Guide to the Papers of George Houstoun Reid
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Sir George Houstoun Reid
- Papers of George Houstoun Reid
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 7842
- 1.76 metres (4 boxes, 2 folio boxes)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Conditions Governing Access
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1574373).
Conditions Governing Use
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of George Houstoun Reid, National Library of Australia, MS 7842, [box number and series and/or file number]'.
The initial instalment of this collection was donated by Mrs Anne Fairbairn, grand-daughter of Sir George Reid, under the Taxation Incentive for the Arts Scheme in October 1989, with additional donations being made in November 1991, July 1996 and April 1998.
The first two instalments of material were relatively small and were consequently listed at item level in some detail. However, due to the size and diverse contents of the larger 1996 and 1998 additions, it was impossible to continue this level of description. As a consequence, the 1996 and 1998 additions have been arranged into groups such as pre-1880 material, Australian politics, Australian High Commissioner, and retirement. The headings reflect the main aspects of Sir George Reid's life and work and accommodate material in the collection pertaining to the wider Reid Family and Dame Flora Reid's own awards and public engagements. The numbering of folders has been continued from the earlier part of the collection.
Objects 1, 7-10 and 12 stored separately, see Librarian.
Sir George Houston Reid was born in Scotland on the 25th of February 1845, the fifth son of the Reverend John Reid and Marion Crybbace. The family emigrated to Australia in 1852. Reid's first public position was as an official of the New South Wales Treasury, during which time he studied part time for the Bar to which he was appointed in 1879. Reid was a member of the New South Wales Parliament for twenty years, succeeding Sir Henry Parkes as leader of the Free Trade Party in 1891. From 1894 to 1899 he was Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales, during which time he took part in the 1897-98 Australasian National Convention and the drafting of the Commonwealth Constitution. Reid was a member of the first Federal Parliament and Prime Minister of Australia in 1904-5. In 1909 he was appointed the first Australian High Commissioner in London, a post he held until he retired in 1916. During his retirement he stayed active in politics, standing for and winning the House of Commons seat of St George, Hanover Square.
In 1909 Reid was made a Knight Commander of St Michael and St George in recognition of his work in Australian politics. In 1911 he was promoted to Grand Cross of the same Order and in 1916 was accorded the rare honour of appointment as Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath without having held any lower rank in the order.
In 1891 he married Flora Anne Brumby and they had three children, Thelma, Douglas and Clive. Flora was a public figure in her own right and in 1917 was awarded a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her work with Australian servicemen in London during World War I.
A large man with a walrus moustache, Reid was always a popular subject for cartoonists. He was also an entertaining and witty speaker and was a sought after speaker for official functions, a role which is well represented by the number of printed speeches and menus in the collection. A busy public figure even in retirement, Reid died of a major stroke on the 12th of September 1918.
Reference: McMinn, W.G. George Reid , Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1989; Fred Johns's Annual for 1913, Adelaide, 1913.
Australian Politics, 1880 - November 1909: The papers include a letter to Reid from Fannie Speer (22 August 1888), menu and seating plan for banquet given in 1897 by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to the Premiers of the Colonies, and minute from Government House, Sydney, concerning the dissolution of the NSW State Parliament (11September 1899). [9 items] (File 7)
Australian High Commissioner, London, December 1909 - December 1915: The papers include a letter to Reid from Theodore Roosevelt (25 May 1910), an invitation to the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, letters and telegrams regarding an motor vehicle accident involving Reid and his children in 1911, and a letter to Reid from the Colonial Office on the occasion of his retirement from the position of Australian High Commissioner in January 1916. [25 items] (File 8)
'Retirement', January 1916 - September 1918: papers relating to the illness and death of Sir George Reid on 12 September 1918 (File 10-11) - Box 1-2
Mainly comprising letters and telegrams of condolence received by Dame Flora but there are also drafts of her replies, a copy of the funeral service and copies of the in memoriam resolutions passed in the NSW and Federal Parliaments. The letters of condolence include letters from Queen Alexandra, Arthur Balfour, Lloyd George, Lord Tennyson, Andrew Fisher (the High Commissioner in London), Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson (the Australian Governor General), William Morris Hughes, and Ada Holman. [Folder 10: 91 items, Folder 11: 25 items]