Thomas Reid d.1624

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Thomas REID or READ d.1624

Biographical Note

He was the son of James Reid, minister of Banchory Ternan in Kincardineshire. He graduated M.A from Marischal College, Aberdeen in 1600. In 1602 he became master of Aberdeen Grammar School, a post which he left the following year to become a regent of Marischal College. He remained in the post until 1607, when he left to travel the continent, studying at the universities of Rostock, where he published eight works on metaphysics, and Leipzig. On his return from the continent Reid settled in London where he became Latin Secretary to James VI/I from 1618 until his death. Alongside Patrick Young, Reid produced a Latin translated of the King’s collected works, published in 1619. He was incorporated M.A at Oxford in May 1620, along with his brother Alexander.


In his will, dated 19th May 1624, Reid left a bequest of around 1350 books and manuscripts to Marischal College, as well as six thousand merks for the support of a librarian. His gift included 12 incunabula and numerous manuscirpts. The library was described by James Gordon as 'the best Library that ever the north pairtes of Scottland saw' (Gordon, vol.3, p.89)

Among the manuscripts he donated was the Aberdeen Bestiary, likely given to him from the Royal Library by Patrick Young (d.1652), whose father was Royal librarian.

The majority of Reid’s incunabula were printed in Italy, though most are bound in sixteenth-century English bindings, suggesting he purchased these while living in London.

At least 16 of the manuscripts donated by Reid have the previous provenance of St Paul’s Cathedral library, and several have the provenance of Thomas Graunt, the treasurer of St Paul’s from 1454 to 1474.

His library survives at the University of Aberdeen.

Characteristic Markings

A number of Reid’s books were inscribed with the latin form of Reid’s name “Thomas Rhaedus” or “Thomae Rhoedi” alongside “et amicorum.” This can be seen on his copy of Euclid (Paris, 1598) (pi 5131 Euc G 2) & Aristotle’s Alexandrou tou Aphrodisieos (Florence, 1521) (pi 88855 Apr A) among others.