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Biography of
Robert Boyle

Robert BoyleName: Robert Boyle
Born: January 25, 1627
Location: Lismore, Ireland
Died: December 31, 1691
Location: London, England
Nationality: Irish/English









  • Father:   Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, 1st Viscount Dungarvan, 1st Baron Boyle of Youghal, Lord High Treasurer of the Kingdom of Ireland (One of the richest men in Great Britain at the time).  
  • Mother:   Catherine Fenton (died during childbirth when Robert was three) 
  • Brother(s)/Sister(s)  : Robert was the seventh son (and fourteenth child) of his parent’s fifteen children (twelve of the fifteen survived childhood).  


  • Wives:   None   


  • Son(s):None  
  • Daughter(s):   None   



Principal Activity or Occupation(s):

  • Alchemy
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Theology

Lived In:

  • Lismore, Ireland
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • London, England
  • Oxford, England
  • Stalbridge, England


  • When born, his father was in his sixty's and his mother her forty's. Both believed that the best upbringing for young children, at least up to the time they began their education, should be provided away from their parents. Thus, early on, Robert was sent away to be brought up in the country. 


  • Eton CollegeWhen old enough, in 1635, Robert, along with one of his brothers, Francis, was sent to study at Eton College in England. (At that time, the school was becoming a fashionable place where important people sent their sons). While there, the two young Boyle brothers lived in the headmaster's house.
  • Boyle's education went well and he was popular with both his headmaster and his fellow pupils. However, perhaps he had been given too much special attention by the headmaster for when he retired, Boyle seemed unable to fit in with the educational discipline the new headmaster brought to the school.
  • Realizing that his sons were not progressing well at school under the new headmaster, the Earl took them away from Eton in November 1638. After this Boyle was tutored privately by one of his father's chaplains.

  • At the age of 12, the Earl sent Boyle, along with one of his brothers, on a European tour. They traveled to Paris, Lyon, and Geneva.
    In Geneva Boyle studied French, Latin, rhetoric, and religion with a private tutor. He also spent time playing tennis and fencing. It was at this time he began to study mathematics and became quite familiar with arithmetic, geometry, with its subordinates, the doctrine of the sphere, that of the globe, and fortification.
  • In 1641 Boyle learned Italian in preparation for visiting Italy. In September of that year Boyle and his tutor were in Venice.
    By the beginning of 1642 they were in Florence.
  • By May 1642, Boyle and his tutor were in Marseilles waiting for money from Boyle's father so that he could complete the journey home. This did not arrive, merely a letter from his father explaining that a rebellion in Munster was fully occupying his time and money.
    Boyle returned to Geneva where it appears he had lived mainly on his tutor's earnings that he later repaid.
  • The Earl of Cork died in September 1643. Robert Boyle was still living in Geneva when his father died.
  • In the summer of 1644 Boyle sold some jewelry and used the money to finance his return trip to England.

Teachers and Mentors:

  • Sir Henry Wotton, Headmaster at Eaton College
  • Protestant Church Chaplain
  • private Tutor




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