Sir Thomas Francis Wade (1818-1895) was born in London on 25 August 1818, son of Major (later Colonel) Thomas Wade (d. 1846). He lived in Mauritius, 1823-1827, and in the Cape, 1829-1832, before returning to England and attending Harrow, 1832-1837. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1837, but left to join the army in 1838. He was made lieutenant in 1841, and was posted to Hong Kong, where he arrived in 1842. During the voyage he studied Chinese, leading to his appointment as interpreter at Hong Kong, 1843-1851. He was made vice-consul at Shanghai in 1852, and Chinese Secretary at Hong Kong in 1855. At the outbreak of war in 1857 Wade was attached to Lord Elgin's special mission, and was given responsibility to negotiate the treaty of Tientsin with the Chinese authorities. He was also attached to Elgin's second mission in 1860. Wade was a member of the Peking legation, 1861-1871, and ambassador at Peking, 1871-1883. He retired in 1883, and on returning to England settled in Cambridge, where he became the university's first professor of Chinese in 1888. Wade published many papers on China and the Chinese language. His large Chinese library was left to the university after his death on 31 July 1895.
From the guide to the Sir Thomas Francis Wade: Notes, c. 1891-1892, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)