William F. Sheehan

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William Francis Sheehan
William Francis Sheehan 001.jpg
Born(1859-11-06)November 6, 1859
DiedMarch 14, 1917(1917-03-14) (aged 57)
Manhattan, New York, US
Other namesBlue-Eyed Billy
TitleLieutenant Governor of New York
Spouse(s)Blanche Nellany (1869–1929)

William Francis Sheehan (November 6, 1859 – March 14, 1917) was an American lawyer and politician.[1]


He was born on November 6, 1859 in Buffalo, New York.

He began his political career as a clerk in the office of his brother John Sheehan, who was City Controller of Buffalo until Grover Cleveland refused to have him on the Democratic ticket when Cleveland ran for Mayor in 1881.

He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Erie Co., 1st D.) in 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1889, 1890 and 1891. He was Minority Leader from 1886 to 1890, and Speaker of the New York State Assembly in 1891. As an assemblyman, he secured the appointments of his brother John as a clerk in the New York Aqueduct Board; and of his law partner Charles F. Tabor as First Deputy New York Attorney General.

Sheehan was the Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1892 to 1894, elected at the New York state election, 1891. Afterwards he established a prosperous law firm in New York City with Alton B. Parker. He was a member of the New York State Democratic Committee from 1889 to 1893, and a member from New York of the Democratic National Committee in 1891 and 1896. He was a delegate to the 1912 Democratic National Convention.

In the U.S. Senate election of 1911, he was the Democratic candidate to succeed Chauncey Depew as U.S. Senator from New York. Sheehan was nominated by the Democratic caucus, but was successfully blocked by a group of "Insurgents", led by State Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt.

He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1915.

He died on March 14, 1917 at his home on 16 East Fifty-sixth Street in Manhattan at age 57. The funeral service was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral and he was buried in Buffalo, New York.[2]


He was married to Blanche Nellany (1869–1929), sister of Charles V. Nellany; her portrait by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947) painted in the autumn of 1903, is today in the Buffalo History Museum.


  1. ^ "William Francis Sheehan (1895-1917) Papers". Retrieved 2012-10-10. William F. Sheehan (1895-1917) was an American lawyer and politician from New York. Born in Buffalo, New York, he graduated from St. Joseph's College and was admitted to the bar in 1881. He practiced in Buffalo from 1881 to 1895 and in New York City from 1895 until his death. He directed several companies, and served in the New York State Assembly from 1885 to 1891 ...
  2. ^ "William Francis Sheehan". The journal of the American Irish Historical Society. American Irish Historical Society. 1918. Retrieved 2012-10-10. William Francis Sheehan, noted corporation lawyer, once lieutenant governor of New York, and a power in Democratic politics, died March 14, 1917 at his home, 16 East Fifty-sixth Street, after an illness of more than a year. He had been in Florida since January 10, and returned home late Tuesday afternoon. He was suffering from kidney disease, and a few hours after reaching his home he had a relapse.


External links[edit]

  • [1] Struggle for State patronage, in NYT on September 13, 1887
  • [2] Political Graveyard
  • [3] Senatorial election, New York Times, March 20, 1911
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Cornelius Donohue
New York State Assembly
Erie County, 1st District

Succeeded by
John J. Clahan
Political offices
Preceded by
William Caryl Ely
Minority Leader in the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Milo M. Acker
Preceded by
James W. Husted
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Robert P. Bush
Preceded by
Edward F. Jones
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Charles T. Saxton