BOYLE, Roger Earl of Orrery. Parthenissa, That Most Fam’d Romance. The Six Volumes Compleat. Composed By The Right Honourable The Earl of Orrery. London: Printed by T.N. for Henry Herringham, at the Blue Anchor in the Lower-Walk of the New Exchange, 1676. Folio. pp. , 403, , 485-808 (i.e. 730, with printer’s error in pagination). Titlepage, with publisher’s device, printed in red and black. Contemporary full sprinkled calf, spine expertly rebacked preserving early maroon morocco letterpiece. From the library of John Robert Mowbray, with his armorial bookplate on front pastedown. Slight spotting to first gathering. A very good copy of an exceedingly rare item in commerce.
LIBC 3C “No copy located on COPAC. Wing O 490. Sweeney 621.
Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, Earl of Orrery (1621-1679), son of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, elder brother of Robert the scientist, was born at Lismore, County Waterford. A noted Anglo-Irish soldier and politician who sat in the House of Commons of England at various times between 1654 and 1679. Boyle fought in the Irish Confederate Wars (part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms) and subsequently became known for his antagonism towards Irish Catholics and their political aspirations. Boyle was also a noted playwright and writer on 17th century warfare. He was deputy in Inchiquin’s Munster Command during the War and was bitterly opposed to the cessation of arms. After the execution of Charles I, Boyle retired to his Somerset estate, and was about to leave for the Continent to plot for the restoration of the Stuarts, when he was summoned by Cromwell who offered him the choice of imprisonment in the Tower or service under the Commonwealth. He accepted the latter and set off for Ireland, and late in 1649, he met Cromwell near Waterford, with 1,500 men whom he had raised. He assisted at the Sieges of Clonmel and Limerick, destroyed Lord Muskerry’s royalist-confederate force at Macroom and executed the Catholic bishop, Boethius MacEgan.
Afterwards in England he continued to be one of Cromwell’s most trusted friends and advisers. Not satisfied however with Cromwell’s successor he returned to Ireland and with Coote seized Youghal, Clonmel, Carlow, Limerick, Drogheda, Galway and Athlone for the King, and helped to end the rule of the Cromwellians there.
After the Restoration he was made Earl of Orrery, Lord Justice, and President of Munster, and, in the latter capacity, he successfully defeated the attempt by the Duke of Beaufort, Admiral of France, to land at Kinsale. In 1661 he built a mansion at Charleville, which he named in honour of Charles II and: “”spent the remainder of his life principally in contemplation, reading the Scriptures, and other serious studies, partly at Castlemartyr and partly at Charleville””. He died in October, 1679 and was buried in the church of Youghal where there is a monument to him.
A Restoration romance by the first Earl of Orrery with a plot somewhat typical of the period. The earliest instance of a romance credited to an Irish writer and this completed work has rendered it most accessible to the researcher. It is also said to be the first English language romance in the style of the 17th century French writers of heroic romance, Gauthier de Costas de la Calprenède and Madeleine de Scudery. The influence of de Scudery is especially noteworthy in Boyle’s use of contemporary allusions in this work which deals with two Princes, Artabanes and Surena, competing for the love of Parthenissa. Published originally in parts, the first four of which were, according to Henry Bradshaw, printed in Waterford.
From the library of Sir John Robert Mowbray, 1st Baronet PC (1815-1899), known as John Cornish until 1847, British Conservative politician and long-serving Member of Parliament, eventually serving as Father of the House.” 1676 BOYLE, Roger. Earl of Orrery.