BOYLE, Richard, Visct. Boyle (1809-1868).

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



1830 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 12 May 1809, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Boyle†, 3rd earl of Shannon [I], and Sarah, da. of John Hyde of Castle Hyde, co. Cork. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1827. m. 28 May 1832, Emily Henrietta, da. of Lord George Seymour†, 2s. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as 4th earl of Shannon [I] and 3rd Bar. Carleton [UK] 22 Apr. 1842. d. 1 Aug. 1868.

Offices Held


Boyle’s father had sat in the Irish Parliament for Clonakilty, 1794-7, and county Cork, 1797-1800, which he continued to represent from the Union until 1807, when he returned himself for the family boroughs of Bandon Bridge and Youghal shortly before succeeding to the earldom in May 1807. In 1817, in an attempt to shore up the family’s declining influence in county Cork, he abandoned the Liverpool government and allied himself with the 3rd earl of Kingston, then a Whig, with whose family he continued to act throughout this period. In November 1829 it was suggested to Shannon that Boyle, whose elder brother had died an infant in 1803, might offer for a vacancy for Cork expected early in 1830, ‘for although his lordship will not be of age to take his seat till ... May ... yet it does not prevent his being elected five or six weeks before’.1 In the event Boyle offered for the county at that year’s general election, citing his family’s residence in Ireland and promising to return from a ‘distant part of Europe’ as soon as possible. Pressed for his views on his arrival at the nomination, he declared himself ‘a friend to economy’ and opponent of all ‘unnecessary taxation’. He was returned unopposed. At the invitation of the high sheriff he then chaired the assizes, 14 Aug. 1830.2

In his only known speech, 11 Nov. 1830, Boyle welcomed the Wellington ministry’s intended review of the ‘exceedingly unpopular’ Irish Subletting Act and called for a ‘tax in support of the Irish poor’ to be imposed on absentee landlords, which would provide ‘protection to the ratepayers of England’ and ‘improve the condition and character of the Irish peasantry’. He had been listed by ministers as one of their ‘friends’, but was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. He presented four constituency petitions against slavery, 15 Dec. 1830. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., but was absent from the division on Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he offered again, promising to support ‘such a fair constitutional reform as will suit the times in which we live and ... uphold the rights of the crown, the aristocracy, and the people’. Pressed on the hustings to clarify whether he would support the ‘whole bill’, he promised that he would ‘stand by it to the last’, adding that he had been ‘confined by indisposition when the debate on Gascoyne’s motion took place, or the ministry should have had his support’. He was again returned unopposed.3 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831, and gave steady support to its details. He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He paired for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again supported its details, and voted for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. In his last known vote he divided for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May. He was granted six weeks’ leave on urgent business, 24 May, and was one of the ‘Irish reformers absent’ from the division on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832.4

At the 1832 dissolution Boyle retired from county Cork. He succeeded his father in the peerage in 1842 and sat in the Lords as a Conservative. In 1865 he repeatedly pestered the Irish viceroy Lord Wodehouse about the ‘dangers of a rising’ by the Fenians in county Cork, in anticipation of which he had removed all his ‘plate and portable things of value to London’.5 He died at Cork in August 1868, when the titles and estates passed to his eldest and only surviving son Henry (1833-90).

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. PRO NI, Shannon mss D2702/A3/1/54.
  • 2. Cork Constitution, 20, 27 July, 14, 17 Aug. 1830.
  • 3. Southern Reporter, 3, 7, 12 May 1831.
  • 4. The Times, 14 July 1832.
  • 5. Bodl. MSS Eng. c. 4027, ff. 95-96; c. 4029, f. 42; c. 4031, f. 29; c. 4032, ff. 16-17.