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Boyle Robert

Boyle, Robert (1626-1691), is perhaps the best known of the family, being, as was once said of him, with a curious mixture of literalness and metaphor, "father of modern chemistry and brother of the Earl of Cork." He was renowned as a natural philosopher, and was one of the founders of the Royal Society. Born the seventh son of Richard, Earl of Cork, he went to Eton while Sir H. Wotton was Provost. From Eton he went to Stalbridge, in Dorset, where he was for some time under a private tutor. After travelling and studying abroad he settled down in 1646 at Stalbridge, which estate had devolved upon him; and in 1654 he began a fourteen years' residence at Oxford. His principle of philosophy was that interrogation of nature which Bacon had inaugurated, and he made some valuable experiments upon the nature of air and its conditions and properties. He did not confine his attention to natural philosophy. Theology occupied much of his time, and he was especially interested in Orientalism, and in the spread of Christianity in the East. His friends had tried to persuade him to take orders, but he preferred to remain a layman. He shared in translating the Scriptures, or parts of them, into Malay, Irish, Welsh, and Turkish; and superintended the translation into Arabic of Grotius' De Veritate. In 1060 he published his New Physico-Mechanical Experiments touching the spring of air. In 1663 he was on the Council of the Royal Society, and in 1680 its president. In 1690 his health gave way, and he resigned his public employments, still, however, carrying on his private researches. He died at the end of 1691, and was buried at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. Like Newton, he turned his attention to alchemy, and seems to have had some belief in a possible transmutation of metals. His works are numerous, and he founded the lectures, which bear his name, for the defence of Christianity against its opponents, atheistic, theistic, and others.