WADE, SIR THOMAS FRANCIS (1818-1895), British diplomatist, born in London on the 25th of August 1818, was the son of Major Wade of the Black Watch, by his wife Anne, daughter of William Smythe of Barbavilla, Westmeath. In 1838 his father purchased for him a commission in the 81st Regiment. Exchanging (1839) into the 42nd Highlanders, he served with his regiment in the Ionian Islands, devoting his leisure to the congenial study of Italian and modern Greek. On receiving his commission as lieutenant in 1841 he exchanged into the 98th Regiment, then under orders for China, and landed in Hong-Kong in June 1842. The scene of the war had at that time been transferred to the Yangtze-kiang, and thither Wade was ordered with his regiment. There he took part in the attack on Chin-kiang-fu 镇江府 and in the advance on Nanking. In 1845 he was appointed interpreter in Cantonese to the Supreme Court of Hong-Kong, and in 1846 assistant Chinese secretary to the superintendent of trade, Sir John Davis. In 1852 he was appointed vice-consul at Shanghai. The Tai-ping rebellion had so disorganized the administration in the neighborhood of Shanghai that it was considered advisable to put the collection of the foreign customs duties into commission, a committee of three, of whom Wade was the chief, being entrusted with the administration of the customs. This formed the beginning of the imperial maritime customs service. In 1855 Wade was appointed Chinese secretary to Sir John Bowring, who had succeeded Sir J. Davis at Hong-Kong. On the declaration of the second Chinese War in 1857, he was attached to Lord Elgin's staff as Chinese secretary, and with the assistance of H. N. Lay he conducted the negotiations which led up to the treaty of Tientsin (1858). In the following year he accompanied Sir Frederick Bruce in his attempt to exchange the ratification of the treaty, and was present at Taku 大沽 when the force attending the mission was treacherously attacked and driven back from the Peiho 北河. On Lord Elgin's return to China in 1860 he resumed his former post of Chinese secretary, and was mainly instrumental in arranging for the advance of the special envoys and the British and French forces to Tientsin, and subsequently towards Peking. For the purpose of arranging for a camping ground in the neighborhood of Tungchow 通州 he accompanied Mr (afterwards Sir) Harry Parkes on his first visit to that city, where on the next day Parkes with Mr Loch and others was by an act of shameless treachery made prisoner. In the succeeding negotiations Wade took a leading part, and on the establishment of the legation at Peking he took up the post of Chinese secretary of legation. In 1862 he was made a Companion of the Bath. On the return of Sir Frederick Bruce to England in 1864 he remained as charge d'affaires, and again from 1869 to 1871, when he was appointed minister, he filled the acting post. The Tientsin massacre in 1870 entailed long and difficult negotiations, which were admirably conducted by Wade. On the assumption of power by the emperor T'ung-chih he, in common with his colleagues, requested an audience in accordance with the treaties, which was for the first time granted as a right. The murder of A.R. Margary near Manwyne 满云 in Yunnan in 1875 threatened at one time to cause a rupture with the Chinese government, and as a matter of fact Wade did leave Peking. But the Chinese, finding that he was in earnest, despatched Li Hung-chang 李鸿章 after him to Chefoo 之罘, where the two diplomatists arranged the penalties which were to be paid for the crime, and concluded a convention which, after a considerable interval, was ratified by the governments. Wade was then made K.C.B., and in 1883 retired from the service. On his return to England the attractions of his old university induced him to take up his residence at Cambridge, where he was appointed the first professor of Chinese. He died there on the 31st of July 1895. In 1889 he was made G.C.M.G. In 1868 he had married Amelia, daughter of Sir John Herschel.
Sir Robert Kennaway Douglas
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Eleventh Edition), Vol. 28, pp. 277-278