ancestral chart father mother index home

vital records sources
go to page

Family tradition says that Edward was born on the Isle of Guernsey in England. This is plausible since his brother William gave that as his birth place when he was naturalized and the 1850 US census gives France as the country of birth for Edward's next two younger siblings. It is a short distance from Guernsey to France, but nothing further has been found about them being in France.
     Edward was baptized in North Lopham, England, on 13 February 1825. The biography for his mother explains that it's likely he was given the middle name Green and was taken back to North Lopham to be baptized in hope of reconciling with her father. When he was about 7 he moved with his family to Nova Scotia. It was there that his brother Charles, only about a year-and-a-half older, was probably sent back to England to live with their grandparents. It is easy to imagine this being a traumatic event for both brothers. Edward named his first son after him.
     Edward surely apprenticed with his father to learn the tanning and currying trade in Williamsburgh. This was the spelling of the village at the time - later changed to Williamsburg. He was the third generation to have that occupation, and he passed it on to his son Robert. Directories and censuses describe his trade variously as a currier, leather dresser, leather dealer, etc. He specialized in rawhide rope. This didn't require tanning, which was a smelly, toxic process. Where he did this and sold his rope isn't obvious, since all the addresses I've found were houses, and either didn't or probably didn't have storefronts on the first floor.
After his father died Edward may have continued to use his father's tannery property, but he was mostly associated with Grand Street. 14, 33 and 50 Grand were small, wood frame houses. Federal tax records are available in the Civil War period, calculated per month. Edward is listed as producing "hide rope." These are his valuations:1

Jan 1865, 33 Grand (throughout 1865 and 1866), 219 lbs, value $120
Feb 1865,no quantity, $115
Mar 1865, 200 lbs, $110
Apr 1865, 180 lbs, $99
May 1865, 197 lbs, $101
June 1865, 150 lbs, $82
Aug 1865, 194 lbs, $97
Sep 1865, $100
Oct 1865, 190 lbs, $95
Dec 1865, 220 lbs, $110

The year 1866 continued much the same. In December of that year his product was "rawhide sash rope." In the 1871 Industrial Exhibition of the American Istitute of the City of New York of 1871, held in New York City, Edward showed "rawhide rope and cord for window sashes."1 Thirty Second Annual Report of the American Institute of the City of New York for the year 1871-72 (Albany:1872), 31. He and Margaret Hancock were married in June by Rev. Elbert S. Porter, minister for the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church at Williamsburgh.1

Edward's obituary doesn't mention a church affiliation, but he may have been attending that church at the time. The Hancocks were Methodists. Edward isn't in any directories in the early 1850s. He made the very unexpected move to buy, with his brother William, a farm in New Providence, New Jersey, in 1855. It's not apparent why, and why it was a joint purchase. Edward and Margaret's son Robert was born in New Jersey in early 1857, so this was at least one of their homes. Was this a country getaway? What is beyond unexpected is that the Vyses bought the farm from Joseph Hoyt, one of my mother's ancestors, the Vyses being on my father's side. The only similarity to Edward and William Vyse and Joseph Hoyt is that they seem to have bought this farm to get out of Brooklyn, at least part time, but to a place not as close to other country spots chosen by Brooklynites. The Vyses surely saw the ad the Hoyt's placed in the New York papers. This is a case of almost bizarre coincidence.
     The city directory of 1875 lists him living there and a separate business address at 125 Grand Street. Family oral history says that they lived and worked at 1 Grand, but no record of this has been found. This may have been the first time the family lived away from the tannery and may indicate an increased measure of success. The 1875 census calls 45 South 4th a brick building valued at $5,500.00, and Edward a leather dresser. His death certificate of the same year calls him a leather merchant. He advertised as a maker of sash cords.BTU, 10 Apr 1871, 1.

The following is taken from a bird's-eye view that includes the Williamsburgh waterfront. The red dot shows the probable location of 45 So. Fourth. It was certainly one of the houses in the row shown. They were speculatively built brick rowhouses in an early Italianate style of the 1850s. Edward's son Robert's death certificate (1876) says that this was a one-family dwelling.

Galt & Hoy map, 1879

1940s photo of this row from the NYC tax assessor's office. Everything shown here achitecturally is that same as it was when the Vyses lived here. This and much of the area around it has been torn down.

Edward and Margaret celebrated their Silver Wedding anniversary:

     Several articles shed light on his activities in one of the local Masonic societies. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle describes the Masonic Board of Relief fair as being in Broadway Park. Edward, his brother William, and Edward's wife's cousin Richard Clough were all involved, the Vyses being on the executive committee. The report says "Everyone present appeared to be in a social state of mind and determined to enjoy themselves. Toward the close there was a fine pyrotechnic display, which added brilliancy to the scene. The central and largest piece represented the well known symbol of the square and compass, over which were the words, 'Board of Relief.' As the light from this piece was expiring the glee clubs rendered 'The Watch on the Rhine,' with fine effect amid continued applause."
     Another article, partially clipped off when it was microfilmed, says "Brother [Ed.?] Vyse, the librarian of this Board, says that [the] tickets for the bal champetre of the Board [in] Myrtle Avenue Park, on Monday, the 6th August, are going off like hot cakes, and from the receipts of their sale, the old [ones?] and young children under his care will [have?] a comfortable time this winter. Ed. is fatherly in his care of the dependents on [the] Board, and guards their interests with a [?] care. If the fraternity at large should [have?] one-half the interest that the Directors [have?], the fund will be increased on the 6th prox., [?] that there will be a fair working margin left [after?] the rigorous winter season."4BTU, 26 July 1873, p. 3.
     Edward supposedly was given the hides of horse carcasses picked up from the streets for Peter Cooper's large glue factory at the eastern edge of Williamsburgh. Family tradition also says that Edward received a government contract to supply goods for shoemaking for the Union Army in the Civil War. At some point he supposedly bought defective hides from a friend named Mason, and on the eve of a court appearance for a lawsuit against Mason, Edward fell through a seldom-opened trap door on the second floor of his shop and broke his neck. Margaret Sinclair says that her mother revealed this for the first time hours before her death. She was probably not mentally acute at the time, and this was most likely a fantasy. She tended to elaborate dramatically in her oral history, or what I attribute to her. Edward's death certificate gives the primary cause of death as congestion of the brain, which he had suffered for 3 days, and the secondary cause "mania pitu."2 The latter is actually mania potu or mania a potu - a condition generally considered to be the same as delirium tremens, but also a derangement from habitual alcohol consumption. So we have the possible and unpleasant scenario of Edward, perhaps drunk, falling and getting a fatal concussion. If this happened from stepping into an open trap we'll never know.
     The following obituary refers to a short illness, but no mention of an accident.3 Not surprising under the circumstances. It also provides an insight on Edward's personality:

VYSE - Mr. Edward G. Vyse, after a short illness, died at his residence, No. 45 South Fourth street this morning about half-past nine o'clock. Mr. Vyse was an old resident of the Eastern District, and was known to the most of our citizens as a genial, well-meaning business man. He was born in England in 1824, and was consequently in his fifty first year at his death. The deceased was a man of sympathetic and charitable feelings, and always favored the unfortunate. He was a member of Clinton Lodge, No. 453, also a member of the Masonic Board of Relief. On last Tuesday evening, during the pic-nic in aid of the Board of Relief, he had charge of the scups and hobby-horses, and by his kind and indulgent nature, endeared himself to the many children that were present, and enjoyed the fun thus provided. A meeting of Clinton Lodge will be held this evening in their rooms, and also of the Board of Relief to make suitable arrangements to attend the funeral.

     Edward left a young family behind, his youngest child only about 4 years old. They continued to live at 45 So. 4th Street through the next year, and a year after his father died, son Robert Vyse died of tuberculosis complicated by "exhaustion." More reports of extreme heat were found at this time. Robert was given a certificate of merit by the Centennial Exposition for his entry of rawhide rope, which would have been just before he died. The 1875 Brooklyn city directory says that Robert was a signpainter with the same business and home addresses as his father. This may have been an error, since Robert is listed as a ropemaker in 1876. His brother Edward is known to have been a signpainter, but he was only fifteen when his brother died. He may have learned the business from his brother. Whatever other occupation he may have had, Robert had probably learned to tan. He opened a related but different business, which he operated in a different part of Brooklyn (Flushing Avenue, corner of Steuben Street). He continued to live in the family house on So. 4th Street, and he died there when he was 20.5

children of Edward Green Vyse and Margaret Hancock:

i. Charles Edward b. abt. 1852
ii. Laura Emma b. 2 October 1854
iii. Robert Hancock b. abt. January 1857
iv. Sarah S. b. abt. 1858, m. James Philpott
v. Edward Goodman b. abt. 1862
vi. Jessie b. abt. 1866
vii. Henry F. b. July 1872

vital records sources: Edward's birth and baptism dates come from the North Lopham parish register. His marriage is in the records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Williamsburgh ("U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States, 1639-1989," databes, images online, "Williamsburg Church, Records, 1828-1934," image 174). It was also noticed in The Christian Intelligencer, 27 June 1850, p. and his death is recorded in a municipal certificate (see note #2 below) and in the Brooklyn Daily Times (see note #3).

1. notice in The Christian Intelligencer, 27 June 1850, 3.
2. Brooklyn death certificate, 1875, #6744.
3. The Brooklyn Daily Times, 26 July 1875.
4. Ibid, 1873. 5. Brooklyn death certificate, 1876, #6810. BTU, 17 July 1876, Robert Hancock Vyse.

1850, 1870, 1860 (14th Ward, p. 197) and US censuses (mistranslated in the 1850 index as Edward G. "Tyre"); 1880: ED 136, sheet 32, line 48.

1858, Lain's p. 380, currier, h 55 Wyckoff 1859, NYC Business Directory, p. 80, currier, 17 Bowery 1862, Lain's p. 451, leather, 14 Grand 1863, Lain's p. 450, leather, 33 Grand 1865, Lain's p. 430, leather, 33 Grand 1867, Lain's p. 581, leather, 33 Grand (Eugene, shipsmith, h. 35 Grand) 1868, Lain's p. 632, same (not Eugene) 1869, same (Eugene h. 31 Grand) 1871, same, Charles E., clerk, h. 33 Grand 1872, Goulding's Business Directory for NYC, p. 654, leather dealer, 50 Grand 1873, same, p.780, raw hide rope, 50 Grand, also in rope listing 1874, same p. 872, rope, h 50 Grand 1875, same, p. 872, rope, h. 50 Grand, also under leather & findings and rope, cordage & twine 1876, same, p. 920, findings, 125 Grand, h. 45 S. 4th, Robert H., signpainter, same, same, Edward also under whip makers & dealers, Robert under painters 1879, same, Margaret, widow, 146 4th
all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted