Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Reid, William (1764-1831)

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REID, WILLIAM (1764–1831), minor poet, born in Glasgow on 10 April 1764, was the son of Robert Reid, baker, and Christian Wood, daughter of a farmer at Gartmore, Perthshire. After leaving school he was apprenticed to a typefounder, and then learned bookselling with Messrs. Dunlop & Wilson, Glasgow. In 1790 he entered into partnership with James Brash, with whom he developed an excellent bookselling business, which flourished for twenty-seven years. Reid seems to have been a pleasant, sociable man. He died in Glasgow on 29 Nov. 1831. His wife, Elizabeth Henderson, daughter of a linen-printer, survived him, with two sons and five daughters.

Reid wrote humorous verse in Scottish dialect, some of which appeared in ‘Poetry Original and Selected,’ published by his firm between 1795 and 1798. He wrote supplementary verses to Burns's ‘Of a' the airts the winds can blaw’ and ‘John Anderson my jo’ (cf. Scots Mag. 1797), as well as to Robert Fergusson's ‘Lea Rig:’ and his ‘Monody on the Death of Burns’ is given with commendation in Hogg and Motherwell's edition of Burns (v. 282). He is said to have been on friendly terms with Burns, but the stories that the poet invited Reid's firm to publish his poems before the Kilmarnock edition appeared and that Burns encouraged him to make additional verses to some of his songs may be safely rejected.

[Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, iv. 212*, ed. 1853; Currie's Life of Burns; Scot Douglas's Burns, i. 268, ii. 225; Strang's Glasgow and its Clubs; Grant Wilson's Poets and Poetry of Scotland.]

T. B.