Lloyd, Sylvester (1680?–1747), catholic bishop and Jacobite, was born probably in Co. Tipperary, although Kilkenny has also been claimed as his birthplace. His father was a twice-married anglican clergyman with a dubious reputation, probably the Edward Lloyd who married Elizabeth Tailor in Cashel cathedral (January 1680). Where Lloyd obtained his early education has not been discovered. While still in his teens he joined William III's (qv) army; on active service, possibly in the Netherlands, he is said to have been so overcome by remorse on killing one of the enemy that he decided to desert. His movements for a few years after that are uncertain. His defection from the army was soon followed by his conversion not only to catholicism but to the cause of James II (qv). It is claimed that he spent some time at St Bonaventure's English Franciscan College at Douai, France, before joining (c.1703) the Hieronymite order in Lisbon, where he was ordained priest (May 1711). Shortly thereafter he transferred to the Irish Franciscans and spent six months at their college, St Isidore's, in Rome before being posted to their convent at Cook St., Dublin (1713).
Apparently while still a student with the Hieronymites, Lloyd undertook the translation into English of Francois Pouget's monumental Montpellier catechism, and had already published his translation before his arrival in Dublin (1713). When Pouget's original catechism, because of its Jansenist and Gallican tendencies, was condemned by Rome and placed on the index of prohibited books (1721), Lloyd moved quickly to revise his translation so as to make it more acceptable to Rome. But this revised translation, published in 1723, also – despite support from the archbishop and clergy of Dublin – fell foul of Rome and in turn ended up on the index (Jan. 1725).
Meanwhile Lloyd's career in the Franciscan order had been proceeding apace. Elected guardian of the Cook St. convent (1717), he became a definitor of the Irish province (1720) and deputy provincial (1723). But his sights were already fixed on wider horizons, and when the archbishopric of Dublin became vacant in 1724 he made an unsuccessful bid for it. He had already marked his debut as a national figure with a visit to France (1723), with a view to getting the French government to make representations to Britain for the rejection of an anti-popery bill then before the Irish parliament.
A report on the state of the country that Lloyd made in 1726 to Col. Daniel O'Brien, the Pretender's agent in Paris, marked the beginning of a correspondence with the Stuart court-in-exile that was to last for the rest of his life. In the following year he bitterly opposed the catholic address to the new king, George II, masterminded by Thomas Nugent, 4th earl of Westmeath (qv). Lloyd was the moving spirit behind a pamphlet attacking the address in the quaere form used by Bishop Berkeley (qv). He was also a virulent opponent at this time of attempts to formulate an oath to the king that would be acceptable to catholics.
Lloyd's loyalty to the Pretender, who had in his gift the nomination of catholic bishops to Irish sees, was to produce dividends in 1729 when he was appointed bishop of Killaloe. An early spurt of visitations of parishes in the diocese was brought to an end by the onset of eye trouble, as well as by accusations that he, along with other Munster bishops, was engaged in organising funds for the Pretender. Thereafter for several years Lloyd based himself in Dublin, paying only occasional visits to his diocese and mainly occupied with a great deal of toing and froing to the Continent, notably to the nuncio in Brussels, who had responsibility for Irish affairs. His correspondence with the Stuart court continued with some forty extant letters in which he kept that court informed about the situation in Ireland, hopeful to the last that the Pretender's cause would triumph. After a visit to that worthy in Rome (1739), he secured a nomination to the vacant diocese of Waterford and Lismore, where he took up duty in the summer of 1740. But he was not to enjoy his new diocese for long. A widespread persecution of the catholic clergy in 1744 found him, a member of the regular clergy and a known Jacobite, more vulnerable than most. He was lucky to make his escape to France, where he lingered for a few years, in bad health and almost destitute, before dying in Paris (August 1747). His last resting-place is unknown, but is presumably somewhere in Paris. No portraits of him are known to exist.
A man of great charm with an easy, pleasant manner, Lloyd comes across in his correspondence as something of a polymath, a linguist with a wide knowledge of international affairs, a gregarious raconteur who was as much at home in the salon of a duchess as at the table of the nuncio. The final assessment of him has, however, to be negative, inasmuch as his loyalty to the Pretender, and consequent opposition to any move for a rapprochement with government, had the effect of stifling during his time any possibility of movement towards relief for catholics from the penal laws.