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Bullocks Wyse

Margaret Aylward Dr Edward Barron Philip Barron Denis Cashman Raymond Chandler Paddy Coad Patrick Comerford Donncha Ruadh Val Doonican Sean Dunne Frank Edwards Alfie Hale John M Hearne William Hobson Dr Thomas Hussey Charles Kean John Keane Edmund Leamy D. P. Moran Gen Dick Mulcahy James Nash Peter O'Connor Jas Louis O'Donnell Pádraig Ó Fainín Gilbert O'Sullivan John Redmond Edmund I Rice James Rice, Mayor Lord Roberts V. C. John Roberts Frank Ryan Thomas Sexton Archbishop Sheehan Susan Smith John Treacy Luke Wadding William V. Wallace Cardinal Wiseman Bullocks Wyse Lucien Bonaparte Wyse



Down through the centuries the Wyse family had shown a remarkable ability to hold on to their lands and money. They escaped the main rigours of the Penal Laws although remaining steadfast to their Catholic religion. Thomas "Bullocks" Wyse, b. 1701, d.1770, the great-grandfather of Sir Thomas Wyse, was a larger-than-life character.   ''Bullocks'' married Elizabeth Bourne and they had six children; Richard (known as 'The Protestant'), Ann,  Francis, John (Sir Thomas' grandfather), Charlotte (who became a Dominican nun) and Margaret. ''Bullocks'' lived in France for quite a long time and he had two sons in the Irish Brigade of the French Army. Wyse was impetuous and easily roused. He was no intellectual and he was a compulsive organiser.
After he had founded the Catholic Committee, in February 1760, with Charles O'Conor and Dr. John Curry, Wyse developed a plan that all members throughout the country would pay a small, regular, subscription (the forerunner of O'Connell's Repeal-rent) but his plan was scuppered by the Catholic bishops who would not co-operate. This, together with feuding between the principals, made the Committee almost moribund by 1763.      

Wyse became notorious because of his pranks. One of the Penal Laws effectively forbade any Catholic from owning a horse worth more than five pounds - the actual law stated that if a Protestant offered a Catholic £5 for a horse, the Catholic was obliged to sell it. In protest against this law, "Bullocks" Wyse once harnessed a team of bullocks to draw his carriage through the streets of the city, thus earning for himself the humorous nickname. Another of his deeds to gain him notoriety was when he had the audacity to remove one of the gates to the city because he felt that it restricted access to his estate just outside the city. One Sunday morning when the city Corporation was at service in Christchurch Cathedral, Wyse had his estate workers remove the gate. Despite these escapades, Wyse was a far-seeing businessman who was imbued with the spirit of the technological revolution then in full flow in Waterford.      

The coming of the Huguenots to the city in 1693 after the 'Revocation of the Edict of Nantes' had fostered this revolution. The manufacture of linen became a staple of the city's industry; a sailcloth factory was established in 1713 and, in 1746 there were several linen factories in the city.  In 1761 over 1,400 men, women and children were employed in spinning, weaving, spooling, skeaning, bleaching and flax growing and preparing. There was a bleach green for thread at Ballytruckle and another for linen at Smithvale, three miles from the city.    

'Bullocks' wrote, in 1770, "I have laid out a considerable part of my annual income these twenty years past and upwards to introduce sundry manufactures not before attempted in this kingdom." He established a copper smelter near the city in 1747. From Pouldrew to Bonmahon he engaged in "smithing iron and other works" and copper mining. With some philanthropic intent he expanded his plant at Waterford to include granaries, a bakehouse, a starchyard, a windmill and a manufactory for japanned wares. In the 1750's he established a hardware factory in Waterford but it failed despite a grant (surprisingly) of £4,000 from the English Parliament.                     

Sources (partly): O'Connor, Emmett, "A Labour History of Waterford", Waterford Trades Council, 1989 and the Pedigree of the Wyses of Waterford, by William Charles Bonapart Wyse     

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