIO says that ethnicity should not be mentioned in the lead sentence, but Anglo-Irish is not an ethnicity, it's a social class. Besides, WP:MOSBIO says not to mention ethnicity unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. The fact that Boyle was Anglo-Irish is relevant to his notability because being born to an upper class family in Ireland allowed him he to receive a gentleman's education, go to England, and become a successful scientist. Besides, Anglo-Irish is used in the lead sentence of other articles such as Jonathan Swift. Also, WP:MOSBIO says to use the country where the person was a citizen, national or permanent resident when the person became notable and that previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability. Boyle was a resident of England when he became notable, so if we're going to go by WP:MOSBIO, we really should use English instead of Irish. I think that Anglo-Irish should remain in the lead sentence. (talk) 16:30, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

Good luck getting anyone to agree on that. The reason you're edit keeps getting reverted is because this site is flooded with Irish nationalists who insist that Robert Boyle was a proud Irishman despite the fact that most reliable sources will tell you otherwise. It doesn't matter what you say to them or what indisputable facts you present them with. I think you had best just give up this cause. It's not worth the headache. They want him to be described as Irish, so he's going to be described as Irish and there's nothing you, I, or anyone else can do about it. -- (talk) 22:13, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Well, that's not right. We shouldn't disregard a reliable source just because it goes against some people's personal opinions. Wikipedia should be about providing readers with the most accurate information possible as provided by the most reliable sources available. Surely we can come to some kind of agreement about this. (talk) 04:22, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
Try reasoning with these people. I dare you. -- (talk) 22:12, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

There have been several long, drawn out and painful disputes regarding Boyle's nationality here on this talk page. You can find them by simply scrolling up the page. Read them if you want, but be sure to bring water and supplies. The last dispute seemed to have ended with the decision not to use a nationality in the lead sentence, but that didn't last long because Irish was added to the lead sentence by an Irish nationalist and of course, the other Irish nationalists aren't going to remove it. -- (talk) 22:20, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. I was not aware of these past disputes. Who would have thought that something like Robert Boyle's nationality would be such a matter of controversy? I think it's best if we leave his nationality out of the lead sentence and leave it up to the readers to decide for themselves. (talk) 18:06, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
"I think it's best if we leave his nationality out of the lead sentence " Read above, consensus shows Irish, not British- no act of Union, not what your thinking is on it, but please feel free to show how consensus may change. Murry1975 (talk) 19:45, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand your reason for reverting my edits. I don't see any consensus in the above disputes to use Irish. I see people fighting for English, people fighting for Irish, and people fighting for Anglo-Irish. In the most recent thread regarding Boyle's nationality titled "national pathos", there seems to be an agreement not to use a nationality in the lead sentence. Adding Irish to the lead sentence is not going to make everyone happy and is only going to lead to future disputes. Like I said, calling Boyle Irish is misleading and shows a lack of understanding of the political situation in Ireland at the time. Even if there was a consensus to use Irish, we shouldn't disregard a reliable source in favor of a consensus per WP:V. Britannica calls Boyle Anglo-Irish, so I don't understand why he can't be described as Anglo-Irish here. Your only argument is that WP:MOSBIO says not to use ethnicity in the lead sentence, but like I said, Anglo-Irish is not an ethnicity and even if it were, WP:MOSBIO says not to mention ethnicity unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. The fact that Boyle was Anglo-Irish is relevant to his notability because if he wasn't, he would not have received the education that he did and would not have become the famous scientist that he is today. I know that you want Boyle to be described as Irish, but I think we need to put our personal feelings aside for the greater good of Wikipedia. -- (talk) 03:08, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
"like I said, Anglo-Irish is not an ethnicity ", yes it is, even if your POV says its not. Boyle as born and raised in the Kingdom of Ireland, that alone makes him Irish. If you seem to understand otherwise that is entirely your choice. Murry1975 (talk) 10:24, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Okay, Anglo-Irish is an ethnicity. Like I've been saying, WP:MOSBIO says not to mention ethnicity unless it is relevant to the subject's notability and the fact that Boyle was Anglo-Irish is relevant to his notability. Also, I looked up Robert Boyle in the Random House College Dictionary and it actually describes him as English. Also, the book "Boyle on Atheism" by J.J. MacIntosh says "notwithstanding his birthplace, Boyle was English, or perhaps Anglo-Irish, not Irish, and at the time he would have been made clearly aware of the difference". I don't think that we should disregard these reliable sources just because your opinion is that he was Irish. That's why I think that it's best if we be neutral and just leave his nationality out of the lead sentence, which is what the editors in the above disputes seemed to have agreed on. Again, I don't see any consensus in the above discussions to use Irish and you haven't provided a source that describes him as such. You just said that he was Irish because he was born and raised in the Kingdom of Ireland, but that seems like original research to me. Now look, I'm not trying to be difficult; I'm a good faith editor and only want what's best for Wikipedia and I really think that it's best if we leave Boyle's nationality out of the lead sentence. -- (talk) 03:36, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
See? I told you that these people can't be reasoned with and that it doesn't matter what you say to them, but you wouldn't listen. Now the IRA is going to be out to start a lynch mob for you. -- (talk) 22:31, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
Yeah. It looks like you were right. There really are editors on this site whose only aim is to get the articles saying what they want them to say even if there are indisputable reliable sources that say otherwise and it looks like they are allowed to just get away with it. No wonder Wikipedia has been banned as a research tool in most schools. I'm sure glad it has been. -- (talk) 05:04, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Suggest you try your luck with the John Field page, where rabid nationalists will insist on describing him as Irish even though he was clearly English/French/Russian/etc (lived and composed mostly in England, and France, and Russia, dont'cha know) ... Straw Cat (talk) 11:25, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes and clearly there are sources that describe him as English, French, and Russian dont'cha know. -- (talk) 02:55, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Born and bred in Ireland. Sources call him Irish. Yet it's a sign that Wikipedia is "flooded with rabid Irish nationalists", someone changes the article to call him so? I think some people need to check their baggage.
In any case, there's no need to say he was Irish, English, or whatever you're having yourself. His biography is enough for a reader to draw their own conclusions about his nation. There's no need to turn every article in to a nationalist pissing match, a game at which our English colleagues are every bit the equals of their rivals. --Tóraí (talk) 20:44, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
They sure do need to check their baggage. Robert Boyle was even voted Ireland's Greatest Scientist in Ireland's Greatest. Do they think that poll was taken by a bunch of "rabid Irish nationalists"? What bollocks. (talk) 18:26, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

New photos on Commons from the Royal Society Library[edit]

As part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Royal Society a special photo session in the Royal Society Library in London has resulted in Commons:Category:Royal Society Library, with over 50 photos of their treasures, mostly 17th century manuscripts, including several of one of Boyle's notebooks. Please add these as appropriate. Thanks! Wiki at Royal Society John (talk) 22:05, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks! I added one to the article. --Tóraí (talk) 22:40, 26 June 2014 (UTC)