Sir Thomas Wyse

Sir Thomas Wyse was the 19th century representative of the Wyse family of Waterford, a prominent Waterford family since the late Middle Ages who probably uniquely in Ireland held on to both their lands and their Catholicism. Thomas was a leading light in the struggle for Catholic Emancipation and wrote a history of the Catholic Association in 1829. He was the election agent of the Protestant pro-emancipation candidate Villiers Stuart who inflicted a dramatic defeat on Lord George Beresford in Co. Waterford which success encouraged Daniel O'Connell to contest the Co. Clare by-election in 1828, becoming the first Irish Catholic to be elected to parliament since the late 17th century.

Thomas became the second Irish Catholic M.P. to be elected and played an active role in legislative reform for Ireland especially in the education sphere. He did not become involved with the movement for the Repeal of the Act of Union; true to his origins he remained a Catholic Unionist. He is best remembered for his ill-fated marriage to the beautiful Laetitia Bonaparte Wyse, niece of Napoleon Bonparte. In later life he became first British Ambassador to Greece. This oil on canvas portrait of Sir Thomas was painted by his sister Harriet about the time of his marriage in 1821.

date/period: c.1821 A.D./19th century

collection: Waterford City Council by kind permission of Mr. Henry Bonaparte Wyse

dimensions: 1060 height x 91 width mm

material: oil on canvas

inventory no.: 2002.0013

location: Waterford Museum of Treasures Exhibition

provenance: Private collection of Mr. Henry Bonaparte Wyse

Further Reading:

  • Olga Bonaparte Wyse, The Issue of Bonaparte Wyse: Waterford's Imperial Relations, Waterford Museum of Treasures, 2003
  • Olga Bonaparte Wyse, The Spurious Brood, 1969. ISBN 575 00262 X
  • J. J. Auchmuty, Sir Thomas Wyse 1791-1862, London 1939
  • Gillian Smith, 'Thomas Wyse & the origins of an Irish system of national education', Decies 58 (Journal of the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society), 2002. ISSN 1393-3116

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