Roger Boyle

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Boyle, Roger , Lord Broghill, Earl of Orrery, third son of the Earl of Cork, was born at Lismore, 26th April 1621. After two years of study at Trinity College, he was sent, when seventeen, to travel on the Continent with his brother, Lord Kynalmeaky. On his return, he commanded a troop in the expedition against the Scotch, under the Earl of Northumberland. In 1640 he married a daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, and arrived with her at Lismore the very day hostilities broke out in Ireland. He fortified his father's house, and distinguished himself against the Confederates in several engagements. At the battle of Liscarroll he was taken prisoner, but was soon rescued. He opposed the cessation of arms in 1643, and in 1644 joined Lord Inchiquin and others in a letter to the King, praying that no peace should be concluded with the Irish. They had such an unsatisfactory answer from the King, on whom his lordship waited at Oxford, that he and Lord Inchiquin put themselves under the protection of the Parliament. He now acted under Lord Inchiquin at Castle-Lyons, Youghal, and elsewhere, and in 1646 took Lord Muskerry's castle of Blarney.

After the execution of Charles I., he retired to his estate in Somersetshire, and was about departing for the Continent to plot for the restoration of the Stuarts, when Cromwell called on him, showed him copies of his foreign correspondence, proving that his designs were known, and offered him the choice of imprisonment or service under the Commonwealth. He accepted the latter, repaired to Ireland, and met Cromwell near Waterford, late in 1649, with 1,500 men whom he had raised. Lord Broghill's chaplain thus describes the meeting: " He drew up his party and made an halt till Cromwell had done so too: while his party cried up, 'A Broghill! a Broghill,' Cromwell's party cried up, 'A Cromwell! a Cromwell!' My lord rid up to Cromwell and Ireton, then the head of the army, and after having saluted one another, my lord returned to his party, and made them cry up, 'A Cromwell!' and with much ado, Cromwell made his party cry up, 'A Broghill!' and so they joined." He assisted at the siege of Clonmel, which capitulated on honourable terms, O'Neill having secretly withdrawn the garrison. Carrigdrohid Castle he frightened into surrender by drawing up to the siege numbers of trunks of trees, which the beleagured imagined were heavy artillery. He also assisted at the siege of Limerick under Ireton, especially distinguishing himself in an engagement with Lord Muskerry, and upon the conclusion of the war, was one of the commissioners who carried out Cromwell's system of confiscation and expatriation in Ireland. Mr. Prendergast speaks of "Lord Broghill, whose name, like that of Sir Charles Coote, seems ever the prelude of woe to the Irish."

Afterwards in England he continued to be one of Cromwell's most trusted friends and advisers. He was for a time governor in Scotland, and was one of Richard Cromwell's council. Finding the latter an incompetent ruler, he favoured the restoration of Charles II. Returning to Ireland, and working in concert with Coote, he seized Youghal, Clonmel, Carlow, Limerick, Drogheda, Galway, and Athlone for the King, and helped to end the rule of the Parliament in Ireland. After the Restoration he was made Earl of Orrery, Lord-Justice, and President of Munster. His latter years were spent between his Presidency and London. In 1661 he built a mansion at Charleville, changing the name of the town, in honour of Charles II., from the "heathenish one of Rathgogan." There he kept his Presidency court in "great splendour." "He made up controversies betwixt neighbours, and healed up wounds betwixt friends, with a dexterity not to be paralleled. He used the most cunning stratagems to bring about peace and quietness.

He was a lion in courage and a lamb in meekness, so that he became the cement of the whole country where he lived, and constantly exercised those excellent parts, and that quick apprehension, with which he was endowed, to the benefit and happiness of mankind. His advice was constantly sought by the King and Queen; yet did he not escape impeachment, from which he was, however, acquitted. Upon this occasion, he rejoined to a friend who remarked with what difficulty he ascended the stairs of the Court of Requests: "Yes, sir, my feet are week; but if my heels will serve to carry me up, I promise you my head shall bring me safe down again." He left England finally in August 1676, and "spent the remainder of his life principally in contemplation, reading the Scriptures and other serious studies, partly at Castlemartyr and partly at Charleville."

He died "after great and dreadful strugglings with his distemper," gout, 16th October 1679, aged 58, and was buried in the church of Youghal, where there is a monument to him. He left two sons and five daughters. Lord Broghill was the author of numerous plays and poems. He is described as "of a middle size, well-shaped and comely; his eyes had the life and quickness in them which is usually the sign of great and uncommon parts. His wit rendered his conversation highly entertainingand amusing." He is stated to have written a volume of memoirs, which was either lost or suppressed. Horace Walpole declared him to have been "a man who never made a bad figure except as an author." About seventeen works from his pen are enumerated by Ware. His correspondence with the Duke of Ormond is full of interest.

Sources

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

47. Boyle, Memoirs of the Illustrious Family of, Dublin, 1755.

47a. Boyle, State Letters of Roger, Earl of Orrery, with his Life: Rev. Thomas Morrice. Dublin, 1743.

93. Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland: John P. Prendergast. London, 1870.

196. Irishmen, Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished, Rev. James Wills, D.D. 6 vols. or 12 parts. Dublin, 1840-'7.

271. Ormond, Duke of, Life 1610-'88: Thomas A. Carte, M.A. 6 vols. Oxford, 1851.

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