Society Gossip
Death in Paris of “Punch” Vyse

Few persons reading in the Times last week of the death in Paris of F. Howard Vyse will call to mind that the announcement related to one formerly well-known as “Punch Vyse,” entered “the Blues” at the age of 17 and rose to command the “E” troop in that regiment. Many good stories were told of poor “Punch,” one being that on a certain occasion, having to go on escort duty to Buckingham Palace or somewhere, he was unable to get his men out of the courtyard, his ideas of drill being somewhat hazy, so turning to his troop, he said, “Now, men, return to barracks as you are in the habit of doing.” Having sold out of the regiment in 1857, he was made Consul at Kanagawa, the seaport of Jeddo. His ideas of geography being somewhat vague, he told a friend a few days afterwards that he had, he believed, been appointed to Jeddah, a place somewhere on the Red Sea. However, he got to Japan, and shortly afterwards, an English subject was murdered by a follower of one of the Daimios, whereupon Consul Vyse issued the following startling notice: “The undersigned, her Majesty’s Vice-Consul, requests all British subjects to go about thoroughly armed, both as regards revolvers and every other species of deadly weapon, and to use them on every lawful occasion, both against the Japanese officials and non-officials.”

A few months later on he issued another order, saying he had been directed by the Foreign Office to withdraw the former notification. He was ultimately removed to Hakodadi, in the Island of Yesso, and remained there several years. One Christmas, having gone down to Jeddo to see his chief, and having left his Consulate in charge of a deputy, this man profited by his absence to give a Christmas party, and they got so gloriously tipsy that they set fire to the Consulate, which was burned down, as well as a large barrack adjoining. This led to “Punch’s” recall by Lord Derby, who refused to give him another post. He then left the Service, and passed the remainder of his life in Paris, living on a very small allowance from his family. A few friends stuck to him to the last, and had him removed from his wretched lodgings to the English Hospital at Neuilly, where he died, after a long and painful illness.

Dover Express - Friday 08 May 1891
Text reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive.