Thomas, an Irish clergyman, born in county Cavan about 1684, died in Dublin, Sept. 10, 1738. He was educated by private charity at Trinity college, Dublin, took orders, received the degree of D. D., and was named chaplain to the lord lieutenant. Losing his college fellowship by marriage, he opened a school in Dublin, which proved highly successful, but finally ruined it by negligence and extravagance. In 1725 he was presented to a living through the influence of Dean Swift, but lost-Ids chaplaincy by preaching a sermon on the birthday of George I. from the text: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." After several changes of fortune he died in great poverty and distress, having maintained through all a gay and careless cheerfulness, not allowing a day to pass, according to Lord Cork, "without a rebus, an anagram, or a madrigal." He published a translation of Persius in prose, and one of Sophocles's "Philoctetes" in verse. Many of his letters are included in Swift's "Miscellanies."
An Elocutionist Thomas, son of the preceding, born at Quilca, the residence of Dean Swift, near Dublin, in 1721, died at Margate, Aug. 14, 1788. He was educated at Westminster school and at Trinity college, Dublin, and in 1743 went upon the stage. In 1744 he played at Covent Garden theatre, and in 1745 at Drury Lane, and was set up as a rival of Garrick. For eight years he managed the Dublin theatre, but in 1754, disregarding a clamor for the repeated recitation of certain popular and political passages in a play, a fierce riot broke out, and he retired He resumed the management in the next year, but the erection of a rival theatre and other causes ruined his business. He then engaged with great success in lecturing on elocution in London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Scotland. He received a pension from the crown on the accession of George III. In 1760 he appeared again briefly at Drury Lane, when his quarrel with Garrick was renewed. He subsequently appeared at the Haymarket, and his last performance was at Covent Garden in 1776. After Garrick's retirement in that year, Sheridan was for three years manager of Drury Lane, his son Richard Brinsley being lessee.
He then retired altogether from the theatre, and in 1780 published his "Complete Dictionary of the English Language, both with regard to Sound and Meaning, one main Object of which is to establish a plain and permanent Standard of Pronunciation." Among his other works are: "Lectures on the Art of Reading," "Course of Lectures on Elocution," and a "Life of Swift."
Frances, a novelist, wife of the preceding, born in Ireland in 1724, of English parentage, died in Blois, France, in September, 1766. At the age of 15 she wrote a romance, "Eugenia and Adelaide," which was afterward adapted for the stage by her daughter as a comic drama, and acted with success in Dublin. She became acquainted with Sheridan by means of a pamphlet which she published in his defence during his managerial troubles in Dublin, and they were soon after married. Her romances, "Sidney Biddulph" and "Nourjahad," are still admired. She was also the author of two less successful comedies, "The Discovery" and "The Dupe," and wrote, but never published, "The Trip to Bath," from which her son is supposed to have derived hints for his "Rivals."
Richard Brinsley, an English dramatist and politician, son of the preceding, born in Dublin in September, 1751, died in London, July 7, 1816. In 1762 he was sent to Harrow, whence in his 18th year he went to Bath, where his family had settled, and in conjunction with a friend named Hal-hed wrote some fugitive pieces, and a translation of Aristaenetus. He fell in love with Miss Linley, a young and beautiful singer of Bath, and to save her from the persecutions of a libertine named Matthews he fled with her early in 1772 to France, and they were secretly married at Calais. The result was two duels with Matthews, in the last of which Sheridan was wounded. In 1773 he entered the Middle Temple as a student of law, and shortly afterward was married anew by license, and retired to a cottage at East Burnham. On Jan. 17, 1775, his comedy of "The Rivals" was brought out at Covent Garden, and, though it failed the first night, speedily became the universal favorite it has ever since remained. It was followed the same year by the farce of "St. Patrick's Day, or the Scheming Lieutenant," and the comic opera of "The Duenna," which had the then unparalleled run of 75 representations during the season.
In 1776, with his father-in-law and Dr. Ford, he purchased Gar-rick's share of Drury Lane. In the following year he brought out "The School for Scandal," which placed him at once at the head of comic dramatists. This was followed in 1779 by a monody on the death of Garrick, and the farce of "The Critic" Embracing the principles of the whig party, his first service was in connection with a periodical called "The Englishman." In 1780 he was elected a member of parliament from Stafford, and entered the ranks of the opposition to the administration of Lord North. His first speech, in reply to accusations brought against him for bribery and corruption in securing his election, disappointed both his friends and his enemies. He rarely spoke after this, and only after great preparation. In 1782 Lord North went out of office, and in the short-lived ministry of Rockingham which followed, Sheridan was one of the under-secretaries of state. After the accession of Shelburne to the treasury, he, with most of the friends of Fox, resigned.
In the coalition ministry of Fox and North in 1783, Sheridan was secretary of the treasury, but retired on the accession of William Pitt. Parliament having been dissolved, he was one of the few adherents of the coalition that were reŽlected in 1784. On Feb. 7, 1787, Sheridan brought forward the charge against Warren Hastings touching the spoliation of the begums or princesses of Oude, in an oration which was the greatest effort of his life, but no good report of which exists. In the trial of Hastings Sheridan was one of the managers of the impeachment, and made a second oration little inferior, which lasted four days. In 1790 he was reŽlected to parliament from Stafford. A rupture took place between him and Burke, caused somewhat by a mutual jealousy, but ostensibly by a difference of opinion on the French revolution. In June, 1792, his wife died, and in 1795 he married a Miss Ogle, daughter of the dean of Winchester. His careless and extravagant style of living resulted in pecuniary embarrassment, and irregularities of his private life placed him under the ban of public opinion. In the house of commons he vehemently assailed the administration, but at the time of the mutiny at the Nore lent it his support.
In 1799 he brought out the play of "Pizarro," which is largely a translation from Kotzebue. Sheridan supported the short-lived ministry of Addington, and in this differed from Fox, between whom and himself a feeling of reserve and even alienation had been for some time growing. In the ministry of Grenville and Fox, which succeeded the death of Pitt, he accepted the comparatively unimportant office of treasurer of the navy. He was elected from Westminster after a severe contest; but in 1809, while speaking in the house of commons, he saw himself involved in almost total ruin by the burning of Drury Lane theatre, in rebuilding which he had already loaded himself with debt. In 1812 he failed to be reŽlected from Stafford, and this filled up the measure of his ruin. His health had been destroyed by drink, and his spirits were depressed by harassing duns. His books, his furniture, his presents were sold or passed into the hands of pawnbrokers; even the portrait of his first wife by Reynolds went out of his possession; and he was imprisoned two or three days for debt. While in his last illness an officer arrested him in his bed, and would have carried him to the sponging house had he not been threatened with prosecution by Sheridan's physician.
He died near his sick wife, deserted by all except his medical adviser and Peter Moore, Rogers, and Lord Holland, the few friends who had remained faithful to him in his misfortunes. He was buried in the poets' corner in Westminster abbey. His life, by Thomas Moore, was published in 1825, and his "Speeches" were "edited by a Constitutional Friend" (5 vols. 8vo, London, 1816). His "Dramatic Works" form a volume of Bohn's "Standard Library" (1848), and have been edited, with a memoir, by James P. Browne, M. D. (2 vols. 8vo, 1873). A collection of Sheridan's dramas, poems, translations, speeches, and unfinished sketches, with a memoir and a collection of ana, has been edited by F. Stainforth (1874).