BOYLE, Charles, Lord Clifford (1639-94), of Londesborough, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



28 Mar. 1670
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. 17 Nov. 1639, 2nd s. of Richard Boyle, 2nd Earl of Cork [I] and 1st Earl of Burlington (d. 15 Jan. 1698), by Lady Elizabeth Clifford, suo jure Baroness Clifford, da. and h. of Henry Clifford, 5th Earl of Cumberland. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1654, travelled abroad (Holland, France) Apr.-Aug. 1660. m. (1) 2 May 1661, Lady Jane Seymour (d. 23 Nov. 1679), da. of William Seymour, and Duke of Somerset, 4s. 6da.; (2) 26 Jan. 1688, Lady Arethusa Berkeley (d. 11 Feb. 1743), da. of George, 1st Earl of Berkeley, 1da. summ. to Lords [I] as Visct. Dungarvan 20 Feb. 1663; styled Lord Clifford 20 Mar. 1664; summ. to Lords in his fat’s barony as Lord Clifford of Lanesborough 16 July 1689.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Yorks. (W. Riding) and York 1673-80, (E. Riding) 1679-80, (W. and E. Ridings) and Westminster 1689, col. of militia ft. (W. Riding) ?1679-87; j.p. (W. and E. Ridings) 1682-?d.2

FRS 1664.


Lord Clifford’s grandfather, the first Earl of Cork, migrated from Kent to Ireland and acquired a vast estate. His father, the eldest brother of Lord Broghill (Roger Boyle) and of Robert Boyle, the scientist, sat for Appleby in the Long Parliament until disabled as a Royalist. Although he had married a great Yorkshire heiress, his delinquency cost him only £1,631 on the Oxford articles. On the eve of the Restoration Clifford brought some packets from England to the King, returning a few months later in the company of Sir John Reresby. His elder brother had died young, and his father settled ‘a very great estate’ on him at his marriage. He contested Tamworth in 1669 on the interest of his mother-in-law, the dowager duchess of Somerset. Defeated by John Ferrers, he was awarded the seat on petition, and listed as a government supporter by the Opposition: ‘a court curly that gives him fine words that he gives his consent to be taxed out of the greatest part of his great estate’. He was not active in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was appointed to only nine committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in two sessions, and twice acted as teller. His most important committee was to consider accusations of corruption (31 Jan. 1674). ‘An excellent patriot’, he had gone over to the Opposition by 1677, when he was at first refused permission to visit Shaftesbury in the Tower, and was classed by him as ‘thrice worthy’. On 4 Feb. 1678 he was teller against supply, and after the Popish Plot he was added to the committee to translate Coleman’s letters. On 23 Dec. he carried up Danby’s impeachment.3

Clifford had long been assured of the county seat at the next vacancy, with his father’s interest in the East Riding and the support of the Darcys and Lord Halifax (Sir George Savile) in the north and west, and he represented Yorkshire in the three Exclusion Parliaments. At the first general election of 1679 he stood with Henry Fairfax, Lord Fairfax, in the country interest, and Lord Fauconberg, the lord lieutenant of the North Riding, wrote that he would be attended by such numbers as ‘to make the name of Clifford sound as loud as formerly it has done in Yorkshire’. In the first Exclusion Parliament Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’, and he returned from leave to vote for the bill, but otherwise he took no known part in the proceedings. By 1680, perhaps under the influence of Halifax and his brother-in-law Laurence Hyde, he had rejoined the court party. In the second Exclusion Parliament he was appointed only to the elections committee and to the committee on the bill for easier collection of hearth-tax. After accepting an address from the freeholders for toleration, he helped to prepare for a conference in the Oxford Parliament on the failure of the bill of ease for dissenters to secure the royal assent.4

Clifford was re-elected unopposed in 1685 and became a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament. He was appointed to the committee to recommend expunctions from the Journals and to those to consider the bills to suppress pedlars and to prohibit the import of tallow candles. Danby listed him among the Opposition in 1687, when he stood surety for the Earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish), but his replies on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws are not recorded. After the Revolution he was called up to the House of Lords and listed as a court supporter. He died intestate in his father’s lifetime on 12 Oct. 1694, and was buried at Londesborough.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: A. M. Mimardière / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Parl. Rep. Yorks. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xcvi), 91-92,
  • 2. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxix. 266; Add. 29674, f. 160.
  • 3. Keeler, Long Parl. 113-14; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1437; Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 673; Reresby Mems. 32; HMC Finch, i. 119; CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 564; 1677-8, p. 268; Parl. Rep. Yorks. 171.
  • 4. HMC Astley, 39, 40; HMC Var. ii. 167, HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 553-4; Parl. Rep. Yorks. 173-4.
  • 5. Reresby Mems. 359; Luttrell, i. 401.