1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Strachey, Sir Richard

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STRACHEY, SIR RICHARD (1817–1908), British soldier and Indian administrator, third son of Edward Strachey, was born on the 24th of July 1817, at Sutton Court, Somersetshire. From Addiscombe he passed into the Bengal Engineers in 1836, and was employed for some years on irrigation works in the Northwestern Provinces. He served in the Sutlej campaign of 1845–46, and was at the battles of Aliwal and Sobraon, was mentioned in despatches, and received a brevet-majority. From 1858 to 1865 he was chiefly employed in the public works department, either as acting or permanent secretary to the government of India, and from 1867 to 1871 he filled the post of director-general of irrigation, then specially created. During this period the entire administration of public works was reorganized to adapt it to the increasing magnitude of the interests with which this department has had to deal since its establishment by Lord Dalhousie in 1854. For this reorganization, under which the accounts were placed on a proper footing and the forest administration greatly developed, Strachey was chiefly responsible. His work in connexion with Indian finance was important. In 1867 he prepared a scheme in considerable detail for decentralizing the financial administration of India, which formed the basis of the policy afterwards carried into effect by his brother Sir John Strachey under Lord Mayo and Lord Lytton. He left India in 1871, but in 1877 he was sent there to confer with the government on the purchase of the East Indian railway, and was then selected as president of the commission of inquiry into Indian famines. In 1878 he was appointed to act for six months as financial member of the governor-general’s council, when he made proposals for meeting the difficulties arising from the depreciation of the rupee, then just beginning to be serious. These proposals did not meet with the support of the secretary of state. From that time he continued to take an active part in the efforts made to bring the currencies of India and England into harmony, until in 1892 he was appointed a member of Lord Herschell’s committee, which arrived at conclusions in accordance with the views put forward by him in 1878. He attended in 1892 the International Monetary Conference at Brussels as delegate for British India. Strachey was a member of the council of the secretary of state for India from 1875 to 1889, when he resigned his seat in order to accept the post of chairman of the East Indian Railway Company. Strachey’s scientific labours in connexion with the geology, botany and physical geography of the Himalaya were considerable. He devoted much time to meteorological research, was largely instrumental in the formation of the Indian meteorological department, and became chairman of the meteorological council of the Royal Society in 1883. From 1888 to 1890 he was president of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1897 he was awarded one of the royal medals of the Royal Society, of which he became a fellow in 1854; and in the same year he was created G.C.S.I. He died on the 12th of February 1908. His widow, Lady Strachey, whom he married in 1880, became well-known as an authoress and a supporter of women’s suffrage.