1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sheil, Richard Lalor

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22315001911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 24 — Sheil, Richard Lalor

SHEIL, RICHARD LALOR (1791–1851), Irish politician and writer, was born at Drumdowney, Tipperary, on the 17th of August 1791. His father, Edward Sheil, had acquired considerable wealth in Spain, and owned an estate in Tipperary. The son was taught French and Latin by the Abbé de Grimeau, a French refugee. He was then sent to a school in Kensington, London, presided over by another émigré, M. de Broglie. In October 1804 he was removed to Stonyhurst college, Lancashire, and in November 1807 entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he specially distinguished himself in the debates of the Historical Society. After taking his degree in 1811 he entered Lincoln's Inn, and was admitted to the Irish bar in 1814. His play of Adelaide, or the Emigrants, was played at the Crow Street theatre, Dublin, on the 19th of February 1814, with complete success, and on the 23rd of May 1816 it was performed at Covent Garden. The A postate, produced at the latter theatre on the 3rd of May 1817, firmly established his reputation as a dramatist. His principal other plays are Bellamira (written in 1818), Evadne (1819), Huguenot, produced in 1822, and Montini (1820). In 1822 he began, along with W. H. Curran, to contribute to the New Monthly Magazine a series of graphic and racy papers entitled Sketches of the Irish Bar. These were edited by M. W. Savage in 1855 in two volumes, under the title of Sketches Legal and Political. Sheil was one of the principal founders of the Catholic Association in 1823 and drew up the petition for inquiry into the mode of administering the laws in Ireland, which was presented in that year to both Houses of Parliament. In 1825 Sheil accompanied O'Connell to London to protest against the suppression of the Catholic Association. The protest was unsuccessful, but, although nominally dissolved, the association continued its propaganda after the defeat of the Catholic Relief Bill in 1825; and Sheil was one of O'Connell's leading supporters in the agitation persistently carried on till Catholic emancipation was granted in 1829. In the same year he was returned to Parliament for Milborne Port, and in 1831 for Louth. He took a prominent part in all the debates relating to Ireland, and although he was greater as a platform orator than as a debater, he gradually won the somewhat reluctant admiration of the House. In August 1839 he became vice-president of the board of trade in Lord Melbourne's ministry. After the accession of Lord John Russell to power in 1846 he was appointed master of the mint, and in 1850 he was appointed minister at the court of Tuscany. He died at Florence on the 23rd of May 1851.

See Memoirs of Rikhard Lalor Sheil, by W. Torrens M‘Cullagh (2 vols., 1855). His Speeches were edited in 1845 by Thomas McNevin.