He obtained the see by papal provision in April, 1460. Of his earlier life nothing is known.
He soon came into conflict with Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, who was deputy to George, Duke of Clarence, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. The earl accused the bishop of instigating the murder of some of his followers, and in 1464 both went to England to lay their grievances before the king. Edward IV of England upheld the earl, who was supported by the Irish parliament, and acquitted him of all charges of disloyalty and treasonable relations with the Irish people. But when in 1467 he was disgraced, and succeeded by John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester, Bishop Sherwood was suspected of leading the opposition, which finally brought the earl to the scaffold.
Some years after his rival's death, Sherwood himself was appointed deputy, but his own rule was so unpopular that in 1477 he was removed from office, having governed for two years. He was Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1475 to 1481.
- Annals of the Four Masters (Dublin, 1848–51);
- John Thomas Gilbert, Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin, 1865);
- Kingsford, Charles Lethbridge (1885–1900). "Sherwood, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
The Register of St. Thomas Abbey, Dublin (R.S. London, 1889) gives text of an agreement between Sherwood and the abbey.
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