Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reid John

Updated October 23, 2014

John Reid, newspaper employee, was recorded as a resident of Hong Kong in 1843.

Selected Bibliography: Tarrent, William, The Hong Kong Almanack and Directory for the Year 1846, 1848, 1850, Hong Kong: China Mail, resp. 1846, 1848 and 1850.

Newspaper Editor, or Accountant?

John Reid (b. April 2, 1808, Glasgow - d. December 1843, Hong Kong) was the second son of John Reid M.D. and Jean Gavin. He was said to receive an education mostly from his father before he apprenticed to a firm of booksellers in Glasgow. When the apprenticeship was over he went to London and worked for Black & Young, foreign publishers. In a few years he returned to Glasgow and there he established himself as a bookseller and publisher. While studying Gaelic in 1825 a friend asked him to catalog his Gaelic books for him. This led to the compilation of 'Bibliotheca Scoto-Celtica', which he published in 1832. His other well-known publication was the 'Turkey and the Turks, being the Present State of the Ottoman Empire', London, 1840, which captured his impression of Turkey during a prolonged visit he began in 1838. With the successful launch of his book, he gave up his business and left for Hong Kong, and according to two different sources, to edit a newspaper and prepare a Chinese dictionary. The records of Reid's activities in Hong Kong that I found began in 1843 and they were of that of a troubled man. Towards the end of 1843, Reid was treated by Colonial Surgeon Alexander Anderson for delirium tremens and brain disease induced by alcohol. He was hospitalized in November/December for two weeks. The job he had with a newspaper was with the Friend of China, the position was part-time accountant. The person who found him this job was Robert Oswald (featured above) who also worked at the Friend of China at that time. Apparently, Reid had known Oswald since he arrived in Hong Kong. Reid worked satisfactorily for one or two days but thereafter got so drunk he was incapacitated, and of course lost his job. On a day I still cannot identify in December 1843, Reid was found dead on the couch in his room on the upper floor of the Eastern Globe office where he lived as a boarder. The verdict of Coroner Edward Farncomb's inquest was: Visitation of God. Reid was survived by his wife, Anne McLaren (married in 1836) and a daughter. There was a big time gap between 1840 when Reid was said to have arrived in Hong Kong and the winter of 1843 when he met his tragic end. I found a record that shows he once worked for the Hong Kong Gazette 香港公報, but it didn't say when and in what capacity.


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