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Mary Ann's baptism record

Family tradition says that Mary Ann Green was born a "Lady." It is said that Mary's father so disapproved of her marriage to someone of lesser social standing that he disowned her, keeping her bedroom door shut in protest. Upon returning to her parent's house many years later, her father is said to have greeted her with "You are not my Mary Ann. You are nothing but an ugly old woman." It may have been her parents whom family tradition claims were poisoned by their servants, but this is probably a fantastic tale, among a number probably told by Laura (Vyse) Dunnet to her children. Mary's father was a tailor and draper.
     The reality for Mary Ann found documented partially supports this story, excepting some dramatic embellishment. She was baptized in All Saints Church, Old Buckenham, in Norfolk, England.

All Saints in Old Buckenham, where Mary Ann was baptized. The baptismal font is shown in the right photo.
Photos are taken from "The Norfolk Churches Site" (, taken by the administrator Simon Knott. This site is rare, excellent and recommended.

Mary married when she was 21 in her home town of North Lopham, Norfolk, but she wasn't represented by a known family member. In the latter record, the bondsman for the couple was Samuel Abbott of Diss. She and William moved to Hadleigh, Suffolk, where William had been living and had their first child there. They named him after her father. He was baptized in Hadleigh, but unexpectedly, Charles Green Vyse is found baptized again in North Lopham shortly after, with the notation in the record that the mother requested that the act not be recorded.
     William, Mary Ann and baby Charles moved probably to the Isle of Guernsey, where their next child Edward was born. He was given the middle name Green as well, and they traveled all the way back to North Lopham to have him baptized several months later. Their next child, William, was also born on Guernsey. They may have moved to France, then Nova Scotia, where daughter Mary Ann was born. What led to this wandering isn't known. When the family got on a boat and sailed to New York City in 1835, all their known children were with them but Charles. He was thought to have died by then when research on the family began. When one of his descendants contacted relatives in the United States, it was deduced that Charles had been sent back to North Lopham. He was a tailor and draper, his grandfather's occupation, and lived next to his grandparents when he set up his own household. It is most likely that when the Vyses were in Nova Scotia and Charles was 9 or 10 years old, they decided to send him to apprentice with his grandfather. Mary Ann had literally given up her first-born child in what was obviously one of a number of acts to please her father.
     Mary Ann did go back to England, and it wasn't long after her husband died. She appears on a passenger list returning from England to New York, arriving on the ship Rhine on 2 July 1856. This is the only time she appears in the indexed passenger lists. Her mother had died by then but not her father. There isn't proof she went to North Lopham, but she likely did so, perhaps to visit her son and six or seven grandchildren. Did he invite her there on hearing about his father's death, or was this a surprise visit? Charles would be understandably bitter about being separated from his parents and siblings at such a young age, but this all has to be left to speculation. It does leave the possibility that she had a bad encounter with her father long after she left England.
     Mary Ann met a tragic fate in 1864. The following is an article in The Brooklyn Eagle of 8 July 1864:

KNOCKED OVERBOARD - A lady named Mary Ann Vyse, aged 64 years, residing at 112 Second street, while out sailing on the 4th of July, in company with her family, and on returning home opposite the Novelty Works [which was across from North Williamsburgh], on the East River, was knocked overboard by an anchor belonging to a schooner which was sailing in the opposite direction. She died from the injuries received. Inquest before Coronor Barrett.

     Another article, in The New York Tribune of the same day, says the inquest took place at 112 Second Street. Also, the boat they were on "came in collision with a schooner." Her death notice in The New York Herald and The Brooklyn Daily Times says she died on the 6th and that the funeral would take place on the 9th at 1:00 at the home of her son-in-law Jacob Nishwitz, 112 Second Street. The Brooklyn death register says she drowned. Family tradition has her flinging herself onto the anchor in order to save a Sunday school group she was escorting on their boat. This is probably another dramatic embellishment. Brooklyn hasn't saved its older coroner's reports, which would have shed much more light on this event.

     Although her husband was naturalized, it's very odd to find Mary Ann also appearing in an index of naturalizations, hers occuring on 11 November 1861 in the New York City Court of Common Pleas years after he died.

one side of the Vyse monument in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn/Queens, NY

children of Mary Ann Chapman Green and William Bloomfield Vyse:

i. Charles Green, b. 18 June 1823, Hadleigh, England, m. Eliza Elliot Porter
ii. Edward Green, b. 21 December 1824, Isle of Guernsey
iii. William, 9 March 1828, France, m. Martha A.
iv. Sarah S(elina?), b. 1829, France, m. 1. Francis Butler, 2. Mr. Culligan?
v. Mary Ann, b. abt 1832, Nova Scotia, m. 1. Jacob Nishwitz, 2. Richard Rabbits
vi. Elizabeth, b. 25 September 1835, Brooklyn, NY, m. 1. Thomas Cooley, 2. Reuben Ross
vii. Eugene R., b. abt 1839, Brooklyn, NY, m. Mary Elizabeth Jocylin
viii. Emma, b. abt 1842, Brooklyn, NY, m. Edward Culligan

vital records sources: Mary Ann's baptism was found in the Old Buckenham parish records. Her marriage was found in the North Lopham parish records. Her death is in the Brooklyn death register for 1864 and discussed in newspaper articles.

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all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted