Get Today in Masonic History into your Inbox. Sign up today for one of our email lists!
Need an article for your Trestleboard/Newsletter see our Use Policy

TODAY in Masonic History:

Facebook Twitter Google

Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan passes away in 1816.

Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan was an Irish-born British playwright and politician.

Sheridan was born on October 30th, 1751 in Dublin, Ireland. He attended grammar school in Dublin. His family moved to London in 1758. He attended the Harrow School from 1762 until 1768. After his father hired a tutor for him and he was educated in fencing and horseback riding.

In 1772, Sheridan was involved in two duels. Both duels were with the same man, Captain Thomas Mathews. Mathews wrote an article about Sheridan's fiancée and Sheridan demanded he retract the article. At the first duel Mathews was defeated and according to Sheridan "begged for his life" after losing his sword. No one was injured in the first duel. As news spread about his loss, Mathews challenged Sheridan to a second duel. The second time Sheridan was badly injured. Both men continued to fight the duel after their swords were broken. After his recovery, Sheridan eloped with his fiancée.

After Sheridan married Elizabeth Ann Linley the two settled down in London and began living beyond their means. In 1775, Sheridan's first play was produced. The play, which was called The Rivals, was a flop on opening night. Sheridan re-cast the lead and the play became a hit. Sheridan went to write an opera with his father-in-law. He also purchased the Drury Lane theatre with his father-in-law and another partner. Eventually Sheridan became the sole owner. In 1809 the theatre burned and Sheridan was allegedly seen sipping wine on the street in front of the theatre. It was reported at the time he said "A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside."

In 1780, Sheridan was elected to the House of Commons. It was claimed he bribed his way into the position and his first action in Parliament was to defend himself against charges of bribery. Sheridan, a man of quick wit, gave various speeches before Parliament which were well received and persuasive. In 1793 during the debates on the Alien Act which was meant to keep French spies from entering the country a Member of Parliament to emphasize his speech through a knife down, Sheridan called out asking "Where's the fork?"

Sheridan also argued against the American War for Independence. He argued the colonies should be left alone and establish self government. For this, later in life, Sheridan was offered £20,000 in recognition of his efforts. He turned down the money.

Sheridan passed away on July 7th, 1816.

Sheridan was admitted as a corresponding member of Lodge of Antiquity No. 2 in London, England in 1811.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.