Background and early life
Vincent Eyre was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, on 20 September 1744, the eldest child of Nathaniel Eyre (1713-81) and Jane Bromhead (c.1719-1807). He had three younger brothers and one sister. All three of his brothers became priests. Eyre himself spent one year at the Catholic Douai College in France, 1760-1, but he later returned to England to pursue a legal career.
Lawyer and land agent
Eyre returned to England in 1764 and was articled to a law office in Manchester. In 1767 he moved to London to study in the chambers of Maire & Booth. Admitted as a barrister at Lincoln's Inn, he joined the chambers of George Wilmot, attorney for the Duke of Norfolk.
In 1776 Wilmot died, leaving Eyre a legacy of £300 and the lease of the chambers, which Eyre sold in 1779 for £1,000.
In 1779 Eyre was appointed agent to the 10th Duke of Norfolk, managing his estates in Sheffield and Worksop. The Duke was the principal landowner in Sheffield, making Eyre an influential figure there. He later served as a town trustee and town collector, 1790-3.
Working on behalf of his employer, Eyre make significant changes to the town of Sheffield, including clearing away the open market and slaughter houses, establishing a new market and laying out Sheffield’s first planned streets. Many of the new streets between Fargate and the River Sheaf (an area then known as Alsop Fields) were given names associated with the Norfolk family, including Surrey, Charles, Howard and Duke Streets. One street continues to bear Eyre's name to this day.
Eyre was also responsible for much of the colliery development in the district, working coal mines that he leased as his own interests from the Duke.
In 1791 Eyre, by now a wealthy man, became a founding partner in Walkers, Eyre & Stanley, a new bank with branches in both Sheffield and Rotherham. Eyre probably provided a significant part of the original capital. Like his fellow partners the Walkers (wealthy iron merchants in Rotherham) and William Stanley (a prominent Rotherham merchant) he used the bank to manage and develop his own business activities. The Duke of Norfolk was also an important early customer of the bank.
On 13 April 1774 Vincent Eyre married Catherine Parker (1757-1840) of Prescot, daughter of William Parker and Mary Bolton. They had 14 children, several of whom died in infancy:
- Vincent Henry (1775-1851)
- Mary Barbara (1776-1863)
- Thomas Joseph (1778)
- Charles Nathaniel (1779-1859)
- Thomas Joseph (1780-1866)
- Catherine (1782-1843)
- Juliana (1783-1873)
- Teresa (1785-8)
- Francis James (1787-96)
- John Lewis (1789-1880)
- James (1791-4)
- William Francis (1793-1885)
- Teresa (1796-1806)
- Francis James (1798-9)
Vincent Eyre died on 7 April 1801 in Sheffield and was buried in the Eyre Chapel at Newbold, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. He was succeeded in the banking partnership and as agent of the Duke of Norfolk by his son, Vincent Henry Eyre.
- 'Ironmasters and Duke's Agent: The Sheffield and Rotherham Bank – the Early Days', Three Banks Review, no.73, 1967
- Street Names of Central Sheffield information sheet, Sheffield Libraries and Archives & Information, 2011
- History, Gazetteer and Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1837