« PreviousContinue »
the next earl, whose actions and public character will also claim a place among our illustrious men.
Bichard Boyle, Earl of Cork.
BORN A. D. 1566-DIED A. D. 1643.
Among the many illustrious persons, who by their valour or prudence laid the foundations of the most noble families of this country, none can be named more deserving of the record of history, than the first earl of Cork. By his prudence and well directed sagacity, he showed the first example of that method of improvement which was afterwards carried into more extended operation in the plantation of Ulster. Nor is posterity less indebted to his name, for the many illustrious warriors, statesmen, and philosophers, whose names are among the noblest ornaments of their generation.
The family of Boyle is of ancient and almost immemorial antiquity. Budgel, who has written their history, mentions that the ancestor from whom they are descended, was "Sir Philip Boyle, a knight of Arragon, who signalized himself at a tournament,” in England, in the reign of Henry VI. But the heralds trace the family in the county of Hereford, so far back as Henry III., and as they confirm their deductions by the full details of personal history, we think it fair to acquiesce in their account.
In the reign of Henry VI., Ludovic Boyle, of Bidney, in Herefordshire, left two sons, John and Roger. The second of these left four sons, of whom one, Michael, was afterwards bishop of Waterford, and another, Roger, was father to the illustrious person whose life we are here to relate. In the discharge of this task, our labour is lightened by the existence of a memoir of himself, which the earl has left. This document has, of course, found a place in every notice of the Boyle family; but we do not for this reason think it can properly be omitted. It follows at full length :- My father, Mr Roger Boyle, was born in Herefordshire; my mother Joan Naylor, daughter of Robert Naylor, of Canterbury, in the county of Kent, Esq., was born there, 15th of October, 1529; and my father and mother were married in Canterbury, 16th of October, 1564; my father died at Preston, near Feversham in Kent, 24th March, 1576; my mother never married again, but lived ten years a widow, and then departed this life at Feversham, aforesaid 20th March, 1586; and they are both buried in one grave, in the upper end of the chancel of the parish church of Preston. In memory of which, my deceased and worthy parents, I their second son, have, in anno 1629, erected a fair alabaster tomb over the place where they were buried, with an iron grate before it, for the better preservation thereof.
“I was born in the city of Canterbury, (as I find it written by my father's own hand) 3d October, 1566. After the decease of my father and mother, I being the second son of a younger brother, having been a scholar in Bennet's College, Cambridge, and a student in the Middle Temple; finding my means unable to support me to study the laws in the Inns of Court, put myself into the service of Sir Richard Manwood, knight, lord ehief baron of her majesty's court of exchequer, where I served as one of his clerks; and perceiving that my employment would not raise a fortune. I resolved to travel into foreign kingdoms, and to gain learning, knowledge, and experience, abroad in the world. And it pleased the Almighty, by his Divine Providence to take me I may say, just as it were by the hand, and lead me into Ireland, where I happily arrived at Dublin on Midsummer eve, the 23d of June, 1588.
“I was married at Limerick to Mrs Joan Apsley, one of the two daughters, and co-heirs of William Apsley of Limerick, Esq., (one of the council to the first president of the province of Munster,) 6th Nov., 1595, who brought me £500 lands the year, which I still enjoy, it being the beginning and foundation of my fortune; and she died at Mogallow, 14th Dec, 1599, in travail of her first child, which was born a dead son, and both of them were buried in Buttevant church.
* When I arrived at Dublin, all my wealth was then £27 3s. in money and two tokens, which my mother had formerly given me, viz. a diamond ring, which I have ever since, and still do wear; and a bracelet of gold, worth about £10; a taffety doublet, cut with and upon taffety; a pair of black velvet breeches, laced; a new MILAN fustian suit laced and cut upon taffety; two cloaks; competent linen and necessaries; with my rapier and dagger. And 23d of June, 1632, I have served my God, queen Elizabeth, King James, and king Charles, full forty-four years in Ireland, and so long after as it shall please God to enable me.
“ When God had blessed me with a reasonable fortune and estate, Sir Henry Wallop, treasurer at war; Sir Robert Gardiner, chief justice of the king's bench; Sir Robert Dillon, chief justice of the common pleas; Sir Richard Bingham, chief commissioner of Connaught; being displeased for some purchases which I had made in the province, they all joined together, and by their letters complained against me to queen Elizabeth, expressing, • That I came over a young man, without any estate or fortune ; and that I had made so many purchases, as it was not possible to do it without some foreign prince's purse to supply me with money; that I had acquired divers castles and abbies on the sea side, fit to receive and entertain Spaniards; that I kept in my abbies fraternities, and convents of friars in their habits, who said mass continually; and that I was suspected in my religion, with divers other malicious suggestions. Whereof having some secret notice, I resolved to go into Munster, and so into England to justify myself; but before I could take shipping, the general rebellion in Munster broke forth. All my lands were wasted, as I could not say that I had
penny of certain revenue left me to the unspeakable danger and hazard of my life ; yet God so preserved me, as I recovered Dingle, and got shipping there, which transported me to Bristol, from whence I travelled to London, and betook myself to my former chamber in the middle temple, intending to renew my studies in the laws till the rebellion was passed over.
“ Then Robert, earl of Essex, was designed for the government of this kingdom, unto whose service I was recommended by Mr Anthony
Bacon; whereupon his lordship very nobly received me, and used me with favour and grace, in employing me in suing out his patent and commission for the government of Ireland; whereof Sir Henry Wallop having notice utterly to suppress me, renewed his former complaint to the queen's majesty against me; whereupon by her majesty's special directions, I was suddenly attacked and conveyed close prisoner to the gate-house; all my papers seized and searched; and, although nothing could appear to my prejudice, yet my close constraint was continued till the earl of Essex was gone, to Ireland, and two months afterwards; at which time, with much suit, I obtained of her sacred majesty the favour to be present at my answers; where I so fully answered, and cleared all their objections, and delivered such full and evident justifications of my own acquittal, as it pleased the queen to use these words: • By God's death, all these are but inventions against this young man, and all his sufferings are for being able to do us service, and these complaints urged to forestall him therein: but we find him a man fit to be employed by ourselves, and we will employ him in our service; and Wallop and his adherents shall know that it shall not be in the power of any of them to wrong him, neither shall Wallop be our treasurer any longer. And, arising from council, gave order not only for my present enlargement, but also discharging all my charges and fees during my restraint, gave me her royal hand to kiss, which I did heartily; humbly thanking God for that great deliverance.
Being commanded by her majesty to attend at court, it was not many days before her highness was pleased to bestow upon me the office of clerk of the council of Munster,* and to commend me over to Sir George Carew (after earl of Totness), and then lord-president of Munster; whereupon I bought of Sir Walter Raleigh his ship, called
the Pilgrim,' into which I took a freight of ammunition and victuals, and came in her myself by long sea, and arrived at Carrigfoile in Kerry, where the lord-president and the army were then at the siege of that castle; which, when we had taken, I was there sworn clerk of the council of Munster; and presently after made a justice of peace and quorum throughout all that province. And this was the second rise that God
fortunes. “ Then as clerk of the council, I attended the lord-president in all his employments; waited on him (who assisted lord-deputy Mountjoy) at the whole siege of Kingsale, and was employed by his lordship to her majesty with the news of the happy victory (obtained over the Irish under the earl of Tyrone and the Spaniards, 24th of December, 1601); in which employment I made a speedy expedition to the court; for I left my lord-president at Shandon castle, near Cork, on Monday morning about two of the clock, and the next day delivered my packet, and supped with Sir Robert Cecil, being then principal secretary, at his house in the Strand; who, after supper, held me in discourse till two of the clock in the morning; and by seven that morning called upon me to attend him to the court, where he presented me to her majesty in her bedchamber; who remembered me, calling me by my name, and giving me her hand to kiss, telling me, that she was glad that I was the happy man to bring the first news of the glorious victory. And after her majesty had interrogated with me upon sundry questions very punctually, and that therein I had given her full satisfaction in every particular, she gave me again her hand to kiss, and commanded my dispatch for Ireland, and so dismissed me with grace and favour.
gave to my
* Lodovic Briskett surrendered that office 31st March, 1600, to the intent the queen might give it to Mr Boyle, together with the custody of the signet for the province whereof he had a grant by patent, dated 8th of May following.
á At my return into Ireland, I found my lord-president ready to march to the siege of Beerhaven castle, then fortified and possessed by the Spaniards and some Irish rebels, which after battering we had made assaultable, entered, and put all to the sword. His lordship then fell to reducing these western parts of the province to subjection and obedience to her majesty's laws; and, having placed garrisons and wards in all places of importance, made his return to Cork; and in the way homewards acquainted me with his resolution to employ me presently into England, to obtain license from her majesty for his repair to her royal presence; at which time he propounded unto me the purchase of all Sir Walter Raleigh's lands in Münster, which, by his assistance, and the mediation of Sir Robert Ceeil, was perfected, and this was a third addition and rise to my estate.
“ Then I returned into Ireland with my lord-president's licence to repair to court; and by his recommendation was married, 25th July, 1603, to my second wife, Miss Catherine Fenton, the only daughter of Sir Jeffray Fenton, principal secretary of state, and privy counsellor, in Ireland, on which day I was knighted by Sir George Carew, lorddeputy of Ireland, at St Mary's abbey, near Dublin."
This memoir is said to have been written in the year 1632, when the noble writer had reached his 67th year; he was at the time lord Boyle, baron Youghall, viscount Dungarvon, earl of Cork, and lord high treasurer of Ireland.
In 1603 he was, as this memoir states, married to his second wife, Miss Catherine Fenton. Of this marriage the following curious origin is mentioned by some writers, on the authority of the countess of Warwick, in whose life it has been inserted. While yet a widower, Sir Richard Boyle, had, according to this story, occasion to pay a visit of business to Sir Geoffry Fenton, master of the rolls. Sir Geoffry was engaged, and Boyle was detained for a long time; during which he amused himself by playing with Sir Geoffry's little daughter, then about two years old. When Sir Geoffry came, he apologized for having detained Mr Boyle so long; but was answered by Mr Boyle, that he had been courting his little daughter, with the design to make her his wife. Fenton took up the jest, and the conversation ended in a serious engagement, that the match should be concluded when the young lady should attain a marriageable age.* And, as the tale runs, they both fulfilled their promises. Of this account, there is no reason to reject so much as merely involves a common play of speech; the rest is not admitted as correct by Lodge; nor is it reconcileable with the dates
* Postscript appended to Budgel's Memoir. The assertion of the countess of Warwick goes farther still, “that he was a widower when his lady, by whom he bad a numerous issue, was in her nurse's arms."
given by the earł himself, in the narrative already cited; as his first wife's death occurred in 1599, and his second marriage in 1603.
In March 12, 1606, he was sworn privy counsellor for the province of Munster; and on 15th February following, for all Ireland. After several other lesser advancements and changes, be was, on 6th September, 1616, created lord Boyle, baron of Youghall
. Of this promotion, the reasons assigned are not merely those military services enumerated in most of the patents we have hitherto had occasion to notice. Boyle is commended for the judicious erection of forts and castles, and the establishment of colonies at his own cost, and it may be added, for his own great advantage, without questioning the further asseverations of the record, which proceeds to say, that all those districts surrounding his properties were, by his prudence and industry, become more civilized, wealthy, and obedient to the law.
In 1620, lord Boyle was advanced to the dignities of viscount Dungarvon, and earl of Cork.
In 1629, his lordship and lord chancellor Loftus were sworn lordsjustices. In 1631, he was appointed lord-treasurer, and continued in the government till the arrival of lord Strafford.
Of lord Strafford we have already expressed our opinions; the principle of his general policy was just and comprehensive: but it must be allowed to have been harsh, unbending, and often unjust to individuals. If in the prosecution of his public aims, he was incorrupt and no respecter of persons; he was arrogant, domineering, and heedless of every consideration, by which more serupulous minds are controlled. Such a disposition was, as we have endeavoured to show, not unsuited to the actual condition of the country, at the time; and had the irrespective principle of his policy been thoroughly maintained, there would have been less reason to complain. But this he found impracticable; and in yielding to influences and to circumstances which he could not control, his stern and overbearing temper became tyrannical to a party, and oppressive to individuals. In aban. doning a portion of his extreme and rigorous course, he gave a triumph to the popular party, and diffused terror among
opponents. To the leaders of the protestant party, such a line of conduct could not fail to be offensive, as it was alarming: to these his hostility was early shown by the
arrogance of his deportment to many of the most influential and distinguished of the Irish aristocracy. To the earl of Cork, his conduct was insolent, oppressive, and illegal. This earl had commenced a suit at law, to which Strafford thought fit to interpose his authority, and commanded that the earl of Cork should call in his writs, " or if you will not, I will clap you in the castle; for I tell you, I will not have
my orders disputed by law nor lawyers,” such was the intolerable mandate of this despotic minister. This incident derives some added importance from the fact, that not long after, when Strafford was tried for his life before the lords, it was brought forward against him; and the earl of Cork summoned over to England to give his testimony. The earl was a man unquestionably of a noble and manly nature; but generosity was not among the virtues of that day of rapine, intrigue, and political baseness; and it will perhaps be no wrong to him to say, that he must have felt, on that occasion, the triumph of his party, in