Richard Lalor Sheil, an Irish orator, born near Waterford, Aug. 17, 1791, died in Florence, May 23, 1851. He was educated at the Jesuit school of Stonyhurst, Lancashire, and at Trinity college, Dublin, where he graduated in 1811; and he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1814. Between 1814 and 1822 he produced six dramas, "Adelaide" (1816), "The Apostate" (1817), "Bellamira" (1818), "Evadne" (1819), founded on Shirley's "Traitor," "Montoni" (1820), and "The Huguenot" (1822), all of which but the last obtained a decided success. In 1822 also appeared the first of a series of "Sketches of the Irish Bar," since collected and edited by E. S. Mackenzie (2 vols. 12mo, New York, 1854; London, 1855), which are among his most successful literary performances. About this time he began to be known in Ireland and England as a political orator and agitator, and also by his forensic efforts. He joined the Catholic association in 1822, and in 1825 was chosen with O'Connell to plead at the bar of the house of commons against its suppression. In 1829 he entered parliament, and almost immediately took his place as a most brilliant and impulsive speaker. After seconding O'Connell in the repeal agitation, he accepted a sinecure office under the Melbourne ministry, and in 1839 was made a privy councillor.
He was appointed master of the mint by the Russell ministry, and in 1850 accepted the mission to Florence. His memoirs have been written by W. T. McCullagh (2 vols., London, 1855).