REID, Alexander (d. 1750), of Barra, Aberdeen.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1710 - 1713

Family and Education

1st s. of Sir John Reid, 1st Bt., of Barra, by Marion da. of John Abercromby of Glassaugh, Banff.  educ. 1698–1702 Aberdeen Univ. (Marischal Coll.)  m. 28 Jan. 1705, Agnes da. of Hon. Sir Alexander Ogilvy, 1st Bt., of Forglen, Banff, Ld. Forglen SCJ, 2s. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. aft. 1722.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Kintore by 1710.


Reid was the son of a politically insignificant Aberdeenshire laird, but was connected via ties of kinship and patronage with the influential Court peer Lord Seafield, whose brother he replaced as Member for Elgin Burghs in 1710. Although Reid was listed as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session of this Parliament detected the mismanagements of the previous administration, this probably reflects the ignorance, concerning Scottish loyalties, of the compilers of such lists. Indeed, Reid was so far unknown as to be listed solely by surname. He often acted in conjunction with another of Seafield’s clients, Alexander Abercromby, who did not join the hue and cry against Lord Godolphin (Sidney†). Both Members employed their franking privileges in Seafield’s service, by sending newsletters to Scotland, and Reid’s first known vote was with Abercromby, on 10 Feb. 1711, over the disputed Kinross-shire election. The political significance of this vote was not that it was in favour of Mungo Graham*, but rather that it was against his competitor the Scottish Tory Sir John Malcolm, 1st Bt.* Reid is not known to have spoken in debate, and only obtained one significant committee appointment: on 19 Mar. 1711 to draft a bill for the prevention of abuses in the Scottish linen industry. A question mark must, however, be placed against the inference that he actually assisted the bill’s sponsor, George Yeaman, for Reid’s nomination came five days after an application for one month’s leave of absence, and he does not appear to have attended during the remainder of this session. Nor did he return for the start of the second session. Seafield, who had by now made his peace with the ministry, wrote to Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) in December 1711, promising that Reid would indeed attend, but craved Oxford’s patronage: a captain’s commission in the army, he hinted, would defray Reid’s attendance costs. Nothing came of this, and Reid did not hurry to Westminster, Abercromby reporting on 18 Jan. 1712 that, though expected, he had not yet arrived. According to a list in the papers of Robert Wodrow, the Presbyterian divine, Reid voted on 7 Feb. 1712 in support of the Scottish toleration bill, but a letter by Robert Munro* (who was present at the division) noted that Reid was absent though in town. Whatever Reid’s conduct on this particular division, as an episcopalian he can be assumed to have supported the measure. He obtained six weeks’ leave of absence on 7 Mar., but returned to London in July to present an address from Elgin, thanking the Queen for her communication of the peace terms, and for the Toleration Act.2

During the 1713 session, which was dominated by the malt tax crisis and the abortive motion for the dissolution of the Union, Reid followed the tortuous lead of his patron, Lord Findlater (formerly Seafield). He was a teller with Abercromby, on 29 Apr. 1713, against a clause in the land tax bill which would have provided ‘a rule whereby to tax the royal burghs of Scotland’ (see GLASGOW BURGHS). Subsequently, Reid attempted to bolster his electoral prospects by portraying one of the promoters of this initiative, Sir Alexander Cumming, 1st Bt.*, in an unfavourable light to Lord Kintore. In May, Reid joined with his fellow Scottish Members in requesting a meeting with the Scottish peers to concert a motion for a dissolution of the Union. Although Findlater was nominated to move this in the Lords, he did so reluctantly and soon after reverted to the Court. In accordance with his patron’s wishes, therefore, Reid gave his support to the administration over the French commerce bill, voting in favour on 4 June, and again at the engrossment on the 18th.3

Reid stood for Elgin Burghs and Aberdeenshire in 1713, but failed to gain either seat. He was endorsed as a ministerial candidate by Lord Oxford, who also promised him a payment of £300 for having proved loyal to the ministry. Although Lord Findlater and Lord Mar pressed Oxford for fulfilment of this engagement, it appears unlikely that Reid, as a defeated candidate, was rewarded. (Abercromby failed to obtain an identical sum, despite electoral success.) Reid never again stood for Parliament, but there were occasional reports of his setting up either for the shire or district of burghs.4

In the Jacobite cess roll for Aberdeenshire of 1715, Reid was marked for a double assessment, a punitive measure directed at Hanoverians. His father, by contrast, was taxed singly, indicating a more favourable attitude towards the rebellion. Sir John was still living in 1722, but probably died shortly afterwards. Reid himself died, ‘at a great age’, on 5 Mar. 1750, and was succeeded by his son, James.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: David Wilkinson


  • 1. C. D. Abercromby, Fam. of Abercromby, 86–87; Recs. Marischal Coll. and Univ. of Aberdeen (New Spalding Club), ii. 277; New Spalding Club, Misc. ii. 67.
  • 2. Top. and Antiquities of Aberdeen and Banff (Spalding Club), 71, 110, 564; Aberdeen Valuation Roll (3rd Spalding Club), 145; SRO, Seafield mss GD248/560/45/56, Ld. Deskford to Findlater, 7 Dec. 1710; GD248/572/1/7/10, Abercromby to same, 18 Jan. 1712; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/808/18a–b, Graham to Montrose, 13 Feb. 1711; HMC Portland, x. 192–3; New Spalding Club, Misc. ii. 125; London Gazette, 29–31 July 1712.
  • 3. Seafield mss GD248/566/84/50, Reid to [Findlater], 27 [Apr. 1713]; SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/1099/3, Reid to Thomas Erskyne, 7 May 1713; Aberdeen Univ. Lib. Duff House (Montcoffer) mss 3175/2380, ‘Resolution of the Commons to Call a Meeting of the Lords’, [23] May 1713; Parlty. Hist. i. 70.
  • 4. Seafield mss GD248/561/48/56, Reid to Findlater, 30 Aug. 1713; GD248/571/6/16, Oxford to [same], 20 Sept. 1713; GD248/561/51/23, Lady to Ld. Deskford, 5 Oct. 1714; HMC Portland, v. 351; x. 211, 309; Duff House (Montcoffer mss), 3175/F51/4, Kintore to Cumming, 16 Aug. 1720.
  • 5. Jacobite Cess Roll of Aberdeen. (3rd Spalding Club), 9, 99; Services of Heirs (ser. 1), ii. 1750–9, p. 34; Scot. Mag. 1750, p. 158.