Parnell, Charles Stewart

(redirected from Parnellite)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Parnell, Charles Stewart

(pär`nəl, pärnĕl`), 1846–91, Irish nationalist leader. Haughty and sensitive, Parnell was only a mediocre orator, but he possessed a marked personal fascination and was a shrewd political and parliamentary tactician. He succeeded in uniting the moderate and militant Irish nationalists in the drive for land reform and Home Rule and brought the Irish question to the forefront of British politics.

Political Career

The son of a Protestant landowner, he attached himself to the Home RuleHome Rule,
in Irish and English history, political slogan adopted by Irish nationalists in the 19th cent. to describe their objective of self-government for Ireland. Origins of the Home Rule Movement
..... Click the link for more information.
 movement of Isaac Butt and was elected to the British Parliament in 1875. He quickly developed an obstructionist policy in Parliament, where his filibusters gave the Irish contingent a prominence far beyond its numbers. Although these tactics lost him the approval of Butt, they brought him the support of the militant Fenian movementFenian movement
or Fenians,
secret revolutionary society organized c.1858 in Ireland and the United States to achieve Irish independence from England by force.
..... Click the link for more information.

Joining the Fenians in their agitation against the Irish land laws, Parnell became president of the National Land League (see Irish Land QuestionIrish Land Question,
name given in the 19th cent. to the problem of land ownership and agrarian distress in Ireland under British rule. The long-term result of conquest, confiscation, and colonization was the creation of a class of English and Scottish landlords and of an
..... Click the link for more information.
) in 1879. He encouraged the use of the boycott as a means of bringing pressure on the landlords and their agents, but the agitation also produced much violence, and the harsh Coercion Bill of 1881 was passed (over Parnell's opposition) to check it.

In 1881, Parnell started United Ireland, a paper in support of the Land League, edited by William O'BrienO'Brien, William,
1852–1928, Irish journalist and political leader. He became (1881) editor of a newspaper, United Ireland, which championed the Irish agrarian cause (see Irish Land Question).
..... Click the link for more information.
. Arrested for his activities and put in Kilmainham jail, Parnell directed O'Brien to compose a manifesto against rent payment. Parnell's popularity increased, and he came to be referred to as the "uncrowned king of Ireland." He was released (1882) by the so-called Kilmainham treaty, by which the government agreed to settle the question of arrears in land rent if Parnell would help check violence against landlords.

The Phoenix Park murdersPhoenix Park murders,
name given to the assassination on May 6, 1882, of Lord Frederick Cavendish, British secretary for Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, his undersecretary, in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
..... Click the link for more information.
 of 1882 shocked Parnell as much as they did the English, but the Irish leader opposed the coercive Crimes Act that followed and was therefore charged with encouraging terrorism. Nonetheless, he retained the confidence of his followers both in Ireland and in America, where the fact that he was a grandson of the American naval hero Charles Stewart added to his appeal.

In 1885 the Liberals' threat to renew the Crimes Act of 1882 led Parnell to throw the Irish vote to the Tories and thus bring down the government of William GladstoneGladstone, William Ewart,
1809–98, British statesman, the dominant personality of the Liberal party from 1868 until 1894. A great orator and a master of finance, he was deeply religious and brought a highly moralistic tone to politics.
..... Click the link for more information.
. It was, however, an uncomfortable alliance, and in 1886 Parnell swung back to the Liberals, who returned to power. Gladstone then introduced in Parliament the first Home Rule Bill (1886), but the Liberal party split on the issue, and Gladstone's government fell again. In 1887, the London Times printed a series of hostile articles called "Parnellism and Crime," ending with a facsimile letter, purporting to carry Parnell's signature and apologizing for his denunciation of the Phoenix Park murders. A special commission found (1889) that the letter had been forged; and, although some of Parnell's activities were censured, he and his associates were exonerated.

Fall from Power

In 1889, Parnell was named as corespondent in a divorce suit brought by one of Parnell's colleagues, Captain O'Shea, against his wife, Katharine. Adultery was proved, the divorce granted (1890), and in 1891, Parnell married Katharine. The episode ruined his political influence; he was denounced both by the English liberals and by the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, and the Irish nationalists split into Parnellites and anti-Parnellites. His efforts to reunite the party failed and broke his health.


See biography by R. B. O'Brien (2 vol., 1898; repr. 1968); studies by C. C. O'Brien (1954, rev. ed. 1957), F. S. L. Lyons (1960, 1977), J. Abels (1966), M. Hurst (1968), R. R. Foster (1976), A. O'Day (1986), D. Boyce (1991), and R. Kee (1994).

Parnell, Charles Stewart


Born June 27, 1846, in Avondale, County Wicklow; died Oct. 6, 1891, in Brighton, Sussex. Irish politician and leader of the Home Rule movement (from 1877).

Parnell was elected in 1875 to the British Parliament, where he used obstructionist tactics to exert pressure on the English ruling classes. He advocated broad autonomy for Ireland, without severing constitutional ties to Great Britain. Recognizing the need for the support of the masses, Parnell allied himself with the radical wing of the Irish movement, which included such figures as J. Devoy and M. Davitt. In 1879 he helped found the Land League and then became its president.

Parnell was arrested on Oct. 13, 1881, and confined until May 1882 in the Kilmainham jail, where he concluded the conciliatory Kilmainham Treaty with the British Liberal government. Parnell curtailed the agitation for agrarian demands and from that time on tried to attain Home Rule primarily by parliamentary means. In an attempt to discredit Parnell, English reactionaries conducted a campaign of organized harassment, accusing him of alleged immoral acts. In late 1890 the right-wing majority of the Home Rulers removed Parnell from the leadership.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vols. 34–37. (See the index of names.)
Tarle, E. V. “Charlz Parnel’: Stranitsa iz istorii Anglii i Irlandii.” Soch., vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.
O’Brien, C. C. Parnell and His Party, 1880–1890. Oxford, 1957.


References in periodicals archive ?
His opening article expresses a desire not to offend any Irishman, and the Warder placed advertisements in the Independent urging the paper's Parnellite audience to "Read Standish O'Grady's Column."
While there remained enmity between the clergy and the Association in many areas following the IRB coup in 1887, in the wake of the Parnell split the Catholic hierarchy turned its full force against the Parnellite camp and in particular its allies in the GAA.
Keen to win as many Irish seats as possible at the upcoming general election, the ILPU raised funds and spewed forth pamphlets and leaflets on the iniquity of Irish nationalism, the evil of boycotting, and the Parnellite threat to the Protestant minority.
Owing to greater participation by Parnellite and cultural nationalists during the mid-1890s, the Manchester-martyr demonstrations in Dublin were generally impressive.
J.F.X O'Brien is mentioned in several Irish historical works which note his role in County Cork's 1867 Fenian Rising, his election as a Parnellite MP in 1885 and his presence in opposition to Parnell in Committee Room 15 in December 1890.
Dermot Meleady, Redmond, the Parnellite (Cork: Cork University Press, 2008, 472 pp., 49.00 [euro] hardback)
Other historians prefer to trace the demise of constitutionalism all the way back to the Parnellite split, arguing that the strong leadership and central control which were the twin features of the Parnellite party were never regained.
* Redmond: The Parnellite, by Dermot Meleady (Cork University Press, 2008, 34 [pounds sterling], 48 [euro]) is an account of the life and early career of John Redmond.
It is also necessary to distinguish between Parnellite politics in 1882, when Wilde praised Parnell in Milwaukee, with the politics of 1885/6 and later.
Mary's twin brother John was a prominent member of the Gaelic League in London and Dublin, where he was popularly known as "An Paorach." Throughout the 1890s, Maurice's ongoing interest in the GAA, his outspoken advocacy of tenants' and laborers' rights on land issues, his devotion to the Parnellite cause, and his employment as a traveling clerk for a wholesale butter merchant, led to his frequent appearances in reports of the Royal Irish Constabulary's Crime Branch Special division.
Yeats, 1937 for his illustration Come Gather Round Me Parnellites for a revival of the Cuala Press Broadsides and 1940 for his oil painting Tinkers' Encampment: The Blood of Abel, are beautifully written by Roisin Kennedy, highlighting the unique imagery in the first and the mysterious conjoining of realistic violence and gentle beauty in the second.
Gladstone called themselves, 191 Liberals who adhered to him and 85 Parnellites as before.