Wyse, Andrew Reginald Nicholas Gerald Bonaparte (1870–1940), civil servant and educationist, was born 1 November 1870 in Limerick, second of the four sons of William Charles Wyse, poet, and Ellen Linzee (d. 1925), daughter of W. G. Prout of St. Mabyn, Cornwall. William Charles Wyse (1826–92), born 20 February 1826 in Waterford, was the second son of Sir Thomas Wyse (qv), MP, and Princess Letitia Bonaparte, niece of Napoleon Bonaparte. His parents separated soon after his birth and he was brought up by his aunt, Mrs Winifred Wyse, and educated at Prior Park College, Bath. A captain of the Waterford militia and high sheriff of Waterford in 1855, he was a noted scholar of Provençal poetry and was one of the leaders of the Félibrige movement which was dedicated to restoring the Provençal dialect to literary use. He was much admired by the poet Frédéric Mistral, who wrote to the newspaper Siècle in 1863, demanding that Wyse be made king of Greece. After his marriage in 1864 he resided in Bath before returning to the family estate, the manor of St John's, Waterford, where the Wyses had lived since the early sixteenth century (though the lands were now greatly reduced). Afflicted by cancer, he apparently refused to die in Ireland so dragged himself to Cannes, France, where he died in a hotel on 3 December 1892 and was buried in the protestant quarter of the Cannes cemetery, the funeral address being read by the president of the Cannes branch of the Félibriges.
Andrew was educated at Downside School, near Bath, and London University, where he graduated with a BA in French (1890) and an MA in classics (1894); between degrees he taught in an English grammar school. Entering the commissioners of national education in Ireland as inspector of national schools for Cork at the very young age of 24, he spent the rest of his career in education, like his grandfather Sir Thomas Wyse, the most noted Irish educationist of the nineteenth century. Due to his linguistic ability he was sent in 1897 to France and Belgium as an attaché of the Belmore commission, which visited 119 schools around Europe and published recommendations for Irish schools in June 1898. Wyse was inspector for national schools in the Ballymena area, Co. Antrim (1898–1903), before taking up a similar post in Dublin. He was called to the central office in 1905, and in 1910 was made private secretary to W. J. M. Starkie (qv), resident commissioner for national education. In April 1915 he was promoted to the junior secretaryship of the board of education, and in this capacity was able to circumvent a Castle order during the war of independence to sanction no new teacher-training colleges in the Gaeltacht, by making applicant colleges branches of an already existing one. As chair of the 1918 committee of inquiry into Irish education, he helped draft Macpherson's bill (1919), which proposed to replace semi-independent education boards with a department of education. This bill was roundly condemned by the catholic hierarchy, which two years later refused to sit on the Lynn committee, appointed in September 1921 to draft proposals for education in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland minister of education, Lord Londonderry (qv), attempted to placate the hierarchy by appointing Wyse, the only catholic on the committee, as vice-chairman. This overlooked the fact that Wyse, liberal – even freethinking – in his religious outlook, an advocate of non-denominational education and a member of the Waterford landed gentry, with an English mother, was hardly representative of the interests of Northern Irish catholics. The resulting report was held to be biased against catholic schools, though Londonderry corrected it in his 1923 act. Impressed with Wyse, he invited him in 1922 to manage Northern Ireland's elementary-school network. Wyse was apparently reluctant and only accepted because of the tardiness of the southern education commissioners in promoting him. He never settled in Belfast but commuted weekly from his home in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Nevertheless he spent the rest of his career in Northern Ireland, and was permanent secretary to the ministry of education from 1927 until his retirement in 1939, the only catholic to have charge of a civil service department.
He attempted unsuccessfully to stand up to the United Education Committee of Protestant Churches, which brought about the amendment of the Londonderry act in 1925, but had more success in brokering accommodation between the government and catholic bodies. In 1925 he persuaded the Christian Brothers to use the ministry's books in return for funding, and three years later opposed the abolition of grants for Irish language classes on the basis that to limit them altogether would give ammunition to extremists. In 1930 he advised Craigavon (qv) and the minister of education, Charlemont (qv), to provide capital grants for ‘voluntary’ schools who had chosen to remain independent of local governmental authorities; these schools being run primarily by religious orders. The education historian D. H. Akenson credits Wyse's ‘administrative acumen’ (Akenson, 97) with saving the Northern Ireland education system from even greater damage than it suffered. The Irish deputy chief inspector and prominent member of the Gaelic League Séamus Fenton (1874–1958) held him almost without equal as an educationist, extolling the ‘keenness of his judgment, terseness of his remarks, and retentiveness of his memory’ (Fenton, 263).
Cosmopolitan, cultured, and scholarly, Wyse was an MRIA (1938) and a knight of Malta. Like his father and grandfather, he had strong links with continental Europe; he married (16 September 1896) Marie, daughter of Count Dmitry de Chirpunov of Orel, Russia, and later acquired the Chateau du Chêne Vert, in the département of Gard in south-eastern France. He inherited and took great pride in the family manor of St Johns, Waterford.
On retirement in 1939 he was made CB. He died 1 June 1940 in Dublin, and was survived by his wife, two daughters, and a son, who was an officer in the Free French navy during the second world war.