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Last edited 18 Jan 2021
Major Henry De Bude
This article is part of ICE's Engineer biographies series.
DE BUDE (DEBUDE), Henry, Major (1800 - 1843), military engineer, was born on 3
November 1800, the son of Lt. General Jacob de Bude and Mary (nee) Lambert.
He joined the Bengal Engineers in 1818 and reached the rank of Major on 31 March 1840.
In his first years in India, De Bude was seconded to the Surveyor-General's Department to carry out route surveys such as that of the road from Kashipur to Almora in the Himalayan foothills in 1820.
At that time, British military engineers in India were beginning to look at irrigation in some detail. Work had already begun under Lieutenant Blane on restoring the Western Jumna Canals, and in July 1822, De Bude was sent to survey an old Mughal Canal, the Eastern Jumna (Yamuna) or Doab Canal, which the British administration was keen to restore.
From 1823 to 1826 he worked on this under Richard Tickell and was succeeded in this task by Captain Robert Smith. Along with other canal officers he saw service in the siege of Bharatpur near Agra in 1825 - 1826.
From 1827 to 1828, De Bude was Executive Officer for the fortress of Aligarh. The possibility of extending irrigation into the Ganges plain interested officers such as John Colvin, who had succeeded Tickell as superintendent of Canals in the Delhi Territory in 1827.
In 1828, Captain De Bude carried out a survey from Muzafarnagar to Aligarh in the lower part of the Doab between the Jumna and Ganges to explore the possibility of irrigating this tract of land by damming two natural watercourses on the site of Muhammad Abu Khan's eighteenth-century 11 mile long canal. His proposal, costing 300,000 rupees, was not carried out, however, as it was soon realised that the watercourses would not be able to keep up a steady supply. His survey did, on the other hand, establish that the Ganges would have to be the source of water for any irrigation scheme; this was eventually achieved with the building of the Ganges Canal scheme by (Sir) Proby Cautley between 1842 and 1854.
In 1831, De Bude was appointed Garrison and Executive Engineer at Delhi; Superintending Engineer in the Public Works Department in the Central Provinces in 1835, and Secretary to the Military Board in 1841.
De Bude was married three times: to Mary Anne at Meerut on 12 July 1825; secondly to Miss J. A. Royle; and third to Margaret Davidson at Calcutta on 14 April 1842. He died on 8 November 1843 at Calcutta.
Written by JOYCE BROWN
This text is an extract from A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, published by ICE in 2002. Beginning with what little is known of the lives of engineers such as John Trew who practised in the Tudor period, the background, training and achievements of engineers over the following 250 years are described by specialist authors, many of whom have spent a lifetime researching the history of civil engineering.
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