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Richard Vicars Boyle

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Richard Vicars Boyle (1823-1908)

1823 Born in Dublin the son of Vicars Armstrong Boyle

1853 November 8th. Married at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, to Eleanor Anne relict of Senor Don Jacinto de Salas y Quiroga and the daughter of William Hock of Dieppe.[1]

1853 'Mr. Richard Vicars Boyle, Civil Engineer, sailed from Southampton the 4th instant by the Indue, to attend his professional engagement on the Calcutta and Delhi Railway.'[2]

1855 October 8th. Birth of a son at Arrah, Shahabad.[3]


1908 Obituary [4]

RICHARD VICARS BOYLE, C.S.I., formerly of the Public Works Department of India, and well known for his memorable defence of the Engineer’s house at Arrah during the Mutiny, died at his residence in London on the 3rd January, 1908, at the age of 85.

The third son of the late Mr. Vicars Armstrong Boyle, of Dublin, the subject of this memoir was born in that city in 1822.

After being privately educated, he was for 2 years attached to the trigonometrical survey of Ireland, and subsequently served a pupilage to the late Mr. C. B. Vignoles, Past-President, on railway works in England.

Returning to Ireland on completing his apprenticeship, he was employed for several years as contractor’s engineer on the Belfast and Armagh Railway, the Dublin and Drogheda Railway, and other works.

In 1845 a peat impetus was given to the extension of railways in Ireland, and Mr. Boyle, under Sir John Macneil, surveyed and laid out a section of the Great Southern and Western Railway between Dublin and Cork, besides other lines in some of the Northern Counties.

He was Chief Engineer for the Longford and Sligo Railway, and also acted as Engineer at Ballinasloe on the Midland Great Western Railway until after the completion of that line as far as Galway.

In the autumn of 1852 he went to Spain as chief assistant to the late Mr. G. W. Hemans on the construction of railways and waterworks in that country.

In 1853 Mr. Boyle obtained an appointment as District Engineer on the East India Railway Company, and sailed for Calcutta in December of that year. He was first stationed at Patna, and was afterwards transferred to Arrah (Shahabad). It was at Arrah, in 1857, in the earlier months of the Mutiny, that the incident occurred which, as was stated at the time, gave “the first real check in Bengal to the progress of the rebellion.” Here it was that less than 80 men, including officials, volunteers and 50 Sikhs, held their own for 8 days in Mr. Boyle’s house against over 3,000 mutinous troops.

A column of some 450 men sent from Dinapore to the relief of the besieged marched into an ambuscade, and were completely routed, but relief came eventually from Vincent Eyre, who, by forced marches from Buxar, succeeded in reaching Arrah, happily to find the little garrison safe. Had it not been for Mr. Boyle’s forethought in fortifying and provisioning his house, probably not one Englishman in Arrah would have survived the siege.

Mr. Boyle was at once appointed Field Engineer to the recruited force under Major Vincent Eyre, but soon after, while restoring interrupted communications and bridges broken by the mutineers, he was disabled, and had to be carried into Dinapore. The services of Mr. Boyle in the defence of Arrah and the district generally earned for him the Mutiny Medal, and were afterwards recognized by the Government in conferring upon him a grant of land in the neighbourhood of Arrah. Subsequently he was created a Companion of the Star of India.

Having spent about 2 years in Europe, Mr. Boyle returned to India, and was appointed in 1868 first-class Executive Engineer in the Public Works Department; but shortly afterwards urgent family matters called him again to England, where he remained until 1872.

In that year he accepted the post of Engineer-in-Chief for the Imperial Government Railways of Japan, and retained that position until 1877, On his departure, he left two separate railways, aggregating about 70 miles of open line, fully equipped and in complete working order.

Mr. Boyle then retired from professional pursuits. Much of his leisure in later years was spent in travelling in many lands, generally wintering abroad.

In 1853 he married Eleonore Anne, daughter of Mr. W. Hack, of Dieppe, and his wife was his constant companion on all his journeys.

Mr. Boyle was a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

He was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 10th January, 1854, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 14th February, 1860, his membership of The Institution thus extending over 50 years. In 1882 he contributed a Paper on the Rokugo River Bridge, Japan, to the Proceedings.


1908 Obituary [5]

RICHARD VICARS BOYLE, C.S.I., died on January 3, 1908, from failure of the heart.

Mr. Boyle was born in 1822, being the third son of Mr. V. A. Boyle, of Dublin.

He received his early training as a pupil of Charles Vignoles, F.R.S., and subsequently was engaged on railway construction work in Ireland and England, and in Spain.

In 1853 he was appointed. District Engineer on the East Indian Railway with headquarters at Arrah, Bengal. In the Mutiny he played a conspicuous part, holding out for eight days in his fortified house with 80 men and a party of 50 Sikhs against 3,000 mutinous troops. After his relief Mr. Boyle acted as Field Engineer to one of the British columns. For his services he was awarded a Mutiny medal, a grant of land at Arrah, and subsequently the Companionship of the Star of India.

From 1872 to 1877 he held the appointment of Engineer-in-Chief to the Imperial Government Railways of Japan.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1874.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Catholic Telegraph - Saturday 12 November 1853
  2. Dublin Evening Post - Tuesday 20 December 1853
  3. Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent - Tuesday 11 December 1855
  4. 1908 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  5. 1908 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries