John Dillon A Biography
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John Dillon, (born Sept. 8, 1851, Blackrock, County Dublin, Ire.—died Aug. 4, 1927, London, Eng.), a leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party (Irish Nationalist Party) in the struggle to secure Home Rule by parliamentary means. Through the 1880s he was perhaps the most important ally of the greatest 19th-century Irish nationalist, Charles Stewart Parnell, but, after Parnell’s involvement as corespondent in a divorce case, Dillon repudiated him for reasons of political prudence.
The son of Irish patriot John Blake Dillon (1814–66), John Dillon was a member of the British House of Commons during 1880–83 and 1885–1918. For his vigorous work in the Irish Land League, which sought fixed tenure, fair rents, and free sale of Irish land, he was imprisoned twice between May 1881 and May 1882 and was Parnell’s fellow inmate in Kilmainham jail, Dublin, from October 1881. For six months in 1888 he was imprisoned for aiding William O’Brien, author of the “plan of campaign” against high rent charges by English absentee landlords in Irish farming districts.
When Parnell was named correspondent in Capt. William Henry O’Shea’s divorce suit in 1890, Dillon and O’Brien at first affirmed their support of him, but they finally decided that he would thenceforth be a liability as party leader. The party then split, the anti-Parnellite majority forming the Irish Nationalist Federation, of which Dillon served as chairman from 1896. In 1900, however, he agreed to join a reunited party under the Parnellite John Redmond.