Richard William Howard Vyse

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Richard Howard Vyse
Richard William Howard Vyse.png
Born (1784-07-25)25 July 1784
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, England
Died 8 June 1853(1853-06-08) (aged 68)
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Rank Major General
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Other work High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire
anthropologist and Egyptologist

Major General Richard William Howard Vyse KCMG (25 July 1784 – 8 June 1853) was a British soldier, anthropologist and Egyptologist. He was also Member of Parliament (MP) for Beverley (from 1807 to 1812) and Honiton (from 1812 to 1818).

Family life[edit]

Richard William Howard Vyse, born on 25 July 1784 at Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire,[1] was the only son of General Richard Vyse and his wife, Anne, the only surviving daughter and heiress of Field-marshal Sir George Howard. Richard William Vyse assumed the additional name of Howard by royal sign manual, dated 14 September 1812, on inheriting the estates of Boughton and Pitsford in Northamptonshire through his maternal grandmother, Lucy, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1672–1739).[2]

Vyse died at Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, on 8 June 1853. He married, 13 Nov 1810 Frances,[3] second daughter of Henry Hesketh of Newton, Cheshire. By her he had eight sons and two daughters; among his children was Lt Frederick Howard Vyse RN. His will was proved on 13 August 1853[4] at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

Military career[edit]

Howard Vyse was commissioned as cornet into the 1st Dragoons in 1800. He transferred to the 15th Light Dragoons as a Lieutenant in 1801 and was promoted Captain in 1802 and Major in 1813. In 1815 he transferred to the 87th Foot and in 1816 to the 2nd Life Guards, and then also to the 1st West India in 1819. He was promoted brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in 1825, later nominated to rank put onto half-pay in 1825,[5] Colonel in 1837,[6] and Major-General in 1846.[7]

In 1809 he acted as aide-de-camp to his father on the staff of the Yorkshire district, and on 5 July 1810 received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from Oxford University. On 2 October 1840, Vyse undertook an official duty as the Colonel of the Life Guards in the mourning party for HRH Princess Sophia-Augusta.[8]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Vyse was elected to parliament for Beverley, a pocket borough[9] whose elections were frequently contested,[10] in 1807. Two months after the election Philip Staple, the losing candidate, petitioned Parliament, accusing Vyse (along with the other winning candidate, John Wharton) of bribery and corruption during the election campaign.[11] Although Parliament cleared him of this charge,[12] sixteen years after Vyse's death evidence surfaced that, of the 1,010 votes Vyse received in the 1807 election, 932 of those votes had been secured by monetary bribes, in violation of the Corrupt Practices Act.[9]

In October 1812, Vyse exchanged his seat at Beverley for Honiton, another pocket borough in Devonshire.[13] On this occasion Vyse was elected unopposed as the third candidate, the radical Samuel Colleton Graves, failed to attend the Honiton hustings as he "had allowed himself to be waylaid at Taunton".[13] Vyse held this seat until the dissolution of Parliament in 1818.

He also served as High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1830.[14]

Egyptologist[edit]

Pyramids of Giza[edit]

At Giza he and John Shae Perring worked with gunpowder forcing their way into several monuments, including the burial chamber of the pyramid of Menkaure.[15]

Vyse's gunpowder archaeology made one highly notable discovery in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Giovanni Battista Caviglia had blasted on the south side of the stress-relieving chamber (Davison's Chamber) on top of the King's Chamber, a chamber discovered by Nathaniel Davison in 1765, hoping to find a link to the southern air channel. But while Caviglia gave up, Vyse suspected that there was another chamber on top of Davison's Chamber, since he could insert a reed "for about two feet" upwards through a crack into a cavity.[16] He therefore blasted straight up on the northern side, over three and a half months, finding four additional chambers. Vyse named these chambers after important friends and colleagues; Wellington's Chamber (Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington), Nelson's Chamber (Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson), Lady Arbuthnot's Chamber (Anne Fitzgerald, wife of Sir Robert Keith Arbuthnot, 2nd Baronet) and Campbell's Chamber (Patrick Campbell, the British agent and Consul General in Egypt).[17]

Vyse's version of events with regards to the discovery of Wellington's Chamber was contested by Caviglia in a series of letters in which the Italian claimed that he had informed Vyse of his suspicion that there was likely another chamber directly above Davison's Chamber, that Vyse then betrayed his confidence on this matter and that he subsequently had Caviglia removed from the Giza site in order to claim the discovery for himself.[18] In response to Caviglia's accusation, Vyse issued a strong rebuttal, dismissing Caviglia's charge.[19]

Just as amazing as the chambers were Vyse's discovery of numerous graffiti in the chambers, in red ochre paint, dating from the time the pyramids were built. Along with lines, markers and directional notations were the names of various work gangs, the teams that would cut stone blocks and transport them from the quarries. All of these work gang names contained a variant of the pharaoh's name i.e. Khufu, Khnum-Khuf and Medjedu, the first two of which were contained within the distinctive royal cartouche. While most of these gang names were concentrated in Lady Arbuthnot's and Campbell's Chamber, all four chambers opened by Vyse contained graffiti (or more correctly "quarry-marks" as Vyse called them).[16] The previously discovered Davison's Chamber contained no quarry-marks.

The now famous single instance of Pharaoh Khufu's name is found on the south ceiling towards the west end of Campbell's Chamber. The Khufu cartouche is part of a short inscription that reads "the gang, followers of Khufu", i.e. the workmen that constructed the chamber.[20] Vyse had the graffiti copied by his assistant, J. R. Hill,[21] and sent them to Samuel Birch, the Keeper of Antiquities at the British Museum who, at the time, was one of the very few scholars able to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs. Birch was able to identify this cartouche as belonging to Suphis/Cheops as it had previously been identified by the Italian scholar, Ippolito Rosellini,[22] thereby confirming Khufu's involvement with the Great Pyramid - an association which had, until then, been reported only by Herodotus who records Khufu as the builder of the structure.[17][23][24]

Several compound cartouches of the similarly famous "Khnum-Khuf" royal name, also part of work gang graffiti, is found in Lady Arbuthnot's Chamber[17], with more sketchy examples of this gang name found also in Nelson's Chamber and Wellington's Chamber[25].

Today these chambers also contain a fair amount of 19th and 20th century graffiti, most of which is concentrated in the topmost Campbell's Chamber.

Controversy[edit]

While mainstream Egyptology indeed regards Khufu as the builder and owner of the Great Pyramid of Giza, author Zecharia Sitchin in two of his books, The Stairway to Heaven (1980) and Journeys to the Mythical Past (2007), accused Vyse and his assistants, Perring and Hill, of forging the various names of Khufu in these chambers, offering as the motivation for this, Vyse's "determination to obtain a major find as time and money were running out".[26]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1851 England Census HO107/1718; Folio: 579; Page: 17
  2. ^ Dictionary of National Biography states that her father the 2nd Earl of Strafford was Thomas Wentworth. He was the first Earl of the second creation; the mistake probably comes from a misinterpretation to the reference to her that states she is the 2d(aughter) Earl of Strafford.
  3. ^ Abstract of the marriage settlement of Richard William Howard-Vyse and Frances Hesketh [no ref.] 24 Oct 1810 at Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies
  4. ^ PROB 11/2177 Will of Richard William Howard Howard Vyse, Major General in Her Majesty's Army of Stoke Place , Buckinghamshire
  5. ^ "No. 18174". The London Gazette. 10 September 1825. pp. 5–5. 
  6. ^ "No. 19456". The London Gazette. 1837-01-10. pp. 7–8. 
  7. ^ "No. 20670". The London Gazette. 1846-11-20. pp. 3–3. 
  8. ^ "No. 19902". The London Gazette. 1840-10-07. pp. 2–3. 
  9. ^ a b Great Britain House of Commons, Commissioners Report: Elections Beverley, vol. 18, p.393
  10. ^ Aidt, Toke S.; Franck, Raphaël (2013-06-01). "How to get the snowball rolling and extend the franchise: voting on the Great Reform Act of 1832". Public Choice. 155 (3-4): 229–250. ISSN 0048-5829. doi:10.1007/s11127-011-9911-y. 
  11. ^ Great Britain House of Commons, Journals of the House of Commons Vol. 62, July 10th, 1807, p.680
  12. ^ The Parliamentary Representation of the Six Northern Counties of England, William Wardell Bean
  13. ^ a b The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. G. Thorne, 1986
  14. ^ "No. 18653". The London Gazette. 1830-02-05. pp. 262–262. 
  15. ^ Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids, 1997, pp. 50-53
  16. ^ a b Vyse, H. (1840) Operations Carried on at the Pyramids of Gizeh in 1837: With an Account of a Voyage into Upper Egypt, and an Appendix. Vol I. London: James Fraser, Regent Street.
  17. ^ a b c Lehner, op. cit., p. 53
  18. ^ Tait's Edinburgh Magazine for 1837, Vol IV, pp.706-709
  19. ^ Vyse, Operations, Vol II, pp.152-176
  20. ^ Dallas and Dr Zahi Hawass inside the Great Pyramid. BBC One, Egypt's Lost Cities. Video clip available since Tue 24 May 2011.
  21. ^ Vyse, Operations Vol I, p.259
  22. ^ Vyse, Operations, Vol I, p.280
  23. ^ Brier, Bob; Houdin, Jean-Pierre (2008). The Secret of the Great Pyramid, How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery. harper-Collins. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-06-171410-8. 
  24. ^ Cimmino, Franco (1996). Storia delle Piramidi. Milano: Rusconi. p. 63. ISBN 88-18-70143-6. 
  25. ^ Vyse, Operations Vol I, p.280 & 284
  26. ^ Sitchin, Z. (1987) Forging the Pharaoh's Name. In, The Stairway to Heaven (Chapter 13). Santa Fe, N.M. : Bear & Co.
Attribution

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Richard Vyse
John Wharton
Member of Parliament for Beverley
18071812
With: John Wharton
Succeeded by
Charles Forbes
John Wharton
Preceded by
Sir Charles Hamilton
Augustus Cavendish-Bradshaw
Member of Parliament for Honiton
18121818
With: George Abercrombie Robinson
Succeeded by
Samuel Crawley
Peregrine Francis Cust
Honorary titles
Preceded by
High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire
1824
Succeeded by
James Du Pré
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Robert Harvey
High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire
1830
Succeeded by
Henry Andrewes Uthwatt