Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boyle, Charles

BOYLE, CHARLES, fourth Earl of Orrery in Ireland, and first Baron Marston, of Marston in Somersetshire (1676–1731), grandson of Roger Boyle, first earl of Orrery [q. v.], was born at Chelsea in 1676, and succeeded his brother as Earl of Orrery in 1703. Educated at Christ Church, he joined the wits engaged in a struggle with Bentley, who represented the scholarship of the Cambridge whigs. Sir W. Temple had made some rash statements as to the antiquity of Phalaris in a treatise on ancient and modern learning, and this was the subject of attack by Wotton, a protégé of Bentley's, in his 'Reflections on Ancient and Modern Learning,' published in 1694. By way of covering Temple's defeat, the Christ Church scholars determined to publish a new edition of the epistles of Phalaris. This was entrusted to Boyle, who, without asserting the epistles to be genuine, as Temple had done, attacked Bentley for his rudeness in having withdrawn too abruptly a manuscript belonging to the King's Library, which Boyle had borrowed. Bentley now added to a new edition of Wotton's 'Reflections' a 'Dissertation' upon the epistles, from his own pen [see Bentley, Richard, 1662-1742]. Boyle was aided by Atterbury and Smalridge in preparing a defence, published in 1698, entitled 'Dr. Bentley's Dissertations … examined.' Bentley returned to the charge and overwhelmed his opponents by the wealth of his scholarship. The dispute led to Swift's 'Battle of the Books.' Before succeeding to the peerage Boyle was elected M.P. for Huntingdon, but his return was disputed, and the violence of the discussion which took place led to his being engaged in a duel with his colleague, Francis Wortley, in which he was wounded. He subsequently entered the army, and was present at the battle of Malplaquet, and in 1709 became major-general. In 1706 he had married Lady Elizabeth Cecil, daughter of the Earl of Exeter. We find him afterwards in London, as the centre of Christ Church men there, a strong adherent of the party of Harley, and a member of 'the club' established by Swift. As envoy in Flanders he took part in the negotiations that preceded the treaty of Utrecht, and was afterwards made a privy councillor and created Baron Marston. He was made a lord of the bedchamber on the accession of George I, but resigned this post on being deprived of his military command in 1716. Swift, in the 'Four Last Years of the Queen,' adduces Orrery's support of the tory ministry as a proof that no Jacobite designs were entertained by them; but it is curious that in 1721 Orrery was thrown into the Tower for six months as being implicated in Layer's plot, and was released on bail only in consequence of Dr. Mead's certifying that continued imprisonment was dangerous to his life. He was subsequently discharged, and died on 28 Aug. 1731. Besides the works above named, he wrote a comedy called 'As you find it.' The astronomical instrument, invented by Graham, received from his patronage of the inventor the name of an 'Orrery.'

[Budgell's Memoirs of the Boyles; Bentley's Dissertation; Swift's Battle of the Books; Biog. Brit.]

H. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.34
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
109 i
Boyle, Charles, 4th Earl of Orrery : for Baron Marston read Baron Boyle of Marston
i 5f.e. for elected read M.P. for Charleville in the Irish house of commons 1695-9 and
4f.e. for but his return read 1701-5 ; his return for Huntingdon
ii 4 after general insert He was colonel of 22nd foot 1704-7, of the 5th foot 1707-10, and of the 21st foot from 1710 till death
15 for but resigned this post read and lord-lieutenant of Somerset, but resigned the former post
16 for his military command read the latter office