Wyche, Cyril (DNB00)

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WYCHE, Sir CYRIL (1632?–1707), statesman and man of science, who spelt his name Wyche in his autograph, although it also stands in contemporary records as Wych or Wich, was second son of Sir Peter Wyche [q. v.] Cyril was born, probably in 1632, at Constantinople while his father was ambassador there, and was named after his godfather Cyril, the patriarch of Constantinople (Wood, Fasti). He matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 27 Nov. 1650, and graduated B.A. 17 Feb. 1652–3, M.A. 28 June 1655, and was created D.C.L. on 8 Sept. 1665. He was at The Hague in May 1660, when he was knighted by Charles II.

Cyril and his brother Peter were among the earliest fellows of the Royal Society, their names being found among those of the ninety-eight men interested in ‘natural knowledge’ who were elected by the first president and council on 20 May 1663 in virtue of the power granted them for two months under their charter (Thomson, Hist. of the Roy. Soc.) Subsequently Wyche was chosen president of the society on 30 Nov. 1683, but held office only one year, when he was succeeded by Samuel Pepys.

Wyche, who was one of the six clerks in chancery from 1662 to 1675, was called to the bar from Gray's Inn in 1670, was M.P. for Callington, Cornwall, 1661–78, for East Grinstead 1681, for Saltash 1685–7, and for Preston 1702–5. Henry Sidney (afterwards Earl of Romney) [q. v.] became lord-lieutenant of Ireland in March 1691–2, and on 13 Aug. Wyche went with him as one of his secretaries. He was sworn a privy councillor of that kingdom (Luttrell, ii. 389; and Wood, Fasti). Sidney was recalled to London in June 1693, leaving the government of Ireland to three lords justices, viz. Henry, lord Capel of Tewkesbury [q. v.], Wyche himself, and William Duncombe. Between Capel, who from the first took the foremost place, and his colleagues no great cordiality existed. Capel ‘espoused the interest of the English settlers … Wyche and Duncombe, regardless of court favour, sought impartially to give the full effect to the articles of Limerick, upon which the court party and the protestants in general looked with a jealous eye, as prejudicial to their interest’ (Plowden, Hist. Rev. 1803, i. 201).

Another matter of contention was the grant of 1,200l. a year (the origin of the ‘Regium Donum’) assigned by William out of the Belfast customs to the presbyterian ministers in Ireland in recognition of their services. The bishops, who regarded this grant as an intolerable affront, induced Wyche and Duncombe to offer the advice, but without success, that the grant should be discontinued (Froude, English in Ireland, 1881, i. 267–8).

Wyche and Duncombe also differed from Capel in regard to the advisability of calling a parliament. They wrote a joint letter to secretary Trenchard in one sense, and Capel sent another in an opposite sense (14 July 1694). The divergence of opinion shown in the two letters illustrates the difference of principle by which the Irish government was divided (the letters are preserved in the Southwell MSS.; they are also printed in full in O'Flanagan's ‘Lives of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland,’ p. 443). The inflexibility of Wyche and Duncombe at length brought about their removal, and in May 1695 Capel obtained the sole government as lord deputy. According to Luttrell (iii. 476) Wyche was in the same month appointed to succeed Lord Paget as ambassador in Turkey.

In 1697 Wyche spent Christmas at Wotton with his father-in-law George Evelyn. The lady's uncle, John Evelyn (1620–1706) [q. v.], was also a guest. On 28 March 1700 Wyche was elected one of the commissioners for the Irish forfeitures (Luttrell, iv. 628). He purchased the estate of Poynings Manor and other lands at Hockwold in Norfolk, where he died on Monday, 29 Dec. 1707.

Wyche married, on 15 May 1692, Mary, eldest daughter of George Evelyn of Wotton, by his second wife, the widow of Sir John Cotton, and niece of John Evelyn the diarist. The latter speaks of Wyche as ‘a noble and learned gentleman.’ His wife ‘had a portion of 6,000l., to which was added about 300l. more’ (Evelyn, Diary, 4 Oct. 1699).

[Weld's History of the Royal Society, 1848; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation of State Affairs, 1857; Evelyn's Diary, 30 Nov. 1683, 15 May 1692, 1 Aug. 1693, 4 Oct. 1699; Leland's Hist. of Ireland from the Invasion of Henry II, 1773; Plowden's Hist. Rev. of the State of Ireland, 1803, vol. i.; Bishop Burnet's Hist. of his own Time, ed. 1838, p. 596; Wood's Fasti Oxon.; Froude's English in Ireland, 1881, vol. i.; O'Flanagan's Lives of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland, 1870; Martin Haverty's Hist. of Ireland, 1860, p. 677; Gordon's Hist. of Ireland, ii. 186, 187.]

H. R.