The Age of Milton: An Encyclopedia of Major 17th-Century British and American Authors

By Alan Hager | Go to book overview

Robert Boyle
(1627-1691)

GERALD EDWARD BUNKER


BIOGRAPHY

What interest for the overstimulated inquirer of the 21st century have the life and works of this 17th-century Anglo-Irish savant, Robert Boyle? First is the intellectual and spiritual adventure that this frail and neurotic man had in planting and cultivating seedlings of the new science during the 17th-century European redirection of thought, method, and ideals, now called the Enlightenment. Second is the historical and novelistic interest of this man's life and relationships. Born to great privilege, driven by such intense sincerity, and creating more by his life than by the actual content of his work, Boyle is the very model in England at least of the new natural philosopher. A few years ago Birbeck College, London, which is the center of the rebirth of Boyle studies, invited a group of psychiatrists—Jungian, Freudian, and other—to discuss Robert Boyle. I have not been able to find the text of their discussions, but certainly Boyle gave them much grist.

Robert Boyle's father, Richard, a sort of carpetbagger who joined the Irish Ascendancy, a Protestant of course, and a Cambridge graduate, went to Ireland at the age of twenty-two as a tax collector (subescheator under the escheator-general). Undergoing various changes of fortune and charges of malfeasance, he proved extremely resilient. In 1602 he bought the vast estates in Munster that Elizabeth I had granted to her sometime favorite Sir Walter Ralegh. There Boyle père nurtured industry and agriculture and became immensely rich. By the time Robert was born in 1627, his father Richard, Earl of Cork, was Lord High Treasurer and once again fending off allegations of malfeasance.

Robert was born in Lismore Castle, Waterford, on January 25, 1627. His mother, Catherine Fenton, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton, Secretary of State for Ireland, was Richard's second wife. His first had died within a year of the birth of their first child. Robert was the fourteenth of Richard and Catherine's fifteen children (and seventh son). The death of the fifteenth (his sister Margaret) left Robert the youngest.

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The Age of Milton: An Encyclopedia of Major 17th-Century British and American Authors
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Timeline of Major 17th-Century British and American Authors xvii
  • (1672-1719) 1
  • (1555-1626) 6
  • (1666-1731) 10
  • (1626-1697) 14
  • (1561-1626) 19
  • Bibliography 23
  • (1640?-1689) 25
  • (1649-1708) 29
  • (1627-1691) 32
  • Bibliography 38
  • (1612-1672) 39
  • Bibliography 41
  • (1605-1682) 42
  • Bibliography 47
  • (1628-1688) 48
  • (1577-1640) 53
  • (1612/1613-1680) 57
  • Bibliography 60
  • (1567-1620) 61
  • Bibliography 64
  • (C. 1595-1639) 65
  • (C. 1585-1639) 68
  • (1623-1673) 71
  • Bibliography 73
  • (1559?-1634) 74
  • (1656-1710) 78
  • Bibliography 80
  • (1613-1658) 81
  • (1653-1713) 85
  • (1618-1667) 89
  • Bibliography 92
  • (C. 1613-1649) 93
  • Bibliography 96
  • (1599-1658) 98
  • (1606-1668) 103
  • (1658-1734) 109
  • Bibliography 111
  • (1572-1631) 112
  • (1563-1631) 118
  • Bibliography 121
  • (1631-1700) 122
  • (1608-1666) 128
  • (1661-1720) 133
  • Bibliography 136
  • (1582-1650) 137
  • (1586-1639?) 139
  • (1563-1639 and 1593-1652/1653) 144
  • Bibliography 146
  • (1554-1628) 147
  • Bibliography 157
  • (1578-1657) 158
  • (1593-1633) 162
  • (1591-1674) 167
  • (1588-1679) 172
  • (1572/1573-1637) 181
  • (1660-1685) 187
  • (1666-1727) 191
  • (C. 1634-1693) 194
  • (1569?-1645) 198
  • (1615-1657) 202
  • Bibliography 205
  • (1632-1704) 206
  • (1618-1657) 216
  • Bibliography 218
  • (1672?-1724) 219
  • Bibliography 222
  • (1621-1678) 223
  • Bibliography 226
  • (1583-1640) 228
  • Bibliography 231
  • (1580-1627) 232
  • (1608-1674) 237
  • (1652-1685) 244
  • (1633-1703) 248
  • (1632-1694) 253
  • Bibliography 258
  • (1659-1695) 260
  • Bibliography 265
  • (1686-1758) 267
  • (1606-1669) 270
  • Bibliography 273
  • (1647-1680) 274
  • (C. 1637-1711) 280
  • (1577-1640) 283
  • (C. 1642-1692) 287
  • (1671-1713) 292
  • (1564-1616) 296
  • (1632-1677) 312
  • (1608/1609-1642) 316
  • (1652-1715) 320
  • Bibliography 323
  • (1578-1653) 324
  • (1575?-1626) 328
  • (1636?-1674) 332
  • (1599-1641) 336
  • Bibliography 339
  • (1621?-1695) 340
  • (1599-1660) 344
  • (1632-1675) 348
  • (1606-1687) 352
  • Bibliography 354
  • (1579?-1633?) 355
  • (1568-1635) 360
  • (1641-1715) 365
  • List of Authors by Birth Year 373
  • Selected General Bibliography 377
  • Index 379
  • About the Editor and Contributors 389
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