Saturday, 27 June 2020

27 June 1846: Charles Stewart Parnell was born into a Protestant aristocratic and land-owning family at Avondale, Co. Wicklow on this day. His parents were John Henry Parnell and Delia Tudor Stewart (the daughter of an American naval hero, Commodore Charles Stewart). His parents split up when he was about six years old and so he was sent to school in England at an early age that included a stint at an academy for young ladies at Yeovil in Somerset. But here he contracted typhoid fever and was brought home for private tuition. He later went to a school in Kirk Langley, Derbyshire, from which he was expelled; and then to the Great Ealing School.

 It is generally accepted that his childhood was not a happy one and that his stays amongst them did not enhance his feelings for the English. His own grandfather had fought in the US Navy in the War of 1812 and won a medal for fighting the British. When his father died in 1859 the young Parnell inherited the Avondale estate. The family lived in a succession of homes in the Dublin area during the 1860s. Parnell also attended Rev. Whishaw’s Academy in Chipping Norton. He went on to Magdalene College, Cambridge, but did not graduate.

It was only when he was 27 years old, and after having toured the United States that he decided to seek a career in politics. In 1874 he became High Sheriff of his home county of Wicklow in which he was also 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. He was first elected to represent the County of Meath at the Parliament of Westminster in the year 1875.

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