Boyle, Richard (1612–98), 2nd earl of Cork and 1st earl of Burlington , was born 20 October 1612 at Youghal College, Co. Cork, second son of Richard Boyle (qv), 1st earl of Cork (‘the great earl’), and Catherine Boyle (qv), daughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton (qv). Aged 19, he set out with a tutor on a formative two years’ touring through France and Flanders and into Italy. His marriage (5 July 1635) to Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Henry, Lord Clifford (later earl of Cumberland), was arranged through the lord deputy, Thomas Wentworth (qv), and helped Boyle to acquire influence at court. He was devoted to the royalist cause in both England and Ireland in the 1640s. Elected (1640) as member for Appleby in the long parliament, he went to Ireland on the outbreak of hostilities and fought at the battle of Liscarroll. He returned to England (September 1643?) and as a reward for his loyalty was created Baron Clifford of Lanesborough in the English peerage by Charles I. He succeeded his father as 2nd earl of Cork in September 1643, and in December he inherited the vast Clifford estates in Yorkshire from his father-in-law. His royalism made him vulnerable in the late 1640s and he was forced to compound his estates as a result. He retired to Ireland (1651), where his financial position was so serious that he and Lady Cork had to petition Oliver Cromwell (qv) for relief. By 1660, however, his finances had greatly improved. With the restoration of the monarchy he was appointed lord treasurer of Ireland (1660–95) – a sinecure post – and also a member of the Irish privy council. He was created earl of Burlington in 1664.
Boyle took a keen interest in civil and ecclesiastical patronage in Ireland, but unlike his brother Roger (qv), earl of Orrery, he appears not to have played an active role in Irish politics, spending the greater part of his time in England, from where he continued to keep a close eye on the day-to-day management of his Irish estates. In November 1688 he signed a petition calling on James II (qv) to summon a parliament. He was subsequently attainted by the overwhelmingly catholic parliament that met in Dublin in 1689. Concerns over the security of his properties and his huge Irish rentals eventually persuaded him to align himself with William III (qv), having previously avoided overt alignment with any faction from the exclusion crisis of 1678 onwards. He continued to maintain a close interest in his Irish estates after the revolution, dispatching his grandson Henry (qv) to Ireland to administer his estates and represent the family interests in the Irish parliament in 1692. Boyle died 15 January 1698 at Londesborough, Yorkshire. He also held a second Irish title, Viscount Dungarvan , which he passed on (1662) to his son Charles, who also assumed the Clifford title (1689) but predeceased his father (1694). Richard's grandson Charles Boyle (qv) succeeded to his titles. There is a portrait in oils by Anthony Van Dyck in Chatsworth House.