Thomas Sheridan (divine)

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Thomas Sheridan (1687 10 October 1738) was an Anglican divine, essayist, playwright, poet, schoolmaster and translator. He is chiefly remembered for his friendship with Jonathan Swift.

A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes plays.

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

Schoolmaster obsolete term for a male school teacher

The word schoolmaster, or simply master, refers to a male school teacher. This usage survives in British independent schools, both secondary and preparatory, but is generally obsolete elsewhere.


Family and early career

He was born in Cavan, Ireland, the son of James Sheridan, and grandson of the Reverend Dennis Sheridan. Two of his uncles were William Sheridan, Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh and Patrick Sheridan, Cloyne, the Bishop of Cloyne. After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, he married Elizabeth MacFadden and the couple first lived in Dublin in King James's Mint. He inherited from his father-in-law a substantial property at Quilca in County Cavan. He ran a school in Capel Street, Dublin in the 1720s, whose pupils included children of many prominent families such as Anthony Foster, the future Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, and Philip Tisdall, the future Attorney General for Ireland.

Cavan Town in Ulster, Ireland

Cavan is the county town of County Cavan in Ireland. The town lies in Ulster, near the border with Northern Ireland. The town is on the main N3 road that links Dublin with Enniskillen, Ballyshannon and Donegal Town.

The Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh was the Ordinary of the Church of Ireland diocese of Kilmore and Ardagh in the Province of Armagh. The Diocese of Kilmore composed most of County Cavan and parts of counties Leitrim, Fermanagh, Meath and Sligo. The Diocese of Ardagh comprised most of County Longford and parts of counties Cavan and Roscommon.

The Bishop of Cloyne is an episcopal title that takes its name after the small town of Cloyne in County Cork, Republic of Ireland. In the Roman Catholic Church, it is a separate title; but, in the Church of Ireland, it has been united with other bishoprics.

He was the father of Thomas Sheridan, a celebrated actor and elocutionist, who was in his turn the father of the celebrated playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan; he had two other sons and one daughter.

Thomas Sheridan (actor) Irish stage actor and educator

Thomas Sheridan was an Irish stage actor, an educator, and a major proponent of the elocution movement. He received his M.A. in 1743 from Trinity College in Dublin, and was the godson of Jonathan Swift. He also published a "respelled" dictionary of the English language (1780). He was married (1747) to Frances Chamberlaine. His son was the better known Richard Brinsley Sheridan, while his daughters were also writers - Alicia, a playwright, and Betsy Sheridan a diarist. His work is very noticeable in the writings of Hugh Blair.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan Irish-British politician, playwright and writer

Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan was an Irish satirist, a playwright, poet, and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He is known for his plays such as The Rivals, The School for Scandal, The Duenna, and A Trip to Scarborough. He was also a Whig MP for 32 years in the British House of Commons for Stafford (1780–1806), Westminster (1806–1807), and Ilchester (1807–1812). He is buried at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. His plays remain a central part of the canon and are regularly performed worldwide.

In 1725 he was appointed a royal chaplain, but preached a sermon which was considered by some to be politically suspect, and his appointment was cancelled. In compensation he was given a living at Drumlane in Cavan and in 1735 became headmaster of the Cavan Royal School where he remained for three years. Other appointments he is reputed to have applied for were the position of Dean of Kilmore and the position of headmaster of the Royal School in Armagh, but neither was successful.


Drumlane is a monastic site and church located in Milltown, County Cavan, Ireland. Located at the site of what was once a priory, church and round tower which date back to c555. Drumlane reputed to have been founded by Saint Columba, although Saint Mogue is generally associated with the monastic foundation, evidence suggests that the foundation of Drumlane is older than his time. In 1261 the monastery was reputed to have been burned by the O'Rourkes lords of Breifne during a fued with a rival clan of the O'Reillys of East Breifne.

Armagh county town of County Armagh in Northern Ireland

Armagh is the county town of County Armagh and a city in Northern Ireland, as well as a civil parish. It is the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland – the seat of the Archbishops of Armagh, the Primates of All Ireland for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland. In ancient times, nearby Navan Fort was a pagan ceremonial site and one of the great royal capitals of Gaelic Ireland. Today, Armagh is home to two cathedrals and the Armagh Observatory, and is known for its Georgian architecture.

Friendship with Swift

He was friends with Jonathan Swift, and had a room permanently reserved for him in the Deanery; he was his principal collaborator and wrote his biography. Swift often stayed at Sheridan's country house and wrote part of Gulliver's Travels there [1] [2] [3] On the much debated question of whether Swift was secretly married to Esther Johnson ("Stella"), Sheridan was a strong if not conclusive witness that the marriage did take place; according to friends his source was Stella herself.

Jonathan Swift 17th/18th-century Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, and poet

Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

<i>Gullivers Travels</i> novel by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, is a prose satire by Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift, that is both a satire on human nature and the "travellers' tales" literary subgenre. It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature. He himself claimed that he wrote Gulliver's Travels "to vex the world rather than divert it".

Esther Johnson was the English friend of Jonathan Swift, known as "Stella". Whether or not she and Swift were secretly married, and if so why the marriage was never made public, remains a subject of intense debate.

Like so many of Swift's friends, he was ultimately fated to quarrel with him irrevocably: in 1738 Swift told him that he was no longer welcome at the Deanery. Apart from Swift's increasing eccentricity, the cause of the quarrel is obscure: by one account Sheridan rebuked Swift for his growing avarice, which Swift thought unforgivable.

Death and reputation

Sheridan collapsed and died suddenly while having dinner at a friend's house in Rathfarnham, County Dublin. [4]

Rathfarnham Suburb of Dublin in Leinster, Ireland

Ráth Fearnáin; Rathfarnham or Rathfarnam is a Southside suburb of Dublin, Ireland. It is south of Terenure, east of Templeogue, and is in the postal districts of Dublin 14 and 16. It is within the administrative areas of both Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown and South Dublin County Councils.

Swift before their final quarrel called him the best scholar in Ireland; Sir Walter Scott in his Life of Swift calls him "good- natured and light- hearted."

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  1. Charles Frederick Partington (1838), "Sheridan, Thomas", The British Cyclopaedia of Biography
  2. Robert Goode Hogan (1994), "Introduction", The poems of Thomas Sheridan
  3. "Sheridan, Thomas (1687-1738)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  4. DNB entry