Wade, George (DNB00)
WADE, GEORGE (1673–1748), field-marshal, born in 1673, is said to have been third son of Jerome Wade of Kilavally, Westmeath, whose father, William Wade, major of dragoons in Cromwell's army, married a daughter of Henry Stonestreet, rector of South Heighton, Sussex. George was appointed ensign to Captain Richard Trevanion's company in the Earl of Bath's regiment (10th foot) on 26 Dec. 1690. There was a tradition in the Wade family that the future field-marshal served at the battle of Aughrim. This is most improbably, as Lord Bath's regiment was in the Channel Islands in July 1691, whence it was sent to Flanders the same year. In August 1692 Wade served with his regiment at Steinkirk, and was promoted to lieutenant on 10 Feb. 1692-3. On 19 April 1694 he was promoted to captain-lieutenant, and on 13 June 1695 was appointed captain of the grenadier company.
On the breaking out of the war with France in 1702, Sir Bevil Granville's (late Lord Bath's) regiment was in Flanders, and Wade served with his corps at the sieges of Kaiserswerth, Venlo, and Roermond; also in the action with the French near Nimeguen. In the autumn of 1702 Captain Wade served at the siege of Liège. It is recorded that Wade's grenadiers greatly distinguished themselves in storming and carrying the citadel, one of the strongest fortifications in Flanders. On 20 March 1703 Wade was promoted major, and in August of the same year served at the siege and capture of Huy. On 25 Oct. 1703 he succeeded to the lieutenant-colonelcy of his regiment, and in 1704 volunteered for service in Portugal, whither a British contingent was about to be despatched under the Earl of Galway. Through Galway's influence Wade received the staff appointment of adjutant-general in Portugal, with the brevet rank of colonel, on 27 Aug. 1704. In the spring of 1705 Galway laid siege to the frontier town of Valencia d'Alcantara, which was carried by storm on 8 May. At this siege Robert Duncanson, colonel of the regiment afterwards the 33rd foot and now the Duke of Wellington's West Riding regiment, was killed, and the colonelcy was bestowed on Wade. On 10 April 1706 Wade was wounded at the siege of Alcantara, but continued to serve on Galway's staff, and accompanied the allied forces to Madrid, which was entered in triumph on 27 June. The well-known tripartite comedy of errors was now played by the three leading Carlist actors, Galway, Peterborough, and Charles. After a month of inaction at Madrid, Galway left the Spanish capital with the allied forces and retreated to Valencia. ‘The retreat was made in so good order,’ wrote Lord Galway, ‘that the enemy, superior as they were in number, never durst venture to attack us after the warm reception twenty-two of their squadrons met with from two battalions under the command of Colonel Wade in the town of Villa Nova.’ Wade earned fresh laurels at the fatal battle of Almanza on 25 April 1707, where he commanded, as a brigadier-general in the Spanish army, the third brigade of British infantry, which bore the brunt of the fighting and lost heavily. He miraculously escaped capture, and joined Galway at Alcira, whence he was sent to England with despatches. On 1 Jan. 1707–8 Wade was promoted brigadier-general in the British army, and returned to Spain in the spring. He was chosen second in command to General James Stanhope (afterwards first Earl Stanhope) [q. v.] in the expedition to Minorca which sailed from Barcelona in September 1708. At the siege of Port Philip, which defended Port Mahon, Wade led the stormers, captured a redoubt, and afterwards negotiated a capitulation. Port Philip being reduced, the capital and whole island at once submitted, and became a British dependency. Wade received a complimentary letter from Charles III and the commission of major-general in the Carlist army. In November he was sent home with news of the reduction of Minorca.
After leaving England Wade remained in Portugal until 1710, when he joined Stanhope in Spain and was given the command of a brigade of infantry. On 20 Aug. was fought the battle of Saragossa. All the colours, twenty-two pieces of cannon, and nearly four thousand prisoners were captured, besides King Philip's plate and equipage. Wade was recommended for promotion by Stanhope (Colonel Harrison to Lord Dartmouth on 23 Sept. 1710), and sent to England to ask for additional troops and supplies.
Wade did not return to Spain. He was promoted major-general on 3 Oct. 1714, and a month later was appointed major-general of the forces in Ireland. It is doubtful whether he took up this command, as he was returned to parliament for Hindon, Wiltshire, on 25 Jan. 1714–15. When the rebellion broke out in 1715 Wade was sent to Bath, which was strongly Jacobite, in command of two regiments of dragoons. His zeal in ferreting out conspiracies resulted in a find of eleven chests of firearms, swords, cartridges, three pieces of cannon, one mortar, and moulds to cast cannon, which had been buried underground. Two years later Wade was instrumental in discovering a plot against the government hatched by Count Gyllenberg, the Swedish ambassador, who was arrested. On 19 March 1717 George I bestowed the colonelcy of the regiment now known as the 3rd dragoon guards on Wade; and when it was decided to send an expedition, under Sir Richard Temple, viscount Cobham [q. v.], against Vigo in 1719, Wade was appointed second in command. This expedition was entirely successful. Vigo surrendered, and Pont-a-Vedra was taken by Wade, who captured and destroyed the arsenal after removing the most valuable guns, stores, and ammunition, which were sent on board the fleet.
In 1722 Wade was elected M.P. for Bath, which borough he continued to represent until his death. Two years later he was sent to Scotland to reconnoitre the highlands and observe their strength and resources. Wade's report to the government on the measures he considered necessary to adopt for the civilisation of the country resulted in his being appointed commander-in-chief in Scotland. Now commenced, under Wade's superintendence, the construction of those important military roads which brought the inmost fastnesses in the north and west of Scotland within touch of the rest of Great Britain. Wade commenced his roads in 1726, employing five hundred soldiers in the work, who received sixpence a day extra pay, and in three years the work was well advanced. Wade's engineering triumphs in the highlands are recorded in the historic bull,
Had you seen these roads before they were made,
You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade,
which was inscribed on an obelisk which formerly stood on the road between Inverness and Inverary. Forty stone bridges were also built by Wade's ‘highwaymen,’ as he facetiously termed his working soldiers. Of these bridges, the most worthy of mention is the one he built over the Tay in 1733. A Latin inscription, composed by Robert Freind [q. v.], was placed on the parapet of this bridge in commemoration of Wade (‘Memoir on Scottish Roads’ prefixed to Burt's Letters; Gent. Mag. 1731 p. 488, 1754 p. 516; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ii. 192). The disarming of the highland clans was proceeded with so slowly and judiciously that Wade became personally popular even while faithfully obeying most distasteful orders (Stanhope, Hist. of England, ii. 86). Three regiments of dragoons were raised in June 1727 to increase the military force in Scotland, and the colonelcy of one of these regiments was given to Wade, who had been promoted lieutenant-general on 7 March 1727. In 1732 the sinecure government of Berwick and Holy Island was bestowed on him by George II, who in 1733 appointed him governor of the newly constructed Fort William, Fort Augustus, and Fort George. Wade was not in Scotland at the time of the Porteous riots, but it was owing to his application to Queen Caroline that Porteous was reprieved. On 2 July 1739 Wade was promoted general of horse, and in 1742 was appointed a privy councillor and lieutenant-general of the ordnance.
These honours were followed on 14 Dec. 1743 by the bestowal of a field-marshal's baton and by his appointment as commander-in-chief of the British forces in Flanders, which were to co-operate with the Austrian and Dutch contingents. The Duc d'Aremberg commanded the Austrians, and the Count of Nassau the Dutch. Opposed to the allied forces were eighty-five thousand French troops, under Maurice of Saxe. The French, superior in numbers, were under an able commander, while Wade, who was turned seventy years of age and in failing health, had never before commanded an army in the field. He found d'Aremberg and Nassau opposed to all his plans, and at the opening of the campaign in 1744 the allied generals had no definite plan of action. Within six weeks the French reduced Courtrai, Menin, and Ypres, Fort Knoque, and Furnes. George II, alarmed at their conquests, made Lord Carteret write to Wade and inform him that ‘it was his majesty's pleasure the army should march upon the enemy and attack him with a spirit suitable to the glory of the British nation’ (Carteret MSS.) The allies crossed the Scheldt on 20 July in order to bring the French to an engagement. The time was propitious, as Prince Charles of Lorraine, at the head of an Austrian force, had won great success against the French in Alsace, which compelled Louis XV to withdraw part of his army from Flanders. The French army, however, took up a post behind the Lys, and the allies, impeded by a divided command, weakened by discordant opinions, and hampered by plans of campaign prepared in England by the Earl of Stair, effected nothing of importance. Wade and his colleagues were made the butts for pasquinades in the French papers (Gent. Mag. 1744), and appeared as comic figures in French plays. Early in October Wade's health broke down, and he applied for leave to return to England, which was granted. In the following March he resigned his command. George II expressed satisfaction at his services, and further evinced his goodwill by appointing him commander-in-chief in England.
On the outbreak of the rebellion in Scotland Wade took the field with all the forces he could collect, and marched to Doncaster. Several regiments were recalled from Flanders, and six thousand Dutch troops were requisitioned from the states to serve in Great Britain. The militia of several counties was also called out. But there was no display of enthusiasm for the king's service in the north of England. ‘Wade says England is for the first-comer,’ wrote Henry Fox to Sir C. Williams, ‘and I believe it.’ By the end of September Wade's force, numbering ten thousand, concentrated on Newcastle. The highland army, flushed by the victory of Prestonpans, marched to Kelso and made feint of proceeding to Wooler, which put Wade on the wrong scent. Turning suddenly westward, they marched through Liddesdale into Cumberland. Carlisle was surprised and captured. Utterly perplexed by contradictory reports as to the route taken by the rebels, Wade marched to Hexham in the hope of intercepting them. Arriving there on 16 Nov., in a snowstorm of unequalled severity, news was received of the capture of Carlisle. The impassable state of the roads prevented Wade from marching further westward. Meanwhile Charles Edward continued his victorious march southward, followed by Wade. A fresh army of eight thousand men, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, was marching across Staffordshire. The highlanders, under the able leadership of Lord George Murray, outmarched and outmanœuvred Cumberland, and reached Derby on 4 Dec. Two days later they turned their faces homewards. Once more Lord George Murray guided his little army safely between the hostile armies of Wade and Cumberland, and reached the borders of Westmoreland in safety. Cumberland was appointed commander-in-chief of the whole British army, and Wade retired into private life.
He died, unmarried, on 14 March 1748, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. By his will, dated 1 June 1747, Wade left 500l. for the erection of a monument to himself either in Bath Abbey or Westminster Abbey. The monument was erected at Westminster. It is said that the sculptor Roubiliac used to come and stand before ‘his best work,’ the monument to Wade, and weep to think that it was put too high to be appreciated (Stanley, Westminster Abbey, p. 267). Two portraits of Wade, one anonymous and the other by Haecken ‘after John Vanderbank,’ are in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (cf. Bromley, p. 287). A third portrait, painted by Adrian Van Diest, was engraved by Faber (ib.) As a soldier Wade's talents were more solid than brilliant, and did not fit him for successful command. He was a useful lieutenant and an excellent leader in action, but he entirely lacked initiative, and he was discouraged and perplexed by responsibility. Wade left two natural sons, Captain William Wade and Captain John Wade, to whom, with his illegitimate daughter, Mrs. Jane Erle, he left most of his estate, although providing generously for the widow and children of his brother William, canon of Windsor. Besides the above three children, Wade had a natural daughter named Emilia, who was married, in 1728, to John Mason; and secondly, to Mr. Jebb.
[Ballantyne's Life of Lord Carteret; Burke's Landed Gentry, 4th edit.; Chambers's Domestic Annals of Scotland; Cannon's Records of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and 10th Foot; Life of the Duke of Cumberland; Parnell's War of the Spanish Succession; Carruthers's Highland Notebook; Coxe's Pelham Administration; Life of John, Earl of Crawford; Cunningham's Biogr. Dict.; Georgian Era; Granger's Biogr. Dict.; Lord Hervey's Memoirs; Lockhart Papers; State Papers for Spain, Portugal, and Dom. Ser. in Public Record Office; Stanhope's History of England; Tindal's History; Wade's manuscript letters and order-books in Brit. Mus.; War Office Commission Books; Westminster Abbey Registers; Wright's Life of Major-general James Wolfe.]