Notable Historical Trials IV – Parnell and the O’Shea Divorce Case

English: This picture is from the biography 'C...

English: This picture is from the biography ‘Charles Stewart Parnell: His Love Story and Political Life’ that she (Katharine O’Shea) authored (1914) under the name ‘Katharine O’Shea (Mrs Charles Stewart Parnell).’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Stewart Parnell, the "uncrowned K...

Charles Stewart Parnell, the “uncrowned King of Ireland” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another chapter in the collection of Historical Trials by the Folio Society is down.  This one is about Charles Stuart Parnell, an Irish politician working towards home rule.  Apparently this was not all he was working on, as apparently he was conducting an affair with the wife of Captain O’Shea for a number of years.  By some reports several of the younger children were Parnell’s.

Some reports say that O’Shea knew about this for some time, and got Parnell’s support for an election to Parliament as a consequence.  Also Mrs O’Shea was up for an inheritance that might be lost due to a divorce.  But when the inheritance came in and O’Shea couldn’t get at it, he sued for divorce to encourage Parnell and O’Shea to buy him off.  This fell through and the damaging facts came out in the trial.

William O'Shea (1840-1904)

William O’Shea (1840-1904) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tales of the clandestine meetings, the times Parnell had to escape out a window made for great newspaper stories but were fatal to his political career.  Everyone knew this kind of thing went on, but on the quiet.  After his death Parnell was rehabilitated as a  virtual saint of Home Rule, which might have been some consolation if he had been alive.

I suppose the lesson is that if you play these cozy games, make sure and pay off the husband enough that he doesn’t blab.

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One thought on “Notable Historical Trials IV – Parnell and the O’Shea Divorce Case

  1. Pingback: Notable Historical Trials IV – Oscar Wilde | Kilobooks

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