Sir Cyril Wyche

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Sir Cyril WYCHE c.1632-1707

Biographical Note

Born in Constantinople, where his father Sir Peter Wyche, a London merchant, was ambassador. BA Christ Church, Oxford 1653, MA 1655, DCL 1665; entered Gray’s Inn 1657, called to the Bar 1670. Knighted 1660; inherited substantial wealth on the death of his mother shortly afterwards. Entered government service as a six clerk in chancery 1662; secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (successively the Earl of Essex, and James Duke of Ormond) 1676-85. MP for Callington, Cornwall 1661-79, for East Grinstead, Sussex 1681, for Saltash, Cornwall 1685. Gentleman of the Privy Chamber 1690-1702. In 1693 he, along with Henry Lord Capell and William Duncombe, was appointed one of the three lords justices to oversee the governance of Ireland; Wyche and Duncombe were dismissed in 1695 following disagreements over policy. Wyche returned to Ireland in 1700 as a trustee for Irish forfeitures. MP for Preston 1702-05, after which he retired to his estate at Hockwold Hall, Norfolk.

Wyche was described as a “noble learned gentleman” by John Evelyn, uncle of his third wife Mary. He was one of the earliest fellows of the Royal Society (President 1683-4), a fellow of the Dublin Philosophical Society (from 1684), and active in reviving the Dublin Society (President, 1693).


Wyche had an extensive library at Hockwold Hall, whose contents and layout are documented in the catalogue made for the auction of the books in London, by Edmund Curll, 20 February 1710. The catalogue, which claims to include the entire library apart from two books given away, may have been compiled from Wyche’s own manuscript catalogue and is arranged according to the lettered presses A-P of the library room; most of these presses had nine shelves, including three for folios. The introduction notes that whereas some of the contents “may sometimes appear in the circulating of libraries”, there are some rarities such as the Aldine Petrarch on vellum, and original drawings of Turkish costume. The catalogue includes 2866 lots, divided as follows: presses A-B (dictionaries, lexicons, bibliographies, catalogues) 223; C (classics, numismatics) 267; D (history, chronology) 215; F (geography, history, classics) 121; G (philosophy, classics) 250; H (law, history, travel) 246; I (history, geography, literature) 248; K (history, chronicles, law) 301; L (history, theology) 297; M (theology, science, natural history) 349; N (natural history, science, mathematics) 266; O (history) 16; P (geography, maps, atlases) 34. Examples: Cambridge University Library Q.8.37.

Characteristic Markings

Cambridge UL Q.8.37 (Panvinio, 1588) has the inscription “Wyche” and the price paid in the top right hand corner of the titlepage; it has a few marginal annotations in the text.


  • Bibliotheca Wichiana, 1710.
  • Henning, B. The House of Commons 1660-1690, London, 1983.
  • McGrath, C. I. "Wyche, Sir Cyril (c. 1632–1707), government official." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • West, S. The development of libraries in Norfolk country houses (UEA Ph.D thesis, 2000).