The Sheridan Family

Sheridan family crest

(Crest No. 8. Plate 2.)

UP from the South at break of day,

Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,

The affrighted air with a shudder bore,

Like a herald in haste, to the chieftain’s door,

The terrible grumble, and rumble and roar,

Telling the battle was on once more,

And Sheridan twenty miles away!

And wider still those billows of war

Thundered along the horizon’s bar;

And louder yet into Winchester rolled

The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,

Making the blood of the listener cold.

As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,

And Sheridan twenty miles away!

But there is a road from Winchester town,

A good, broad highway leading down;

And there through the flush of the morning light,

A steed as black as the steeds of night,

Was seen to pass, as with eagle flight.

As if he knew the terrible need,

He stretched away with his utmost speed;

Hills rose and fell; but his heart was gay,

With Sheridan fifteen miles away!

Still sprung from those swift hoofs, thundering South

The dust like smoke from the cannon’s mouth,

Or the trail of a comet sweeping faster and faster,

Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster.

The heart of the steed and the heart of the master

Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,

Impatient to be where the battlefield calls;

Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,

With Sheridan only ten miles away!

Under his spurning feet, the road

Like an arrowy Alpine river flow’d,

And the landscape sped away behind,

Like an ocean flying before the wind,

And the steed like a bark fed with furnace ire

Swept on with his wild eye full of fire;

But, lo! he is nearing his heart’s desire;

He is snufting the smoke of the roaring fray,

With Sheridan only five miles away!

The first that the General saw were the groups

Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops;

What was done, what to do, a glance told him both,

And striking his spurs, with a terrible oath,

He dashed down the line ’mid a storm of huzzas,

And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because

The sight of the master compelled it to pause.

With foam and with dust the black charger was gray;

By the flash of his eye, and his red nostrils’ play,

He seemed to the whole great army to say,

“I have brought you Sheridan all the way,

From Winchester down, to save the day!”

Hurrah, hurrah for Sheridan!

Hurrah, hurrah for horse and man!

And when their statues are placed on high

Under the dome of the Union sky—

The American soldier’s temple of fame,

There with the glorious General’s name,

Be it said in letters both bold and bright:

“Here is the steed that saved the day

By carrying Sheridan into the fight,

From Winchester—twenty miles away!”

Thomas Buchanan Read.

The Sheridan family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of Heremon. Its founder was Fiacha, ancestor of the Southern Hy Nials. and son of Nial of the Nine Hostages, King of Ireland, A. D. 379. The ancient name was Saorchroidhean, and signifies “Generous.” The Sheridans possessed broad lands in the Counties of Cavan and Longford, and their chiefs have been prominent in Irish history from an early period. The O’Sheridans were a branch of the O’Reillys, Princes of East Brefney, or Cavan, and retained their position and lands down to the beginning of the seventeenth century. They are still numerous in Cavan, especially in the barony of Clanmahon.

The Sheridan family are peculiarly distinguished for their intellectual abilities, affording a strong evidence of the theory that talent is hereditary.

Rev. Dr. Thomas Sheridan, the friend and favorite companion of Dean Swift, was President of the great School of Cavan, a most learned man, distinguished for his great wit and talent; and his son Thomas Sheridan was a famous actor in his day, and author of an English dictionary and other works; while Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the son of the latter, was one of the most renowned geniuses of his age, as orator, dramatist and poet. The Hon. Mrs. Caroline Norton, the well-known poetess, was a granddaughter of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and her sister, the mother of the present Earl of Dufferin, the ablest diplomat in the British service, was the author of that most popular and pathetic of ballads, “The Irish Emigrant’s Lament,” and other popular poems.

Many other members of this family have been highly distinguished. Several of the Sheridans, during the Revolution of 1688. allied their fortunes with the cause of James the Second, and like many others of their countrymen, lost by the operation. Hon. Thomas Sheridan was Secretary of State, Privy Councilor and Commissioner of Customs in Ireland under King James the Second, and after the overthrow of the latter followed him to France. His son, Sir Thomas Sheridan, was Governor to the Pretender, Prince Charles, and was instrumental in saving him from capture at the battle of Culloden, in 1746. Sir Thomas’ son, the Chevalier Michel de Sheridan, was an officer in the Irish Brigade, and served with distinction in the campaigns of Germany and Flanders, and afterward accompanied the expedition of Prince Charles to Scotland, where he acted as Lieutenant-Colonel, First Equerry and Aide-de-Camp to the Prince during the war there. After his return to France he was appointed Major of Cavalry in the Regiment of Fitz-James, and with this regiment he served in Germany through the Seven Years’ War.

Sheridan's rida


The great American commander, General Philip Henry Sheridan, was a descendant of this ancient sept, and was justly proud of his lineage. The name is still numerous in Ireland and America, many of its representatives holding honorable positions in the various walks of life. Among the latter may be mentioned Colonel Michael Sheridan of the United States army, and Mr. Hugh P. Sheridan of New York City.