William Edward Frere (1811-1880), brother of Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay, was a Civil Servant who arrived in Bombay in 1830. He began his career as Principal Collector of Surat, and he moved from there to serve the Sudder Diwani Adalat Courts in various parts of Bombay Presidency before moving to Bombay as Judge of the Sudder Diwani Adalat Court. He was a voracious reader, and was a collector of all things antique, and of value.
He developed a deep interest in studying the historical dynasties of India, especially of the Kshatrapa dynasties. He spent his leisure hours examining coins of the little known dynasties. His knowledge of Arabic and his working knowledge of Indian languages, including Pali, helped him in these studies. In Bombay he resumed his membership in the Asiatic Society and soon became its President. During his Presidency, the Asiatic Society became known for its research work in coins and in Indology.
He became the President of the Bombay Geographical Society in 1862, and within two and a half years, he strengthened its finances, increased memberships, and also got the necessary permissions for many of its projects. Before leaving India, he appointed Dr. Bhau Daji as the Vice President of the Asiatic Society, breaking an unstated rule that only Europeans could be office-bearers! His Presidency was a period of revival for the Asiatic Society and a golden period for the Bombay Geographical Society.