Robert Boyle

Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor

Robert Boyle FRS (25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was a 17th-century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and founding member of the Royal Society.

Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle (1627–91)
Born25 January 1627
Died31 December 1691 (aged 64)
Known forBoyle's law, founder of modern chemistry
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, chemistry
InfluencesRobert Carew, Galileo Galilei, Otto von Guericke, Francis Bacon
InfluencedConsidered the founder of modern chemistry
Title page of The Sceptical Chymist (1661).
The Robert Boyle Prize for Analytical Science medal

Boyle was born in Ireland to a titled Anglo-Irish family. He was the fourteenth child of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, who had arrived in Ireland in 1588.



Robert Boyle is best known for Boyle's law.[1][2]

When Robert Hooke was young, Boyle employed him as an instrument-maker and assistant. They continued to cooperate when Hooke took charge of experiments at the Royal Society.

Scientific research was the main focus of Boyle's life. He joined other like-minded men in a group which called itself the "Invisible College".[3] He was part of the group which founded the Royal Society in 1660.[4]

Boyle was an alchemist, but also the first modern chemist. His 1661 book, The Sceptical Chymist, is important in the history of chemistry.

Religious interests


As a director of the East India Company Boyle spent large sums in promoting the spread of Christianity in the East. He contributed liberally to missionary societies and to the expenses of translating the Bible or portions of it into various languages.

Boyle supported the policy that the Bible should be available in the language of the people, in contrast to the Latin-only policy of the Roman Catholic Church at the time.


  1. Boyle's Law describes the inverse relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas.
  2. Acott, Chris (1999). "The diving "Law-ers": A brief resume of their lives". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 29 (1). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Archived from the original on 2011-04-02. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
  3. Kassell, Lauren. "Invisible College (act. 1646-1647)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. "Robert Boyle’s astonishing scientific wishlist," The Royal Society: 350 Years of Science (exhibition). June 2010.

Further reading