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William's signature from his marriage record

     William surely learned the currying trade from his father and moved from Diss to Hadleigh, England, perhaps when he came of age. He was living there when he married,(1) and that is where his first child Charles was baptized.(2) Family tradition says that their second child Edward was born on the Isle of Guernsey. The 1850 Federal census of New York State gives his birthplace as England and says that the next child, William, Jr., was born in France, followed by Mary in Nova Scotia in 1832-3 and Betsey in New York State in 1835.(3) This trail is picked up more specifically in passenger records, which reveal that the family sailed on the brig Sarah from Halifax, Nova Scotia, arriving in New York City on 25 April 1835.(4) William is listed as a "farmer" ("tanner" was probably meant) and currier. A notice in The New York Evening Post says the trip took 14 days, indicating that it left Halifax on 11 April, and was also carrying fish and plaster for the firm of Barclay & Livingston.(5)

British brig Sarah, Capt. Field, sailed 14 days from Halifax, Nova Scotia"

      A William Vise/Vyse appears in New York city directories beginning in 1835,(6) but nothing has been found to connect him with William B. Vyse. The first appearance of William B. Vyse in city directories is in Manhattan in 1841, where he is listed at 293 Bowery with the occupation "leathers, etc."(7) This is the only evidence found so far of a business in Manhattan. He probably made his home in Williamsburgh, now a part of the Borough of Brooklyn, as soon as he arrived. He is located there in the 1840 Federal census.(8) He may have been the William Vyse who was naturalized in the Court of Common Pleas in 1838.(9) This event is known from an index, but the record itself has not been found.
     The first directory for Williamsburgh, dated 1847/1848, lists William B. Vyse as a tanner at 231 5th St. (now Driggs St.), then 229 5th St. (1849; probably the same property) and 5th St. near North 7th St. (1851/1852; again, probably the same property).(10) William bought this property on 1 March 1845 from the Williamsburgh Fire Insurance Co.(11) He also owned two other lots in Williamsburgh, location not found, but a farm that had been divided into lots and sold to William on 6 May 1848.(9.5) This may have been the site of his tannery. It wasn't until Smith's 1855-6 directory for Brooklyn's Eastern District that his business address is included, and it was at No. 9th St. near 6th St.

Fifth, now Driggs St., Williamsburgh, showing a set-back building that is likely described in an 1845 deed to William Vyse. It's unlikely that he had his business here, unless he bought adjacent property as well. The property outline suggests a larger lot, but the tannery shown on this map was very likely his.

     The 1850 Federal census describes him as a tanner and currier,(12) and the industrial schedule for that census says that he had $3,000.00 capital invested in his business within the previous year.(13) He had processed 520 hides valued at $7,000.00, produced by the hand power of five men. Their labor was valued at $125.00. A newspaper notice of July 1852 says that one of William's hired men went to the foot of No. 7th St. at midnight with a horse and cart to empty trash into the East River, as was the custom. The horse backed up off the dock, and the man joined him when he tried to save the horse. Both died. "It was a rather unseasonable hour for a man to be at work, and on a dark night too" the reporter said. Another notice lists what appear to be bills owed from the city to various businesses. W. B. Vyse was owed $4, suggesting he did some sort of work for the city.

The North Williamsburgh docks in 1879. No. 7th is near the bottom of the image. It was not only here that the above mentioned accident took place but also the dock used by the Vyses when they went out for a sail on the Fourth of July and came back with William's widow Mary Ann fatally wounded from a different sort of accident.

     William's death date has been found only in a reference to a King's County Supreme Court case that required that his real estate be sold at auction. A Brooklyn Daily Eagle notice of 14 April 1856 says that a sherrif's auction would take place on the 24th of that month at Montague Hall across from City Hall. Letters of Administration for his estate were given to his wife Mary Ann on 3 April 1861.(15)
      There is more to be said about how this family was affected by Mary Ann and her relationship to her parents, and this can be found in Mary Ann's biography (linked above).

One side of the Ross/Vyse monument in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn/Queens, NY. William's birth and death years are incorrect. The marker was undoubtedly commissioned by Betsey (Vyse) Cooley Ross long after her father had died.

children of William and Mary Ann (Green) Vyse:

i. Charles Green, b. 1823, m. Eliza Elliot Porter
ii. Edward Green, b. 21 December 1824
iii. William, 9 March 1828, m. Martha A.
iv. Sarah S(elina?), b. 1829, m. Mr. Culligan
v. Mary Ann, b. abt 1832, m. Jacob Nishwitz
vi. Elizabeth, b. 25 September 1835, m. 1. Thomas Cooley, 2. Reuben Ross
vii. Eugene R., b. abt 1839, m. Mary Elizabeth Jocylin
viii. Emma, b. abt 1842, no further record

vital records sources: William's birth was found by Clifford Vyse in the Diss parish register of baptisms. His marriage is recorded in the North Lopham parish register. His death date is inferred in a 14 April 1856 Brooklyn Daily Eagle notice of a sheriff's sale involving property William owned.

9.5. Liber 178, p. 524.
11. Liber 129, p. 111.
13. 1850 US census, Industrial Schedule, Williamsburgh, Kings Co., NY, p. 57. He is listed as "John B. Vyse," tanner.

all text and photographs © 1998-2005 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted