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Family Ghosts:“Alas, My Poor Brother”
by Edward Reade

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In a field near a small by-road leading to the delightful Oxfordshire village of Ipsden, lying at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, is a small monument with this inscription, “Alas, my poor brother”. The following strange but nevertheless authentic story is attached to this monument and has been handed down from father to son since its erection.

The monument was erected by Edward Anderton Reade, who lived at Ipsden House from 1860 to 1882, to the memory of his eldest brother, John Thurlow Reade. The Reade family had lived in Ipsden for some 300 years.  John Thurlow was the eldest of the eleven children of John and Anna Maria Reade, in whose memory the gallery in Ipsden Church was erected – also by E.A Reade. John was  probably the cleverest of the family and became head boy of Rugby when only 15. Rather than live in idleness as he might have, being heir to the estate, he chose to take up an appointment in the East India Company’s service in order that there might be money to educate his younger brothers and sisters.

He entered the Company’s College where he had a distinguished  career and sailed for India in 1817. The basis of the Periodical Reversion of Land Revenue Settlements (Regulation No. 71332) in N.W.P was made by John Thurlow Reade and Hope Mackenzie.

In those days mails from India were rare and irregular and, when the arrival of one was reported, John’s mother was in the habit of walking down to the Wallingford Road to meet it. There had been no letter for some time, and one evening when walking down the road Mrs Reade saw the wraith of her son coming towards her and exhibiting signs of the upmost distress.

She was convinced that he had died and not received Christian burial; so the following day she had arranged with the Vicar of Ipsden to hold a burial service in the Church. Both she and the Vicar were strong Protestants and quite unlikely to give way to morbid superstitions, but both were completely convinced of the significance of the vision. The next mail brought news that John Thurlow had died of dysentery while on a journey near Sarampore and had been buried by his servants in the jungle.

Charles Reade, the youngest brother, writing to Edward says: “The  house is like a great mirror cracked across since the news of John’s  death arrived”. E.A. Reade erected the monument after he retired from India in 1860, while his mother was still alive, choosing a site  as near as possible to the place where the wraith had appeared.

I heard this story from my father (youngest son of E.A Reade) who remembered the erection of the monument.

This account was written by Edward Reade (My great, great Uncle).
Kate Miller