VYSE, Richard (1746-1825).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 11 July 1746, 2nd s. of Rev. William Vyse, canon of Lichfield, by Catherine, da. of Rt. Rev. Richard Smalbrooke, bp. of Lichfield. m. (1) Anne Susanna, da. of Rev. George Spearman of Bishop Middleham, co. Dur., s.p.; (2) 20 May 1780,1 Anne, da. and h. of Sir George Howard*, 1s. 1da.

Offices Held

Cornet, 5 Drag. 1762, lt. 1766, capt. 1771; maj. 18 Drag. 1777; lt.-col. 4 Horse 1781, 1 Drag. Gds. 1784; brevet col. 1790, maj.-gen. 1794; col. 29 Drag. 1797; command in Scotland 1798-1804; lt.-gen. 1801; col. 3 Drag. Gds. 1804; command, Yorks. district 1804-12; gen. 1812.

Comptroller of household to Duke of Cumberland 1799-d.


Vyse served with distinction in Flanders in 1793 and 1794, when he superintended the evacuation of Ostend. In 1799 he secured an appointment in the Duke of Cumberland’s household, and later in the year sought a transfer from the Scottish staff to an active foreign command. Nothing came of this or of his application in 1800 for the Indian cavalry command, which he had been unable, for domestic reasons, to accept when it had been offered to him in 1795. He again offered his military services to Cumberland in 1803, but he was kept on the staff and the following year was transferred from Edinburgh to Beverley.2

It was while stationed there that he was picked up as a last-minute third candidate for the borough in 1806. He stood the poll, finished in second place and promptly offered Cumberland his political support.3 There was a ludicrous episode about three weeks after his election when the death of a Beverley freeman known as ‘Old Vyse’ led to a report in London that the general was dead. Several candidates appeared for the seat, principally John Prinsep* and William Smith*, who later told Lady Holland:

Prinsep arrived [at Beverley] about the same hour ... [as] the refutation of the calumny under the general’s own hand. P’s friends ... however thought it hard that he should be deprived of ... giving them a dinner, which was accordingly done yesterday; when, to complete the joke, that old Vyse who still lives to be a general entered the town in very good health, and in very great wrath with the poor alderman for thus daring to trespass on his manor, on the presumption only of his being defunct; and if the alderman had not made a rapid retrograde movement there is no knowing whether the old warrior’s fury might not [have] sent him on a very unexpected journey in quite a different direction.4

Meanwhile Cumberland had recruited Vyse for his self-styled party of ‘Kingsmen’, having explained that ‘my connexion with Lord Eldon, Hawkesbury and the Pittites is with the idea of rescuing’ the King ‘from ministers he has been forced to take’. Vyse, a self-confessed political innocent, was eager to please and secured leave of absence to attend Parliament early in January 1807.5 He duly voted against the Grenville ministry on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb., and spoke in favour of receipt of the Westminster petition accusing Sheridan, the treasurer of the navy, of a breach of privilege, 27 Feb.; but on 6 and 9 Mar. 1807 he ‘strenuously’ supported the slave trade abolition bill, defending the planters against charges of inhumanity, but arguing that there had been ‘a most shameful abuse of the authority delegated by them’. He presumably welcomed the change of government in March 1807. At the ensuing general election he made way at Beverley for his son, who was returned. Shortly afterwards the Portland ministry had him in mind for a surplus Irish seat, as a man ‘whom we know well and can depend upon for fulfilling the conditions’, but nothing came of it.6 He was expected to stand for Beverley in 1812, when his son found a seat elsewhere, but he withdrew at the eleventh hour.7 He died 30 May 1825.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Regs. St. George Hanover Square, i. 311. Burke LG gives 20 Apr. 1780.
  • 2. Bucks. RO, Howard Vyse mss B/32/1-20, 46, 47.
  • 3. Ibid. 32/64.
  • 4. Add. 51573, Smith to Lady Holland [23 Nov. 1806].
  • 5. Howard Vyse mss 32/65-71.
  • 6. Wellington mss, Long to Wellesley, 23 May [1807].
  • 7. Hull Advertiser, 3, 10 Oct. 1812.