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Styled Lord Oxmantown from 1807 to 1841, Parsons was the eldest son of the 2nd Earl of Rosse, of Birr Castle near Parsonstown, King's County [co. Offaly] in Ireland. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Magdalen College, Oxford.
He was M.P. for King's County between 1821 and 1834 under his father's influence, whom he succeeded in 1841. He was elected as an Irish Representative Peer in 1845.
Lord Rosse is best known for his achievements in astronomy. The telescope he built at Birr Castle in 1844, known as the 'Leviathon', was the largest in the world. He was President of the Royal Society from 1848 to 1854.
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