Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sladen, Edward Bosc

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SLADEN, Sir EDWARD BOSC (1827–1890), Indian officer, born at Madras, on 20 Nov. 1827, was son of Dr. Ramsey Sladen, of the East India Company's service (d. 1860?), and his second wife, Emma, daughter of Colonel Paul Bosc. Educated at Oswestry school, Shropshire, he was nominated to an East India cadetship on 14 April 1849, and, going back to India in that year, was posted on 3 Sept. 1850 as second lieutenant to the 1st Madras fusiliers, one of the company's European regiments. He served in the second Burmese war, being present at the relief of Pegu in December 1852, and at the second investment of Pegu in January 1853. Gazetted a lieutenant on 1 Feb. 1853, he was appointed an assistant commissioner in Tenasserim; and in 1856–7 took part in operations against insurgent shans and karens in the Yun-za-lin district, when he was severely wounded. In February 1858 he rejoined his regiment, then serving against the mutineers in Upper India, and was present at the capture of Lucknow in March 1858. In the subsequent campaign in Oudh he accompanied Hope Grant's column [see Grant, Sir James Hope], and acted as brigade quartermaster under Sir Alfred Hastings Horsford [q. v.] On the return of his regiment to Madras he reverted to district work in Burma, joining the Indian staff corps when the Madras fusiliers became a queen's regiment. He was gazetted captain 21 June 1860, major 14 April 1869, lieutenant-colonel 14 April 1875. In 1866 he went to Mandalay as agent of the chief commissioner, and in August of that year had a narrow escape from a body of insurgents who had murdered three of the royal princes. During the disturbances that ensued he embarked nearly all the Europeans and other Christians at the Burmese capital on board a river steamer and brought them safely to Rangoon, for which he received the thanks of the governor-general. The insurrection having been put down, he returned to Mandalay, and in May 1867 exerted his influence with the king to prevent the execution of three young princes, two of whom owed their lives to his intercession, the other having been beheaded before a reprieve arrived. Shortly afterwards he obtained the king's assent to a new treaty of commerce and extradition which was ratified by the governor-general on 26 Nov. 1867. In 1868 he was placed in charge of a political mission sent to the Chinese frontier to inquire into the causes of the cessation of overland trade between Burmah and China, and to obtain information respecting the shans, kakyens, and panthays. Leaving Mandalay on 13 Jan., he proceeded via Bhamo to Maulmein or Teng-yueh Chu, the frontier town of the Chinese province of Yunnan, where he stayed six weeks, but was prevented from proceeding further by the disturbed state of the country. The mission reached Bhamo, on its return journey, 3 Sept., having acquired much valuable information about an almost unknown country. From 1876 to 1885 Sladen was commissioner of the Arakan division; and in the latter year he accompanied the force sent against King Thebaw, as chief political officer. In this capacity, on the arrival of the British troops at Mandalay, on 28 Dec. 1885, he entered the royal palace, and received the king's submission. In a speech on 17 Feb. 1886 the governor-general, Lord Dufferin, made special mention of ‘Colonel Sladen, to whose courage and knowledge of the people we are so much indebted for the surrender of the king.’

On 26 Nov. 1886 Sladen was knighted, and on 14 April 1887 he retired from the service. He died in London on 4 Jan. 1890. He had married, in 1861, Sophia Catherine, daughter of Richard Pryce Harrison, Bengal civil service. She died in 1865, and in 1880 he married, secondly, Kate, the daughter of Robert Russell Carew of Carpenden Park, Hertfordshire, who survives him. Besides his ‘Official Narrative of the Expedition to China via Bhamo’ (Rangoon, 1869), he wrote a paper on the geographical results of the mission, which is printed in the ‘Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society,’ vol. xv.

[Mandalay to Momein, by John Anderson, M.D., 1876; Parliamentary Papers, Burma, 1886; Madras Army Lists; British Burma Administration Reports; Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, February 1890.]

S. W.