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EARL OF ROSSE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 745 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EARL OF ROSSE, a title borne by the Irish family of Parsons. James Parsons, a native of Leicestershire, who flourished in the 16th century, was the father of Sir William Parsons (c. 1570-165o), one of the lords justices of Ireland. Having crossed to Ireland in early life, William Parsons became surveyor-general in 1602 and obtained land in various parts of the country. In 1620 he was made a baronet; in 1643 he was deprived of his office as lord justice, and he died early in 165o. His great-grandson, Sir Richard Parsons, bart. (c. 1657-r703), was created Baron Oxmantown and Viscount Rosse in x681, and Richard's son and successor, Richard (d. 1741), was made earl of Rosse in 1718. The titles became extinct when Richard, the mid earl, died in August 1764. Sir William Parsons had two brothers, Sir Lawrence and Sir Fenton Parsons. Sir Lawrence, second baron of the Irish exchequer, left a son, William (d. 1653), who defended Birr Castle, King's County, for over a year against the Irish during 1 Figures again vary in different authorities. The above figure is that given by Berndt, Zahl im Kriege. the rebellion of 1641, and whose son, Sir Lawrence Parsons (d. 1698), was made a baronet in 1677. This Sir Lawrence was a strong Protestant, and was found guilty of high treason, being attainted and sentenced to death during the brief period of James II.'s ascendancy in Ireland. He was not executed, however, and afterwards he took some part in the struggle against the supporters of James II. His descendant, Lawrence Harman Parsons (1749—1807), was created Baron Oxmantown in 1792, Viscount Oxmantown in 1795, and earl of Rosse in 18o6. He died on the loth of April 1807, and was succeeded by his nephew Lawrence. Lawrence Parsons, 2nd earl of Rosse (1758—1841), the eldest son of Sir William Parsons, hart. (d. 1791), of Birr Castle, was born on the 21st of May 1758. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he entered the Irish parliament as member for the university in 1782, and soon came to the front in debate. A friend and follower of Henry Flood, he has been described as " one of the very, very few honest men in the Irish House of Commons." He favoured some measure of relief to Roman Catholics and also parliamentary reform, a speech which he delivered on this question in 1793 being described by W. E. H. Lecky as " exceedingly valuable to students of Irish history "; but he disliked and opposed the union of the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland. After this event, however, he represented King's County in the united parliament until 1807, and he was a representative peer for Ireland from 1809 to 1841. He died at Brighton on the 24th of February 1841. Rbsse wrote Observations on the Bequest of Henry Flood to Trinity College, Dublin, with a Defence of the Ancient History of Ireland (Dublin, 1795). His eldest son was the astronomer William Parsons, 3rd earl of Rosse (see below).
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