Talk:Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork

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is there any rumour of relatedness to shakespeare? (talk) 10:42, 7 November 2010 (UTC)


What's an escheator? -- Zoe

When someone dies without any heir to inherit their property, it "escheats" to the government. The "escheator" was the county officer appointed in England to make sure the king got all that property. -- isis 07:38 Jan 26, 2003 (UTC)

The rehabilitation issue, when The Great Earl is compared with Hobbes, is difficult. Hobbes has attracted much recent biographical study. The Great Earl has not, although his son Robert Boyle has attracted very substantial attention from the likes of Hunter, Schapin, Wojcik, Principe and many others.

Does anyone know of any comparatively recent work which locates The Earl more comprehensively in the context of his involvement with the events (especially political) of his time?

Where, for instance, are the details of his demise?

This may all seem somewhat churlish, bearing in mind that the Wikipedia entry for this individual is by far the most comprehensive of any encyclopedia entry for the man.

It is not churlish at all, but a fair question. I don't know the answer but hopefully someone out there might know. STÓD/ÉÍRE 23:49 Apr 11, 2003 (UTC)

Well, in the interests of answering the question (and hopefully others) I went out and at great expense BOUGHT a (100 year old, 531 pages) edition of the Dorothea Townshend Biography.

On page 441 of her book:

"When he learned the will of the King, he said no word; he turned his face to the wall, and died."

There is a footnote reference at the end of that sentence wich says:

Borlaise, Red. Ire., p209.

I will research the reference, but so far I haven't found further details in Townshend's (fascinating) book, so the precise account of the great Earl's demise remains a mystery (to Wikipedia, at least).


Historical Context Section is Nonsense[edit]

Firstly, it's obviously very pro-Boyle and therefore not NPOV. Secondly, *most* of it doesn't even make any sense whatsoever - e.g. the second sentence of the first paragraph - this is utter gibberish; the reference to the "strategic use" of marriage with a link to the Queen Mother's ancestry - this is a non-sequitur... I mean, what? The Earl "strategically" planned that 400 years into the future one of his descendants would marry a future king in purely in order secure his "immortality". Riiiiight. 15:45, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

The comments above are quite important and do need to be addressed[edit]

Although the 'pro-Boyle' history is not easy to find elsewhere, the writer above has an excellent point:

The 'anti-Boyle sentiment' is even harder to find, and is conspicuopus by its absence!

This article, which may indeed give the impression that Boyle may be in need of rehabilitation, was really intended by me when I wrote it to convey the more pressing need for Boyle to be re-examined as an under-researched historical figure, whose history seems to be less comprehensively documented than it probably was.

Nicholas Canny's book seems to allude to it, but I couldn't actually find any direct references to it.

The 'pro-Boyle' aspect of the article is really a 'counterbalance', not to 'anti-Boyle' material, but to what appears to be an 'airbrushed out from history'sense, a sense where 'Boyle is an untold story'.

The 'bad stuff', whereby whatever it was that constitutes the case against Boyle can be presented, will no doubt 'couterbalance the counterbalance' and give us an insight into the following:

What Boyle did that was most offensive

What the reaction was at the time

Who wrote about it

How accurate such accounts might be

What the response was to such material at the time

Why such material seems to be inacessible at the moment

By the way, the illustration of the 'permeation' of the royal succession by Boyle's descendants is not meant to create an impression of supernatural power, merely to point out that his manifest intention (much resented by his detractors) which was to elevate future generations of his offspring into the uppermost echelons of the aristocracy, could not be realistically seen as being ultimately inconsistent with reality.

There is nothing unprecedented regarding such an outcome, setting in train arrangements which 'span the generations' is at the very heart of the 'dynastic ethos' which underlies the principle of aristocracy.

What was exceptional was the conceived principle and succesful practice by Boyle of subverting the established order by engineering one's own position (rather than inheriting it) in the dynastic process and then making a special effort (using money and marriage) to maximise the extent and rapdity which ones family penetrates and proliferates within the hierarchy.

The alarm this caused in the aristocracy does leave some distinct traces (Canny's title "the upstart Earl" was Boyle's nickname).

My own suspicion is that Boyle was widely despised both during and after his time.

It is true to say that the current article offers too little insight as to why.

Perhaps the above writer can share his own.


The following changes were made to address confusion and POV/NPOV

Split up and simplified first paragraph of historical context and added at the end of what is now the second paragraph:

"rather than offering an objective appreciation of him as a historical phenomenon."

Qualified the claim concerning "marriage into the Royal line":

"achievement" (as one who aimed at "rising to power by successfullly permeating the aristocratic hierarchy" would inevitably see it).

Added the following at the bottom of historical context:

"If one wishes to understand the forces which have mostly "airbrushed" (or more accurately,"failed to paint a comprehensive or comprehensible picture of) the Earl from the cannon of historical literature, one needs to recognise a number of understandable causes resentment towards him."

"His shameless pursuit and acquisition of wealth, power, social elevation and titles, was a practice which, whilst by no means foreign to the aristocracy of the time, was most abhorred by rich and poor alike when it was conducted with success by an upstart, someone without the historical bloodline which was seen at the time as the legitimate basis for power."

"Oliver Cromwell was another relevant contemporary example of how the power of historically descended aristocracy was beginning to change (i.e., lose its exclusive grip on power, although in different ways, Cromwell was a general and Boyle was a businessman) in Boyle's lifetime, although Cromwell's elevation to the very top of the political hierarchy ensured that literature was 'kinder' to Cromwell than it was to Boyle, at least in terms of "depth of coverage"."

"The fact that Boyle was to so many an outsider in the territory he sought to control was itself further reinforcement for such resentments."

"It would not be unrealistic to view Boyle being characterised historically as an "unspeakably notorious rogue", mostly on account of his financial success and the succession of "suspiciously good outcomes" which seem to accompany all but the very last of the challenges presented by his many adversaries."

"Nonetheless, in the context of the cirumstances in which he found himself, his opportunistic successes do draw admiration in some quarters."

Why has no-one signed the comments above? I am of the opinion that the personal opinions (do we know whose they are?) in the article have no place in an encyclopaedia. Such views may well surface during a class at university but they would not appear in, say, Britannica without serious back-up. The fact remains that Boyle's century was one of corruption throughout the British Isles and the majority of extant Scottish peerages date from the 17th century. To suggest he was somehow poor and a "rags to riches" story is hardly accurate as his family were landed and had sufficient funds to send him to an excellent private school, and he was later training for the law, something which then required money and influence. Most of Ireland was terribly poor at the time and you would not need to have much money to be regarded as 'comfortable' as a stepping stone to better things. As for marrying well, this is hardly unique to him! My suggestion is that envy is apparent in every century towards those who have done well for themselves. In the 19th and 20th centuries it was represented by the socialists. I'd get rid of all the pathetic waffle and just leave in the facts. David Lauder 17:55, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

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