BOYLE, Hon. John (1803-1874), of Marston, Frome, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



4 Dec. 1827 - 1830
1830 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 13 Mar. 1803, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Edmund, 8th earl of Cork [I] (d. 1856), and his cos. Isabella Henrietta, da. of William Poyntz of Midgham, Berks. educ. Winchester 1815-19; Christ Church, Oxf. 1821; L. Inn 1826. m. 10 Dec. 1835, Cecilia Fitzgerald de Ros, da. of Lord Henry Fitzgerald† of Boyle Farm, Kent, 1s. 3da. d. 6 Dec. 1874.

Offices Held


Boyle’s Whig father had a distinguished army career and his mother was maid of honour to Queen Charlotte. In late 1827 Boyle came forward for a vacancy for county Cork as the nominee of the 3rd earl of Kingston and the 3rd earl of Shannon, who needed a locum for his under-age son. The local press described him as ‘a student at the Temple’.1We have no reason to complain as he will support government and the Catholics’, noted the home secretary Lord Lansdowne to Lord Holland, 21 Oct. 1827

but the means by which this is effected are worthy [of] the attention of those who admire ... popular rights ... He is an inoffensive young man, but much below par in capacity, who has never ... resided in the county (the largest in Ireland), scarcely even seen it ... Shannon and Kingston have two battalions of organized freeholders ... who together outnumber all the rest, and it suits them for private and political reasons to have it so represented.2

Local criticism abated after Boyle announced his ‘unequivocal’ support for emancipation, for which he claimed his family had ‘always voted’. He was returned unopposed, promising to fulfil a trust which ‘considering his youth and inexperience’ made him ‘tremble’, and took his seat, 31 Jan. 1828.3 He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. He divided against extending the franchise of East Retford to Bassetlaw, 21 Mar., and for the transfer of its seats to Birmingham, 27 June. He presented a petition for Catholic relief, 22 Apr., voted thus, 12 May, and brought up one for the abolition of slavery, 7 July 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation: he presented favourable petitions, 13 Feb., 25 Mar., and voted accordingly, 6, 30 Mar. He presented petitions for repeal of the Irish Subletting and Vestry Acts, 25 Mar., 24 June. He presented an individual’s petition for reform of Irish coroners’ elections, 1 May. On the 7th he was granted leave from the Dublin election committee, being ‘so ill as not to be able to attend’. He voted to allow Daniel O’Connell to take his seat unhindered, 18 May 1829. His only known votes in 1830 were against parliamentary reform, 18 Feb., the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., the second reading of the Jewish emancipation bill, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830.

At the 1830 dissolution Boyle made way for Shannon’s heir. Encouraged by ‘numerous solicitations’, he started for the city of Cork, claiming ‘totally independent principles’ and having applied to the treasury for support. He ‘would be a valuable Member’, admitted Lord Francis Leveson Gower*, the Irish secretary, to Planta, and ‘we should feel the strongest disposition to assist him’, if it ‘would not be prejudicial to the interests’ of Daniel Callaghan*, another candidate.4 ‘Actuated by the purest patriotism, he comes to offer us ... the advantage of his talents ... as the representative of the people, and not the tool of an oligarchy, assertions amply borne out by his past conduct in the capacity of county Member’, mocked the Southern Reporter, adding, ‘while he was in Parliament he was never known to have spoken or to have taken any part in public affairs, for which his extreme youth and timidity may in some degree account, but the distaste to him ... seems almost universal’. ‘It is false that there is any distaste to Mr. Boyle’, retorted the Tory Cork Constitution:

His youth is admitted ... but his parliamentary silence is not reproachful ... He has profited by as liberal an education as England could give him ... has travelled and ... is a better scholar than any candidate who has appeared on the hustings at Cork for the last 30 years. He is a modest man.

At the nomination Boyle pledged his support for economy and reduced taxation, the abolition of slavery and sinecures, and for enfranchising ‘large towns’, though he was ‘adverse to vote by ballot’. After a seven-day contest he was returned in first place.5 He was listed by ministers as one of the ‘good doubtfuls’, with a supplementary note that he was ‘a friend’, and he voted with them in the critical division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. On 26 Nov. 1830 he presented a petition from Cork corporation against repeal of the Union, but thinking ‘it best to yield to the arguments of economy’, which he had ‘just heard’, declined to move for its printing, a task which was performed by O’Connell and Hume. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he offered again as an ‘ardent approver’ of the bill, promising to devote his ‘entire time and attention’ to Cork’s interests now that he had recovered from ‘very bad health’, which the Tory Cork Constitution asserted had ‘rendered him unequal to those mental exertions and inquiries so necessary for a right and proper understanding’ of reform. He also pledged to give his attention to a ‘system of modified poor laws, by which provision should be made for the aged and infirm’. Following the last minute withdrawal of an anti-reform candidate he was returned unopposed.6

He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjournment, 12 July 1831, and gave steady support to its details. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted in favour of printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again supported its details, and voted for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May. He voted with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., but against their temporizing amendment on the abolition of slavery, 24 May. At the 1832 general election he stood unsuccessfully for Cork as a Liberal against two Repealers and a Conservative. He did not subsequently seek re-election. By the time of his marriage in 1835, he was the eldest surviving son of the earl of Cork, but his late brother Charles’s son Richard Edmund (1829-1904) was the heir apparent.7 He died at Torquay in December 1874.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. Southern Reporter, 6 Oct. 1827.
  • 2. Add. 51687, f. 122.
  • 3. Southern Reporter, 30 Oct., 29 Nov., 4 Dec. 1827.
  • 4. Cork Constitution, 13 July 1830; Add. 40338, ff. 218, 221.
  • 5. Southern Reporter, 22 July, 31 July, 5, 12 Aug.; Cork Constitution, 3 Aug. 1830.
  • 6. Southern Reporter, 28 Apr., 7 May; Cork Constitution, 3, 10 May 1831.
  • 7. The Times, 12 Dec. 1835.