Catherine Fenton Boyle
|Countess of Cork|
|Died||16 May 1630 (aged 41-42)|
Cork House, Dublin
|Buried||St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin|
|Spouse(s)||Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork|
|Father||Sir Geoffrey Fenton|
Catherine Fenton Boyle was born around 1588. She was the only daughter of secretary of state for Ireland 1580-1608, Sir Geoffrey Fenton, and Alice (née Weston). Her maternal grandfather was Robert Weston, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and her grandmother was his first wife Alice Jenyngs. She had one brother, Sir William Fenton. On 25 July 1603 she married Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork. Her dowry of £1,000 allowed Boyle to purchase the estates of Sir Walter Raleigh in east Cork. She could have been as young as 15 at the marriage, and Richard was 37. The age difference may have made Richard paternalistic towards Boyle, allowing her little freedom even in domestic affairs. He oversaw the household accounts, purchased and chose his wife's clothes, did not allow her to borrow money, and did not seek her opinion on the education or marriages of their children. He commented on her as being "most religious, virtuous, loving and obedient". The family moved to Youghal in 1605, where Richard bought the lease of a former college, converting it into a home. He purchased the Chantry of our Blessed Saviour, and made it into a family mortuary chapel. He was eventually buried there, but not Boyle, however she is represented by a marble effigy in the state robe of a countess.
Her husband purchased Lismore Castle, moving the family there, where the family divided their time between the castle and Cork House in Dublin. Boyle died on 16 February 1630 in Cork House, Dublin, and was buried with her father and grandfather in St Patrick's cathedral. Her husband erected a marble tomb in their honour at the upper end of the chancel, but the new lord deputy, Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford forced the movement of the tomb to the side of the cathedral. Richard did not remarry, and dedicated the anniversary of her death to mourning each year. A book of elegies was printed in her honour, composed by the fellows of Trinity College Dublin titled Musarum Lachrymae.
Boyle had 15 children with Richard, 12 of whom survived into adulthood.