Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington

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The Earl of Burlington
The Earl of Cork

Portrait of the 3rd Earl of Burlington by Jonathan Richardson, c. 1718
Lord High Treasurer of Ireland
In office
25 August 1715 3 December 1753
Preceded by The Lord Carleton
Succeeded by Marquess of Hartington
Personal details
Born25 April 1694
Yorkshire, England
Died4 December 1753(1753-12-04) (aged 59)
Chiswick House, London [1]
Spouse(s) Lady Dorothy Savile

Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, KG PC (25 April 1694 – 4 December 1753) was an Anglo-Irish architect and noble often called the "Apollo of the Arts" and the "Architect Earl". The son of the 2nd Earl of Burlington and 3rd Earl of Cork, Burlington never took more than a passing interest in politics despite his position as a Privy Counsellor and a member of both the British House of Lords and the Irish House of Lords.


Lord Burlington is remembered for bringing Palladian architecture to Britain and Ireland. His major projects include Burlington House, Westminster School, Chiswick House and Northwick Park.


Portrait of Richard Boyle as a boy, with his sister Lady Jane Boyle, c. 1700 Richard and Jane Boyle.jpg
Portrait of Richard Boyle as a boy, with his sister Lady Jane Boyle, c. 1700
Coat of arms of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, KG, PC KOG-0548-Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, KG, PC.png
Coat of arms of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, KG, PC

Lord Burlington was born in Yorkshire into a wealthy Anglo-Irish aristocratic family as the only son of Charles Boyle, 2nd Earl of Burlington and his wife, Juliana Noel (1672–1750). Often known as "the Architect Earl", Burlington was instrumental in the revival of Palladian architecture in both Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland. He succeeded to his titles and extensive estates in Yorkshire and Ireland at the age of nine, after his father's death in February 1704. During his minority, which lasted until 1715, his English and Irish lands and political interests were managed on his behalf by his mother and guardian, the Dowager Countess Juliana. [2]

He showed an early love of music. Georg Frideric Handel dedicated two operas to him while staying at his residence Burlington House: Teseo and Amadigi di Gaula . According to Hawkins, Francesco Barsanti dedicated the six recorder sonatas of his Op. 1 to Lord Burlington, although the dedication must have appeared on the edition sold by Peter Bressan, before Walsh & Hare engraved the works c. 1727. [3]

Three foreign Grand Tours taken between 1714 and 1719, and a further trip to Paris in 1726, gave him opportunities to develop his taste. His professional skill as an architect (always supported by a mason-contractor) was extraordinary in an English aristocrat. He carried his copy of Andrea Palladio's book I quattro libri dell'architettura with him when touring the Veneto in 1719, but made notes on a number of blank pages, having found the region flooded and many villas inaccessible. [4] It was on this tour that he acquired the passion for Palladian architecture. In 1719, he was one of the main subscribers of the Royal Academy of Music, a corporation that produced baroque opera on stage. [5] [6]

Lord Burlington's first project, appropriately, was one of his own London residences, Burlington House, where he dismissed his baroque architect James Gibbs when he returned from the continent in 1719, and employed the Scottish architect Colen Campbell, with the history-painter-turned-designer William Kent assigned for the interiors. The courtyard front of Burlington House, prominently sited in Piccadilly, was the first major executed statement of Neo-Palladianism.

In the 1720s, Burlington and Campbell parted, and Burlington was assisted in his projects by the young Henry Flitcroft ("Burlington Harry"), who developed into a major architect of the second Neo-Palladian generation, Daniel Garrett, a straightforward Palladian architect of the second rank, and some draughtsmen.

Lord Burlington never closely inspected Roman ruins or made detailed drawings on the sites; he relied on Palladio and Scamozzi as his interpreters of the classic tradition to do so. Burlington's Palladio drawings include many reconstructions of Vitruvius' Roman buildings, which he planned to publish. In the meantime, he adapted the palazzo facade in the illustration for the London house of General Wade at Old Burlington Street in 1723, which was published for Vitruvius Britannicus iii (1725). This publication put a previously unknown Palladio design into circulation. Another source of his inspiration were drawings he collected, some drawings of Palladio himself which had belonged to Inigo Jones, and many more of Inigo Jones' pupil John Webb, which William Kent published in 1727 (although a date of 1736 is generally accepted) as "Some Designs of Mr Inigo Jones"... with some additional designs that were by Kent and Burlington. The important role of Jones' pupil Webb in transmitting the palladian-neo-palladian heritage was not understood until the 20th century.

Mezzotint of Burlington 3rdEarlOfBurlingtonMezzotint.jpg
Mezzotint of Burlington

By the early 1730s, Palladian style had triumphed as the generally accepted manner for a British country house or public building. For the rest of his life, Lord Burlington was "the Apollo of the arts" as Horace Walpole phrased it— and Kent, "his proper priest."

In 1739, Lord Burlington was involved in the founding of a new charitable organisation called the Foundling Hospital. Burlington was a governor of the charity, but did not formally take part in planning the construction of this large Bloomsbury children's home, completed in 1742. The architect for the building was a Theodore Jacobsen, who took on the commission as an act of charity.

Many of Lord Burlington's projects have suffered from rebuilding or additions, from fire, or from losses due to urban sprawl. In many cases, his ideas were informal: at Holkham Hall, the architect Matthew Brettingham recalled that "the general ideas were first struck out by the Earl of Burlington and the Earl of Leicester, assisted by Mr. William Kent." Brettingham's engraved publication of Holkham credited Burlington specifically with the ceilings for the portico and the north dressing-room.

Lord Burlington's architectural drawings, inherited by his son-in-law, William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, are preserved at Chatsworth House, and enable attributions that would not otherwise be possible. In 1751, he sent some of his drawings to Francesco Algarotti in Potsdam, together with a book on Vitruvius. [7]

Major projects

Marriage and children

Dorothy Savile, Lady Dorothy Boyle (1724-1742), Countess of Euston, and Her Sister Lady Charlotte Boyle (1731-1754), Later Marchioness of Hartington, National Trust, Hardwick Hall. Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation. Dorothy Savile, Lady Dorothy Boyle (1724-1742), Countess of Euston, and Her Sister Lady Charlotte Boyle (1731-1754), Later Marchioness of Hartington.jpg
Dorothy Savile, Lady Dorothy Boyle (1724–1742), Countess of Euston, and Her Sister Lady Charlotte Boyle (1731–1754), Later Marchioness of Hartington, National Trust, Hardwick Hall. Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation.

Burlington married Lady Dorothy Savile on 21 March 1720, the daughter of William Savile, 2nd Marquess of Halifax and his second wife, Lady Mary Finch.

Mary was the daughter of Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and Lady Essex Rich (died 1684). Essex was the daughter of Robert Rich, 3rd Earl of Warwick, and Anne Cheeke. Anne was the daughter of Sir Thomas Cheeke of Pirgo and an earlier Lady Essex Rich (died 1659). This Lady Essex was the daughter of Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick and Lady Penelope Devereux. Essex was probably named after her maternal grandfather Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex. Her maternal grandmother was Lettice Knollys.

They had three daughters:

Burlington died at Chiswick House, aged 59. Upon his death, the Earldom of Cork passed to a cousin, John Boyle, and the title of the Earl of Burlington became extinct. It was recreated in 1831 for his grandson, George Cavendish, and is now held by the Cavendish family as a courtesy title for the Dukes of Devonshire.

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  1. Bolton, Diane K.; Croot, Patricia E. C.; Hicks, M. A. (1982). "Chiswick: Economic history". A History of the County of Middlesex. 7. London: Victoria County History. pp. 78–86. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  2. Wilson, Rachel, Elite Women in Ascendancy Ireland, 1690-1745: Imitation and Innovation (Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge, 2015). ISBN   978-1783270392
  3. Hawkins, Sir John: A General History of the Science and Practice of Music, Vol. 5, p. 372; T. Payne & Sons, London, 1776
  4. Burlington to Sir Andrew Fountaine, 6 November 1719; quoted by Clark, J., in Barnard & Clark (eds) 'Lord Burlington, Architecture, Art and Life', 1995, 268.
  5. Deutsch, O.E. (1955), Handel. A documentary biography, p. 91. Reprint 1974.
  6. See the year 1719 Handel Reference Database (in progress)
  7. MacDonogh, G. (1999) Frederick the Great, p. 192, 233–234.
  8. Hewlings, Richard. "Chiswick House and Gardens: Appearance and Meaning" in Toby Barnard and Jane Clark (eds) Lord Burlington. Architecture, Art and Life (London, Hambledon Press, 1995), pages 1–149.
  9. Bryan, Julius (1993). London's Country House Collections. Kenwood, Chiswick, Marble Hill, Ranger's House. London: Scala Publications for English Heritage. p. 36.
Additional sources

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Carleton
Lord Treasurer of Ireland
Succeeded by
Marquess of Hartington
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The 5th Viscount of Irvine
Custos Rotulorum of the East Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
William Pulteney
Preceded by
The Lord Carleton
Custos Rotulorum of the North Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
Conyers Darcy
Vice-Admiral of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
Sir Conyers Darcy (North Riding)
The 7th Viscount of Irvine (East Riding)
Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
The Lord Malton
Preceded by
Conyers Darcy
Custos Rotulorum of the North Riding of Yorkshire
Preceded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners
Succeeded by
The Duke of Montagu
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Charles Boyle
Earl of Cork
Succeeded by
John Boyle
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Charles Boyle
Earl of Burlington
Baron Clifford
Succeeded by
Charlotte Cavendish