Charles Stewart Parnell

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Charles Stewart Parnell (June 27, 1846 - October 6, 1891) was a 19th century Irish Nationalist, and champion of Home Rule, sometimes referred to as "The Uncrowned King of Ireland". He was born in County Wicklow, Ireland.[1] In 1874 he became Sheriff of Wicklow County. A wealthy Anglican (Church of Ireland) landlord, he had a wide following among Catholics. Elected to the British Parliament for Meath in 1875, he became leader of the Irish Nationalist Party, and a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He first drew attentions in the House of Commons when he disputed the British government's claim that Irish Republican leaders had committed murders in Manchester.[2] He attempted to achieve limited self-government for Ireland through deals with the British parties. In 1879 Parnell became president of the militant Land League, which threatened landlords with violence. At once he emerged as a national figure, and at the general election of 1880 his personal following was so greatly increased that he was elected chairman of the parliamentary Home Rule Party. He was aligned alternatively, with the Liberal and Conservative parties at different points in his career. But once it became clearly only the Liberals would give Ireland Home Rule he aligned with them. He himself was more of a conservative on most social issues though, including the land question. He was once invited to join the Fenians, and refused.[3] When he died he praised the Conservative Party.[4]

In 1885, he was leading a movement to gain the widest possible support for Home Rule. He stated,"We cannot ask the British constitution for more than the restitution of Grattan's parliament, but no man has the right to fix the boundary of a nation.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag After Gladstone left office, Parnell advised the Irish voters to vote against the Liberal Party. Parnell at first supported the Conservatives, but after the Conservatives began repressive measures against Irish land issue protests, he switched to supporting the Liberals.[5]

No man has the right to say to his country, "Thus far shalt thou go and no further", and we have never attempted to fix the "ne plus ultra" to the progress of Ireland's nationhood, and we never shall.</ref> No man has the right to say to his country, "Thus far shalt thou go and no further", and we have never attempted to fix the "ne plus ultra" to the progress of Ireland's nationhood, and we never shall."

Imprisoned briefly by Liberal Prime Minister Gladstone, Parnell was released in April 1882,[6] with the understanding that if the government amended the Irish land legislation to extend further benefits to tenants Parnell would give general support to Liberal Party policy. In succeeding years Parnell consolidated his hold on Irish opinion and created a parliamentary party which was formidable for its discipline and talent. As a result, Irish Home Rule became a live issue, and in 1885-1886 he actually held the balance in Parliament between the Liberal and Conservative parties. The Home Rule Party leaned to the Liberals once Gladstone committed the Liberal Party to Irish Home Rule. Though the bill which he introduced in Parliament was beaten and the Liberals themselves were deeply divided, Irish self-government remained an explosive issue in English politics for more than 30 years.

Parnell's brother John was also an Irish National member of the United Kingdom's House of Commons.

A highly publicized adultery scandal in 1890 caused him to lose support from his party. Captain William O'Shea, another Irish member of the House of Commons, sued Parnell in civil court for committing adultery with his wife Katherine.[7] Parnell died soon after, of pneumonia.

Further reading

  • Robert Kee. The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles Stewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism (1993)
  • Sean McMahon. Charles Stewart Parnell‎ (2000) 79 pages
  • R. Barry O'Brien. The Life Of Charles Stewart Parnell, 1846-1891 (2vol 1899) full text
  1. Bew, Paul. "Parnell, Charles Stewart (1846–1891)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, H. C. G. Matthew & Brian Harrison (Editors), Oxford University Press, 2004-5
  2. Hickey, D. J., J. E. Doherty (Editors). A New Dictionary of Irish History from 1800, Gill & Macmillan, 2003 pages 382-285
  3. O'Brien, R. Barry. The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell 1846–1891, Vols. I&II, Harper And Brothers, New York, 1898 (Vol.I contains a watercolor portrait of Parnell; Vol.II contains a sketch of Avondale); reprinted in paperback i.a. by BiblioBazaar, 2009, ISBN 978-1-113-79910-4 pages 110 and 125
  4. Jackson, Alvin. Home Rule: An Irish History 1800–2000 page 92
  5. Hickey et al (2003) pp. 382–385
  6. Ridpath, John Clark Life and Times of William Gladstone pages 568-569
  7. Thomas E. Hachey, Lawrence J. McCaffrey The Irish Experience Since 1800: A Concise History