There were eleven children in all: Admiral Stewart's mother, Parnell's great-grandmother, belonged to the Tudor family, so Parnell had a distant relationship with the British Royal Family. John Henry Parnell himself was a cousin of one of Ireland's leading aristocrats, Viscount Powerscourt , and also the grandson of a Chancellor of the Exchequer in Grattan's Parliament , Sir John Parnell , who lost office in when he opposed the Act of Union.
Thus, from birth, Charles Stewart Parnell possessed an extraordinary number of links to many elements of society; he was linked to the old Irish Parliamentary tradition via his great-grandfather and grandfather, to the American War of Independence via his grandfather, to the War of where his grandfather had been awarded a gold medal by the United States Congress for gallantry. Parnell belonged to the Church of Ireland , disestablished in its members mostly unionists though in later years he began to drop away from formal church attendance;  and he was connected with the aristocracy through the Powerscourts.
Yet it was as a leader of Irish Nationalism that Parnell established his fame. Parnell's parents separated when he was six, and as a boy he was sent to different schools in England, where he spent an unhappy youth.
His father died in and he inherited the Avondale estate, while his older brother John inherited another estate in Armagh. The young Parnell studied at Magdalene College, Cambridge —69 but, due to the troubled financial circumstances of the estate he inherited, he was absent a great deal and never completed his degree. Their travels took them mostly through the South and apparently the brothers neither spent much time in centres of Irish immigration nor sought out Irish-Americans.
In , he became High Sheriff of Wicklow , his home county in which he was also an officer in the Wicklow militia. He was noted as an improving landowner who played an important part in opening the south Wicklow area to industrialisation. It was in support of this movement that Parnell first tried to stand for election in Wicklow, but as high sheriff was disqualified. He failed again in as home rule candidate in a County Dublin by-election.
Historian Kevin Flynn reports: When Gladstone came to know him in later years, he was astonished to find that Parnell was ignorant even of the basic facts of Irish history. The romantic vision that characterised Young Ireland and the Fenians escaped him completely. He knew little of figures like Sarsfield, Tone or Emmett and even appeared unsure of who won the Battle of the Boyne. He subsequently sat for the constituency of Youghal, Cork from until During his first year Parnell remained a reserved observer of parliamentary proceedings.
He first came to attention in the public eye when in he claimed in the Commons that he did not believe that any murder had been committed by Fenians in Manchester. This drew the interest of the Irish Republican Brotherhood IRB , a physical force Irish organisation that had staged a rebellion in He engaged with them and played a leading role in a policy of obstructionism  i.
Obstruction involved giving lengthy speeches which were largely irrelevant to the topic at hand. This behaviour was opposed by the less aggressive chairman leader of the Home Rule League, Isaac Butt. Parnell visited America that year accompanied by O'Connor Power. The question of his closeness to the IRB, and whether indeed he ever joined the organisation, has been a matter of academic debate for a century. The evidence suggests that later, following the signing of the Kilmainham Treaty , Parnell did take the IRB oath, possibly for tactical reasons.
Shaw's victory was temporary, however. New departure[ edit ] From August Parnell held a number of private meetings with prominent Fenian leaders. O'Kelly both of whom were impressed by him and reported positively to the most capable and militant Leader of the American republican Clan na Gael organisation, John Devoy.
This was followed by a telegram from John Devoy in October which offered Parnell a " New Departure " deal of separating militancy from the constitutional movement as a path to all-Ireland self-government, under certain conditions: It was not until Davitt persuaded him to address a second meeting at Westport, County Mayo in June that he began to grasp the potential of the land reform movement. At a national level several approaches were made which eventually produced the 'New Departure' of June , endorsing the foregone informal agreement which asserted an understanding binding them to mutual support and a shared political agenda.
In addition, the 'New Departure' asserted the Fenian movement and its armed strategies. You must show the landlord that you intend to keep a firm grip on your homesteads and lands. You must not allow yourselves be dispossessed as you were dispossessed in In so doing, he linked the mass movement to the parliamentary agitation, with profound consequences for both of them. Andrew Kettle , his 'right-hand man', became honorary secretary.
In a bout of activity, he left for America in December with John Dillon to raise funds for famine relief and secure support for Home Rule. Hayes , on 2 February he addressed the House of Representatives on the state of Ireland and spoke in 62 cities including in Canada, where he was so well received in Toronto that Healy dubbed him "the uncrowned king of Ireland".
During his tour, he seemed to be saying that there were virtually no limits. To abolish landlordism , he asserted, would be to undermine English misgovernment, and he is alleged to have added: When we have undermined English misgovernment we have paved the way for Ireland to take her place amongst the nations of the earth.
And let us not forget that that is the ultimate goal at which all we Irishmen aim. None of us whether we be in America or in Ireland Sixty-three Home Rulers were elected, including twenty-seven Parnell supporters, Parnell being returned for three seats: Cork City , Mayo and Meath.
He chose to sit for the Cork seat. His triumph facilitated his nomination in May in place of Shaw as leader of a new Home Rule League Party, faced with a country on the brink of a land war. Although the League discouraged violence, agrarian outrages grew from incidents in to 2, in  after evictions increased from 1, to 2, in the same period. Parnell saw the need to replace violent agitation with country-wide mass meetings and the application of Davitt's boycott , also as a means of achieving his objective of self-government.
Gladstone was alarmed at the power of the Land League at the end of These halted arbitrary evictions, but not where rent was unpaid.
Foster argues that in the countryside the Land League "reinforced the politicization of rural Catholic nationalist Ireland, partly by defining that identity against urbanization, landlordism, Englishness and—implicitly—Protestantism. They were imprisoned under a proclaimed Coercion Act in Kilmainham Gaol for "sabotaging the Land Act", from where the No Rent Manifesto , which Parnell and the others signed, was issued calling for a national tenant farmer rent strike. The Land League was suppressed immediately.
Punch magazine depicts the Fenian movement as Frankenstein's monster to Charles Parnell's Frankenstein, in the wake of the Phoenix Park killings. Whilst in gaol, Parnell moved in April to make a deal with the government, negotiated through Captain William O'Shea MP, that, provided the government settled the "rent arrears" question allowing , tenants to appeal for fair rent before the land courts, then withdrawing the manifesto and undertaking to move against agrarian crime, after he realised militancy would never win Home Rule.
Parnell also promised to use his good offices to quell the violence and to co-operate cordially for the future with the Liberal Party in forwarding Liberal principles and measures of general reform. Burke on 6 May. Parnell was shocked to the extent that he offered Gladstone to resign his seat as MP. In the end, it resulted in a Parnell — Gladstone alliance working closely together.
For the next 20 years, the IRB ceased to be an important force in Irish politics,  leaving Parnell and his party the leaders of the nationalist movement in Ireland. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. June Learn how and when to remove this template message Another hostile Punch cartoon, from , depicting the Irish National League as the "Irish Vampire", with Parnell's head Parnell now sought to use his experience and huge support to advance his pursuit of Home Rule and resurrected the suppressed Land League on 17 October as the Irish National League INL.
It combined moderate agrarianism, a Home Rule programme with electoral functions, was hierarchical and autocratic in structure with Parnell wielding immense authority and direct parliamentary control. The informal alliance between the new, tightly disciplined INL and the Catholic Church was one of the main factors for the revitalisation of the national Home Rule cause after Parnell saw that the explicit endorsement of Catholicism was of vital importance to the success of this venture and worked in close co-operation with the Catholic hierarchy in consolidating its hold over the Irish electorate.
Its continued agrarian agitation led to the passing of several Irish Land Acts that over three decades changed the face of Irish land ownership, replacing large Anglo-Irish estates with tenant ownership. Charles Stewart Parnell, the 'un-crowned King of Ireland' Parnell next turned to the Home Rule League Party, of which he was to remain the re-elected leader for over a decade, spending most of his time at Westminster, with Henry Campbell as his personal secretary.
He fundamentally changed the party, replicated the INL structure within it and created a well-organised grass roots structure, introduced membership to replace "ad hoc" informal groupings in which MPs with little commitment to the party voted differently on issues, often against their own party. A central aspect of Parnell's reforms was a new selection procedure to ensure the professional selection of party candidates committed to taking their seats.
In , he imposed a firm 'party pledge' which obliged party MPs to vote as a bloc in parliament on all occasions. The creation of a strict party whip and formal party structure was unique in party politics at the time.
The Irish Parliamentary Party is generally seen as the first modern British political party, its efficient structure and control contrasting with the loose rules and flexible informality found in the main British parties, which came to model themselves on the Parnellite model. The changes affected the nature of candidates chosen. Under Butt, the party's MPs were a mixture of Catholic and Protestant , landlord and others, Whig , Liberal and Conservative , often leading to disagreements in policy that meant that MPs split in votes.
Under Parnell, the number of Protestant and landlord MPs dwindled, as did the number of Conservatives seeking election. The parliamentary party became much more Catholic and middle class, with a large number of journalists and lawyers elected and the disappearance of Protestant Ascendancy landowners and Conservatives from it. Towards home rule[ edit ] Main article: Irish Home Rule Movement Parnell's party emerged swiftly as a tightly disciplined and, on the whole, energetic body of parliamentarians.
Speaking in Cork on 21 January , 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.
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. In March the Cabinet rejected the proposal of radical minister Joseph Chamberlain of democratic county councils which in turn would elect a Central Board for Ireland.
Gladstone on the other hand saying he was prepared to go 'rather further' than the idea of a Central Board. The November general elections delayed because boundaries were being redrawn and new registers prepared after the Third Reform Act brought about a hung Parliament in which the Liberals with seats won 86 more than the Conservatives, with a Parnellite bloc of 86 Irish Home Rule MPs holding the balance of power in the Commons.
Parnell's task was now to win acceptance of the principle of a Dublin parliament. Parnell at first supported a Conservative government — they were still the smaller party after the elections — but after renewed agrarian distress arose when agricultural prices fell and unrest developed during , Lord Salisbury 's Conservative government announced coercion measures in January Parnell switched his support to the Liberals.
The Liberals regained power on 1 February, their leader Gladstone — influenced by the status of Norway, which at the time was self-governing but under the Swedish Crown — moving towards Home Rule, which Gladstone's son Herbert revealed publicly under what became known as the "flying of the Hawarden Kite ". The third Gladstone administration paved the way towards the generous response to Irish demands that the new Prime Minister had promised,  but was unable to obtain the support of several key players in his own party.
Lord Hartington who had been Liberal leader in the late s and was still the most likely alternative leader refused to serve at all, while Joseph Chamberlain briefly held office then resigned when he saw the terms of the proposed bill. On 8 April , Gladstone introduced the First Irish Home Rule Bill , his object to establish an Irish legislature, although large imperial issues were to be reserved to the Westminster parliament.
However, the split between pro- and anti-home rulers within the Liberal Party caused the defeat of the bill on its second reading in June by to votes. Gladstone hoped to repeat his triumph of , when he fought and won a General Election to obtain a mandate for Irish Disestablishment which had been a major cause of dispute between Conservatives and Liberals since the s , but the result of the July general election was Liberal defeat. Salisbury formed his second government — a minority Conservative government with Liberal Unionist support.