Charles Stewart Parnell Chronology


Born in Avondale House County Wicklow, 4th son of John Henry Parnell and Delia (nee Stewart of Bordentown, New Jersey U.S.A).

1848 - 1860

Mrs Parnell and family make extended visits to Paris and London.


Father dies suddenly. Parnell children are made Wards of Court


Attends Magdalene College Cambridge but does not take degree. 1867 Parnell comes of age and is the legal owner of Avondale House.


First visit to America. Parnell visits his brother in Alabama seeking business opportunities in mining and railroad investment.


Serves as High Sheriff of County Wicklow and is active in the local gentry.


Offers to stand as Home Rule Parliamentary candidate for Co Wicklow but is ineligible. Stood for Co.Dublin but is defeated.

1875 April 22

Takes his seat in Parliament after winning in Co. Meath.


Joins the Amnesty Association to seek the release of Fenian prisoners.


Parnell identifies with the radical Irish ‘obstructionist’ wing of the Home Rule party.


Elected President of the Irish Home Rule Confederation


Michael Davitt and Parnell collaborate to push for sweeping land reform.

1879 October 21

Irish National Land League established. The first phase of the ‘Land War’


Visits the United States with John Dillon. They collect £60,000 for poor relief in Ireland. Parnell addresses the U.S Congress – the first Irishman to be so honoured.


Wins three constituency seats in Parliament and chooses to represent Cork City. In May is elected as Chairman of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Parnell first meets Mrs Katharine O’Shea in July. The Land War intensifies with agrarian disturbances and ‘boycotts’. In November Parnell and thirteen others are charged with seditious conspiracy but the case collapses.


Secret relationship with Mrs O’Shea blossoms. Parnell and the Irish Party M.P.s in frequent clashes in Parliament over coercion in Ireland. In April a reforming Land bill grants the ‘3 F’s’ Fair rent- Free sale and Fixture of Tenancy. In October Parnell and leading Land Leaguers are interned in Kilmainham Jail.
1880- 82 The Ladies’ Land League active under Anna and Fanny Parnell.


The ‘Kilmainham Treaty’ under which Parnell trades stability in the countryside for further land reforms. In May the Phoenix Park murders of Lord Cavendish and Under Secretary Burke. October the Irish National League is founded to campaign for Home Rule.


The Parnell Tribute. A public collection of £38,000 presented to Parnell.


Parnell, now undisputed leader of 85 Irish M.Ps, reiterates Irish Home rule aspirations in his famous Cork speech ‘No man has the right to say to his country “thus far shalt thou go and no further’.


First reading of the Irish Home Rule Bill introduced by W. E. Gladstone Liberal Prime Minister. Defeated by 341 to 311 votes. The defeat brings down the Liberal government. In July Parnell and the Irish Party are returned with eighty-five seats. The Plan of Campaign introduced but is not welcomed by Parnell.

1887 March 7

‘Parnellism and Crime’ the first in a series of allegations published in The Times newspaper that Parnell and his followers were directly involved in agrarian crime and had prior knowledge of the Phoenix Park murders.


The Special Commission of enquiry into Parnellism and Crime finds that much of the ‘evidence’ has been forged by an ex Fenian, Richard Pigott. Parnell is exonerated and is invited by Gladstone to construct a new Irish Home Rule Bill. In December Capt O’Shea petitions for a divorce citing Parnell as co-respondent.


In November Captain O’Shea is granted a divorce after Parnell refuses to contest .The divorce does not initially cause division in the Irish Party ranks until Gladstone announces that he will no longer accept Parnell as leader, November 25. The Parnell Split occurs after acrimonious meetings in Committee Room 15 in the House of Commons, December. There is also strong clerical opposition growing in Ireland to Parnell. The Party divide on the issue of Parnell’s continued leadership with the majority of M.Ps abandoning him. Later in the month Parnell’s faction loses a by-election in Kilkenny to an anti-Parnellite. Parnell is injured during the Campaign.


Throughout January and February a group of M.P.s led by William O’Brien and John Dillon attempt to heal the party divisions at talks with Parnell in Boulogne, France but without success. In June Parnell is publicly accused of stealing party funds and loses two more by-elections. Amid all the terrible party infighting Parnell and Katharine finally marry at Steyning Registry Office near Brighton. Throughout the late summer Parnell campaigns fiercely to rebuild his party. On Sunday September 27 he gives his last public address at Creggs in County Galway. Gravely ill and exhausted he returned to Brighton.

October 6 1891

Charles Stewart Parnell dies in Brighton
aged 45.

October 11 1891

Parnell is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. His public funeral is probably the largest ever held in Ireland.

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