The departure of Charles Stewart Parnell from Cambridge, 1869

On a Saturday evening in May 1869, Charles Stewart Parnell, the future Irish leader, became involved in a fight outside Cambridge railway station with a local man, Edward Charles Hamilton. Following an unfavourable verdict in a court case, Magdalene College,where Parnell was a student, decided to rusticate him for a short period (i.e. send him away as a punishment for his "gross misconduct"). He never returned to complete his studies. 

Introduction On the evening of Saturday 1 May 1869, an undergraduate of Magdalene College, Cambridge became involved in a fight outside the town's railway station. The undergraduate was Charles Stewart Parnell, future leader of the Irish Home Rule party. His opponent, a local man called Edward Charles Hamilton, who came off badly in the encounter, made a formal complaint of assault at the local police station, and then sued for damages in the County Court. On 21 May, a Town jury rejected Parnell's claim of self-defence and awarded Hamilton damages. The Fellows of Magdalene felt compelled to take some notice of the affair, and sentenced their erring student to rustication – temporary expulsion – for the remainder of the Easter Term, which had only two weeks to run. Nonetheless, his rustication was a particular setback to a young man who had, in fact, only recently come back to Cambridge after an interval of almost two years' absence. Parnell never returned to finish his studies.[1]

Why was Parnell at Cambridge in May 1869? It was almost four years since Parnell had entered Magdalene College in October 1865, and for long his apparently slow progression through still-incomplete degree studies persuaded biographers that he had been a poor student.[2] So he was, but his poverty was financial rather than intellectual. He had failed to reappear in Cambridge for the Easter (summer) Term of his first year, in 1866, an absence remains a mystery, but the most likely explanation is that he had run out of money. As a minor whose father had died in 1859, he was a ward of the Court of Chancery and the heir to a loss-making estate, Avondale in County Wicklow. The Court of Chancery (whose records are lost) had probably set him a tight budget for his Cambridge studies: Magdalene was a notoriously expensive college, and Parnell's expenses during his first two terms were unusually high. Young gentlemen, particularly from the Irish Ascendancy, were generally casual about incurring debt, but Parnell's status as a ward of Chancery barred him from borrowing money – or, perhaps more accurately, would have made it hazardous for anyone to lend to him. In fact, although he had only "kept" (Cambridge terminology for "resided") five terms out of a possible six in his first two years, he performed moderately well in the examinations for the first two stages of "Poll" (Pass) degree, even though its mishmash of Classics, Mathematics and elementary Bible Studies was hardly designed to stimulate the intellectual enthusiasm of its victims. He came of age in June 1867, his twenty-first birthday freeing him from the control of the Court of Chancery and making him legally responsible for the affairs of Avondale. The estate faced massive financial problems as well as some immediate and menacingly costly legal challenges.

When Professor Roy Foster attempted to disentangle Parnell's affairs at this period, he found that destruction of records made it difficult to recover details and even to pin down precise dates. However, it seems that two issues caused serious problems, and both came to a head in 1869, at about the time Parnell attempted to resume his studies in Cambridge. The most troublesome challenge came from C.M. West, the gentleman farmer and land agent who had been put in charge of the Avondale estate by the Court of Chancery following the death of his father, John Henry Parnell, in 1859.[3] West's stewardship seems to have cost him a great deal of money, since he sued Parnell for the recovery of £7,000, which suggests that Avondale had been losing about £800 a year during the minority. West obtained a judgment for that amount which was formally dated 23 June 1869, although hearings had probably taken place over several weeks before that formal adjudication. It was probably this case that required Parnell to seek permission from his College to absent himself for three brief visits to Ireland in April and May.[4] In addition, a second threat also hovered over him. In leaving Avondale to Parnell's father in 1832, his grandfather had also bequeathed £10,000 to his daughter Catherine, Charles Stewart Parnell's aunt. As a sisterly gesture, Catherine had agreed to leave her cash in the estate, in effect as a loan: "ten thousand pounds ... lent to her brother" as she described it in her Will. No account books survive for Avondale in John Henry Parnell's time, but it may be assumed that the estate was burdened with an annual interest payment to Catherine and her husband. The guestimated arithmetic is obviously simple: at a three percent rate, £300 a year, at five percent, £500. Parnell already faced considerable difficulties when he came of age in June 1867, but these were further complicated when his aunt died three months later. Her husband, George Wigram, was a member of the Plymouth Brethren, although – as Foster pointed out – he did not share "the attractive lack of interest in money" that was characteristic of that unworldly sect. Wigram demanded his wife's inheritance in cash and probably threatened legal action to enforce his claim. Sometime in 1869 – the precise date cannot be recovered – Parnell raised a mortgage to pay him off. At one level, this was simply an administrative chore, switching one form of loan to another. Unfortunately, we cannot calculate whether he gained or lost on the interest rate charged, but we do know that he was forced to increase the new mortgage to £12,000 to cover other costs. Although a smaller sum, the £7,000 owed to West was the bigger headache, for the obvious reason that Parnell did not command any such sum. In a remarkably short-sighted decision, in 1859 the Court of Chancery had paid off John Henry Parnell's debts by auctioning not merely the cattle, sheep and horses on the Avondale estate, but all the farm equipment as well, right down to ploughs and wheelbarrows.[5] Thus when Parnell took over in 1867, he lacked even basic agricultural tools, and had no money to buy them. But Avondale had grass and it had trees. To generate some immediate income, he raised cattle and established a sawmill to produce timber for building supplies.[6]

It is not surprising that Parnell apparently dropped out of university in 1867, even formally taking his name "off the books" to recover his caution money, the deposit paid by all freshmen as a security against unpaid  debts.[7] However, at that point, Cambridge restructured its Pass degree, compressing the undemanding existing syllabus into the first two years, thus "leaving the last year of the University Course open for the pursuit of professional studies".[8] One of the five options, Mechanism and Applied Science, not only suited Parnell's own intellectual bent, but could be regarded as an investment in his plans to develop the resources of Avondale. Perhaps he assumed that the Wigram and West estate crises would somehow be settled, allowing him to plan to return to Cambridge in October 1869, with the aim of graduating in the summer of 1870. However, there was one incidental problem: to take a degree, Cambridge required its undergraduates not merely to pass examinations, but to be in residence for nine terms. Thanks to his absence in what should have been the third term of his first year, Parnell had completed only five. The solution was to come into residence for the Easter Term of 1868, even though it was notorious that, for most students, the long glorious summer days were devoid of serious intellectual effort. It was almost certainly of this interlude that Parnell spoke when he told T.P. O'Connor that "he thought a good deal more about cricket than about his studies" while he was at Cambridge.[9]

On that fateful May evening, Parnell visited Cambridge railway station in company with three other students from Magdalene. He had only returned to Cambridge twelve days earlier, on 19 April, and had been allowed a two-day absence (24-26 April), presumably to return to Ireland on business.[10] Hence, he probably only knew one of his companions as anything more than a recent acquaintance. He was Percival Hoole, who had first come into residence at the same time as Parnell, in October 1865. A former pupil of Rugby, he was the son of a Sheffield ironmaster who was an active Liberal – very different in background and politics from the average Magdalene undergraduate. Like Parnell, he was a cricketer. In a college context, the term "friend" covers a broad range in the intensity of relationships, but it seems safe to assume that the two young men found each another's company congenial. Hervey Foster was in his first year at Magdalene, whither he had retreated from Trinity College – usually the sign of a weak student seeking a less demanding environment. His elder brother, John Frederick Foster, had been Parnell's contemporary from 1865 to 1867, when he had left to join the Army, a path that would soon be trodden by young Hervey. The Fosters were landowners in County Louth. Like Parnell, they had a distinguished ancestor who had resisted the Act of Union of 1800. A certain element of fellow feeling between Parnell and young Foster was to be expected, but with almost four years between them, they were unlikely to be close friends. The fourth member of the group, Robert Bentley, had come to Magdalene the previous year from Harrow School. He was the son of a Rotherham brewer who had established himself as a country gentleman at Finningley, a village on the outskirts of Doncaster, and he was probably an associate of Percival Hoole. Bentley was a champion pigeon-shooter, "in great form" at a University competition earlier that year. Back at Finningley, he also owned a string of horses, one of which was called "John Bright", no doubt in tribute to the prominent Radical politician.[11]

Why was Parnell at Cambridge Station on 1 May 1867? The presence of the four young men at the railway station that Saturday night has long seemed something of a mystery. A guidebook of 1847 had praised its "handsome refreshment room"[12] but, located a mile from their college, the station  was hardly a convenient location – except, of course, for students who wished to evade the attentions of the proctors, the University's own police force who mostly patrolled the central streets. The most likely explanation is that Percival Hoole was finally leaving Cambridge, and they were seeing him off. He had passed the third-year examinations for the Poll degree in December 1868, taking the Law option in the new syllabus. He had in fact begun to read for the Bar a year earlier and, in the early months of 1869, he may have been dividing his time between Cambridge and the Inns of Court. This may explain why he did not get around to taking his degree until early in March 1869. Two months later, he would have been overdue in clearing his rooms, and the Magdalene buttery accounts confirm that he briefly came into residence on 25 April and departed on the fateful first of May.[13]  What does seem clear is that, in a period of about half an hour between nine and ten o'clock, Parnell consumed a considerable volume of alcohol, unwisely mixing sherry with champagne. The police constable who came upon the subsequent fight stated that he was "the worse for liquor", although not drunk enough to justify his arrest. In Parnell's account, "his friends" went to find a cab to take them back to College while he "sat on the side of the road". Bentley, who had been left on guard, "could not swear whether the defendant was sitting or lying or in a reclining sort of position". His amnesia was almost certainly convenient.[14]

Enter Edward Charles Hamilton It was at this point that Edward Charles Hamilton appeared on the scene, on his way to the station and accompanied by a servant ("my man Allen").[15] Since his brief appearance in Parnell's life story in May 1869, Hamilton has proved to an elusive figure, impossible to identify from local directories or other records. The available evidence, although slight, has suggested a personality that was pompous and aggressively self-assertive. In the court case, he described himself as a "merchant" and resident in the nearby village of Harston. When asked the nature of his business, he replied – according to the local newspaper report – "Dealt in manure". Michael Davitt, apparently reflecting Parnell's subsequent account of the episode, called the two men "drunken drovers".[16] It now appears that we must discard the pleasant fantasy of two cattlemen running a profitable sideline by selling used straw and cow dung from their pens and sheds. In the mid-nineteenth century, the term "manure" also referred to artificial fertilisers, especially those manufactured from natural products by various – and generally noxious – processes. Edward Charles Hamilton was indeed a businessman, perhaps only a small scale: two years later, he was running two enterprises, at Colchester and Wivenhoe in Essex, where he boiled down fish waste, to the considerable annoyance of his neighbours. To the great benefit of historians, if not to Hamilton himself, his career went downhill, and in 1888 he found himself in the dock facing a charge of theft. He was described then as a "well-dressed, middle-aged man of short stature, without whiskers or moustache".[17] This cameo throws important new light on the Station Road confrontation. Parnell was more than six feet tall (183 cms), his height emphasised by a slender frame.[18] Hamilton was a provocatively self-important little man, but it would have been better had Parnell decided not to thump him.

It was past ten o'clock when Hamilton and Allen arrived on the scene, more than two and a half hours after sunset – for there was no statutory Summer Time in 1869. Station Road was poorly lit, which gave some excuse for a passer-by taking an interest in a recumbent figure. In his evidence in court, Hamilton portrayed himself as speaking in impeccable, even pompous, English, while Parnell and Bentley had of course co-ordinated their accounts to depict their antagonist as oafish and provocative: "hullo, what is the matter with this 'ere cove?" Bentley seems to have initially responded in politely neutral terms, "my friend is only very drunk, and we have sent for a cab to take him home". The narrative becomes fuzzy at this point, but it seems that Hamilton mockingly offered his assistance. His tone stung Bentley into Harrovian hauteur: "we do not want any of you or your damned help; go about your own business". According to Hamilton, he portentously replied: "When one offers assistance they are not usually insulted", but in Parnell's version, the manure merchant complained that "he did not expect to meet with such bloody impertinence". Hamilton claimed that he was about to walk away, but it seems more likely that he was squaring up to Bentley. It was at this point that the recumbent Parnell leapt to his feet, roaring "what do you mean by insulting my friend[?]". Hamilton replied: "Your friend has been impertinent and I will not have any from you". Parnell then aimed a punch, although he insisted that he had missed – likely enough in the circumstances. 

Why did Parnell so dramatically intervene? The most plausible explanation is that he was in a phase of his life when he was drinking more than was good for him. Foster unearthed a similar case at a County Wicklow hotel at the end of July 1869, when Parnell behaved boorishly to two English tourists, provoking their local host into a fist fight. On that occasion, he survived prosecution at the Rathdrum Petty Sessions, for the inglorious and disreputable reason that the two magistrates were fellow landowners and one of them was a close friend.[19] By contrast, Bentley was a "friend" largely by virtue of their shared membership of Magdalene: as already outlined, they could only have met a few days earlier. When I first took an interest in the famous fight, back in the late nineteen-sixties, there was only one slight source for the life of Robert Bentley, a brief entry in the volumes of Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses. This included the intriguing information that he had died in September 1870, sixteen months after the Station Road encounter. Moreover, although Allen threw a couple of punches at Parnell, even Hamilton made the point that Bentley "did not strike anyone". Was it possible, I asked in 1974, that "Parnell's behaviour may perhaps be explained as anxiety to protect a weak companion"?[20] It was always an optimistic speculation, an attempt to cling to the good-guy view of Magdalene's Irish leader. There is no specific evidence that Bentley's health caused problems: he rode horses, shot pigeons and had survived two years' incarceration at Harrow. (By contrast, Parnell had been regarded as too fragile for the public school experience: his formal education had been confined to relatively brief periods boarding at English country parsonages.)[21] It is a sad feature of the history of nineteenth-century Cambridge that active and apparently healthy young men were suddenly struck down by fatal illness: even on the basis of the evidence available fifty years ago, it would have been stretching plausibility to draw a direct line between Parnell's aggressive intervention and Bentley's premature demise.

In more recent times, online newspaper archives have provided the additional information of a death notice, which reveals that Bentley's mother died on 6 September 1870, at the age of 45, followed by Bentley himself the day after.[22] On balance, therefore, it would seem that we must assume that Bentley was a healthy young man who was suddenly struck down by an infectious disease so virulent that it also killed two members of the same family. Indeed, this is confirmed by the Venn ACAD project, which has not only made available the volumes of the Alumni Cantabrigienses online but also added supplementary information. This specifies that Bentley died of scarlatina (later, generally called scarlet fever).[23] However, in the murky uncertainties of Parnell biography, nothing is ever conclusive. That Bentley should have contracted scarlet fever is not surprising, given the poor hygiene standards of the time; that he should die of it was less predictable. The disease was mostly fatal to children: only five percent of its victims were over the age of ten. Statistics of deaths were collected, but notification of cases where patients recovered was patchy. In an 1869 outbreak in a Renfrewshire cotton town, about one case in six proved fatal. A similar study of Easington in County Durham in the late eighteen-seventies reported that fewer than ten percent of cases caused the patient's death.[24] Hence we are left with an enigma about Robert Bentley: was he very unlucky to succumb to an infection that most adults (although not his mother) survived – or are we back to the possibility that his underlying health was poor, and that Parnell sprang to his feet and Bentley's defence out of chivalrous if inebriated motives?[25] However, when the case came to court, the defence made no attempt to discuss Bentley's health, and the witness himself hardly behaved like a shrinking violet.

The fight and its aftermath The fight itself was dismissively summarised by Bentley, who told the court that Hamilton and Parnell "had a little shake-up and the defendant got the best of it", adding, to contemptuous laughter, "the other man did his best". Presumably Hamilton had learned how to exploit his lack of height to duck below the reach of taller antagonists. Evading a blow that Parnell aimed at his chest, which hit him on the shoulder, Hamilton rebounded and struck Parnell a painful blow in the eye. Undergraduates frequently took lessons in the so-called Noble Art from local pugilists, and this encounter quickly became one between a boxer and a street-fighter. Parnell punched Hamilton on the jaw and "he went down like a log".[26]   Parnell insisted that he behaved as a gentleman should, helping his opponent to his feet to end the encounter. Unfortunately, and particularly so in the allegations of a vanquished but vengeful foe, two aspects of the "little shake-up" did not redound to Parnell's credit. The accidental punch on Hamilton's shoulder became a vicious punch to the collarbone "which disabled his arm for three days". Worse still, Hamilton had emerged from the encounter with a gash on one knee, and he complained bitterly that a new pair of trousers had been ripped and stained with blood. A gentleman did not kick an opponent, especially when he was down: Parnell specifically denied the charge. The surgeon who examined Hamilton a few days later reported that the cut was inside the knee, and hence was more likely to have been the result of a kick than an injury caused by falling on a kerb stone. Nonetheless, it was difficult to believe that Parnell had used minimum force to see off an intrusive assailant. Rather it looked as if he had chopped and kicked his man with the intention of inflicting serious physical harm.

At this point, Police Constable Carter appeared on the scene and "was offered money to settle the affair". According to Michael Davitt, again presumably echoing an account from Parnell himself, the future Irish leader "with the fear of the college authorities before his mind, put his hand in his pocket and handed the guardian of the peace what he believed to be a sovereign". Carter subjected the coin to examination under the faint glow of a nearby lamp-post, and was offended to discover that it was in fact only a shilling. Davitt relished the ironic consequences of Parnell's fumbling error. "It is within the bounds of possibility that the shilling in question determined the future fate and career of him who mistook it for a sovereign by securing his retirement from Cambridge University, and in thus sending him back to Ireland to fall in with a train of circumstances and events which ultimately led to his active entry into Irish public life."[27] Unfortunately for this pleasant conceit, it was clear that Hamilton intended to press his grievance. At his insistence, PC Carter escorted the combatants to the police station in St Andrew's Street. This involved a trek of about three-quarters of a mile, an ordeal for Parnell whose friends had judged him incapable of returning to Magdalene without a cab.[28] In court, Hamilton insisted that Parnell's gait was "that of a drunken man". Chief Inspector Robinson registered the complaint and subsequently testified to the nature of Hamilton's injuries. This was a sound move, for – as Parnell later showed in his account of the episode to Kettle – one of the more unscrupulous defence strategies was to imply that his opponents "had plasters and bandages on where there were no great wounds". The Magdalene Gate Book shows that Bentley, Foster and Parnell managed to reach the College between eleven o'clock and midnight – probably closer to the latter. As it was a Saturday night, when a number of students were enjoying themselves in the Town, their return may not have aroused much attention.

Two points may be noted at this stage of the affair. The first is that, despite Davitt's subsequent allusion to "drunken drovers", Parnell and Bentley made no attempt to allege that Hamilton was under the influence of alcohol. The only participant who was accepted to have been the worse for drink was Parnell himself. Although it might have seemed plausible to imply that an altercation at ten o'clock on a Saturday night was fuelled by drink, it would have been counterproductive to have made such an allegation when two police officers, one of them a Chief Inspector, could be summoned as witnesses to the contrary. Hence, one potential avenue for mitigating censure against Parnell was ruled out. However, on the plus side for the combative undergraduate, it would probably have become obvious at a very early stage that the Cambridge police had no intention of launching a prosecution. PC Carter could testify that an affray had taken place, but he had arrived on the scene too late to say who had started it, and no other witnesses than the participants were ever traced. Certainly, on Monday 3 May, Parnell could safely challenge his aggression on the Parker's Piece cricket field, scoring 19 against Trinity Hall. It seems that there was nothing wrong with his eyesight.[29]

Hamilton v. Parnell It may have been police officers who informally pointed Hamilton towards taking civil action, perhaps even mentioning a local solicitor, Mr Poland Adcock, as likely to take the case.  In his thirties and himself the son of a Town lawyer, Adcock lived in Regent Street, close to the gates of Downing College: PC Carter's procession would have passed his door on the Saturday night. His office was close by, in Emmanuel Street.[30] An active Conservative and a member of the Town Council, he was happy to take the case, as he put it, to teach Parnell that he could not "indulge in such freaks with impunity".

Parnell received Adcock's formal letter on Wednesday 5 May, as he was preparing to leave for his second trip to Dublin the following day.[31] On behalf of his injured client, Adcock demanded 25 guineas (£26, 5 shillings) in compensation for the assault, plus 5 guineas (£5, 5 shillings) for damage to his coat and thirty shillings (£1, 10 shillings) for the trousers. At this time, it will be recalled, Parnell was facing an inescapable demand for £10,000 from Wigram and likely defeat in West's claim for £7,000. In the circumstances, he may not have given much thought to Hamilton's attempt to dun him for £33. Nonetheless, given that he faced the threat of legal action, it would have made sense for him to seek advice from the dons of Magdalene College.[32] Francis Pattrick, who taught mathematics, regarded him as a good student and seems to have liked him.[33] More formally, Parnell should have thrown himself upon the counsel of his Tutor, the Reverend Mynors Bright, who, although a kindly and indulgent don, would certainly have warned him of the consequences of defeat in a legal action for assault, and advised him to settle the dispute out of court.[34] Attempts were made to resolve the matter through a donation to Addenbrooke's Hospital and payment of Hamilton's costs, but acceptance of these terms would have been tantamount to acceptance by Parnell that he was at fault. He either failed to respond under pressure of his other concerns or – perhaps more likely – refused outright to apologise.

With the case now threatening to come before a jury, both Hamilton and Parnell sought to portray themselves as victims. Probably on Adcock's advice, Hamilton submitted himself to medical examination, securing a sympathetic report of his injuries from Mr Benson, a surgeon (in modern terminology, a general practitioner) at Sawston. In court, Parnell's counsel "dwelt strongly" upon the date of the consultation, the afternoon of Thursday 6 May, and alleged that this evidence had been "concocted" in Adcock's office. However, since Benson's report merely confirmed the account given by Chief Inspector Robinson who had seen Hamilton immediately after the fight, the interval in time could not be used to discredit Benson as a witness.[35] The injured manure merchant could flourish some impressive injuries (although Parnell claimed to Kettle that when Hamilton appeared in court, he had "plasters and bandages on where there were no great wounds"), whereas his assailant could sport only a fast-healing black eye. A generally discounted American biography by R.M. McWade, published in the United States in 1891, contains a tale that is so implausible it might even be true. Parnell, McWade related, asked an elderly shopkeeper "who kept a chemist's store opposite the gate of Magdalen[e] College" to apply make-up in order to "imitate a black eye". The pharmacist replied that it could be done, but the colours would soon run. "But I must have a black eye," Parnell pleaded. "'Well, sir,' the old chemist replied, 'the only way I knows of is the old-fashioned one.'" Parnell agreed, "braced himself, and the old fellow let him have it straight and hard between the two eyes".[36] I have not identified a contemporary chemist's shop in Magdalene Street, McWade's account of the fight is wholly fantastical and I have not encountered this cameo elsewhere. To have appeared in court three weeks after the encounter with Hamilton would have exposed Parnell to embarrassing cross-examination. Nonetheless, the story presumably came from a source who knew that there were shops opposite the College, and that detail alone may convey verisimilitude. [37] If nothing else, it is consonant with an impression of a young man who realised that he faced an awkward situation with options that had become uncomfortably circumscribed.

Despite a third brief absence from Cambridge on 15-17 May – probably another flying visit to Dublin – Parnell did manage to arrange to be represented by a barrister. He was William Cockerell, until a few weeks before a local court official, the Clerk of the Peace for Cambridge. He had resigned the office at the end of April, and was on the point of being elected to the Town Council as the unopposed Liberal candidate for St Andrew's ward, usually a Conservative stronghold and the local bailiwick of Tory Councillor Adcock. One courtroom exchange, when Cockerell practically accused Adcock of faking medical evidence – a charge which, of course, could not possibly be formally levelled – suggests that political differences may have soured professional relations between the two lawyers. Unfortunately, Adcock gave the impression of fervently believing in his client's case, while Cockerell very obviously limited his efforts to half-hearted damage limitation.[38] The case came before the County Court on Friday 21 May 1869, almost three weeks after the affray.

"The court was crowded, and the defendant was accompanied by hosts of friends."[39] While it is possible to exaggerate Parnell's isolation in Magdalene, the turn-out was probably a demonstration of College solidarity.[40] The core of his support almost certainly came from his fellow cricketers. Each year in May, the squire of the Cambridgeshire village of Chippenham organised a cricket festival, and the Magdalene Eleven were regular visitors. They were due to play on Thursday 20 May, but cancelled at the last moment: the most likely explanation was that they were standing by in case Parnell's case was called that day.[41] The tactic of packing the court with undergraduates had been used the previous year, when William Edwards – a Scholar of the College – was prosecuted for ringing a doorbell in Sidney Street at 1.15 in the morning and running away. But this was a police court, a defence of mistaken identity was offered, and two of the Magdalene undergraduates bemused the magistrates by giving evidence in favour of the accused, who was acquitted.[42] No such doubts arose in the case of Hamilton v Parnell, and the jury probably resented the implied intimidation of the mass turn-out.

The hearing, on Friday 21 May, was straightforward. Adcock not only efficiently marshalled his witnesses – Hamilton himself, the two policemen and Benson the surgeon – but he also called Parnell, a foray into the defence camp which reflected his confidence that the defendant would be obliged to confirm the basic facts of the plaintiff's case.[43] Under the guise of exonerating his client from the charge of extortion, Adcock also let slip Hamilton's promise to donate any damages awarded to Addenbrooke's Hospital, an impropriety which the judge told the jurors they must dismiss from their minds and which, we may be sure, they did not so do. Cockerell made a half-hearted attempt to justify his fee by cross-examining Hamilton but, beyond securing the slightly embarrassing admission that the plaintiff's high-flown mercantile activities related to manure, he scored no effective hits. As previously suggested, there was no point either in suggesting that Hamilton had been drunk or in seeking to discredit the evidence of his injuries. The reports suggest that Parnell gave his evidence in a cool if slightly defiant manner. Bentley, the sole witness called by the defence, was both evasive and flippant, no doubt providing the jurors with a sample of the arrogance that had inflamed the Station Road confrontation. Cockerell made no attempt to portray him as vulnerable by seeking to discuss his health, and we must assume that Bentley came across as unpleasantly robust. If Parnell had hoped that his barrister might unleash an electrifying rebuttal, or deliver an emotional appeal on behalf of a young man struggling to save his Irish inheritance, he would have been severely disappointed. Rather, counsel for the defendant admitted that "an assault was committed", hinting although not daring openly to assert that Hamilton was partly responsible for his own misfortunes. Evidently anticipating a hostile verdict, he insisted that "damage done to the clothes ... must be left out of the question", although he offered no explanation for this curious demand.[44]

With over twenty years' experience on the Bench, Judge John Collyer was respected for his "impartial and even-handed" administration of justice, and for "the courtesy and sympathy always shown towards those who pleaded under him, and the patient attention which the suitors never failed to receive from him".[45] His summing-up was brief and to the point: "there was no doubt an assault had been committed", he told the jurors, "and the only question for their consideration was the amount of damages". In determining how much Parnell should pay, they needed to ask themselves: "did the evidence of the defendant modify the plaintiff's statement, and he was bound to tell them that the weight of the evidence was in the plaintiff's favour, in fact it would be no excuse had the plaintiff used the language attributed to him". A jury of local citizens, most of them weary of student misbehaviour, had no difficulty in reaching a decision. In recreating the scene, we need to factor in the recently discovered description of Hamilton as he appeared to a journalist almost twenty years later: well-dressed and, above all, of "short stature". He had been beaten up by a much taller undergraduate who had admitted throwing the first punch and made no attempt to deny that he was the worse for drink.  After a "short consultation" – it is not even clear that they left the courtroom – they "returned a verdict for the plaintiff, with twenty guineas [£21] damages." The reduction of around one third the amount claimed by Hamilton might almost have seemed a partial moral victory for Parnell, but litigants rarely secured everything they demanded. No mention was made of costs: Adcock and Benson had both incurred expenses, and Hamilton presumably needed a new pair of trousers. We can only hope that something was left for Addenbrookes.

Parnell's rustication On Wednesday 26 May, a College Meeting (forerunner of the modern Governing Body) resolved to expel Parnell for the remainder of the Term, a decision regarded by the four dons present as sufficiently momentous to be entered in the Order Book.[46] It is likely that Parnell had been interviewed by one or more senior members after they became aware of the outcome of the court case, but it is not known whether he was called before the College Meeting, which, of course, undergraduates did not attend. The Master, the Honourable and Reverend Latimer Neville, was generally a remote figure to the average student, but he did make a practice of summoning those who failed to attend morning or evening Chapel on a Sunday.[47] He would almost certainly have involved himself in the Parnell affair, and the College Meeting of 16 May was specifically described as "called by the Master". It was probably to this inquisition that Parnell referred when he later told Kettle that he had "appealed to the college authorities against the decision of the magistrates [sic] and they confirmed the sentence".[48] It is not easy to imagine the grounds on which Parnell could have pleaded for the Fellows of Magdalene to ignore his defeat in court. True, in 1992 I wrote that the jury's verdict was "disproportionate" and so it was, in the matter of damages: conviction in a police court, even if it could have been secured, would surely have resulted in a much smaller fine. Unfortunately for Parnell, it is the nature of civil law cases that they require a lower standard of proof while carrying a greater risk of financial penalty.[49] But Parnell had admitted throwing the first punch. Unless he could plead some special imperative to defend Robert Bentley – and even then he might have protected his companion without assaulting the man who had clashed with him – his only real line of defence was that he had the right to beat up an uppity member of the public.[50]

However, there may have been some disagreement among the four men who sat in judgment on him over the precise nature of the punishment to be imposed. The Order Book noted that "it was decided to send down Parnell in consequence of gross misconduct", but the qualifying clause "for the remainder of the Term" was inserted afterwards. Carelessness was hardly likely in so formal a record, and it seems that an initial resolve to exile him for a lengthy period was modified into a much shorter form of sin-binning. However, in two severe discipline cases on either side of the Parnell affair, one in 1862 and the other in 1873 (and discussed in more detail below), the offender's name was "removed from the boards  of the College", a total and final severance of all relationship.[51] Part of the problem of interpretation here is that Magdalene dons in the eighteen-sixties apparently did not use the term "send down" in the sense that it had acquired by the twentieth century, when it referred to permanent expulsion, with "rustication" (sending to the country) applied for temporary exile. The absence of any threat to remove Parnell's name "from the boards" suggests that, despite their disapproval of his behaviour, the dons of Magdalene wished to leave open the possibility of his eventual return to complete his studies, probably sadder, possibly wiser and considerably out of pocket.

The official Magdalene line came to be that the College had dealt with Parnell's offence very mildly, as was explained by a Classics don, Wilfred Gill, to Parnell's biographer R. Barry O'Brien three decades later.   "There being only two weeks before the end of the term, the actual punishment was not a severe one, and, had Parnell wished it, there was nothing to prevent his resuming residence in the following term."[52] The College historian E.K. Purnell, who was very much the voice of Latimer Neville, signalled in 1904 that it was "understood … that the Master would have allowed him to return had he wished to do so".[53] Two years later, Henry Parnell recalled seeing "a courteous letter from his Tutor, Mr Bright, asking him to return on the expiration of the term of rustication". Henry Parnell requested information about his brother's departure from Cambridge. In response, the veteran professor Alfred Newton, who had been in residence in 1869 but not qualified to attend the College Meeting, insisted that "the Master and Fellows were not only willing that he should return [to Magdalene] … at the expiration of the term for which he was sent down, but expected that he would do so".[54]

In reality, while the punishment might be presented as a relatively mild rebuke, Parnell's two-week exile had devastating consequences. It will be recalled that, thanks to his absence from Cambridge during the Easter Term of 1866, he had "kept" only five of the nine terms he would require to qualify (along with examination success) to take a degree. He had evidently returned in April 1869 to make up the lost attendance, but his rustication prevented him from spending the required number of nights in Cambridge and hence barred him from counting Easter 1869 towards residence for his degree: even if he passed the third-year examinations for the Poll degree in the summer of 1870, he would be unable to graduate without wasting money on a further but fruitless two-month period at Magdalene. Indeed, the looming culmination of his legal confrontations with West and Wigram made it highly likely that he could not have afforded to return anyway. In 1906, Henry Parnell explained his brother's decision to sever links with Magdalene: "he was then occupied with his affairs at Avondale … and removed his name from the books in order to get the balance of his caution money returned".  In fact, caution money – a deposit paid by freshmen against possible bad debts – would have been only £15, hardly enough of itself to weigh in an estate crisis, but Henry Parnell's general argument seems persuasive.[55]

Writing in the aftermath of the campus upheavals of the nineteen-sixties, Lyons archly observed that university authorities had been "instructed" by student politicians to avoid double jeopardy, the principle that an offender should not be punished twice for the same offence.[56] His jibe is a reminder of how far attitudes towards undergraduate discipline have changed, adding to the challenge of assessing, a century and a half after the event, whether Parnell was unfairly treated. Two incidental considerations may be mentioned which perhaps weighed with the Fellows of Magdalene. The first is that Parnell had been granted a small bursary by the College, presumably as a gesture of support for his decision to return to his studies. Nowadays, it would be regarded as improper, even outrageous, that receipt of funds from an institution should be taken into account in a disciplinary matter, but Magdalene dons may have felt that their generosity, such as it was, had been abused. The College was notoriously deficient in endowments, but it did have access to a student welfare fund. In 1825, Richard, third Baron Braybrooke had published the first-ever selection from the diaries of Samuel Pepys. A second edition had followed three years later, there were three more between 1849 and 1855, followed by subsequent reprints. Braybrooke was the hereditary Visitor of Magdalene College, and he did the institution no favours in appointing his fourth son, Latimer Neville, to the Mastership in 1853. However, he may be credited with the generous act of handing over the royalties from the various Pepys publications, which were paid into a fund known as the Pepysian Benefaction. A semi-official University guide stated in 1874 that the Pepysian Benefaction was worth £50 a year, that it was "in the Master's gift" and was usually "bestowed by him upon poor and deserving students".[57] It was probably galling to Parnell's pride that he should be classified with the "poor and deserving students", the more so as he only received £12 – not much in comparison with the debts totalling £17,000 that he faced. Nonetheless, it was – in sentiment if not in cash – a generous gesture, the more so as Parnell was not a candidate for Honours. It was, perhaps, enough for the Fellows of Magdalene to feel aggrieved that he should have cast disgrace upon the College. Even so, it was to their credit that they did not revoke this small boon.[58]

The second consideration in the minds of the Fellows would probably have been the state of Town-Gown relations. In the late eighteen-sixties, local residents were particularly irritated by student misbehaviour – even though much of it was mindlessly immature – and Magdalene could hardly ignore a blatant case of assault. Large-scale violence between students and local roughs had been relatively infrequent in recent years: the worst episode was the Guy Fawkes Night riot of 5 November 1866, in which a Scottish aristocrat had been left for dead outside Holy Trinity Church.[59] The disturbances that followed the local elections in November 1868 were primarily stone-throwing confrontations between rival Town factions of Liberals and Conservatives, but some undergraduates enthusiastically joined in. Cambridge was understandably shocked when a porter at Christ's College was killed by a flying rock while attempting to defend its main gate.[60]

Perhaps equally pernicious was the assumption among a section of the student population of their entitlement to enforce deference from the local population, an attitude apparently assumed by Parnell. Late on a May evening in 1868, Edward Mason, a baker of Park Street, was walking his dog with several friends when they encountered a group of undergraduates, who also had a dog. When the two animals started fighting, the townsmen attempted to separate them, but were resisted by the students who cheered the dogfight. After being battered with a stick, Mason fled but was pursued, assaulted and thrown to the ground. It may be of significance to Parnell's case that the two undergraduates whom Mason prosecuted were both Irishmen.  Proceedings were brought first against a member of St John's, Thomas de Courcy O'Grady, son of a County Limerick landowner from whom he subsequently inherited the title of The O'Grady. (He was, said Venn, "head of the ancient Milesian sept of O'Grady".)  Unfortunately, none of the witnesses that Mason produced could definitively identify O'Grady, whose counsel – Cockerell, in a more robust performance than he would provide for Parnell – successful persuaded the magistrates that there was "not a tittle of evidence to substantiate the charge". An attempt to bring the same charges against Edmond Kelly Bayley, whose family were County Roscommon landowners, similarly collapsed.[61] The difficulty of identification may have resulted from a combination of poor street-lighting and aggressive cross-examination, but it is also possible that Mason's assailants arbitrarily chose to implicate the two Irishmen, relying upon pejorative cultural stereotypes to assume their guilt. Equally, if O'Grady and Bayley were known to have been involved in the attack on Mason, the juries that condemned Parnell – in the County Court and the College Meeting – may have made him carry the burden of their guilt.  What was beyond doubt was the medical evidence produced in court which established that Mason had been badly beaten up for his temerity. Local residents might reasonably demand firm measures to break students from this entrenched sense of contemptuous superiority.

Throughout 1867 and 1868, respectable residents in the Town centre had also been plagued by the late-night nuisance of doorbell ringing.  The students responsible ran away before householders could open their front doors. It was also regarded as particularly amusing to tie together the doorknockers of neighbouring houses, so that the victims could not get out at all. Dr Robert Ransom, a medical practitioner of Jesus Lane, was a particular target. Even his tormenters did not seem sure how the feud had developed, but "it became the fashion to ring his bell at night and run away". Ransom seems to have been an assertive personality, who insisted on prosecuting students who disturbed his sleep, but his real offence may have been that his father ran a tailor's shop in Trinity Street. Wealthy students who patronised that emporium perhaps felt that the son of a tradesman should know his place. It probably did not contribute to Ransom's nocturnal slumbers that the Pitt Club, haunt of the wealthy and socially stratospheric undergraduates, was located just two doors from his residence. Indeed, his persecution seems to have dated from the relocation of the Pitt to Jesus Lane in 1866.[62] Around eleven o'clock on an April evening in 1867, three Trinity Etonians were strolling along Jesus Lane. Their names were Arthur Balfour, Hugh Elliot and Arthur Kinnaird – two Honourables and a future Prime Minister. The three decided that the opportunity to disturb Dr Ransom was too good to ignore, but they were caught in the act by a police sergeant who was lurking in the shadows. Hauled before the local magistrates' court, the three advanced an elaborate but unsuccessful defence that they had merely pretended to tug at the bellrope. One of the three, Balfour, was fined forty shillings plus costs, and received a thunderous warning from the bench: these were "childish and ridiculous acts, and must be put a stop to, and if they occurred again the punishment would be that of imprisonment".[63] In fact, the following year, once again three students – very likely the same three – were heard urging one another "Let's ring the bell; let's ring the bell" as they approached Ransom's house late at night. Once again, a concealed policeman pounced, and this time it was Kinnaird who was prosecuted. The Fellows of Trinity had evidently pre-empted the case by taking action, for a local solicitor pleaded with the Bench "to deal as leniently as possible with the case, feeling assured that the defendant had already been sufficiently punished". The magistrates grumbled about the nuisance and, once again, warned that "any similar cases for the future would be punished with imprisonment". Kinnaird was fined, and his offence referred to the Vice-Chancellor.[64] With the local courts threatening to lock up students who rang doorbells and rang away, the Fellows of Magdalene could hardly turn a blind eye to a blatant case of assault. It may be that, in some small sense, Parnell was punished for Balfour's offence.

Was Parnell unfairly treated by Magdalene? The official Magdalene line, probably inspired by the Master, Latimer Neville himself, was clear and simple. Wilfred Gill assured R. Barry O'Brien that "the course which the college subsequently took was the usual one in such instances of misconduct". This was reiterated by his near-namesake, E.K. Purnell, the College historian: "having been convicted of assault, [Parnell] was sent down in accordance with the rule in such cases".[65] But a great deal might depend on that adjective, "such". Parnell seems to have been the only member of Magdalene College to have been successfully sued for assault in a civil court, at least while he was in residence. Was it possible to measure his degree of turpitude in comparison with "other instances of misconduct"? Since the details of anti-social behaviour by Cambridge undergraduates will not appeal to every reader, it seems best to summarise the main points at the start of this section. In three instances between the years and 1862 and 1873, the Fellows of Magdalene dealt more severely with offenders than they did with Parnell, which – prima facie – would seem to dispose of his alleged grievance. On the other hand, these cases involved breaches of College or University discipline, and he might have resented the intervention of the dons in an external court case. He would also have been aware of an escapade two years earlier, in which a fellow undergraduate and Wicklow neighbour had been fined by the Cambridge magistrates for attacking a police officer, an escapade that did not lead to rustication. On balance, we may conclude that Parnell was largely responsible for the misfortune that he brought upon himself, although it may be possible to appreciate the reasons why he did not view matters in that light.

The two most serious sanctions already referred to, total severance of all connection with Magdalene, in 1862 and in 1873, both related to misconduct within the institution. Little is known of Hugh Smith, a Scotsman from Dumfries and former pupil of Cheltenham College, who arrived in October 1862 after two years at Oxford. One term of Mr Smith's "gross irregularities against College discipline" was enough for the dons, who terminated his studies two days before Christmas. More is known about the case of Lord Edward Churchill, whose undergraduate career in 1873 was similarly brief, thanks to the attempts of an over-solicitous mother to pressure the Master into clemency. Lord Edward was the uncle of the notorious Lord Randolph Churchill, although he was also four years younger. This dynastic anomaly was explained by the decision of Lord Randolph's grandfather, the sixth Duke of Marlborough, to enter into a third marriage (and fourth relationship) late in life, which produced Lord Edward as his final offspring. Reading between the lines, it seems that, from the moment of his arrival at the start of the Lent term of 1873, Lord Edward had disregarded the convention that freshmen should be unobtrusive, and had conducted himself with flamboyant and arrogant vulgarity – in short, he had behaved like a Churchill. In retaliation, his rooms were trashed on several occasions. Matters reached a climax on 1 May – by coincidence, the fourth anniversary of Parnell's Station Road fight. Claiming that he feared a further invasion of his rooms, Churchill absented himself from College. This, in itself, was a serious breach of discipline, but it was considerably worsened by the fact that he fled to Newmarket Races, despite having been specifically refused permission to attend by his Tutor, Francis Pattrick. The Fellows of Magdalene regarded this as "gross violation of discipline" and sent him permanently packing. Latimer Neville assured Lord Edward's mother that "his return to this Coll[ege] w[oul]d be most unadvisable". While regretting his persecution by the Magdalene hearties, the Master thought it "candid to tell you that y[ou]r son appears to have brought this treatment in a great measure upon himself by some unseemly conduct at the Races".[66] Of course, candour apart, it seemed appropriate to massage the truth in correspondence with a Dowager Duchess, and the Master even insisted that Lord Edward Churchill "had not been expelled from the College". However, in the first disciplinary case to come before a College Meeting in the four years since the Parnell episode, it looked very much like expulsion. Parnell was offered the opportunity to return to his studies; Smith and Churchill were not.[67] 

The only other undergraduate to incur the serious disapproval of the College Meeting in Parnell's time was Richard Greenhalgh, who sounds to have been a classic ne'er-do-well. Although originally entered at St John's in May 1864, he transferred ("migrated") to Magdalene a few months later. Trading down to a less demanding college was usually a bad sign, but Greenhalgh had the possible defence that he was a former pupil of Shrewsbury, a school that had close links with Magdalene, including some reserved scholarships. However, in June of the following year, he was rusticated for "repeated infractions of college discipline", although – unlike Smith and Churchill – his unspecified offences evidently did not merit total expulsion. He was allowed to return for the Lent Term of 1866, and seems to have kept out of trouble until a fateful March afternoon twelve months later, when he was caught by the proctors "at the backs of the Colleges, walking & talking with a Servant Girl", an apparently innocuous encounter that was assumed to have been an attempt to seduce a chaste maiden. Mynors Bright swung into action, pleading with the Vice-Chancellor to transfer the case from the jurisdiction of the University to the responsibility of the Fellows of Magdalene. He pledged that Greenhalgh should "be at once expelled or at any rate immediately sent down & not allowed to return before the Mich[aelma]s Term 1868, & not even then, except under particular conditions". Bright carried his point, but Latimer Neville, who found the case "very painful", presumably insisted on taking a hard line. The College Meeting resolved that Greenhalgh should "be forthwith sent away and his name removed from the boards of the college". However, several undergraduates – from various colleges – promptly came forward to defame his young female companion, portraying her rather as one of the many part-time prostitutes who provided services for the student community. Bright pounced upon their evidence, insisting that "Mr Greenhalgh is thereby freed from the charge of a deliberate attempt of seduction of an innocent but weak servant girl", and urged that there should be "some mitigation of his punishment". He carried his point: eight days after the original sentence, a second College Meeting noted "mitigating circumstances" and determined that "his punishment should be commuted for [sic] rustication during the present & the Easter Terms". The Fellows had backtracked at remarkable speed. Despite Bright's solemn promise that Greenhalgh would cool his ardour away from Cambridge until October 1868, he was now permitted to return twelve months earlier. Unsubstantiated slurs against the young woman (she was a Miss Hutt, and worked for Isaac Todhunter, the legendary mathematics coach) were accepted with apparent alacrity, even though Latimer Neville guardedly regarded them as a chivalrous gesture in support of "a companion and fellow student"). Parnell, who was in residence at the time, was almost certainly aware of the episode, and perhaps noted the contrast between the eager flexibility which the dons showed towards a sexual misdemeanour with their refusal to adopt an indulgent view of his inebriated fisticuffs.[68]  

Thus there were three major disciplinary cases that came before a College Meeting in what we might term the Parnell decade, two outright expulsions for internal disciplinary offences and one prolonged rustication in lieu of expulsion for alleged sexual immorality.[69] All three offenders were dealt with more severely than Parnell, although considerable efforts were made to soften the blow upon Greenhalgh, despite his previous rustication and donnish distaste for fornication. Further, their punishments reflected the fact that they had disgraced themselves, but – unlike Parnell – they had avoided any public exposure that would have caused the College bad publicity.  How did his treatment compare with that of other Magdalene students whose names were dragged through the courts, and hence reported in the local press? Here it should be noted that all Cambridge colleges operated sanctions that were less severe than those of removal that were thought to require recording in the Order Book. Thus the fact that a student appearing in a police court was not disciplined by a College Meeting does not prove that Magdalene dons turned a blind eye. Being gated might not be as severe a penalty as rustication, but confinement to College in the evenings was an irksome form of house arrest to students who enjoyed the attraction of the Town, the more so in an institution so small as Magdalene, where undergraduates did not even have access to the Fellows' Garden (a restriction not lifted until 1910). It is likely, too, that disciplinary decisions were taken in response to objectionable behaviour through informal consultation between the Master and the two Tutors. For instance, Latimer Neville assured the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough that he disapproved of the wrecking of Lord Edward Churchill's rooms "& we dealt with the chief offender yest[erda]y, as he deserved".[70] Yet the only entry in the Order Book for the previous day was for Lord Edward's removal: presumably, the loutish leader of the vandals was either fined or gated, perhaps both. So far as I can trace, four Magdalene undergraduates – beside Parnell – were summoned to appear in court during the eighteen-sixties. Of these four, one – William Edwards, accused of ringing a doorbell – was acquitted. The only civil case was over a trivial matter. George Savile, a Magdalene Etonian, had agreed to purchase a dog from a local man for £5. The dog had been returned, the plaintiff insisting that Savile had promised to pay him two shillings a week in kennel fees. (Keeping dogs in College was against regulations, but these may not have applied in lodgings.) The defence was that the dog had been returned because it was deaf and that, accordingly, no payment was due. Savile did not bother to appear in court, but relied upon a lawyer – none other than Poland Adcock – to argue his case. Judge Collyer found for the plaintiff. Since it is likely that Savile had gone down by this time, there was neither the scope nor very much motive for the College to take action against him.[71] One of the police court cases was also of little importance. In 1866, a Magdalene undergraduate, Arthur Bovell, was accused of assaulting Arthur Benton, a boy who lived in Thompson's Lane. Christy's Minstrels – a blackface entertainments group of a genre now regarded as politically incorrect – were performing in Cambridge, and Bovell had acquired a ticket that apparently permitted multiple admissions. The urchin had pestered him for a loan of the ticket, eventually goading Bovell into kicking him and throwing him into a gutter in St Andrew's Street. The magistrates possibly felt that they would have reacted with similar irritation, and confined their censure to fining him sixpence, plus costs.[72] Bovell was the embodiment of often forgotten middle-class Magdalene. The son of a London lawyer, who had died when he was a child, he had won an Entrance Exhibition from Christ's Hospital in 1864. He went on to graduate in the Mathematical Tripos, at a time when very few Magdalene candidates proceeded to Honours. If he was gated for bringing the College into mild disrepute, he probably passed the evenings of confinement immersed in his books.

The final police court case may well have a bearing on how Parnell felt about his rustication. Early in April 1867, a Magdalene undergraduate, the Honourable William Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam was prosecuted for obstructing a police officer in the course of his duty. Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, fourth son of the sixth Earl Fitzwilliam, had only recently entered Magdalene from Eton.[73] His address in the College admissions register had been given as Wentworth House near Rotherham in Yorkshire – now known as Wentworth Woodhouse, one of the largest mansions in Britain – but Parnell would have known him, if perhaps not very well, as one of the Fitzwilliams of Coollattin, the largest landowners in County Wicklow. However, although the families rubbed shoulders socially – for instance, at local race meetings – this did make them equals. The Fitzwilliam estates covered 90,000 acres of Wicklow (about 36,000 hectares of 140 square miles), twenty times the area of the Parnell lands. When the sixth Earl died in 1902, he left almost £3 million. By contrast, Parnell permanently struggled to keep his finances afloat: his father had actually rented Fitzwilliam land to round off his Avondale holdings.[74] The Fitzwilliams, then, were not mere absentees. Prior to inheriting the peerage, Earl Fitzwilliam had sat as MP for Wicklow from 1847 to 1857, while his second son – brother of the Magdalene undergraduate – was the successful Liberal candidate in 1868, thanks to a campaign in which Parnell later told the Special Commission he had made a small contribution.[75] The intervention of the Parnells – brother John contesting the election as a stand-in for Charles, who was ruled ineligible – cost Henry Fitzwilliam his seat in 1874. Buttery accounts show that Parnell was still in residence at Magdalene in early April 1867, presumably preparing for his second-year examinations. He would have known of Wentworth-Fitzwilliam's escapade, and its consequences.

It was a Saturday night, and Wentworth-Fitzwilliam was celebrating with friends after an athletics meeting. One of the participants was a visiting student from Oxford called Charrington, who possibly agreed to act as a safe sacrifice should the campaign against Dr Ransom provoke the intervention of the local police. Ransom's doorbell was repeatedly rung from about 11 o'clock, and it was on this occasion that his persecutors added the refinement of lashing his doorknocker to that of the adjoining house. The commotion did indeed attract the attention of the police and, shortly after midnight, Sergeant Maltby observed Wentworth-Fitzwilliam tugging at Ransom's bell pulls – one was a night bell, connected directly to the doctor's bedroom, to summon him in an emergency. In the ensuing chase, Maltby succeeded in apprehending Charrington, but Wentworth-Fitzwilliam and two associates – both Harrovians – counter-attacked in an attempt to rescue the visitor from custody.[76] The solicitor who represented the defendants – in the small universe of Cambridge law, he was Poland Adcock – tried to make light of the offences, admitting that a doorbell had been rung, but claiming that Dr Ransom's tormenters had no idea who lived there. This brought a sharp rebuke from the magistrates, one of whom remarked that "these things had been in constant repetition lately" and that they were determined to end the nuisance. Wentworth-Fitzwilliam was pronounced guilty, whereupon Adcock conducted a hasty consultation with the other accused, persuading them to change their pleas and "throw themselves on the consideration of the court". They were each given the choice between one month in prison and a fine of fifty shillings (£2, ten shillings). Naturally, the fines were paid.[77]

This was certainly a more serious case than Bovell's offence of kicking an urchin into a gutter. In attempting to liberate Charrington, Wentworth-Fitzwilliam had undoubtedly committed a technical assault upon Sergeant Maltby, although hardly one comparable to Parnell's battery of Hamilton.[78] Yet there is no mention of the episode in the College Order Book: Wentworth-Fitzwilliam may well have been gated, but he was certainly not rusticated. Hence it was possible to conclude, as I put it in 1992, "that at Magdalene, it was better to be an English aristocrat than an Irish gentleman".[79] Yet this may not entirely capture the difference between the two cases. Wentworth-Fitzwilliam was just turned 19, and had taken part in a foolish scuffle with a policeman. Parnell was approaching 23, and had beaten up a passer-by. It may not have been surprising that Parnell regarded himself as a victim, but that does not mean that he was in fact treated unfairly. Perhaps the only reason why he might feel aggrieved was that rustication and expulsion were usually invoked to punish offences against College discipline: merely bringing the institution into public disrepute called for lesser sanctions (if any at all).  Certainly he managed to persuade his mother that the point at issue was "a disagreement between himself and one of the professors", but Delia Parnell's grasp of her son's activities was hardly profound. "He left of his own accord," she told McWade, "as his self-respect prevented his yielding and asking pardon where he thought he had been unjustly treated." Recounting the story of his departure to Kettle in 1885, Parnell added the refinement of a national element. "I was so exasperated at the animus against me because I was an Irishman that I packed up my traps at once and left the college, and never returned there again."[80] It was a convenient line to take, but that does not mean that it was justified.

Parnell's rustication in retrospect Parnell's departure from Cambridge was obviously a landmark even in his life. Nonetheless, it is difficult to identify its precise significance in the shaping of his later career. As already noted, we may dismiss as fantasy Davitt's pleasant reflection that Parnell's failure to bribe PC Carter set off a train of events that led him into politics.[81] I have argued elsewhere that Parnell entered politics because the parlous finances of Avondale forced him to develop sawmills and quarries, which made him favourable to the establishment of tenant right, if only to ensure that he had adequate customers. Completion of the Cambridge Pass degree in Mechanism and Applied Science would probably have made him all the more determined to adopt a Home Rule strategy to boost Irish economic development. (The option included a study of Electricity: Parnell, who used waterpower and a turbine – presumably mechanical – to run his sawmills, might well have become a pioneer in its generation and application to manufacturing.)

A more promising approach to the assessment of Parnell's perceived rejection by Magdalene might be found in R. Barry O'Brien's comment on his English education: "if it did not make him very Irish, it certainly made him very anti-English".[82] While the formulation may seem attractive, it rests upon a highly questionable assumption. By the time of Barry O'Brien's biography, in 1898, Irish Protestants were overwhelmingly opposed to Home Rule. In retaliation, Nationalists were defining them out of Ireland altogether. Parnell came to be seen as "Anglo-Irish", a label that he would have spurned, and O'Brien's presentation of him, although superficially sympathetic, was in fact based on the assumption that a Church of Ireland landlord with no brogue in his accent ought to have been English. If Parnell's proclaimed Irish identity could not be the result of "pull", it must have had its origins in "push": hence rejection by the English in early life, especially at Cambridge, could be assumed to be a crucial cause. At Magdalene, Parnell had certainly not encountered the best of the English upper class, although it is open to doubt that its representatives were any more deplorable than their Irish country-house counterparts (while some, like the Fitzwilliams, moved in both worlds). Whatever may have been the situation seven years after Parnell's death, at the time of his entry into politics in 1874, many Protestants saw themselves as natural leaders in the nascent Home Rule movement, and had no doubt of their own Irishness.[83] As he made clear in his interpretation of his rustication, Parnell had no doubts that he was "an Irishman".

However, Parnell was not driven from Cambridge by a haughty English elite. Four dons attended the College Meeting that decided to rusticate him. Of these, the Master, Latimer Neville, was undoubtedly an aristocrat. The fourth son of the third Baron Braybrooke, he would unexpectedly inherit the title for the last nineteen months of his life. Yet his Olympian status did not necessarily prejudice him against the young squire from County Wicklow: indeed, he had recently conferred upon Parnell the nominal support of a small bursary from the Pepysian Benefaction. The other three hailed from the English middle class, however broadly that category may be defined. Mynors Bright was the son of a prominent London physician, and a product of Shrewsbury School. Francis Pattrick came to Magdalene from Wisbech, one of the grammar schools with links to Magdalene: his father was a jeweller and silversmith. The son of a Wesleyan minister in Staffordshire, John Roberts, who taught Classics, was the product of another traditional grammar school, at Halifax in Yorkshire. It seems far-fetched to claim, or even to hint, that Parnell devoted his career to the destruction of English power in Ireland in order to revenge himself upon three career academics and the son of a country peer.

Sentenced to depart on 26 May, Parnell left Magdalene the following day: those "traps" (his luggage), one suspects, had already been packed.[84] But there was time for one last Cambridge hurrah. On the evening of the 26th, he had nothing to lose from hitting the Town and – despite facing a crossing of the Irish Sea – he did not return to College until after 3 a.m. Remarkably, seven Magdalene undergraduates accompanied him, or so we may deduce from the fact that they, too, are entered in the Gate Book as straggling back at much the same time, indeed some after 4 a.m. All seven were recent arrivals who could hardly have known Parnell well, although two had played cricket with him. Only two had attended recognised schools, one at Rossall, an early Victorian foundation on the coast of Lancashire, the other at Merchiston Castle, a privately owned academy in Edinburgh. A third had attended the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth, and would make no impact upon the University. One was an American moving in the opposite direction, briefly tasting Cambridge life before joining the United States Navy. Another was a Scot who had spent much of his life exiled in the Caribbean. Parnell's cronies on that alcoholic May night represented what might be called marginal Magdalene. Only one of the seven managed to graduate (by a cruel irony, his name was Hamilton, and he took five years to achieve a Pass degree). There was no representative of the great public schools, nor anyone from the smaller cohort of serious undergraduates who were devoted to study. Parnell, it is clear, was not popular, perhaps because few students in the Magdalene of 1869 had much opportunity to get to know him. However, this is not to say that he was shunned because he was Irish.[85]

It is possible that the confrontation with Hamilton did indeed teach Parnell to control his temper, making him recognise that he must not lash out when provoked. This iron self-discipline would equip him to confront baying majorities of British MPs in the House of Commons from 1876 onwards. It would also carry him through occasional violent confrontations in Irish elections, at Enniscorthy in 1880 and Dundalk five years later.[86] What the Freeman's Journal called "his marvellous power of self-control and self-repression" allowed him to appear indifferent to both adulation and abuse during the turbulent declamations of the Split of 1890-91. In Committee Room 15, his "expression of fixed and immovable resolution" made him seem "more like a statue than a thing of flesh and blood". He displayed "[n]ot the shadow of emotion or feeling of any sort" as he received the announcement of defeat in the Kilkenny by-election, his face resembling "a marble in the British Museum". But outward impassivity did not imply inward equanimity, and the rage that he internalised sometimes boiled close to the surface.[87] There was an electric moment in Committee Room 15 when John Redmond objected to making Gladstone the master of the Irish Party. Healy's interjection, "Who is to be the mistress of the Party?" brought Parnell dangerously close to assaulting "that cowardly little scoundrel", with one account describing "his clenched fist close to Healy's face". Tim made no attempt to defend himself, smugly waiting for the punch that he knew would destroy Parnell's political leadership. Perhaps at that moment Parnell recalled the sneering face and mocking tones of Edward Charles Hamilton, for he drew back, shaking with fury. He had indeed learned that he could not "indulge in such freaks with impunity".[88]

There is certainly no evidence that Parnell was in any way disadvantaged by his ignominious exit from Cambridge. Indeed, his earliest biographers were not even aware of his rustication."He remained but two years at the University, and so did not graduate," wrote Sherlock in 1881. "Very little is known of his undergraduate career at Cambridge, and he himself seldom spoke of it," was T.P. O'Connor's comment in 1891.[89] Barry O'Brien's publication of Wilfred Gill's account in 1898 seems to have been the first authoritative statement of the Station Road fight.[90] Even so, a tradition lingered in Cambridge that he had been sent down for punching his Tutor.[91] Indeed, it seems to have been Parnell himself who talked about the episode, and his associates seem to have regarded it as something of a party piece: it was Sexton who persuaded him to relate the saga to Kettle in 1885.[92] From Parnell's point of view, this was a sensible strategy. To have reminisced about the privileged idleness of Cambridge would have been to highlight and probably to widen the social gulf that separated him from his middle-class lieutenants. By reminiscing only about his departure, and alleging that it was an example of anti-Irish prejudice, he appealed to the identity that united them. By contrast, Parnell does not seem to have explained himself to his own family. In the early eighteen-seventies, he spent much time in close company with his elder brother John, either at Avondale or during his visit to the United States, but John simply recorded that "Charley never told me his version of the affair". Henry Parnell, who also studied at Cambridge, recalled "that I had heard our brother telling Captain Dickinson [his ne'er-do-well brother-in-law] the story of the assault", and assumed that Parnell had suffered a recurrence of "an attack of brain fever, which he had when sent as a small boy to a girl's school, where the girls, having discovered that he had an aversion to insects, used to tease him".[93] The lack of interest in the episode shown by his siblings is striking.

In any case, a turbulent undergraduate record was no handicap to subsequent advancement in elite circles. In 1870, Lord Randolph Churchill pushed the boundaries of student discipline as an undergraduate at Merton College, Oxford. Emerging from a convivial dinner at the Randolph Hotel, he had jostled Police Constable Partridge, who insisted on enforcing the law despite being (allegedly) offered money (a miserly five shillings) to let the incident drop. On 15 March, the Duke's son was fined ten shillings for assault. Like Arthur Balfour in Cambridge, Lord Randolph insisted that the policeman had given false evidence. Where Balfour used the allegation as a private excuse, Lord Randolph vindictively launched a prosecution for perjury, a course in which he persisted despite fervent appeals from within the University to desist. In court, he marshalled a host of witnesses who swore to his pacific sobriety on the fateful night, but the case broke down in the face of evidence from Alfred Wren, a waiter at the Randolph Hotel, who itemised the ocean of alcohol that had been consumed and responded with persuasive dignity to the slur that hotel staff regularly stole half-consumed bottles for their own consumption. Further intent on revenge, Lord Randolph successfully pressured the eponymous hotel to dismiss Wren, a demand that he backed by smashing its windows, apparently in the belief that similarity of nomenclature entitled him to take direct action. Young Churchill also successfully defied College discipline, a strategy which – at Cambridge – could prove to be a fast track to expulsion. All in all, it is remarkable that he survived his three undergraduate years, and even more unexpected that a late burst of seriousness carried him to respectable Second Class Honours in his History finals. Although deeply immersed in the crisis of Avondale finances, Parnell may have known something of Lord Randolph Churchill's antics at the time, as they were reported in the press. His Oxford career seems to have become the stuff of legend during his turbulent lifetime, and may perhaps have prompted the reflection that Magdalene had shown no such indulgence towards his single misdemeanour. In the longer perspective, perhaps we should rather congratulate the Fellows of Magdalene on their foresight and resolve in terminating Lord Edward Churchill's membership of the College as soon as he displayed his nephew's obstreperous characteristics.[94]

Lord Randolph Churchill's undergraduate excesses, the most widely known escapades of gilded academic youth, did his subsequent career no harm. His friend Lord Rosebery similarly survived expulsion from Christ Church in 1870 after he made his own choice between membership of the University and flamboyant ownership of racehorses, which college regulations forbade. As his biographer stated, "pride forbade this sacrifice of independence". However, a member of the House of Lords was an asset worth cherishing, and Christ Church formally re-admitted him two years later when he was guest of honour at a Gaudy, an Oxford college feast.[95]  Less forgiveness was shown to the Marquess of Lansdowne. He had successfully passed his final examinations in 1866 but had not yet formally graduated when "a somewhat too convivial dinner" led him into what Jowett, the Master of his college, tried to dismiss as the "mad freak" of vandalising the Deanery garden at Christ Church. Dean Liddell – father of Lewis Carroll's Alice – took a less indulgent view of the escapade, and determined that none of those involved should have prizes: "so much indignation was displayed by the University authorities", commented Lansdowne's biographer, "that it was not until several years later that he was able to take his degree". In fact, "several years" stretched into almost two decades. The logjam was eventually broken by Lansdowne's appointment, in 1883, as Governor-General of Canada, an office that would bring him into contact with the Dominion's fledgling universities. It would seem discourteous should so notable an Oxford alumnus participate in academic ceremonial without wearing an appropriate gown, and Lansdowne was permitted to proceed to both his BA and MA degrees in 1884.[96]

The most blatant defiance of academic discipline had been perpetrated some years earlier by Henry Labouchere, who was – in effect – expelled from the University for allegedly copying during an examination. It is unlikely that Labouchere was in fact cheating, although his behaviour may have been connected with a bet – in two years, he amassed gambling debts of £6,000 – but he arrogantly refused to explain himself and compounded his offence by circulating an attack on the examiners.  Summoned before a special court, he "behaved in a reckless discreditable manner ... leaning his elbow on the table, interrupting the V[ice] C[hancellor]" and, on receiving his sentence, contemptuously demanded a right of appeal.[97]

It will be noted that these anti-social student activities did no harm to the subsequent careers of the malefactors. Wealth and social position were of course useful assets. Lansdowne and Rosebery both inherited peerages in their early twenties, as they had also inherited an allegiance to the Liberal party, which was weak in the House of Lords. Hence both were launched upon junior ministerial careers before most of their House of Commons contemporaries had even managed to get elected. Both would rise to the responsible office of Foreign Secretary, with Rosebery moving briefly to Ten Downing Street where, as at Christ Church, he seemed more interested in his stable than his career. Throughout the first half of the eighteen-eighties, Churchill, Labouchere and Parnell each attempted to subvert existing political structures from within. It would probably be an exaggeration to characterise them as an informal tripartite entente but, at various times, Parnell collaborated with both Labby and Lord Randolph when their aims happened to operate in parallel. Of course, their similar turbulent university experiences formed no bond of union linking all three, but may certainly be regarded as emblematic of their disruptive impact upon the sedate Westminster world.

Parnell seems to have made only one public allusion to his association with Magdalene, in his evidence to the Special Commission in 1889. This was the Unionist government's open-ended judicial fishing expedition into alleged links between the Home Rulers and the men of violence, and Parnell had an interest in projecting himself as somebody who could not possibly have been involved with terrorists. "I was educated chiefly in England. In was educated at two private schools in England, and at a private tutor's in Chipping Norton, in Oxfordshire, and at Magdalen[e] College, Cambridge."[98] But if Parnell savoured no memories of Cambridge, it is likely that other students remembered him. Although Magdalene was a small college – there were 48 undergraduates in residence in the autumn of 1866[99] – normal turnover would have ensured that he rubbed shoulders with double that number, and there may also have been acquaintances elsewhere in the University. As he became prominent in politics, many of these contemporaries no doubt cherished and sometimes polished their recollections. Robert Neville (later Neville-Grenville) epitomised the type of Englishman whom Parnell loathed and resented. An Etonian, a cousin of the Master and a single-minded driving force behind the Magdalene Boat Club, he recalled sixty years later: "I had a great wrestling match with the notorious Charles S. Parnell on the sacred college grass before I could extract his subscription". A.T. Wirgman, who came up in 1866, had a friendlier memory. "I remember batting with him as my partner in a match against Trinity Hall, when we both made a stand and scored fairly well."[100] No doubt Neville did attack Parnell, presumably on the grass of Second Court away from the porters' gaze, but the intimidation failed: Parnell never did join the Boat Club.[101] Wirgman went in first wicket down against Trinity Hall and, despite his rosy recollection, he was dismissed without scoring. Since Parnell went in at number five, the two could not have made a stand together.[102]

Parnell was also remembered among the College's senior members. The Master, Latimer Neville, appears to have stood by his statement that Parnell had been free to return after his rustication but, as a fervent Conservative, he was hostile to the errant undergraduate's subsequent career. There was a rumour ("probably apocryphal") in Cambridge that "when Parnell became celebrated as a patriot ... Mr Neville cut his name out of the list of members of the College because he disapproved of his political conduct".[103] Bizarre though it may seem, there may have been a grain of truth in the story. The Magdalene Archives contain a copy of the Bury and Norwich Post, then a provincial newspaper of some authority. Dated 9 May 1882, it reported Parnell's release from Kilmainham and the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish in Dublin's Phoenix Park. Had Parnell been complicit in this horror (of course he was not), Neville would not have only have felt entitled but perhaps even obliged to make some gesture of final repudiation. Other dons were more sympathetic. Francis Pattrick, who taught mathematics, "used often to describe how Parnell, when he had been given the ordinary solution of a problem, would generally set about to find whether it could not be solved equally well by some other method".[104] When, in 1906, Parnell's brother demanded that Magdalene repudiate the absurd story that the Irish leader had been expelled for impregnating a country girl and driving her to suicide, the senior Fellow, Alfred Newton, insisted that if there had been any such scandal, "I must have heard of it .... there was nothing against his character". Although he abominated Parnell's politics, Newton related a wholly benign – and entirely misleading – account of the Station Road fight, which a later Magdalene notable, A.S. Ramsey, published in the College Magazine in 1936. In this implausible version, Parnell was sitting on a hedgebank "apparently lost in meditation", when he felt compelled to punch a passer-by who had jeered at him.[105] Another worthy consulted in 1906 was the Classics don, A.G. Peskett, who had entered Magdalene as a freshman in 1870 and never left. An unimaginative personality, his summary of High Table tradition was probably accurate. "I always understood that Mr Parnell's conduct at this college was perfectly correct, except for this assault, committed under some real or imagined provocation."[106] It was not only dons who claimed to recall Parnell's time at Cambridge. In 1914, Carolan McQuaid, an eccentric Irishman, delivered a lecture about Parnell's university career, in which he quoted a mishmash of reminiscences, including one from an ostler at the Pickerel, the Magdalene Street inn, which he was said to have patronised. The only named source was Jack French, who had risen through the ranks of Magdalene employees to become Fellows' butler. French had started as a gate porter, and may have been on duty on the night of the famous fight. He told a stirring tale of Parnell leading the men of Magdalene, St John's and Trinity in a battle about Town roughs on Guy Fawkes Night. The only problem about this doughty tale was that it had originally been attributed to a Trinity undergraduate, the Marquess of Huntley, who sought revenge after being severely beaten up by a local mob.[107]

Perhaps paradoxically, it was the distinctly improved Magdalene of the early twentieth century that began to distance itself from its notorious alumnus. In 1910, A.C. Benson (a Fellow since 1904, and over-addicted to commemoration) was prevented from placing a memorial plaque in Parnell's rooms by a student revolt. Around 1920, an undergraduate from Ulster insisted on moving out of them after discovering the identity of the former tenant.[108] Frank Salter, the College's first History Fellow, imported from Trinity in 1912, was a lifelong member of the Liberal Party, but not an enthusiast for Home Rule. He happily answered my questions about Parnell in 1965, but had no incentive to honour his memory.[109] As a result, the memory of Parnell seems to have been eclipsed in Magdalene until the nineteen-sixties, when it was jolted back to life by external and internal stimuli. As an Irish Party candidate at the two general elections of 1910, Sir Shane Leslie could reasonably claim to be the last Parnellite. Perhaps in reproof of Magdalene's amnesia, in 1961 he generously presented a portrait of his hero. At much the same time, Ronald Hyam, a young History Fellow and also an import to Magdalene, included the Irish leader among a list of College notables who were saluted (and indeed toasted) at appropriate celebrations. One result of Ronald Hyam's enthusiasm was the rediscovery by College staff of the rejected plaque of 1910, which Benson had secreted in the Magdalene kitchens: it was belatedly placed in Parnell's old rooms, now part of the undergraduate library and bearing his name.  The centenary of his rustication in 1969 also encouraged interest in Parnell's relationship with Magdalene.[110]

Two important developments in the early nineteen-nineties shifted College's relationship with Parnell to higher levels. The first was the reorganisation of the Magdalene archives. Although correspondence and documents had previously been catalogued, account books and ledgers were deposited in a cramped cellar (alarmingly close to Bin Brook) where it was impossible to determine either their function or their sequence. For the first time, it became possible to trace Parnell's progression through the College, which led to the discovery that he had missed half the four years between 1865 and 1869. At once, the traditional myth of the young Parnell as an aimless drifter was overturned, to be replaced by an appreciation of a committed student determined to overcome the obstacles that prevented him from completing his degree – an interpretation which added to the poignancy of his rustication.[111] Of greater moment was the foundation in 1991 of the Parnell Fellowship in Irish Studies, the result of an initiative two years earlier by A.W.B. Vincent, a Magdalene alumnus and a generous supporter of Irish cultural causes.[112] Remarkably, there were virtually no recognised and prestigious positions devoted to the study of Ireland anywhere in British academe, although Oxford established a Chair in Irish History in 1991. The Fellowship was designed to be held by a series of annual visitors, mostly from Ireland, the first of them being the historian Professor Joe Lee in 1992-3.

In one of his most provocative speeches, delivered at Wexford in 1881, Parnell himself was sarcastic about the rituals of commemoration. "In the opinion of an English statesman no man is good in Ireland until he is dead and buried, and unable to strike a blow for Ireland. Perhaps the day may come when I may get a good word from English statesmen, as being a moderate man, after I am dead and buried."[113] The Parnell Fellowship was certainly established with statesmanlike intentions, as "a definite step to improve Anglo-Irish relations, and to educate the British public about Ireland".[114] There can be little doubt that the influence of the Fellowship, through a succession of distinguished holders, has far exceeded the impact of its obvious focus, the annual Parnell Lecture, while the scope of subjects covered in that event have amounted to more than the utterance of "a good word" about Parnell himself. Perhaps the most important and continuing element of the Fellowship is that it assumes a parity of esteem between Ireland and Britain, something that Parnell himself insisted upon. Whether or not he was right that the Fellows of Magdalene were motivated by "animus against me because I was an Irishman" when they rusticated him on 26 May 1869, the College has for the past thirty years honoured his memory by providing a platform for Irish scholars to assert Irish priorities in the discussion of Irish issues.


For a full list of material relating to Charles Stewart Parnell on martinalia, see

For a full list of material relating to the history of Magdalene College on martinalia, see

[1] The events of 1 May and the court case of 21 May 1869 were reported in Cambridge Chronicle and Cambridge Independent Press, 22 May 1869. The latter is reprinted in R.F. Foster, Charles Stewart Parnell: the Man and his Family (Hassocks, Sussex, 1976), 320-2. It is also reprinted and discussed in "Recollections and reconstructions: accounts of the departure of Charles Stewart Parnell from Cambridge University, 1869:  For my previous attempts to describe these events, Magdalene College Magazine and Record, 1969-70, 10-13 and "Parnell at Cambridge: the Education of an Irish Nationalist", Irish Historical Studies, xix (1974), 72-82. Biographical information relating to Cambridge students in this study comes from the Venn ACAD website:

[2] "The years at the university had been wasted years for him. He was making no mark, he was going nowhere in particular." F.S.L. Lyons, Charles Stewart Parnell (London, 1978 ed.), 34.

[3] Foster, Charles Stewart Parnell, 128-30, 363.  I discuss the financial affairs of Avondale in "Charles Stewart Parnell: Economics and Politics of a Building Trade Entrepreneur": That essay proposes a substantial reappraisal of Parnell, arguing that we should see him not as a landowner (and hence an enigmatic renegade from his class) but as an entrepreneur whose business interests, the supply of sawn timber and quarried stone for building, gave him an interest in encouraging tenants to improve their properties.

[4] He was given permission to be absent from Magdalene from 24-26 April, 6-9 May and 15-17 May. The second of these absences was explained by Parnell in court as a visit to Ireland, as no doubt were the other two.

[5] Foster, Charles Stewart Parnell, 313-15.

[6] In 1890, the land reformer A.J. Kettle commented that Parnell "had done a great deal in the stock line, but not so much in tillage".  A. Kettle, The Material for Victory (Dublin, 1958), 26. He also ran sheep. The railway had reached Rathdrum, the local town, in 1861, making it possible to supply the Dublin market with fresh meat and dairy products.

[7] His name was formally removed on 8 December 1868. Even though he was not in residence, he was liable for various University and College charges that totalled £7, 18 shillings and tenpence per Term. Parnell simply did not have that sort of money to spend. Magdalene College Archives, B/111.

[8] The Student's Guide to the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, 1874), 350.

[9] T.P. O'Connor, Charles Stewart Parnell: a Memory (London, 1891), 21. This may be yet another piece of Parnell mythology. His College account for the Easter Term of 1869 includes an item of £16 for private tuition, probably in Applied Mathematics. Whether he benefited from this coaching is unknown, but it did represent almost one third of his expenditure. Magdalene College Archives, B153.

[10] A Gate Book (Magdalene College Archives, B/291) shows that he had stayed in College for a few days in early April, presumably to arrange accommodation for the coming term. He was on the Irish Sea 10 times in April and May 1869. On 17 October 1865, in its "Fashionable Intelligence" column, the Irish Times had reported that "C.S. Parnell Esq. left Kingstown per Royal Mail Steamer" on Monday,  October 18. It is likely that the Irish Times secured a list of cabin passengers booked in advance. Since this seems to be the only such report relating to Parnell, it may suggest that on his subsequent crossings, he cut costs by travelling in comfortless public areas.

[11] Cambridge Independent Press, 27 February 1869; Sheffield Independent, 26 September 1870. Bentley's buttery accounts indicate that he was briefly absent from Cambridge in the week of 22 April, further reducing his opportunities to get to know the newcomer Parnell. Samuel Sproston, who arrived at Magdalene in 1868, sneered that there were "a few undergraduates, mostly sons of moneyed parvenus from the North of England" who "tried to liken themselves to country gentlemen, and succeeded in looking like stable-boys". Magdalene College Magazine, June 1910, 103-4.  This may be a reference to Bentley.

[12] The Pictorial Guide to Cambridge… (Cambridge, 1847), 4, quoted in A.F.R. Wollaston, Life of Alfred Newton (London, 1921), 94, who dated it to 1867.

[13] Hoole took part in the Magdalene College athletics match in February 1869. He was called to the Bar in June 1870. Although attached to the north-eastern circuit, he does not seem to have practised, but became a partner in the family business. Cambridge Independent Press, 26 December 1868, 27 February, 6 March 1869. The gate book for April-May 1869 (B/291) shows that Bentley, Foster and Parnell returned to College after 11 p.m. on May 1st, but apparently not Hoole. An alternative possibility is that Hoole went to the station to deposit his luggage the night before taking a train: a journey to Sheffield would have required an early departure. After almost four years at University, he perhaps needed the help of friends to help with his trunks and would have treated them in the refreshment room as a reward. In The Cambridge Grisette, a novel of 1862, the villain, Cantley of Trinity, took his luggage to the station the day before running away with the heroine on an early train. However, evidence in the court case indicates that the four students packed into a "fly" (a light carriage), and this would hardly have carried much luggage, while porters would have been on hand for heavy lifting. 

[14] Unless specifically referenced, all information about the events of 1 May comes from the two newspaper reports. Parnell's account seems to imply that both Foster and Hoole went to find a cab: neither gave evidence in the court case. A tradition surfaced in Magdalene in 1935 that "Station Road was a country lane with a ditch, a bank and a hedge". Parnell might well have been propped up against the bank, and the reference to a ditch would be consistent with Hamilton's claim that Parnell was "lying full-length in the gutter". The detail formed part of an account of the fight given by a veteran Fellow of Magdalene, Professor Alfred Newton, to his then-junior colleague, A.S. Ramsey. Unfortunately, Newton's recollections were unreliable. Magdalene College Magazine, December 1936, 253. The location of the fight can be almost precisely pinpointed. Hamilton stated that he spotted Parnell lying in the road when he was "opposite Newman's public house". This was the Railway Inn (later Station Hotel), the first building on the left (south side) on leaving the booking halll. This corner site was redeveloped in the 1990s as part of the CB1 project. The area opposite (on the north side of the road) has become a concourse area. The fight must have taken place close to the kerbside a few yards in front of the premises occupied in 2023 by Caffè Nero. 

[15] But the Cambridge Chronicle named the servant as John Kent, "a young man in the service of Mr Hamilton". It has not been possible to trace him.

[16] M. Davitt, The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland … (London, 1904), 107.

[17] The Times, 28 December 1888. For his subsequent career, "Edward Charles Hamilton: the person Parnell punched":

[18] There seems to be curiously little evidence as to Parnell's exact height. In 1888, the Irish journalist Edward Byrne estimated him at "a little over six feet", a calculation made by persuading Parnell to stand back-to-back with his wife, who was a tall woman. In May 1869, just short of his 23rd birthday, he may be assumed to have been fully grown.  E. Byrne (ed. F. Callanan), Parnell: a Memoir (Dublin, 1991), 18.

[19] Foster, Charles Stewart Parnell, 120-1.

[20] Irish Historical Studies, xix (1974), 80n.

[21] Probably born in 1847, Bentley had entered Harrow early in 1863 and left in 1865, when he would have been 18. He did not come to Magdalene until he was 20, early in 1868. The Harrow School Register, 1800-1911 (London, 1911 ed.), 357; Bentley at Cambridge searched via The interval of over 2 years between school and university may suggest that Bentley did not learn much at Harrow, and needed coaching to reach even Magdalene's modest entrance standards.

[22] Sheffield Independent, 10 September 1870. Sarah Bentley died at one of her husband's principal residences, either Finningley Park or a town house in Rotherham; her son died at Doncaster. It may be that he had been moved for medical treatment.

[23] The information apparently comes from a report in the Cambridge Chronicle, 24 September 1870. This I have not been able to verify, but the Venn ACAD source is reliable. 1869 and 1870 were particularly bad years for the disease, and some medics "believed that scarlet fever hit the wealthy harder than the poor". However, this was largely based on impressionistic evidence – doctors usually treated prosperous patients – plus the fact that the rich were more likely to buy milk, a principal source of the infection. A detailed study of an outbreak in Bristol in 1875 definitively established that death rates in poorer areas were far higher than those of comfortable districts. F.B. Smith, The People's Health 1830-1910 (London, 1979), 136-8.

[24] Smith, The People's Health 1830-1910, 136-42.

[25] Parnell had a particular horror of scarlatina: his brother John (whose recollections are not always precise) stated that Parnell, and most of his siblings, had contracted the disease when he was about 12. When William O'Brien received news in Kilmainham that a colleague's children had caught it, Parnell insisted that he burn the letter and compelled O'Brien to wash his hands afterwards. But Parnell was notoriously nervous about his health, and there is no reason to connect this episode with Bentley's death – nor, indeed, much likelihood that Parnell maintained any contact with his Magdalene contemporaries after his cataclysmic departure. J. Parnell, Charles Stewart Parnell: a Memoir (London, 1914), 34; W.O'Brien, The Parnell of Real Life (London, 1926), 41-2.

[26] Parnell's reported comment in a subsequent description of the fight to A.J. Kettle, The Material for Victory, 68-9, where he also referred to the mishit of Hamilton's shoulder and the pain of being punched in the eye. Kettle's recollection of the circumstances of the fight was muddled, but the details were probably accurate, although – as Eric Morecambe would have put – not necessarily in the right order.

[27] Davitt, The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland, 107.

[28] In a 1914 lecture on Parnell's time at Cambridge, Carolan McQuaid related a version of the fight, in which PC Carter had pursued Parnell and his associates and caught up with them in Hills Road. This sounds plausible, since the Magdalene undergraduates would have been minded to leave the scene as quickly as possible. Hamilton could take the number of any cab they might board, and hence their destination could be traced. Parnell had presumably sobered up (to some extent) and it made sense to leave on foot. Unfortunately, the remaining details of McQuaid's account are fanciful.  "Parnell at Cambridge: the shreds and patches of a 1914 lecture":

[29] Cambridge Chronicle, 8 May 1869. Parnell was run out; Trinity Hall won. In local cricket matches, few batsmen broke into double figures: Parnell's 19 was impressive, and made him Magdalene's second highest scorer. In 1881, W.N. Roe of Magdalene hit 415 not out (he insisted it was 416) in an inter-college match on Parker's Piece, but the circumstances were unusual. "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: Magdalene undergraduate was the world's top batsman":

[30] Frederick Poland Adcock owed his preferred forename to his mother's maiden name. He died at the age of 47 in July 1884, possibly of cancer. His gravestone in Mill Road cemetery associates him with St John's College, but Venn has him as Fellow Commoner (in this case, presumably a mature student) at Jesus from 1862. The University awarded him the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1866, and he had recently graduated as LLM. I cannot trace him in the Law Tripos results in Tanner's Historical Register of the University of Cambridge (1917). Adcock was a Conservative and had been elected a Town councillor for St Andrew's Ward in 1866 (Cambridge Chronicle, 3 November 1866; Post Office Directory, 1869, 17). His Emmanuel Street office presumably disappeared under the North Court of Emmanuel College. Cambridge Independent Press, 3 February 1866, 14, 17 April, 3 May 1869, 26 July 1884; Post Office Directory, 1869.

[31] In his 1977 biography, Charles Stewart Parnell, F.S.L. Lyons speculated that Parnell's 6-9 May trip to Ireland was "perhaps for a family conclave" on Adcock's threat. This was always unlikely, as Parnell was not in the habit of consulting his irritating mother. It should be noted here that, while the near-simultaneous publication of major studies by Lyons and Foster (whose Charles Stewart Parnell: the Man and his Family had appeared in 1976, while the Lyons biography was in press) represented an overdue feast of Parnelliana, the overlap also inadvertently caused the perpetuation of misunderstandings, which the authors' private exchange of information could not wholly eliminate. It would have been an obvious deduction from Foster that it was the either the West or Wigram case, not the Hamilton assault, that had summoned Parnell across the Irish Sea. It astonishes me now to reflect that, as a novice student of Parnell c. 1970, the most authoritative source available to me was the biography by R. Barry O'Brien, published as far back as 1898, which was sketchy on his early life. Coupled with the state of what I grandly called the Magdalene College Archives (I suspect I was the first historian to use the phrase), which were mostly uncatalogued and largely impenetrable, it became a slow process to untangle his student experience. Lyons, Charles Stewart Parnell (London, 1978 ed.), 34, 21n.

[32] In his memoir of Magdalene from 1867 to 1871, Samuel Sproston wrote: "I do not think there was a decent undergraduate in the College who would have hesitated in difficulty or trouble to seek the advice of any one of the dons, justly confident that he would receive kindly, wise and sympathetic counsel." Sproston's recollections were vivid, but his snobbish nostalgia should be treated with some reserve. Could the adjective "decent" have represented an oblique allusion to Parnell's apparent refusal to seek donnish advice? Magdalene College Magazine, June 1910, 102. Venn ACAD quotes an obituary of Francis Pattrick: "No man ever came to him for guidance without receiving sympathy and help". The recollection of Parnell's mother, that the point at issue was "a disagreement between himself and one of the professors" may suggest that he had rejected donnish counsel to settle with Hamilton.

[33] This is clear from information supplied to R. Barry O'Brien for his Charles Stewart Parnell... (2 vols, London, 1898), i, 40-3. The source was Wilfred Gill, who had entered Magdalene in 1875, six years after Parnell's departure, and became a Fellow after taking a First in Classics in 1879. Francis Pattrick, who died in October 1896, had obviously spoken positively of Parnell. Unfortunately, O'Brien did not supply the dates of his Magdalene reports. According to a later recollection by A.S. Ramsey, then a junior Fellow, Gill spent the winter of 1897-8 in Egypt for health reasons: he probably had tuberculosis. Magdalene College Archives, A.S. Ramsey, "Bygone Days at Magdalene" (typescript), 25. His research for O'Brien was probably undertaken during the summer of 1897. Latimer Neville, the sole survivor of the 1869 College Meeting, spent the summer at his country rectory 13 miles from Cambridge. Hence Gill presumably could not consult him, and was himself unaware that Parnell had been absent from Cambridge for two years.     

[34] In 1869, Mynors Bright shared tutorial responsibilities (i.e. for general student welfare) with Pattrick.  Although only in his early fifties, Mynors Bright was prematurely aged by "a chronic and painful disease", which undergraduates confidently (and incorrectly) assumed was Bright's disease (nephritis). He was largely confined to his rooms, on the first floor of Left Cloister in the Pepys Building, occasionally emerging "in a bath-chair, a pathetic little figure in a very old fashioned and very tall beaver hat". He could be "severe, sarcastic, caustic" in reprimanding errant undergraduates, "and his speech was marked on occasion by the picturesque and forcible forms of expression which were common in his younger days". However, he was prepared to fight for undergraduates if he believed they had been unfairly treated. Unusual among the unproductive Magdalene Fellowship, he produced a major work, an edition of the diary of Samuel Pepys. Magdalene College Magazine, March 1910, 67-9.

[35] He was Joseph Henry Benson who lived and practised at Sawston, Post Office Directory, 1869, 84. The choice of a Sawston medic suggests that Hamilton was employed at the Cambridge Manure Company of Duxford, whose works were situated within a quarter of a mile of Whittlesford Station. The firm supplied superphosphate, but also manufactured fertiliser from the detritus of corn and root crops.

[36] R.M. McWade, The Uncrowned King: the Life and Public Services of Hon. Charles Stewart Parnell… [Philadelphia, 1891], 19-20.  For the persistence of the older spelling, "Magdalen", tacitly abandoned in 1818, see "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: names and spellings":

[37] College servants see to have turned Parnell into a semi-heroic figure, attributing to him legends that originally attached to other personalities. "Parnell at Cambridge: the shreds and patches of a 1914 lecture":

[38] Post Office Directory, 18, 20; Bury Post, 4, 11, 18 May; Cambridge Chronicle, 22 May 1869. Cockerell operated from his home at 9 Fitzwilliam Street. I suspect that he was related to the architect Charles Robert Cockerell, who had completed the nearby Fitzwilliam Museum after 1845, but I cannot trace a connection.

[39] Cambridge Chronicle, 22 May 1869.

[40] The statement by the College historian, E.K. Purnell, that Parnell appeared "to have had few friends in the College" is a classic example of a factually accurate statement from a contemporary source that is rendered misleading by the lack of relevant context. Purnell had entered Magdalene in October 1868; Parnell had returned in April 1869, after his contemporaries from the 1865 intake had departed. The two overlapped for 6 weeks, during which Parnell was absent for three short periods. E.K. Purnell, Magdalene College (London, 1904), 196.  Slightly more reliable is the glimpse offered by another contemporary, A.T. Wirgman, that Parnell was "a taciturn sort of man whom nobody knew well": Storm and Sunshine in South Africa ... (London, 1922), 16-17, for Wirgman was only a year behind Parnell, and the two were at Magdalene through the academic year 1866-7. Both Purnell and Wirgman played in the match against Trinity Hall.

[41] Cambridge Independent Press, 22 May 1869. Support from the College cricketers did not necessarily imply endorsement from the whole student body. Sproston recalled that Magdalene undergraduates "naturally grouped themselves into two main divisions, those who gave their minds and energies to horse and hound and those who sought recreation and muscular development on the river". (The reader learns largely by implication that there were also some who read books.) In the late eighteen-sixties, "there was no very distinct border-line between the two sets". However, the explorer Harry de Windt, who was briefly at Magdalene in 1875-6 and who identified with the super-rich riding men, recalled that "to row or even play cricket was to be ostracized by the right set". Magdalene College Magazine, June 1910, 103; H. de Windt, My Restless Life (London, 1909), 67.  De Windt was prone to exaggeration ("I suppose there were reading men … but I never saw them"). Noted Magdalene cricketers from the social elite included the Harrovian J.M. Richardson, who twice won the Grand National as an amateur jockey, and the Etonian Lord Hawke, who later captained England.

[42] Cambridge Chronicle, 7 March 1868. One witness, Etonian Frederick Thomas, was asked by a magistrate if he had been drinking. His man-to-worm response highlighted different categories of exposure to alcohol. "What do you mean by that? We had supper together at a friend in Hobson's street, and of course we had drink. We were sober, if that is what you mean." Thomas was an example of the transience of undergraduate life: he died in 1869. The mistaken identity defence was relatively easy to mount where groups of students were involved. In 1865, shortly before Parnell came to Cambridge, 4 undergraduates were roistering late at night on Market Hill. Three were wearing academical dress, the fourth accosted a policeman ("Holloa Bobby"), knocked off his helmet and ran away. When the four were cornered, Lord Melgund of Trinity was arrested since he was the only one of them without a gown. But in court, they pleaded that the culprit was the Marquess of Queensberry, then briefly at Magdalene, who had borrowed Melgund's gown to cover his escape. The case was dropped. He later inherited the family earldom, Minto, and became Governor-General of Canada and Viceroy of India. Although nobody ever regarded Minto as an intellectual powerhouse, he was remarkably successful in both appointments. As is well known, Queensberry went on to formulate the laws of boxing and to persecute Oscar Wilde. Cambridge Independent Press, 4 March 1865.

[43] The Cambridge Chronicle reported that Hamilton's servant also gave evidence identical to that of his employer, with the sole addition that he saw Parnell kick his master twice. The Cambridge Independent Press omitted this.

[44] Three Tutors gave evidence as character witnesses in the magistrates' court prosecutions of students arrested for the Corn Exchange riot in 1875. No Fellow of Magdalene was called to provide similar evidence on Parnell's behalf, perhaps because Cockerell accepted that such testimony would not bear upon the facts of the case, or maybe because no Magdalene don was prepared to testify on behalf of a student who had rejected advice to settle.

[45] Quotations from evidently sincere tributes at the time of his death in September 1870 (a fatal month for those involved in the case): Norfolk News, 10 September; Bury Post, 13 September 1870. Born in 1801, he had been a Fellow of Clare College 1828-31, and a County Court judge since 1847. He lived at Hackford Hall, Norfolk, and might have been assumed (wrongly) to be sympathetic to Parnell on class grounds. His summing-up included an oddly moralistic sentiment. "It was a most unfortunate thing that these young gentlemen should hire a fly to go to the railway station for the sole purpose of taking wine; he did not say there was any moral turpitude in the act, but had they not committed this indiscretion they would have escaped this unfortunate occurrence." On the face of it, his statement captured the blindingly obvious, but he probably added the qualification because Magdalene undergraduates were known to collect London prostitutes from the railway station and spirit them to nearby hotels in a sealed vehicle known as the "Tête-à-Tête fly". De Windt, My Restless Life, 71.

[46] The Order Book, recording orders and major memoranda between 1791 and 1906, is held in Magdalene College Archives, B441, 221. The College Meeting was probably convened in the morning. Planned end-of-year festivities (which would later become May Week) included, for 26 May, "Promenade Concert in Magdalene College Grounds at 2.30" (Cambridge Independent Press, 22 May 1869). (Grounds, not Gardens, because Latimer Neville grazed cattle on the land.) 

[47] Magdalene College Magazine, March 1910, 67. Parnell's name appears 15 times in the Gate Book between 23 April and 19 May, but the next entry is for 27 May. The pattern suggests that he was 'gated' immediately after the court case, to prevent him from being on the streets in the evening. This probably foreshadowed more severe disciplinary action from the College Meeting, but may also have been intended to prevent Parnell from either being the target or the instigator of revenge attacks. The Reverend Edward Warter, who practically ran mid-century Magdalene, had explained the College's attitude in 1851. "Any pupil who is consistently out after 10 subjects himself to a reprimand from the tutor, and whatever punishment he may think fit, and any pupil out after 1 a.m. loses a week ipso facto." Students entering College between 10 and 11 were fined one penny, rising to twopence between 11 and midnight, and sharply thereafter. The survival of the Gate Book suggests that practice had not changed by 1869.   British Parliamentary Papers, 1852-3, xliv, Warter to Cambridge University Commissioners, 27 June 1851, 201-3.

[48] Kettle, The Material for Victory, 69.

[49] "Parnell and Magdalene: Some New Evidence", Magdalene College Magazine and Record, xxxvi (1992), 37-41: A case of assault during the Guy Fawkes Night riot of 1866 had been described by the magistrates as "gross", but the defendant was fined only ten shillings, plus costs. Cambridge Chronicle, 10 November 1866.

[50] Francis Pattrick recalled that Parnell had volunteered to protect him one evening when he ventured forth to investigate a disturbance outside the College gates. In 1994, I described this report as one of the scraps of information that constituted a "thread of violence" running through his undergraduate days.  By contrast, Lyons interpreted the episode in chivalric terms.  Irish Historical Studies, xix (1974), 75, Lyons, Charles Stewart Parnell, 32.

[51] The wording used in the case of Hugh Smith, 1862, Magdalene College Archives, B441, 200, and cf. the case of Lord Edward Churchill, 1873, 234.

[52] Wilfred Gill to R.B. O'Brien, undated but c. 1897-8, in O'Brien, The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell 1845-1891 (2 vols, London, 1898), i, 42-3.

[53] E.K. Purnell, Magdalene College (London, 1904), 196.

[54] Magdalene College Archives, E/A/2/4, H.T. Parnell to S.A. Donaldson, 22 February; A. Newton to Donaldson, 25 February 1906.

[55]  Parnell to S.A. Donaldson, 22 February 1906; The Student's Guide to the University of Cambridge, 74. Cambridge tradesmen were required to notify colleges of any bills incurred by undergraduates above £5, a practice which enabled Tutors to monitor their pupils' expenditure. Parnell's name was not formally removed from the College list until 25 November 1869 (B239), a delay probably explained by the need to be certain that no debts remained outstanding.  In September 1869, Parnell had put his name forward for election to a Church of Ireland conference dealing with the challenges of disestablishment (Irish Times, 28 September 1869: he was not selected). This strongly suggests that he had decided not to return to Cambridge.

[56] Lyons, Charles Stewart Parnell, 34.

[57] Warter had described the function of the Pepysian Benefaction to the Cambridge University Commissioners in 1851: British Parliamentary Papers, 1852-3, xliv, 403-13: The Student's Guide to the University of Cambridge.  In the late 1860s, the practice seems to have been to split the cash and limit bursaries to £12. Another recipient in 1869 was C.B. Ogden, from Leeds Grammar School, who was heading for First Class Honours in Mathematics. His son, C.K. Ogden, followed him to Magdalene in 1908 (an an Entrance Scholar), and became the inventor of Basic English.

[58] Parnell's College bill for the Easter Term of 1869 was £52, 9 shillings and fourpence, but the total due was £40, 9 shillings and fourpence. £12 is entered under "Scholarship", although he did not hold any College award, and this is explained by a hieroglyphic which seems to decipher as "Peps".

[59] Cambridge Chronicle, 10, 17 November 1866. The victim was a Trinity undergraduate the Marquess of Huntly. He lived to be 89.

[60] Cambridge Independent Press, 28 November, 5 December 1868.

[61] Cambridge Independent Press, 30 May 1868.

[62] Ransom was enngaged in an angry fight with the Cambridge Board of Guardians in 1868, but this was hardly a factor in student persecution: Cambridge Independent Press, 15 February 1868 and passim. There is a useful biographical note in He died in 1874, aged 53, and had apparently moved to Salford by then: Manchester Courier, 4 April 1874.

[63] Cambridge Chronicle, 13 April 1867; Elliot's recollection in B.E.C. Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour… (2 vols, London, 1936), i, 26-7. Two decades later, as a Unionist backbencher, Elliot enjoyed Balfour's denunciations of Irish lawlessness, but he did wonder how the Parnellites might react had they known that their draconian Chief Secretary had a criminal record. 

[64] Cambridge Chronicle, 7 March 1868. Kinnaird later inherited the family peerage. An Evangelical, he was active in organisations such as the YMCA, but is especially remembered for his contribution to the Football Association, of which he was President for over 30 years. His record of playing in 9 FA Cup Finals (plus 2 replays) is likely to stand. He was noted for rough play, and his mother once commented that she feared he would come home with a broken leg. "If he does," a friend assured her, "it won't be his own." He was a close friend of Arthur Balfour in their student days: the two shared a highly risky holiday canoeing through the Hebrides. His Cambridge escapade appears to have faded from the record.  N. Fishwick, "Kinnaird, Arthur Fitzgerald, eleventh Lord Kinnaird of Inchture and third Baron Kinnaird of Rossie (1847–1923)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[65] O'Brien, Charles Stewart Parnell, i, 42-3; Purnell, Magdalene College, 196.

[66] In 1826, Lord Edward's father had lost £26,000 gambling at Doncaster Races, compounding his notoriety by defaulting on his debts. It is likely that Lord Edward was betting extravagant sums at Newmarket. For the 6th Duke, A.L. Rowse, The Later Churchills (Harmondsworth ed., 1971), 209-21.

[67] Magdalene College Archives, Order Book, B441, 200 (Smith), 234 (Churchill). The correspondence with the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough is in LN37. The subsequent canard that any Magdalene undergraduate found in College during Newmarket Races risked being gated is an example of the self-destructive legends fostered by a masochistic theme in the College culture, now happily long-since eradicated. [G. Parker-Jervis and F.R.F. Scott], The Magdalene Boat Club … (Cambridge, 1930), 43. The Fellows of Magdalene were not unique in having to confront a culture of undergraduate violence. On a Friday evening in November 1868, "the windows of an unpopular undergraduate in New College, Oxford, were broken, and on the following evening all the undergraduates were summoned into hall and required to give up the names of the offenders by ten o'clock on Monday morning". The particular problem at New College was its close relationship with a single public school, Winchester, which brought the dons into conflict with a Wykehamist omertà that had its roots in school loyalties and intimidations. Mass rustication was imposed on the Tuesday, presumably costing the undergraduate body a term's residence. An exception was made for students about to sit University examinations, but they were gated from 5 p.m. and subjected to other penalties. Bury Post, 8 December 1868.

[68] Magdalene College Archives, Order Book, B441, 216 and correspondence in LN25. Greenhalgh graduated in 1869, and was called to the Bar two years later. He kept chambers in the Inner Temple but did not practise, having inherited a fortune from his father, a Manchester manufacturer. Unfortunately, his parents were not married at the time of his birth (although they tied the knot later), and Greenhalgh was therefore illegitimate. Since he never married, Greenhalgh was under particular pressure to make an effective Will, since without adequate testamentary arrangements, his estate would be seized by the State and used to pay off part of the National Debt. The deaths of various beneficiaries made revisions necessary. Since Greenhalgh's business methods were chaotic, doubts arose over the validity of his last Will after he was murdered in Barcelona in 1897, compounded by the problem that the document could not be found. At one time, he had contemplated leaving £3,000 to Magdalene (an unusual gesture from an alumnus in that era) to establish a Greenhalgh Scholarship. It is impossible to know whether this represented gratitude to the College for saving his career in 1867, or a subtle form of revenge, designed to insert the name of a rusticated fornicator into the annual Commemoration of Benefactors. In the event, the bequest disappeared from later Wills.

[69] Three other disciplinary offences came before College Meetings in the 1860s, involving four undergraduates. On 5 December 1860, William Boyton from Donegal and Cornishman Charles Treffry were gated until the end of Term (hardly a long sentence) for "certain irregularities against College discipline". In addition, Boyton was suspended from his Scholarship, and both were warned that their names would be "removed from the College boards" (i.e. they would be expelled) if they caused further trouble. Both appear to have been privately educated. Boyton went on to graduate, although only with the Poll (Pass) degree, and became a clergyman. He ended his career as a Canon of St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. In 1880, Treffry who did not graduate, inherited a family estate at Fowey where his forebears had lived since the 13th century. Arthur Phelips was an Etonian who migrated from Trinity, arriving in Magdalene on 11 January 1862. On 24 February, a College Meeting ruled that he "should not be allowed to reside any longer in the College" on account of "his irregular conduct". This was a mild rebuke, since Phelips presumably retreated to lodgings. He even managed to graduate, with a Pass degree, albeit slowly, in 1866. Gross misconduct on 15 May 1864 by Henry Street, another Etonian and also a refugee, this time from Trinity Hall. led to swift retribution from a College Meeting two days later. He was "immediately sent down" so that, like Parnell, he lost the right to claim that Term towards his residence qualifications. Furthermore, he would not be allowed to return into residence until he had passed his 'Little Go', the informal name for the Previous Examination, which functioned as a retrospective matriculation test. How he was to do this without being in Cambridge was not explained, and the University knew no more of Street, who went into business in London. B441, 192, 197, 206.

[70] Magdalene College Archives, LN37, Neville to Duchess of Marlborough, copy, 6 May 1873.

[71] Cambridge Independent Press, 30 January 1869. Savile had won his Cricket Blue in 1868, and had probably decided to call time on his university career without graduating. He had scored an impressive 32 opening the batting for Magdalene against Peterhouse in June 1867; Parnell, who came in first wicket down, was out for 0. (Cambridge Chronicle, 15 June 1867).  Savile later played for Yorkshire.

[72] Cambridge Chronicle, 1 December 1866. Bovell was a close friend of Greenhalgh and a litigant in actions arising out of his estate.  His sister, Emily, was one of the first women in Britain to qualify as a medical doctor. She married another distinguished medic, W. Allen Sturge, who treated Greenhalgh on his deathbed. There is an account of a performance of Christy's Minstrels on an earlier visit to Cambridge in M.E. Bury and J.D. Pickles, eds, Romilly's Cambridge Diary 1848-1868 (Cambridge, 2000), 438-9 (23 May 1863).

[73] According to Venn, he was formally admitted on 15 January 1867, but did not matriculate until the Easter Term. Thus it may be that he was, technically, not a member of the University at the time of his offence, in early April. For convenience, I have hyphenated his dual surname, although this was not the practice at the time.

[74] Foster, Charles Stewart Parnell, xiv, 49-50, 123. Earl Fitzwilliam's estate (1902) is given in Wikipedia as of June 2023.  The paternalist economics of the Coollattin estates are discussed in

[75] N. Kissane, Parnell: a Documentary History (Dublin, 1991), 24.

[76] Robert Moncreiff, from Edinburgh, was nearly 24 and old enough to know better. A member of Trinity, he took 7 years to graduate, before entering the Church to become an "eloquent preacher". Alfred Jacobson had entered Trinity in 1864, but migrated two years later to Downing, a relatively new institution (it had admitted its first undergraduate in 1820) which found it hard to attract students and was regarded as lax in both academic and disciplinary standards. Jacobson joined the 6th Dragoon Guards shortly after his court appearance, but eventually graduated in 1880.

[77] Cambridge Chronicle, 6 April 1867 (headed "Undergraduate Larks"). Wentworth-Fitzwilliam did not graduate. He served in the Army from 1870 to 1883, including two years as ADC to the Viceroy of India, Lord Ripon. In 1885, he was defeated as Conservative candidate for the Yorkshire constituency of Hallamshire, and thus failed to confront Parnell in the House of Commons. (In an attempt to capitalise upon local loyalty to his dynasty, he denied that he was a Conservative, and does not seem to have been an impressive candidate. He made no reference to Ireland in his few speeches: Sheffield Independent, 9, 12 November 1885).He served as equerry to George V, and was knighted in 1921. Since all Fitzwilliam boys were given William as their first forename, he was known as Sir Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam GCVO. He died in 1925.

[78] In two subsequent riots, in 1873 and 1875, fighting between students and the police was vicious. In 1873, the Junior Conservative Club held a fund-raising bazaar at the Guildhall in Cambridge, an event which extended over several days. For apparently non-political reasons, some undergraduates decided to smash the displays. Police were summoned, and a violent fight ensued. The attackers seem to have been led by Mortimer Neeld of Caius, a Harrovian and the son of a baronet – a classic profile for an undergraduate vandal. Neeld struck a police inspector with a stick, but was seized by the throat in an attempted arrest. The chokehold was so severe that Neeld collapsed. Hostilities were suspended at this point and Neeld was carried back to Caius where his life was thought to be in danger for some hours. It is likely that a deal was reached, perhaps brokered by Caius.  Nothing came of threats of legal action against the police made on behalf of Neeld, and no prosecutions ensured. Hence the louts cannot be identified. Neeld joined the Army soon afterwards, and found an outlet for his aggression against the Zulu, being mentioned in despatches for his conduct during the 1879 battle of Ulundi. Despite his near-death experience, he lived into his eighties. Bury Post, 25 February; Cambridge Independent Press, 1 March 1873. The episode was reported in Australian newspapers.

In 1875, undergraduates persistently disrupted concerts at the new Corn Exchange. When a detachment of police arrived, they met with fierce resistance, with P.C. Carter, who had arrested Parnell, in the thick of the fighting. Seven undergraduates were arrested – two were later acquitted – and confined to a temporary lock-up at the Guildhall, where attempts were made to rescue them. "The streets are now full of a noisy mob of University men and townsmen," reported the Cambridge correspondent of a Yorkshire newspaper, telegraphing as if from a war zone. The police court hearing was not a simple example of Town venting its fury upon Gown: three College Masters were among the magistrates, and they took a lead in asking probing questions about each case. In the confined musical chairs of the Cambridge legal profession, it was Parnell's defence counsel, William Cockerell, who prosecuted the accused, expressing "a hope that the bench would so act as to effectually prevent in future the interruption of the townsfolk's amusement, which had been indulged in by gownsmen for a long time past". Four of the five who were convicted can be identified (the fifth, Herbert Ellis of Trinity, is not in Venn). In contrast to earlier riots, they came from second-rank schools. A.W. Cobbold of Caius, a product of Beccles School, was in his second year, was fined £10 and seems to have left Cambridge soon after: although in his late fifties (at least), he served in the First World War as a Captain in the Remount Service. F.T.R. Fleming, from Cheltenham College, was a freshman. He did not graduate, but as he was only fined £1 it seems unlikely that he was sent down. Another freshman, W.N.C. Wheeler of King's, was a product of Rossall. He did not graduate until 1880 – and then only with a Pass degree -- which may suggest that his £10 fine had merited some period of rustication. He became a clergyman. W.J. Ford, a Scholar of St John's and a cricket Blue from Repton, was in his third year. His £5 fine does not seem to have derailed his student career, since he graduated with Second Class Honours in Classics in 1876. He became a schoolmaster (at Marlborough) and a county cricketer (for Middlesex), enough to secure him, in 1888, the headship at Nelson College in New Zealand. He returned to England two years later when the board of governors forced his resignation by reducing his salary. A further headship followed, and he became a noted cricket historian. Cambridge Independent Press, 13 November 1875.  For examples of the wider impact of the episode, Bradford Observer, 9, 11 November; Dundee Courier, 9 November, Morning Post, 11 November 1875. Only one Magdalene undergraduate gave evidence. He was William Armour, a freshman from Rossall, who claimed that he had accompanied one of the accused to the concert with the intention of enjoying the music.

The fining of the five undergraduates goaded a student mob into seeking revenge against John Death, the outgoing mayor, who had ordered police to arrest the Corn Exchange troublemakers. Death had become a wealthy local businessman by building up livery stables, which would have been patronised by the riding men in the undergraduate community. As with Dr Ransom, his social origins required him to Know His Place, and the mob determined to enforce deference by sacking his house in King Street. In the ensuing turmoil, only one student was arrested and convicted. He was John Burchmore Harrison, a Scholar of Christ's in his second year, and a product of Edgbaston School at Birmingham. Neither intellectually nor socially was he the usual type of student thug. Indeed, his delinquent activities had been limited to jumping on a police constable's back in order to pull off his helmet. The magistrates, who included James Cartmell, the Master of Harrison's college, fined him £15, combining firmness with recognition that he had  admitted his offence and – presumably – was not the worst participant in the mob. Josiah Chater, a local merchant, noted in his diary that Harrison had been "sent down from the College". This cannot be correct, since the Historical Register of the University of Cambridge shows him achieving Second Class Honours in the Natural Sciences Tripos in December 1877 – at a time when ten Terms of residence were required to sit for Honours – while Venn has him graduating in 1878. (He took his degree in January 1878:  Cambridge Independent Press, 2 February 1878.) Dr Lucy Hughes, Archivist of Christ's College, kindly reports  that the punishments book (CA/T/24) contains no entry for a rustication between 1872 and 1878. In 1879, Harrison was appointed a Professor in Barbados, and he spent the rest of his life pursuing scientific and agricultural research there and in British Guiana (Guyana). He was knighted in 1921. In monetary terms, his case (resulting in a £15 fine) is the closest to Parnell's. As a Scholar, Harrison was a promising student, and perhaps Cartmell felt he had been adequately punished. Cambridge Independent Press, 20 November 1875; (note by C. Martinsen); E. Porter, Victorian Cambridge … (London, 1975), 161. Death's King Street house survived the attack, and stands at the corner of Pike's Walk. In 1914, an exotic Irish resident of Cambridge, Carolan McQuaid, claimed that a club of Magdalene riding men organised the attack on John Death’s house: "they pulled down the railings and broke nearly every pane of glass in the house. This was done in consequence of a speech he made against the Varsity on the opening of the Corn Exchange. The men resented this, seeing that he and his livery-stablemen made their living out of the Varsity." However, McQuaid's stories were often inaccurate, e.g. "Parnell, on this occasion, was one of the leaders of the attack" (6 years after his exit from Cambridge).  Cambridge Independent Press, 22 May 1914. 

[79] "Charles Stewart Parnell at Cambridge: New Evidence (1992)", Magdalene College Magazine and Record, xxxvi (1992), 37-41:

[80] McWade, The Uncrowned King, 51; Kettle, Material for Victory, 69. Did Parnell genuinely believe his own assertion? "Deep down in his heart there always lay that sense that Irishmen were put upon," wrote T.P. O'Connor; "he never ceased to resent it." Was that mistrust rooted in his resentment against the Fellows of Magdalene for sending him down – or was it a convenient cover that helped him disguise from himself that his attack on Edward Charles Hamilton had been a serious mistake? O'Connor, Charles Stewart Parnell: a Memory, 94. Gladstone's bill for the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland was before Parliament, and Magdalene dons were probably opposed. "We are all furious here",  Alfred Newton of Magdalene wrote on 6 June, when the Council of the Senate blocked a University petition against the legislation. A visitor to Cambridge complained of a political sermon delivered by a preacher at the Round Church: "he began by disavowing any intention of touching upon party politics; and then proceeded to denounce the Premier and all his works, and to draw a most dismal picture of the evils that must inevitably ensue when justice shall be done to Ireland. Two small boys and a snuffy old woman were visibly affected by the assurance that they had neglected their national responsibilities in allowing the progress of Mr Gladstone's Irish Church Bill so far." Wollaston, Life of Alfred Newton, 245; Cambridge Independent Press, 29 May 1869. Such sentiments hardly suggest prejudice against an Irish Protestant. Only one of Parnell's contemporaries, the alienated and opinionated Frank Hugh O'Donnell, attributed his political career to his rejection by Magdalene: "Perhaps his rustication from Cambridge deepened the sense of inferior treatment.... He remained to the last the rusticated undergraduate." O'Donnell was influenced by his entirely reasonable anger at the disparity of resources available for Protestant higher education in Ireland and England and his own experience as a student at Queen's College, Galway. Paul Bew regarded it as simplistic "to interpret his career as the sacked Cambridge undergraduate indulging his bile against the English who have failed to treat him with due regard". F.H. O'Donnell, A History of the Irish Parliamentary Party (2 vols, London, 1910), i, 191, 246; P. Bew, C.S. Parnell (Dublin, 1980), 11.       

[81] Davitt, The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland, 107.  "Charles Stewart Parnell: Economics and Politics of a Building Trade Entrepreneur":

[82] O'Brien, The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell 1845-1891, i, 41.

[83] For an accelerated example of the excision of Protestants from Irishness, see "From Butt to Balfour: Edward King-Harman (1838-1888)":

[84] In 1914, Carolan McQuaid quoted an unidentified recollection that Parnell had auctioned off his wine and other personal effects before leaving Magdalene so that he might "leave Cambridge free of debt and without any risk of being dunned by debt-collectors for money he did not owe local tradesmen". He was said to have stored his wine in an oak chest at a furniture store at 33 Bridge Street, the first building on the right over Magdalene Bridge. The story may well be true. If so, it would mean a] that Parnell knew the decision of the College Meeting would go against him, and b] that he had already resolved not to return. "Parnell at Cambridge: the shreds and patches of a 1914 lecture":

[85] I discuss several Irish students who were Parnell's contemporaries at Magdalene in "Magdalene College Cambridge in Mid-Victorian Times": The American student, Samuel Nicholson Kane, may have been the "Mr Harry King" referred to by John Parnell half a century later and described as "the son of a wealthy cotton-planter and railroad director of Augusta, Georgia ... he had met Charley at Cambridge when he was studying for his degree". S.N. Kane was from New York and was a great-grandson of John Jacob Astor. He had transferred from Emmanuel on 2 April 1869, the day Parnell formally re-entered Magdalene. John Parnell's memoirs are highly unreliable on dates and details. J. Parnell, Charles Stewart Parnell: a Memoir, 56-7.

[86] Cf. John Redmond's description of him, "calm and self-possessed", when under physical attack at Enniscorthy in 1880: O'Brien, Charles Stewart Parnell, i, 213-14. 

[87] His aggression broke out when he led the assault on the premises of United Ireland in December 1890: one witness called him "a tiger in the frenzy of his rage". Lyons, Charles Stewart Parnell, 536. If his resolve to control his temper was a by-product of his rustication, it may not have come about immediately, as his loutish behaviour in a Wicklow hotel soon afterwards would suggest. In Alabama in 1872, he reportedly engaged in a confrontation with the town's Marshall over the tethering of his horse which had something of a Station Road flavour. As on 1 May 1869, he was ordered to the police headquarters but, on learning that the offender was John Parnell's brother, the official shook him vigorously by both hands. "They seem queer folk about here", was Parnell's gruff comment.  Thomas Sherlock, an early biographer, provided a vivid sketch of Parnell, "a slim young man, calm, composed, gentlemanly, undemonstrative either in voice or gesture", as he persisted in addressing a baying and braying House of Commons: "there is an ominously bright sparkle in his brown eyes; further than this there is no sign that he is moved by the vulgar rudeness that assails him". J. Parnell, Charles Stewart Parnell: a Memoir, 84-5; T. Sherlock, The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell… (Providence, RI, 1881), 104-5. Another example of Parnell's volcanic anger was his refusal to be searched when incarcerated in Kilmainham in 1881. Asked what would have happened had the warder persisted, he replied, "I should have killed him". O'Brien, The Parnell of Real Life, 28. Internalisation of rage perhaps contributed to the heart attack that killed Parnell. J.B. Lyons, 'What Did I Die Of?'… (Dublin, 1991), 92-102, discusses Parnell's health, his [subsequent] moderate consumption of alcohol and his addiction to tobacco. See also Lyons, "Charles Stewart Parnell and his Doctors" in D. McCartney, ed., Parnell: the Politics of Power (Dublin, 1991), 170-82.

[88] F. Callanan, The Parnell Split (Cork, 1992), 52, 62, 69. Perhaps some of Parnell's confrontations with the House of Commons, in which he deliberately sought suspension, might be viewed as cathartic re-enactments of his rustication, but this would be a large assumption. A possible candidate for such an exorcism might seem found in his defiance of the Speaker's authority on 1 August 1881 and his refusal to "await the farce of a division" on a motion for his suspension. "He was at once suspended for the remainder of the session and returned to Ireland with this useful bonus in his pocket," commented Lyons (Charles Stewart Parnell, 161-2). In fact Parnell was not suspended for the remainder of the session, but merely for the sitting. "He jumped into a hansom, and caught the Irish mail comfortably at Euston." The following morning, he made a dramatic appearance at a meeting of the Land League executive in Dublin, joking that he was able to able to attend "owing to an unexpected occurrence last night". He was back in action at Westminster on 4 August. The Land Bill had still to return to the Commons from the House of Lords, and Parnell needed to be there to stiffen the government's resistance to wrecking amendments, which he did in 38 interventions between 9 and 15 August. He had defied the Speaker on 1 August by attempting to raise the question of the Fenian prisoners, a device for signalling to advanced Nationalists that he regarded the Land Bill as merely an instalment leading to further concessions. At the beginning of August 1881, it was still possible that the House of Lords might reject Gladstone's proposed legislation. Hence Parnell needed to reassert his dominance over the Land League by making a surprise appearance at its executive meeting. Denouncing the Commons vote as a "farce" and stalking out of the chamber might, privately, have represented a cathartic, if  belated, response to his rustication but, in the immediate context, it was considerably more useful in ensuring that he caught the train to Holyhead. O'Donnell, A History of the Irish Parliamentary Party, ii, 29; Freeman's Journal (Dublin), 3 August 1881. 

[89] Sherlock, The Life of Charles Stewart Parnell, 67; O'Connor, Charles Stewart Parnell: a Memory, 21.

[90] O'Brien, Charles Stewart Parnell, i, 40-3.

[91] Cambridge Independent Press, 16 January 1904.

[92] Kettle, The Material for Victory, 68. Davitt's account of the fight also seemed to come from Parnell himself: The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland, 107. On a visit to Ireland in 1885, the Cambridge professor James Dewar was introduced to Parnell, "who on learning that he was a Cambridge man gave him a full account of his famous collision with the authorities of Magdalen[e] College which led to his departure from the University". Dewar was a Scot, unusually appointed to a senior Chair (the Jacksonian Professorship of Natural Philosophy) in 1875, when he was not a member of the University. Parnell perhaps saw Dewar as a fellow outsider. Dewar recounted the tale 24 years later, but apparently gave no details. It was reported in a County Cavan newspaper, Anglo-Celt, 24 July 1909.

[93] J. Parnell, Charles Stewart Parnell: a Memoir, 52; Magdalene College Archives, H.T. Parnell to editor of Daily News, cutting of 6 March 1906.

[94] R.R. James, Lord Randolph Churchill (London, 1994 ed.), 26-9; R. Foster, Lord Randolph Churchill… (Oxford, 1988 ed.), 11-15. For an example of press coverage of his persecution of PC Partridge, Cork Examiner, 29 March 1870. Merton required its undergraduates to attend the lectures of G.C. Brodrick, a Radical intellectual who had contested Woodstock, the Marlborough family's pocket borough, at the 1868 election, losing by 481 votes to 502. Lord Randolph pointedly "cut" Brodrick's lectures, insisting that he could not sit at the feet of a man who had savagely criticised his father – although the fact that Brodrick had come uncomfortably close to unseating the duke's nominee was probably an aggravating factor. The Warden, Marsham, who was in his eighties and no fan of Brodrick (his eventual successor), accepted that he could hardly expel the son of a duke for a display of filial loyalty. In shocked tones, the Conservative Standard described Brodrick as "a young gentleman ... who believes that he has a better claim than the Churchills to the possession of the borough, in the neighbourhood of which the Duke of Marlborough is the principal proprietor". (Quoted Aberystwyth Times, 6 November 1868).  Brodrick's intervention could not have been foreseen when Lord Randolph Churchill matriculated at Merton in October 1867.In 1874, Lord Randolph defeated him by 569 to 404, although – as one Liberal paper pointed out – his "escapade with the Oxford police will probably be well remembered at all events outside the gates of Blenheim". South Wales Daily News, 2 February 1874.  Woodstock ceased to return an MP in 1885. There was an equally legendary episode when the young man was summoned to the Warden's study to be reprimanded for missing Chapel: Lord Randolph took charge of the proceedings and rebuked the rebuker in a coldly contemptuous harangue. Another tale current in his lifetime claimed that he was caught by the Oxford proctors smoking in academical dress, and summoned to be fined by the Principal of St Edmund Hall, a distinguished Dante scholar called Edmund Moore. Churchill arrived several hours late, and asked a college servant: "Does a fellow, name of Moore, live here?" On learning that Moore was at dinner (as the timing of his visit guaranteed), the erring undergraduate left his card and departed. For this insolence, he was fined ten pounds. J.M. Barrie, An Edinburgh Eleven... (New York, 1892), 10.

[95] Marquess of Crewe, Lord Rosebery (2 vols, London, 1931), i, 44.

[96] Lord Newton, Lord Lansdowne: a Biography (London, 1929), 15. Lansdowne's academic record is given in Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, ii, 467. The episode was not reported in the press, and I have assumed the date to be 1866.

[97] A.L. Thorold, The Life of Henry Labouchere (London, 1913), 22-6; Bury and Pickles, eds, Romilly's Cambridge Diary 1848-1868, 102 (2 February 1852). Labouchere was at Trinity. His sentence was admonition plus suspension from proceeding to his degree for two years – effectively, expulsion.

[98] Special Commission Act 1888: Reprint of the Shorthand Notes (1890), vii, 1. Parnell gave oral, not written, evidence, and hence was not responsible for the antiquated spelling of the College's name. Parnell's accommodation in Kilmainham – a ground-floor sitting room and separate bedroom, looking into a small courtyard – sounds oddly like his rooms in Magdalene, but it is unlikely that he found this reassuring. His wife's recollection that he sometimes broke out into "snatches of the songs of his college days" is too vague to imply bouts of nostalgia for Cambridge. (O'Brien, The Parnell of Real Life, 54 suggests that Parnell rarely – if ever – burst into song.) However, conventional emphasis upon the fact that Mrs O'Shea was the (estranged) wife of an Irish MP may tend to obscure their shared landed-gentry background, a world in which Magdalene had a place. Katharine's eldest sister, Emma, had married Sir Thomas Barrett-Lennard, whose Essex estate became a focus for family activities: it was at Belhus that Emma stage-managed Katharine's courtship by O'Shea, leading to their marriage in 1867. Sir Thomas had studied at Peterhouse, whither his next brother, St Aubyn, followed in 1850. In 1853, the brother "migrated" (transferred) to Magdalene. Usually this was a sign of a weak student trading down, but St Aubyn Barrett-Lennard graduated with First Class Honours in Mathematics (43rd Wrangler) in 1855. The Magdalene experience was sufficiently positive for another brother, John, to follow in 1860. He took a Pass degree four years later and became a clergyman. St Aubyn Barrett-Lennard read for the Bar and decided to try his luck in Australia. Emigration did not prove a success, and by 1866 he was in charge of a government school in Armidale, New South Wales – as a local newspaper put it, "in a sphere far too narrow for his capabilities, and ... in a false position". Having trouble sleeping, he took a fatal overdose of laudanum: an inquest brought in a verdict of suicide. K. O' Shea [Parnell], Charles Stewart Parnell ... (2 vols, London, 1914), i, 245; Armidale Express, 7 April 1866 (via National Library of Australia Trove website). The death was announced discreetly in the British press (Pall Mall Gazette, 14 June; Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 June 1866) apparently without mentioning his family. It is likely that Katharine would have known of his death, and possibly also of his Cambridge career.

[99] Cambridge Chronicle, 17 November 1866.

[100] R. Neville Grenville, "The Birth of Engineering at the University of Cambridge", Cambridge University Engineering and Aeronautical Societies' Journals, iii (1928), 13-20; A.T. Wirgman, Storm and Sunshine in South Africa... (London, 1922), 16-17. Wirgman went out to Cape Colony in 1873, and eventually became Archdeacon of Port Elizabeth.

[101]  Unasked, the Boat Club conferred membership upon Parnell (and probably all the other freshmen) in October 1865, and sought to collect an entry fee of £1, plus a subscription of £1 per term. Parnell had neither the money nor the interest to make membership worthwhile. By May 1867, the Club was claiming that he owed them £7 in arrears. This attempt at extortion may be traced through Boat Club account books in the Magdalene College Archives, G.1.7, G.1.8, G.1.12.

[102] Cambridge Chronicle, 8 May 1869. Six of Parnell's contemporaries attended the first College reunion dinner, held at a London hotel in 1903. Among them was Percival Hoole, whose departure from Cambridge on 1 May 1869 inadvertently triggered Parnell's exit 4 weeks later. He was seated next to William Hulton-Harrop, who played cricket with Parnell and accompanied him on the late-night celebration of his rustication. Surely they reminisced about their notorious contemporary?  (Magdalene College Archives, Latimer Neville Papers, xi.)

[103] Magdalene College Archives, E/A/2/4, J.W. Clark to S.A. Donaldson, 8 March 1906.

[104] O'Brien, Charles Stewart Parnell, i, 41.

[105] Magdalene College Archives, E/A/2/4, Newton to Donaldson, 25 February 1906; Magdalene College Magazine, December 1936, 253.

[106] Magdalene College Archives, E/A/2/4, Peskett to Donaldson, 24 February 1906.

[107] Jack French had died in 1912. "Parnell at Cambridge: the shreds and patches of a 1914 lecture":

[108] Ged Martin, "Parnell at Cambridge", 75n-76n. F.R.F. Scott, who told me the latter story, also broadly hinted that the complainant was not entitled to censure Parnell's morals. The Magdalene College Magazine of June 1914 (269-71) carried a review of Katharine [O'Shea] Parnell's life of her husband that can best be described as puzzled.

[109] Frank Salter had stood for parliament as an Asquithian Liberal at the 1924 election. The owner of a holiday home in North Cornwall, he finally voted for a Liberal candidate who was actually elected in 1966, shortly before his death. It was said that Salter wished to have inscribed on his tombstone that he had never permitted the formation of a College Historical Society, which had incidentally limited the scope for celebratory papers on great Magdalene figures. However, in 1965 he generously responded to my questions about Parnell, identifying for me his rooms on the ground floor of Right Cloister in the Pepys Building.

[110] In his 1932 essay on Parnell, Shane Leslie had dismissed his rustication as unimportant. "Having no need of a University Degree to practise as a country gentleman, he did not return." S. Leslie, Studies in Sublime Failure (London, 1932), 66. For a time in the early 1970s there was a Parnell dining club which met once a year. While this may sound like an echo of the student life of Lord Randolph Churchill, in fact its members came from a range of backgrounds and were motivated by a genuine enthusiasm, even affection, for the fallen Chief.

[111]  "Charles Stewart Parnell at Cambridge: New Evidence (1992)": This more positive interpretation of his student days has been slow to permeate Parnell biography.

[112] Obituary by Ronald Hyam, Magdalene College Magazine, 2012-13, 10-13. Known as Bill in Magdalene and Billy in Ireland, he had been at Magdalene for two years in the late 1930s. Like Parnell, he left without taking a degree, in his case to engage in 6 years of distinguished war service. He was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 1996. The Parnell Fellowship was generously supported by the Ireland Funds. 

[113] J. Wyse-Power, comp., Words of the Dead Chief ... (Dublin, 1892), 57. The speech, delivered at Wexford on 9 October 1881, was followed by Parnell's internment in Kilmainham.

[114] Magdalene College Magazine, 2012-13, 13. This is not necessarily how Parnell himself might have defined the Fellowship. He told William O'Brien: "The first thing you've got to do with an Englishman on the Irish question is to shock him. Then you can reason with him right enough." In 1886, he was distrustful even of British Liberals who embraced Home Rule. "They don't understand us a bit to this hour, and they never will." O'Brien, The Parnell of Real Life, 13; 109. In November 2016, Magdalene marked the duality of its association with the Irish leader. A symposium on "Parnell and his Ireland: a celebration" reviewed the Fellowship after 25 years, while an exhibition, "Magdalene and Parnell", focused on his undergraduate experience a century and a half earlier. Magdalene College Magazine, 2016-17, 58.