Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sheridan, William

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601452Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 52 — Sheridan, William1897Richard Bagwell

SHERIDAN, WILLIAM (1636–1711), bishop of Kilmore, who was born at Togher in 1636 near Kilmore, co. Cavan, belonged to a native Irish clan in that district. His younger brother, Thomas Sheridan (fl. 1661–1688) [q. v.], is separately noticed; another brother, Patrick, died bishop of Cloyne in 1682. His father, Dennis Sheridan or O'Sheridan, was brought up as a protestant in the house of John Hill, dean of Kilmore, was ordained by Bishop William Bedell [q. v.] on 10 June 1634, and at once collated by him to the vicarage of Killasher. He lived in a house of Bedell's about a mile from Kilmore, and married an Englishwoman named Foster. When the rebellion of 1641 broke out, Dennis Sheridan did many good services to the distressed English, and his Celtic origin secured him a certain toleration among the insurgents, so that he was allowed to retain his house. There he sheltered the wives of Bedell's sons, there the bishop himself died, and from thence his body was carried to Kilmore. Sheridan saved some of Bedell's treasures, including the Irish Old Testament in manuscript, afterwards printed at the expense of Robert Boyle [q. v.] Hearne says (Collections, ii. 80) Sheridan was the translator, but this is an error. On 20 Sept. 1645 Sheridan was presented by the crown to the lapsed vicarages of Drung and Laragh in the diocese of Kilmore.

William Sheridan, who was partly educated by his father, was Bedell's godson, and the bishop left him 40s. in his will. On 15 May 1652 he entered Trinity College, Dublin, and became D.D. in 1682. Under Charles II, Sheridan was chaplain to Lord-chancellor Eustace, whose funeral sermon he preached. He was afterwards chaplain to the Duke of Ormonde, became rector of Athenry in 1667, and on 25 Aug. 1669 was made dean of Down. He was consecrated bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh in Christchurch, Dublin, on 19 Feb. 1681–2.

After the accession of William III, Sheridan absented himself from his see to avoid taking the oath of allegiance, and, following the precedent in the case of the crown, this was held to create a vacancy. The succession was offered to Robert Huntington [q. v.] early in 1692, but he refused it with more decision than Beveridge had shown in Ken's case. The see was filled in 1693. Sheridan went to London, and lived thenceforth among the non-jurors there. He was in poor circumstances, and subscriptions were made for him from time to time among the Irish prelates. King, bishop of Derry (afterwards archbishop of Dublin), interested himself in the matter, and many particulars are given by Mant (Irish Church Hist. vol. ii.). A project, originating with Henry Dodwell, to procure him a regular allowance out of the income of Kilmore may have been frustrated by the poverty of that see. In 1704 King spoke of Sheridan as ‘exceedingly poor and crazy.’ He published many sermons both before and after his deprivation, of which Cotton gives a list. On 1 Oct. 1711, says Hearne, ‘died the Right Reverend and truly conscientious Dr. Sheridan, the deprived bishop of Kilmore in Ireland’ (Collections, iii. 240).

By his wife Mary (O'Reilly) he had a son Donald. His portrait, engraved by William Sherwin [q. v.], was prefixed to his ‘Sermons,’ 1704, 8vo.

[Bedell's Life by his Son, ed. Wharton Jones (Camden Soc.); Clogy's Life of Bedell; Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. App.; Dublin University Magazine, November 1852; Ware's Irish Bishops, ed. Harris; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ.]

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