Boyle, Richard, 1st earl of Cork, 1566–1643, English settler in Ireland. He first went to Ireland in 1588 and in 1602 purchased for a small sum Sir Walter Raleigh's large landholdings in Cork, Waterford, and Tipperary. His energy and success in improving the lands, building mills, establishing ironworks and other industries, founding towns, and creating trade were remarkable and won him rapid advancement. Created earl of Cork in 1620, he was appointed (1629) one of the lord justices of Ireland and in 1631 became lord high treasurer of the kingdom. In this position he came into conflict with Thomas Wentworth (later 1st earl of Strafford), who arrived in Ireland as lord deputy in 1633. In their long struggle Strafford at first was successful in depriving Boyle of a large part of his privileges and income, but Boyle's patient marshaling of the forces of opposition to Strafford's Irish program was an important factor in the latter's downfall. Two of his seven sons became well known—Roger Boyle, 1st earl of Orrery, and Robert Boyle, the scientist.
See D. Townshend, The Life and Letters of the Great Earl of Cork (1904).
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