Wyse, Thomas (1701?–70), industrialist and co-founder of the Catholic Committee, was the son of Francis Wyse (d. 1717) of the Manor of St John, Waterford, and his wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Masterson of Castletown and Moneyseed, Co. Wexford. Wyses had held property in County Waterford since 1375 (if not before) and had acquired St John's (a dissolved Benedictine priory) in 1536. At a time when the penal laws had great effect Thomas Wyse may, after inheriting his father's property, have chosen to live quietly as a catholic gentleman. He married (c.1720?) Elizabeth Bourne of London and with her had four sons and three daughters. It was said by a descendant that he spent ‘the early portion of his life’ abroad and that ‘his sons were employed in the service of foreign powers’ (Wyse, Hist. sketch, 43). After his wife's death he married (c.1740?) Hester (née Daton), widow of Sir Francis Edwardes of Derbyshire.
During the 1740s, Wyse engaged in industrial enterprises. He may have begun copper and lead mining in 1745 and metal manufacturing at St John's, Waterford, soon afterwards. The smelting operation was transferred to Pouldrew, near Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford. He discovered and exploited with ingenuity a lead and silver vein near Danes Island and may have worked a copper vein on Lord Ranelagh's land (near Annestown). Wyse won prizes from the Dublin Society (for handsaws and scythes) and manufactured also various fine metal goods including trays and snuff-boxes painted with landscapes in Japanese style – it was he who first employed George Mullins (qv). With support from a local MP, Shapland Carew (1716–80), he sought £3,000 aid from parliament but was refused (1760). To relieve distress in the 1760s he opened corn mills and baking ovens. Wyse was known as ‘Bullocks’ Wyse, as he used bullocks, not horses, to draw his carriage in protest against an act prohibiting catholics from owning a horse valued at £5 or more (7 Will. III, c. 5).
In 1760 he was associated with Charles O'Conor (qv) (1710–91) and John Curry (qv), in organising meetings at the Elephant Tavern, Essex St., Dublin, which gave rise to the Catholic Association (later known as the Catholic Committee). Wyse's proposals that it be composed of representatives chosen by ballot by ‘the principal inhabitants of each parish and in each county by a majority of the parish priests’, that ‘everything done by a majority of voices shall be binding’ and that a permanent chairman and secretary be appointed, were democratic, but they were not implemented until much later. In 1766 an attempt was made by a protestant clergyman and magistrate, John Hewetson of Suirville (on the north bank of the Suir opposite Waterford), to persuade James Buxton, a man under sentence of death for a murder for which Nicholas Sheehy (qv) had already been hanged, to swear that Wyse and others ‘intended rebellion, treasonable conspiracies and a massacre’ (1766).
The last years of Wyse's life, before his death at Waterford on 13 (or 20?) June 1770, were unhappy. His youngest son, Richard (d. 1764?), conformed to the established protestant church for motives that are unclear (1763). By 1765 Wyse was proposing to sell his estate (though he did not do so) and in 1770, in drafting his will, he expressed a poor opinion of his sons, accusing them of ‘embezzling and applying my effects to their own pleasures and purposes’. The eldest (also Thomas?) predeceased him (c.1769); the second and third sons, Francis (d. 1798 or 1799?) and John (d. 1799), succeeded to his enterprises at Pouldrew but mismanaged them; Francis, who was elected a delegate to the Catholic Convention in 1792 but apparently did not attend, never married; John married Mary Anne, a daughter of Walter Blackney of Ballyellin, Co. Carlow, and with her had four sons, the eldest of whom, Thomas (known as ‘the gentle’), inherited directly the bulk of Thomas Wyse's property as well as Pouldrew and was father of Sir Thomas Wyse (qv), who judged his great-grandfather to have been lacking in ‘cool discretion and judicious temper’ (Hist. sketch, 44). Three portraits of Thomas (‘Bullocks’) Wyse are in the Waterford Museum of Treasures.