Charles Stewart Parnell

Charles Stewart Parnell Charles Stewart Parnell (27 June 1846 – 6 October 1891) was an Irish nationalist politician who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom from 1875 to 1891, Leader of the Home Rule League from 1880 to 1882, and then of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1882 to 1891, who held the balance of power in the House of Commons during the Home Rule debates of 1885–1886. He fell from power following revelations of a long-term affair, and died at age 45.

Born into a powerful Anglo-Irish Protestant landowning family in County Wicklow, he was a land reform agitator and founder of the Irish National Land League in 1879. He became leader of the Home Rule League, operating independently of the Liberal Party, winning great influence by his balancing of constitutional, radical, and economic issues, and by his skilful use of parliamentary procedure.

He was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, in 1882, but he was released when he renounced violent extra-Parliamentary action. The same year, he reformed the Home Rule League as the Irish Parliamentary Party, which he controlled minutely as Britain's first disciplined democratic party.

The hung parliament of 1885 saw him hold the balance of power between William Gladstone's Liberal Party and Lord Salisbury's Conservative Party. His power was one factor in Gladstone's adoption of Home Rule as the central tenet of the Liberal Party. Parnell's reputation peaked from 1889 to 1890, after letters published in ''The Times'', linking him to the Phoenix Park killings of 1882, were shown to have been forged by Richard Pigott.

The Irish Parliamentary Party split in 1890, following the revelation of Parnell's long adulterous love affair, which led to many British Liberals, many of whom were Nonconformists, refusing to work with him, and engendered strong opposition from Catholic bishops. He headed a small minority faction until his death in 1891.

Parnell's funeral was attended by 200,000, and the day of his death is still remembered as Ivy Day. Parnell Square and Parnell Street in Dublin are named after him, and he is celebrated as the best organiser of an Irish political party up to that time, and one of the most formidable figures in parliamentary history. Provided by Wikipedia