Reade, Edward Anderdon (DNB00)
READE, EDWARD ANDERDON (1807–1886), Anglo-Indian official, born at Ipsden, Oxfordshire, on 15 March 1807, was fifth son of John Reade of Ipsden, a property which has been in the possession of the family since 1581. John Read (1688–1756), who emigrated to America, and was one of the six founders of the city of Charlestown, is said to be a cousin. Edward's mother was Anna Maria, daughter of Major Scott-Waring, M.P. for Stockbridge. His youngest brother was Charles Reade, the novelist [q. v.] Four elder brothers joined, like himself, the East India Company's service. The eldest son, John Thurlow (1797–1827), a godson of the lord chancellor, went out to Bengal in 1816. Attached to the revenue department, he aided Holt Mackenzie, the secretary to the government in the revenue department, in framing the famous Regulation VII of 1822, the basis of the periodical revision of land revenue settlements in the North-Western Provinces. He died in 1827, shortly after his appointment as magistrate of Saharunpore.
Educated at the prebendary school at Chichester, Edward was nominated in 1823 to a writership in the East India Company's service, and studied at Haileybury College till December 1825. Although he arrived at Calcutta in June 1826, ill-health necessitated absence on leave, first in China and afterwards in England. In 1828 he returned to Calcutta, where he obtained a gold medal for proficiency in Indian languages, and he was soon appointed assistant to Robert Mertins Bird, magistrate and collector of Goruckpore. In 1832 he was promoted to a higher post at Cawnpore, and was entrusted with the introduction of the poppy cultivation in that district, a task the performance of which gained the governor-general's commendation in a despatch. In 1835 he succeeded Sir Frederick Currie as magistrate at Goruckpore, and in 1841 completed the settlement of the district. The board of revenue specially reported that he effected this laborious work ‘with equal cheerfulness, ability, and energy.’ From desolate forest the large territory was converted, under the wise administration of his assistants, into a fertile province, inhabited by contented and prosperous cultivators. In 1846 Reade was made commissioner of the division, and was transferred to Benares, where, besides fulfilling his official duties, he placed such institutions as the college, the blind asylum, and the dispensaries on an efficient footing. In 1852, during a threatening riot, he ordered a troop of cavalry to charge the rioters—not with swords, but dog-whips, a device which quelled the disturbance without bloodshed. In 1853 he was promoted to the Sudder board of revenue, and went to Agra. In the same year he was deputed as special commissioner to the Sauger and Nerbudda territories, to make inquiries into the fiscal, judicial, and other departments of their government. In 1856, after twenty-eight years' continuous service in India, he took a six months' vacation in England.
The outbreak of the mutiny in 1857 found him at Agra as the senior civilian, with John Russell Colvin [q. v.] as lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces of Bengal. The position of affairs was critical from the first. Under Reade's directions the fort, whither the garrison and English population soon removed, was provisioned and preparations were made for a long siege. Notwithstanding that an order had been issued against the removal thither of government records, he deposited the records of the revenue department in the fort with his own hands. These were the only records ultimately saved. The menacing attitude of the natives in the town induced Reade to break up the bridge of boats across the river and remove it under the guns of the fort, so as to prevent reinforcements from reaching the rebels from the other side. In spite of his opposition an unsuccessful attempt was made to extort a forced loan from the native merchants and bankers, but their personal respect for Reade counteracted the evil effects of the step. At length, on 5 July, the rebels about the town were temporarily defeated. In September Colvin died, and Reade, who had shared his heavy responsibilities for many months, took temporary charge of the government. Colonel Greathed [q. v.] finally dispersed the rebels on 10 Oct. Later in the year Agra was able to afford valuable help to the columns operating against Lucknow. Reade's sympathy with the loyal natives, and his endeavours to shield them from the effects of the spirit of vengeance which pervaded certain classes after the mutiny was suppressed, exposed him to some obloquy. But his attitude was appreciated by the natives. When the Mahommedans, on 28 July 1859, in a great religious ceremony at Moradabad, offered up a prayer of thanksgiving for the termination of the mutiny, the officiating priest invoked blessings on Reade, as well as on the queen and the viceroy, Lord Canning. Reade's last official act at Agra was to read the proclamation transferring the government of India from the East India Company to Queen Victoria. In 1860 he retired from the service, and farewell addresses from the natives of Agra, Benares, and other cities with whom he had been officially connected were presented to him. On arriving in England he was made a companion of the Bath, and settled down at his ancestral home in Oxfordshire, where he was appointed a magistrate. For twenty years he was chairman of the county bench at Wallingford. The goodwill of the people of India pursued him, and the maharajah of Benares, as a mark of esteem, established a public well for the villagers of Stoke Row, a hamlet in the Chiltern Hills on the upper portion of the Ipsden estate. It was sunk 398 feet deep, and was opened on 24 May 1864, and was the first instance of a charitable gift from an Indian prince to the poor of the ruling country. Reade's youngest brother, Charles, the novelist, had described in the ‘Woman Hater’ the previous defective water supply of the village, under the imaginary title of Hill Stoke. The maharajah's example was followed by Rajah Sir Deonarayun Singh, K.C.S.I., who provided a second well for an outlying portion of the village a mile distant.
Reade died at Ipsden on 11 Feb. 1886, and was buried in Ipsden churchyard. He married Eliza, the youngest daughter of Richard Nossiter Burnard of Crewkerne and Collyford in Somerset, by whom he had ten children. Five survived him.[Family papers and journals; Hon. East India Company's Despatches; Government of India Records; Kaye and Malleson's History of the Sepoy War.]