Sheridan, Thomas (1684–1746), Jacobite tutor of Charles Edward Stuart, one of the ‘Seven men of Moidart’, was son of Thomas Sheridan (qv) the elder (1647–1712) – formerly secretary to Richard Talbot (qv), earl of Tyrconnell – and an unnamed natural daughter of James II (qv). James was unquestionably attached to the young Thomas, who would have been his grandson. Thomas accompanied his parents to France in 1688, where he later served as a page to Mary of Modena. Having been a student at the Jesuit college of Louis XIV he went to London, where he studied law. Like many other Jacobites he lived unmolested under Queen Anne; the death of his father in 1712 forced him to return to France in time to participate in the 1715 rebellion. He was sent by James Butler (qv), 2nd duke of Ormond, with a quantity of ammunition to the Scottish Jacobite leader, the earl of Mar.
After the collapse of the 1715 rebellion Sheridan became attached to Sir George Jerningham, James III's ambassador at The Hague. His other diplomatic missions on behalf of the Jacobite court brought him to Prague, Danzig, Sweden, St Petersburg, and Riga. In January 1723 he became envoy to James's father-in-law Prince James Sobieski in Ohlau. He spent nine months in this post before being despatched to Vienna to counsel prudence to the unstable and rakish duke of Wharton (1698–1731). Appointed tutor and under-governor to Charles Edward in 1725 (Hayden claims it was 1739), he converted to catholicism and was knighted by the Stuart king. In the following year Sheridan accompanied the young Stuart prince on his first campaign at the siege of Gaeta during the war of the Polish succession. Charles Edward's most recent biographer suggests that Sheridan replaced the stoical James III as a father-figure to the young prince. However, Sheridan's indulgence of the prince's every whim had serious implications during the '45 and Charles Edward's self-destruction in the 1750s and 1760s.
Sheridan was one of the four Irishmen who accompanied Charles Edward to Scotland in 1745 and his chief privy councillor. The young prince showed a particular regard for his old tutor: when the Jacobite party spent their first night on Scottish soil in a wretched hut on the little island of Eriskay, the prince insisted on giving up the bed prepared for him to Sheridan. Although many of the most loyal Jacobites in Scotland felt that Charles should go back to France and attempt to get arms and men from the French king, Sheridan insisted that they should raise the clans, and his will prevailed. He remained close to the prince for the next two months and became a member of the permanent cabinet or grand council which Charles Edward formed after defeating Gen. Cope at Prestonpans (21 September 1745). He also strongly disapproved of the decision of the Scottish Jacobites to retreat at Derby (6 December 1745). He was present at the battle of Falkirk (16 January 1746) and gave a detailed account of the Jacobite victory. After the final defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden (16 April 1746), Sheridan prevented the prince from sacrificing himself in vain, and accompanied him off the field. He was forced to part from the prince, as he would not have survived six months as a fugitive ‘in the heather’; he returned to France on a French warship that had dispatched six barrels of louis d'ors to Scotland, which later became the ‘Lochairg treasure’. On his return to Rome he was bitterly reproached by the ‘Old Pretender’ (James III) for having usurped his paternal role and encouraged the young prince in his rash adventure. He died on 24 November 1746 at the age of 62, having been struck by apoplexy which rendered him speechless. He was buried in the church of the Twelve Apostles. J. C. O'Callaghan (qv) claims that his son Michael later became secretary to the young prince, although Richard Hayes states that this was his nephew.
The Jacobite Lady Oglethorpe said of Sheridan that ‘he speaks French, Latin and Italian extremely well, is a person of great honour and very good understanding who knows the constitution of England as well as most men’ (Burns, ‘Early diplomatic missions’, 257).