Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sheridan, Thomas (fl.1661-1688)

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SHERIDAN, THOMAS (fl. 1661–1688), Jacobite and author, born in 1646, at the village of St. John's, near Trim in Meath, was the fourth son of Dennis Sheridan, and a younger brother of William Sheridan [q. v.], bishop of Kilmore. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 17 Jan. 1660–1, graduated B.A. in 1664, and was elected a fellow in 1667 (Cat. of Graduates, p. 514). Being destined for the law, he entered the Middle Temple on 29 June 1670, but soon after obtained the position of collector of the customs in Cork, which proved extremely lucrative. On 6 Aug. 1677 he received from the university of Oxford the honorary degree of D.C.L. (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714). On 6 Feb. 1679 he was also elected a fellow of the Royal Society (Thomson, Hist. of Royal Soc., App. p. xxvii). Becoming acquainted with James, duke of York, and receiving several favours from him, he showed his gratitude by visiting him at Brussels in 1679 during his retirement. Being known as an adherent of James, he was accused of participation in the ‘popish plot’ and committed to prison in 1680. On 15 Dec. he was examined before the House of Commons, but, having explained that he was a member of the church of England and had taken the oaths eleven times, he was merely remanded to the custody of the sergeant-at-arms, and was set at liberty on the dissolution of parliament (Journals of the House of Commons, ix. 675–81, 687, 702). In 1687 James II appointed Sheridan chief secretary and commissioner of the revenue in Ireland, and he proceeded thither, bearing the king's letter for Clarendon's recall. But Tyrconnel, who succeeded as lieutenant-general, wishing to have another person as secretary, procured Sheridan's removal from his posts. The latter appealed to the king, with what result is doubtful; but he accompanied James into exile in 1688, and was appointed his private secretary. The date of his death is unknown. He is said to have married a natural daughter of James II. He left two children: a daughter, who married Colonel Guillaume, aide-de-camp of William III; and a son, Thomas Sheridan the younger (d. 1746), who was appointed about 1739 tutor to Prince Charles Edward (the young Pretender); he accompanied the young chevalier to Scotland in 1745, and was knighted by him. He was one of the ‘seven men of Moidart’ who landed with the prince and was present at the battle of Falkirk, which he described in a letter dated 21 Jan. 1746 (‘Copia d' una Lettera del Cavalier Sheridan to Mr. D. O'Brien, scritta da Bannochburn,’ Roma, 1746; Jesse, Memoirs of the Pretenders, 1858, pp. 102, 241, 268). After the battle of Culloden he escaped on 4 May from Arisaig in Inverness-shire on board a French man-of-war. He proceeded to Rome, where he died before the end of the year (Gent. Mag. 1746, pp. 264, 668).

Besides ‘Mr. Sheridan's Speech after his Examination before the late House of Commons’ (London, 1681, fol.) the elder Sheridan published ‘A Discourse on the Rise and Power of Parliaments’ (1677, 8vo); reprinted in 1870 by Saxe Bannister, London, 8vo, under the title ‘Some Revelations in Irish History.’ This work is of especial interest, both on account of the light it throws on Irish political life, and because of the singularly bold and enlightened manner in which the author proposes to meet the difficulties of administration by a system of conciliation and toleration. Sheridan was also the author of a manuscript ‘History of his Own Times,’ now in the royal library at Windsor, and he is said to have translated ‘A Survey of Princes,’ by Jean Louis Guez, Sieur de Balzac, London, 1703, 4to (manuscript note on title-page of copy in British Museum).

[Notes kindly supplied by Fraser Rae, esq., and by Richard Bagwell, esq.; Sheridan's Works; Fraser Rae's Sheridan: a Biography, 1896; Fitzgerald's Lives of the Sheridans, 1886, i. 424–8; Lang's Pickle the Spy, pp. 31, 90; Bannister's Preface to Powers of Parliament; L. T.'s Short Account of Mr. Sheridan's Case, London, 1681; True Relation of the Life and Death of William Bedell, ed. Jones, 1872 (Camden Soc.), pp. 203–10; Songs, Poems, and Verses of Lady Dufferin, ed. Marquis of Dufferin and Ava, 1894, pp. 421, 431; Ware's Irish Writers, ed. Harris, 1764, p. 270; Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. p. 429; Hyde Correspondence, ed. Singer, 1828 i. 442, ii. 12, 25, 69, 138, 151, 175; Bodleian Library, Rawl. MSS. A. 183 f.139 b.]

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