Capt. William O'Shea, Politician and Accuser of Parnell, Dies in Hove

  • April 22, 1905

Captain William Henry O’Shea (1840 – 22 April 1905) was an Irish soldier and Member of Parliament.

He is best known for being the ex-husband of Katharine O’Shea, the long-time mistress of the Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell.

Born in Dublin, O’Shea was a captain in the 18th Hussars of the British Army.

Around 1880, his wife, Essex born Katharine O’Shea, entered into a relationship with the Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell, with whom she had three children. O’Shea, who was already separated from his wife, knew of the relationship.

In 1882 when the Liberal government was secretly negotiating with Parnell for the terms of his release from Kilmainham Gaol where he was being held on suspicion of “treasonable practices”, the President of the Board of Trade, Joseph Chamberlain, chose O’Shea as its intermediary, unaware of Parnell’s affair with Mrs O’Shea or of the fact that the newly born first child of their liaison was dying.

O’Shea spent 6 hours negotiating with Parnell in the prison, extracting the surprising concession that Parnell would tacitly support the Government after his release. It has been suggested that O’Shea won this concession, which reflected well on him, by threatening Parnell with public exposure of his affair with Mrs O’Shea.

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