WYCH (WYCHE), Sir Cyril (c.1632-1707), St. James’s Square, Westminster, Mdx. and Hockwold, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. c.1632, 2nd s. of Sir Peter Wych (d. 1643) of London by Jane, da. of Sir William Meredith of Stansley, Denb. educ. Westminster 1649; Christ Church Oxf. 1650, BA 1653, MA 1655, DCL 1665; G. Inn 1657, called 1670. m. (1) lic. 2 Aug. 1663, Elizabeth (d. 1678), da. of Sir Thomas Jermyn† of Rushbrooke, Suff., ?3s (?2 d.v.p.) 2da. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 29 July 1684, Susanna (d. 1690), da. of Sir Francis Norreys† of Weston-on-the-Green, Oxon., wid. of Sir Herbert Perrot† of Wellington, Herefs., s.p.; (3) 2 May 1692 (with £6,300), Mary (d. 1723), da. of George Evelyn† of Wotton, Surr., s.p. suc. fa. 1643. Kntd. 16 May 1660.1
Six clerk in chancery 1662–1675; sec. to ld. lt. [I] 1676–85, 1692–3; PC [I] 1676–?85, 1692–d.; gent. of privy chamber 1690–1702; ld. justice [I] 1693–5.2
FRS 1663, pres. 1683–4; fellow, Dublin Philosophical Soc. 1684, pres. 1693.3
Member, R. Fishery Co. 1677; trustee, Friendly Soc. 1692–?1704.4
MP [I] 1692–3.
Trustee for sale of forfeited estates [I] 1700.5
Freeman, Preston 1702.6
A lawyer who had carved a niche for himself as a public servant in the Restoration period, Wych was described by the diarist John Evelyn as a ‘noble and learned gentleman’. Although he was primarily an administrator who spent long periods working in Chancery and the Irish administration, Wych’s interests were more diverse than this would suggest. He had been one of the earliest members of the Royal Society, serving as its president for one year and on its council on many occasions in the 1680s and 1690s. His interest in science may have led him in 1667 to secure from the crown a 31-year lease of mines in Denbighshire. Wych was also one of the leading figures in the re-established Dublin Philosophical Society of the early 1690s, and by this time had also become involved in the development of financial services, acting as a trustee for a mutual society insuring London houses against fire. A moderately active Member in the Cavalier Parliament, Wych had exhibited little enthusiasm for political conflict, instead establishing himself as a reliable administrator and Court supporter, a political profile that appears to be as applicable to his post-Revolution career, despite the fact that such prominent Tories as Hon. John Granville* and Sir John Leveson Gower, 5th Bt.*, were numbered among his nephews.7
Appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber by William III in 1690, Wych finished third in the Lords’ ballot for commissioners of public accounts on 27 Jan. 1692, an attempt by the peers to sabotage the bill to renew the commission by offending the Commons’ sense of its privileges on money bills. By the spring, however, it was decided to put Wych’s experience to greater use when he was appointed a member of the Irish privy council and secretary to the new lord lieutenant of Ireland, Viscount Sydney (Henry Sidney†). He accompanied the new chief governor to Ireland in August, and was returned to the Irish parliament for Trinity College, Dublin. When Sydney was removed from Ireland in 1693, Wych may have seemed an obvious candidate for inclusion among the lords justices, and his nomination was certainly supported by Sydney, but it was only when Sir William Trumbull* declined the appointment that Wych’s name was added to those of Lord Capell (Hon. Sir Henry Capel*) and William Duncombe* in the new commission. Wych was said to be ‘not much elated at his new honour’, and even before the lords justices’ commission was confirmed an observer wrote that ‘it is thought he [Wych] and Duncombe will not continue long, but [it will] in some time end in my Lord Capell’s or some other’s sole administration’. These words were to be prophetic. The intention had been to balance the Whig credentials of Capell with the more moderate and conciliatory approaches of Duncombe and Wych, but the latter two quickly found themselves in disagreement with the former. In March 1694 rumours circulated that Wych was to replace Sir Charles Porter* as lord chancellor of Ireland, but these proved to be unfounded. In July Wych and Duncombe found themselves opposing Capell’s call for a new parliament to Dublin, thus highlighting the emerging split between Capell, who advocated compromise with those who had opposed Sydney, and Wych and Duncombe, who both supported the stand taken by Sydney against advocates of the ‘sole right’. To further his policy Capell consistently portrayed himself as the indispensable man in the Irish government. His machinations, no doubt fuelled by the refusal early in 1695 of Wych and Duncombe to execute a warrant to award a large Irish estate to the King’s reputed mistress Elizabeth Villiers, led to the removal of Wych as lord justice in May 1695, together with Duncombe, and the government of Ireland was placed in the hands of Capell alone. Both were said to ‘have obliged so few either in reality, or by outward deportment, [so] that their departure is not much regretted’, and Wych quickly made preparations to return to England, perhaps encouraged by rumours, which proved to be unfounded, that he was to be appointed ambassador at Constantinople.8
Arriving in England in June, Wych and Duncombe were called before a meeting of the English lords justices in July, where, with Wych possibly irritated by the failure to appoint him to his father’s old post in Constantinople, they proceeded to condemn Capell’s attempts to reconcile the advocates of the ‘sole right’ and to attack his management of the newly assembled Irish parliament. The ferocity of their attack was such that James Vernon I* wrote that ‘it is well the calling of a parliament was deferred till these gentlemen were put by from having anything to do with it, and I wish they would still let it alone’. Rumours in October 1695 that Wych would be returned for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, at the forthcoming general election proved to be false, but he was still among those lobbied in January 1696 to oppose the bill altering the Act abrogating the oath of supremacy in Ireland. Although remaining informed of general political developments, Wych faded from the public scene, perhaps retiring to recently purchased estates in Norfolk, until his election in March 1700 as a trustee for forfeited Irish estates. Supported by Members opposed to the election of the commissioners who had served on the inquiry into forfeited estates, such as Robert Harley, Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., and Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., Wych finished eighth in the ballot with 158 votes. He set sail for Ireland in June and the historian of the Irish forfeited estates writes that once in Dublin Wych ‘functioned as chairman’ of the trustees, in which role ‘his colleagues appear to have regarded him with great affection and respect’.9
Wych’s star appeared to be on the rise following Anne’s accession, when the lord lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Rochester (Laurence Hyde†), was ordered to swear Wych an Irish privy councillor. The appointment of Sir John Leveson Gower, his sister’s son, as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster allowed Wych to stand on the duchy interest at Preston in July, and despite remaining in Dublin his candidacy was successful. The unexpectedly lengthy duration of his duties as a trustee kept him in Ireland for the duration of the 1702–3 session, though he took care to keep himself informed of proceedings at Westminster, and did not return to England until the 1703–4 session. Wych guided the estate bill of Lord Carteret through the Commons between November 1703 and January 1704, but most of his time appears to have been spent in connexion with his duties as a trustee, as between December 1703 and March 1704 he reported to the Commons on eight occasions on petitions to the trustees. Wych stayed in England for the final session of the 1702 Parliament, and remained active at Westminster. Having been forecast as an opponent of the Tack in October 1704, he did not vote for it on 28 Nov., thus underlining his Court party sympathies. He also gave active support to Lancashire’s linen manufacturers in their opposition to the bill to allow Irish linen to be exported to the plantations, and to prohibit the export of Scottish linen to Ireland. He received the thanks of Preston’s mayor for his actions in January 1705, though his efforts were ultimately ineffective. Despite these efforts on his constituents’ behalf, Wych was dropped as the duchy candidate for Preston in 1705, being replaced by a fellow commissioner for Irish forfeited estates, Francis Annesley*. Now over 70, Wych appears to have retired to his estates in Norfolk, to which he had been adding as recently as 1704, and died at Hockwold on 29 Dec. 1707. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Jermyn, who inherited over £100,000 from him and who served as Tory Member for Fowey in the 1713 Parliament.10
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Richard Harrison
- 1. Hoare, Wilts. Frustfield, 35; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 50–51; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 73, 204; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 232.
- 2. T. D. Hardy, Principal Officers of Chancery, 111; Stowe 210, f. 203; CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 249; 1693, p. 167; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 389; N. Carlisle, Gent. Privy Chamber, 206.
- 3. M. Hunter, R. Soc. and Fellows (2nd edn), 130–1; K. T. Hoppen, Common Scientist in 17th Cent. 97, 205.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 2.
- 5. Add. 70036, f. 98.
- 6. W. A. Abram, Mems. Preston Guild, 73.
- 7. Hunter, 131; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 244; Hoppen, 175, 177.
- 8. HMC Lords, iv. 50; Add. 70016, f. 18; Luttrell, ii. 387, 389, 483; iii. 279; CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 249; 1693, pp. 134, 192, 400, 405; 1694–5, p. 471; Penal Era and Golden Age ed. Bartlett and Hayton, 1–31; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/2, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 23 May 1693; BL, Evelyn mss, [–] to John Evelyn, 29 May 1693, John Evelyn to Mrs Evelyn, 17 May 1695, [–] to John Evelyn, 26 May 1695; J. R. O’Flanagan, Lives of the Ld. Chancellors of Ire. i. 443–51; J. G. Simms, Williamite Confiscation in Ire. 92–94; Nat. Arch. Ire. Wych mss 1/120, William Ball to Wych, 18 Mar. 1694–5.
- 9. Post Boy, 27–29 June 1695; CSP Dom. 1695, pp. 4–5; Add. 40771, f. 39; 28924, f. 76; Trinity, Dublin, Lyons (King) coll. 1998/484, Sir Robert Southwell† to Archbp. King, 30 Jan. 1695–6; East Anglian, n.s. v. 67; Wych mss 1/143, A. Lucas to Wych, 22 Apr. 1697; 1/222, Maurice Annesley to same, 15 May 1701; 1/227, Francis Annesley to same, 10 June 1701; Northants RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/51, Vernon to Ld. Shrewsbury, 28 Mar. 1700; Post Boy, 15–18 June 1700; Simms, 118.
- 10. CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 144; Simms, 149–56; Wych mss 1/256, Gower to Wych, 19 July 1702; 1/258, W. Williams to same, 28 July 1702; 1/268, R. Nutley to same, 23 Mar. 1702[–3]; 1/284, John Atherton to same, 30 Jan. 1704–5; Norf. RO, Dean Prideaux’s diary, ii. 30; Le Neve’s Knights, 51.