Clan Boyle

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The Boyle’s are believed to descend from Anglo-Norman knights named Boyvilles from Beauville near Caen who moved into Scotland after the Norman conquest of England.

They moved into Ayrshire with Kelburn Castle at Largs becoming their major seat. The Boyles support of Stuart Kings in battles secured their wealth and land for some time.

Their support for Mary Queen of Scots and later King Charles 1 who was defeated in the Civil War 1649 cost them dear in finances and standing.


The later part of the 1600s saw the Boyle's grow rich through shipping and shipbuilding. Towards the end of the 1600s, David Boyle of Kelburn was elected as Commissioner of Parliament and a Privy Councilor. He became Lord Boyle of Kelburn 1699 and Earl of Glasgow 1703.

The 3rd Earl of Glasgow, John Boyle, followed a military career in Europe and lost a hand in the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745. He was also wounded twice at the Battle of Lauffeldt in 1747. The 3rd Earl later became Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

1869, the 6th Earl of Glasgow inherited Kelburn and land in Dalry, Stewarton, Corshill, Fenwick and estates at Hawkeshead outside Paisley, Dunbartonshire, Fife, Northumberland and the greater part of Cumbrae. By 1888, the 6th Earl had lost everything by building churches all over Scotland. This forced his cousin David Boyle of Stewarton (Seventh Earl of Glasgow) to sell his own lands to buy back the Kelburn Estate at auction.

The 7th Earl, a naval officer, was Governor of New Zealand from 1892 to 1897.

A branch of the Boyles from Kelburn settled in Ireland where they eventually became the Earls of Cork.

The 10th Earl of Glasgow still lives at Kelburn Castle, land held by the family since the 13th Century. The estate is now run as a country park. The castle can now be booked for holidays, weddings, corporate events and guided tours. Kelburn Website

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