From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

William Van Wyck '47

Date of birth: 1824

Date of death: September 21, 1854

Age: ~30

Lucky Bag

The Lucky Bag was first published in 1894.


William was lost sometime after September 21, 1854 when USS Porpoise (1836) disappeared between Formosa and China.

He was born in, and appointed to the Naval Academy from, Maryland. He was born in 1824.

William was survived by his wife, Ellen Teresa Roche Febiger, and son, William Van Wyck Reily.


From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Midshipman, 19 October, 1841. Passed Midshipman, 10 August, 1847. Lost on the Porpoise, 21 September, 1855.

A letter he wrote in 1854 is in the files of the Maryland Historical Society.


A subspecies of the Island imperial pigeon, the vanwyckii, was characterized by William and is named in honor.

Related Articles

William Van Wyck Reily '75 was named for William; William Reily's father was a classmate and shipmate of William Van Wyck.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1842

Midshipman, Frigate United States

Others at this command: MIDN Theodoric Walker '47.

January 1844

Midshipman, Frigate United States

Others at this command: MIDN Theodoric Walker '47.

January 1846

Midshipman, Steamer Princeton

Others at this command: MIDN William Reily '47.

January 1847

Midshipman, Store Ship Supply

January 1849

Passed Midshipman, Sloop Albany

January 1850

Passed Midshipman, Store Ship Relief

January 1852

Passed Midshipman, Coast Survey

Others at this command: PASSED MIDN Robert Marr '46, PASSED MIDN George Hare '47, PASSED MIDN Horace Crabb '47, and PASSED MIDN Simeon Bassett '47.

January 1855

Passed Midshipman, acting Lieutenant, Brig Porpoise

Others at this command: PASSED MIDN Sylvanus Bliss '47, PASSED MIDN William Bridge '47, and PASSED MIDN William Reily '47.

Class of 1847

William is one of 31 members of the Class of 1847 on Virtual Memorial Hall.