Sir John Parnell

(25/12/1744 - 05/12/1801)

Sir John Parnell, politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer a director of the Grand Canal Company has the bridge(also known as Sally’s Bridge) at the end of Clogher Road and crossing the Grand Canal named after him.

Sir John Parnell (1744–1801), the 2nd Baronet, born on 25 December 1744, was the only surviving son of Sir John Parnell (1717–82), the 1st Baronet, a landowner and MP for Maryborough, Queen’s Co., and Anne, daughter of Michael Ward. Educated at Harrow, Eton, and TCD, he entered politics as MP for Bangor, Co. Down (1767–8) and later represented Innistiogue, Co. Kilkenny, until 1783. Subsequently, he held a seat for Queen’s Co. (1783–1801), aligning himself as a conservative independent and a valuable government supporter.

Known for his oratory skills, Parnell was involved in economic affairs and supported duties on English goods. Appointed chancellor of the exchequer in 1785, he navigated through the chaotic finances of 1790s Ireland. His interest in economic development extended to improving Dublin’s port and capital amenities.

A staunch Irish nationalist, Parnell opposed Catholic relief in the 1770s and 1780s but later fell in line with relief bills in 1792 and 1793. He strongly supported the Protestant interest, voting against Catholic emancipation in 1795. However, he grew uneasy with the government’s coercive policies, leading to his dismissal as chancellor of the exchequer.

During the union debate, Parnell fought against the union with Great Britain. He supported motions and opposed the union, emphasizing the majority of Irish people’s resistance. His efforts, though unsuccessful, earned him respect among the opposition.

Representing Queen’s Co. at Westminster from January to December 1801, Parnell remained active in Irish financial debates. He died suddenly in London on 5 December 1801, leaving a legacy survived by his descendants, notably his great-grandson Charles Stewart Parnell, a key figure in the Irish Home Rule campaign. Parnell’s dismissal during the union debate elevated his status as a hero with the opposition.

Sir John Parnell’s sudden death in London in 1801 marked the end of a significant chapter in Irish political history.

Parnell’s great-grandson, Charles Stewart Parnell, continued his legacy by opposing the Act of Union and becoming a legendary land reformer.


Person Photo
Connection with area: Grand Canal developer of whom Parnell (Sally's) Bridge is named after. Great grand-father of Charles Stuart Parnell.