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Parsons was the eldest son of Sir William Parsons, 4th Baronet, of Birr Castle, King's County [co. Offaly] in Ireland. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was elected as member of the Irish Parliament for Dublin University in 1782, and for King's County in 1790. He succeeded his father as 5th Baronet in 1791.
Parsons was in favour of moderate reform in Ireland, and opposed the Act of Union. In 1801 he was elected as M.P. for King's County in the parliament of Great Britain and Ireland, after which his views became less radical.
He was made one of the Lords of the Treasury in 1805, and succeeded his half-brother as 2nd Earl of Rosse in 1807. In 1809 he was elected as a Representative Peer for Ireland and was appointed as Irish Postmaster-General. When O'Connell proposed repeal of the Act of Union in the 1830s, Rosse could not support him.
Rosse retired from active public life after 1833 and wrote An Argument to Prove the Truth of Christian Religion, and parts of a biography of his mentor Henry Flood.
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