Historical Portraits Picture Archive

An Officer called William Read, wearing scarlet coat, with blue collar, silver epaulettes, buttons and staff pattern lace, a medal, probably the Peninsular Gold Medal, on his chest 

 English School 

An Officer called William Read, wearing scarlet coat, with blue collar, silver epaulettes, buttons and staff pattern lace, a medal, probably the Peninsular Gold Medal, on his chest,  English School
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Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Oval, 72mm (2 3/4ins.) high
 
Provenance:
English Private Collection
Gold frame, the reverse glazed to reveal seed-pearl monogram WR on seed-pearl bordered blue glass surrounded by lock of hair held with seed pearls and gold wire the whole on opalescent glass


Although there is little biographical information to be gleaned on the life of Read, his promotions in the Army are typically well documented and we gather therefore that he first enlisted into the Royal Staff Corps on 28th February 1800. The Royal Staff Corps were established c.1800 and disbanded c.1837, their main task being the creation and upkeep of military lines of communication and ultimately answerable to the Quartermaster General.

On the 2nd January 1801 Read was promoted to Lieutenant and on 19th December 1803 to Captain. We know that Read was stationed in Cape Town in January 1806 from a document held in the National Archives, it is signed by Read and details the positioning of newly established lines of communication. Cape Town was first occupied by the British in 1795 although leaving in 1803 following a truce, returning three years later in 1806 for recapture when the truce collapsed. Sadly, it is not known for definite when Read received his medal, although it must have been around this time and prior to 1814 as this marks the end of the Peninsular War.

On 9th December 1813 Read was made Permanent-Assistant-Quarter-Master-General, brevetted to the rank of Major within the Army. Read maintained this position until 2nd December 1824 when he was promoted to Deputy Quarter-Master-General to His Majesty’s Forces in the East Indies with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army.
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