Feargus O'Connor was born on 18 July 1794 in Connorville house, near Castletown-Kinneigh in west County Cork, into a prominent Irish Protestant family who claimed to be the descendants of the 12th-century king Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair. His father was Irish nationalist politician Roger O'Connor, who like his uncle Arthur O'Connor was active in the United Irishmen. His elder brother Francis became a general in Simón Bolívar's army of liberation in South America.
Much of his early life was spent on his family's estates in Ireland. He was educated mainly at Portarlington Grammar School and had some elementary schooling in England. He was financed on a farm in Ireland by Francis Burdett, a friend of his father, but was unsuccessful. He studied law at Trinity College, Dublin, before inheriting his uncle's estate in 1820. He took no degree, but was called to the Irish bar about 1820. Since he had to take an oath of allegiance to become a member of the Bar, his father disinherited him because he regarded it as inconsistent with the dignity of a descendent of the Kings of IrelandPolitical career
O'Connor's first known public speech was made in 1822 at Enniskene, County Cork, denouncing landlords and the Protestant clergy. During that year he composed a pamphlet State of Ireland. Around this time he was wounded in a fight with soldiers, perhaps as a member of the Whiteboys covert agrarian organisation. Going to London to escape arrest, he tried to make a living by writing. He produced five manuscripts at this time, but none were ever published.
In 1831 O'Connor agitated for the Reform Bill in County Cork, and, after its passage in 1832, he travelled about the county organising registration of the new electorate. During the 1830s he emerged as an advocate for Irish rights and democratic political reform, and a critic of the British Whig government's policies on Ireland. In 1832, he was elected to the British House of Commons as Member of Parliament for County Cork, as a Repealer candidate in opposition to a Whig.
Feargus O'Connor came into Parliament as a follower of Daniel O'Connell, and his speeches during this time were devoted mainly to the Irish question. He was described as active, bustling, violent, a ready speaker, and the model of an Irish patriot, but as one who did nothing, suggested nothing, and found fault with everything. He voted with the radicals: for tax on property; for Thomas Attwood's motion for an inquiry into the conditions that prevailed in England; and in support of Lord Ashley's 1847 Factory Bill. He quarreled with O'Connell, repudiating him for his practice of yielding to the Whigs, and came out in favour of a more aggressive Repeal policy.
In the general election of 1835 O'Connor was re-elected, but disqualified from being seated because he lacked property qualifications. However, it appears that he did have property valued at £300 a year. O'Connor next planned to raise a volunteer brigade for Isabella II of Spain in the First Carlist War, but when William Cobbett died in April 1835, he decided to run for Cobbett's seat. He lost, and his candidacy drew enough support away from John Cobbett, son of William, to allow the Tory candidate to win. In 1837 he stood unsuccessfully at Preston, dropping out after the hustings, where John Crawfurd was splitting the anti-Tory vote.
Radicalism and Chartism
From 1833 O'Connor had spoken to working men's organisations and agitated in factory areas for the "Five Cardinal Points of Radicalism," which were five of the six points later embodied in the People's Charter. In 1837 he founded at Leeds, Yorkshire, a radical newspaper, the Northern Star, and worked with others for a radical Chartism through the London Democratic Association. O'Connor was the Leeds representative of the London Working Men's