Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Adye, John Miller

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ADYE, Sir JOHN MILLER (1819–1900), general, born at Sevenoaks, Kent, on 1 Nov. 1819, was son of Major James Pattison Adye, R.A., by Jane, daughter of J. Mortimer Kelson of Sevenoaks. His grandfather. Major Stephen Payne Adye [q. v.], served in the seven years' war as an officer of royal artillery; he had three sons in the regiment, and there has been an unbroken succession of members of the family in it ever since.

J. M. Adye entered the military academy at Woolwich as a cadet in February 1834. He passed out at the head of his batch, and by his own choice received a commission as second-lieutenant in the royal artillery on 13 Dec, 1836. He became first-lieutenant on 7 July 1839; was sent to Malta in 1840, to Dublin (as adjutant) in 1843, and was posted to C troop of horse artillery in 1845. He was promoted second-captain on 29 July 1846, and captain on 1 April 1852. He was in command of the artillery detachment at the Tower of London in the spring of 1848 when attack by the Chartists was apprehended.

In May 1854, on the outbreak of the Crimean war, Adye went to Turkey as brigade-major of artillery. Lord Raglan obtained for him a brevet majority on 22 Sept., and made him assistant adjutant-general of artillery. He was present with the headquarter staff at Alma, Balaclava, and Inkerman, where General Fox Strangways, who commanded the artillery, was killed close by him. He served throughout the siege of Sebastopol, and remained in the Crimea till June 1856. He was three times mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 10 Oct. and 2 Dec. 1854, and 2 Nov. 1855), was made brevet lieutenant-colonel on 12 Dec. 1854, and C.B. on 6 July 1855. He received the Crimean medal with four clasps, the Turkish medal, the Medjidie (4th class), and the legion of honour (3rd class).

Adye was stationed at Cork Harbour when the Indian mutiny broke out, and in July 1857 he was sent to India as assistant adjutant-general of artillery. From Calcutta he went up to Cawnpore, and arrived there on 21 Nov. to find that Sir Colin Campbell had already left for the relief of Lucknow, and that the Gwalior contingent was advancing upon Cawnpore. He took part in the actions fought there by Windham [see Windham, Sir Charles Ash] on the 26th and following days, and brought in a 24-pounder which had been upset and abandoned in one of the streets of the town. He afterwards wrote an account of the defence of Cawnpore. He was present at the battle of 6 Dec, in which the Gwalior contingent was routed by Sir Colin Campbell after his return from Lucknow. His administrative duties then obliged Adye to return to Calcutta, and he saw no more fighting during the mutiny. He was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 29 Jan. 1858), and received the medal. He became regimental lieutenant-colonel on 29 Aug. 1857, and was made brevet colonel on 19 May 1860.

In May 1859 he was appointed to command the artillery in the Madras presidency, and in March 1863 deputy adjutant-general of artillery in India. In this post, which he held for three years, it fell to him to carry out the amalgamation of the three Indian regiments of artillery with the royal artillery, a difficult task demanding patience and tact. In November 1863 he joined the commander-in-chief. Sir Hugh Rose, at Lahore, and was sent by him to the Umbeyla Valley, where General Chamberlain's expedition against the Sitana fanatics was at a deadlock. Adye, who was accompanied by Major (now Earl) Roberts, was to see Chamberlain, and to bring back a personal report of the situation. He was present at the action of 15 Dec. which finally dispersed the tribesmen, and at the burning of Mulka, the home of the fanatics, a week afterwards. He was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 19 March 1864) and received the medal with Umbeyla clasp.

After nine years of Indian service Adye returned to England. He had formed strong views, to which he afterwards gave frequent expression, as to the importance of trusting the people of India, and admitting them to high office, civil and military. He had the fullest faith in a policy of conciliation and subsidies as the solvent for frontier difficulties. He became regimental colonel on 6 July 1867.

On 1 April 1870 he was appointed director of artillery and stores. To his administration has been attributed the failure of the British artillery to keep pace in improvements with that of other countries. Adye was undoubtedly a firm believer in the wrought-iron muzzle-loader. But the reversion to muzzle-loading had taken place in 1863 before he came into office, and it was only after he had left office that improvements in gunpowder furnished irresistible arguments in favour of breech-loading [see Armstrong, Sir William George, Suppl.] Outside the duties of his own department he was a staunch supporter of Cardwell's army reforms; and when they were criticised by John Holmes, M.P. for Hackney, he wrote a pamphlet in reply, 'The British Army in 1876,' which was published in 1876.

In the autumn of 1872 he was sent to the Crimea, in company with Colonel Charles George Gordon, to report on the British cemeteries there. The report was sensible enough, involved no great expenditure, and was carried out. Adye was made K.C.B. on 24 May 1873, and promoted major-general on 17 Nov. 1875.

On 1 Aug. 1875 he succeeded Sir Lintorn Simmons as governor of the military academy at Woolwich. He took an active part in the discussion which followed soon afterwards about the advance of Russia towards India and our relations with Afghanistan. He made light of the danger from Russia, advocated 'a consistent policy of forbearance and kindness' towards Afghanistan, and opposed rectifications of frontier. He replied (18 Oct. 1878) to Sir James Fitzjames Stephen's letters in the 'Times' in support of the forward policy on the North-West frontier, and printed a paper for private circulation in December on 'England, Russia, and Afghanistan.'

When Gladstone returned to office in 1880, Adye was appointed (1 June) surveyor-general of the ordnance, but did not succeed in finding a seat in parliament. In August 1882, on the outbreak of Arabi Pacha's rebellion in Egypt, he accompanied Sir Garnet Wolseley to Egypt as chief of the staff, with the temporary rank of general, and he is entitled to a share of the credit for the success of that well-organised expedition. He was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 8 Sept. and 6 Oct. 1882), and received the thanks of parliament, the G.C.B., the medal with clasp and bronze star, and the grand cross of the Medjidie.

Adye returned to the war office in October, but left it at the end of 1882 to become governor of Gibraltar. There he tried to reconcile the dual interests of a fortress and a commercial city, relaxed some of the military restrictions on trade, and provided recreation rooms for the garrison. He remained there nearly four years, but on 1 Nov. 1886 he was placed on the retired list, having reached the age of sixty-seven. He devoted some of his leisure to a volume of autobiographical reminiscences (No. 4, infra), which was illustrated by his own sketches, for he was an excellent artist. He became general on 20 Nov. 1884, and a colonel-commandant on 4 Nov. 1881. He was also honorary colonel, from 6 May 1870, of the 3rd Kent artillery volunteers and the 3rd volunteer battalion of the West Kent regiment.

He died on 26 Aug. 1900 at Cragside, Rothbury, Northumberland, while on a visit to Lord Armstrong. In 1856 he married Mary Cordelia, daughter of Admiral the Honourable Sir Montagu Stopford, and had several children. His eldest son. Colonel John Adye, R.A., has seen active service in Afghanistan, Egypt, the Soudan, and South Africa. His eldest daughter Winifreda Jane married, in 1889, Lord Armstrong's grand-nephew and heir, Mr. William Henry Watson-Armstrong.

In addition to the pamphlets already mentioned, and an article 'In Defence of Short Service' in the 'Nineteenth Century' for September 1892, Adye wrote: 1. 'The Defence of Cawnpore,' London, 1858, 8vo. . 'Review of the Crimean War to the Winter of 1854-1855,' London, 1860, 8vo. 3. 'Sitana: a Mountain Campaign,' London, 1867, 8vo. 4. 'Recollections of a Military Life,' London, 1895, 8vo. 5. 'Indian Frontier Policy: an Historical Sketch,' London, 1897, 8vo.

[Adye's Recollections of a Military Life, 1895; Times, 27 Aug. 1900.]

E. M. L.