David John Wilson Reid of Robertland

Biography of David John Wilson Reid of Robertland

David Wilson Reid
David Wilson Reid

David Wilson Reid was the University of Glasgow's first archivist and held the role from 1955-1973.

The below biography is from the obituary of David John Wilson Reid in the Glasgow University Gazette, March 1974, pp18-19 (IP5/1/11):

"David John Wilson Reid, M.A., F.S.A (Scot), Carrick Pursuivant of Arms, Archivist of the University of Glasgow, died on 20th December 1973.

Born in 1929 and educated privately, he read law at Trinity College, Cambridge where he graduated MA in 1953 and subsequently studied at the Hague Academy of International Law. He was the first Exchange Student to be sent from Trinity to the University of Uppsala and he was a research student at the University of Leiden in Holland. He read for the English Bar before taking up his University appointment.

He built up the organisation of the University Archives into a sophisticated and efficient system of calendaring and indexing organised on carefully thought-out principles. He took a highly progressive view of the Archivist's role, seeing it as embracing not merely records of the past, but as an on-going function within modern organisational structures. Sadly he only just lived to see the new and modern accommodation provided by the University for the housing of its archives.

Mr Reid, who was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, did much work in the field of historical research and the study of seals was one of his main interests in the archival field. He gave numerous papers on the subject and the television videotape "The conservation of non-metallic seals" won him international recognition. He was a member of the International Committee on Sigillography (UNESCO). Appointed Carrick Pursuivant of Arms in January 1973, David Reid was an authority on heraldry and genealogy; he gave extra-mural lectures and papers on the subject and helped many people with their researches.

He served on various professional committees including the Business Archives Council of Scotland, of which he was one of the founder members and of which he was Chairman until 1968. He was, until his death, the Business Archives Council of Scotland representative on the Business Archives Council (London). His wide knowledge of people in key positions in Scottish business life was invaluable in extending the work of the Council. In 1967 he was adopted as prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party for the constituency of West Fife. Farming and running his estate at Robertland in Ayrshire were his main spare-time activities.

David Reid was an inspiration to all who worked for him, always cheerful, good-natured and enthusiastic. Members of the University who went to him for advice and help always received an interested welcome; he would go to great pains to make sure that the full resources of the University's archives were made available, as well as drawing upon his wide knowledge of Scottish source materials, unrivaled indeed on those matters which he had made his special concern. With his tall figure and old-world manner, often set off by a kind of detached air appropriate to an archivist, he was a distinctive part of the University.

A.R. (Anne Ross, Archives Assistant)"


David John Wilson Reid of Robertland
Born 1929.
Died 20 December 1973.
University Link: Staff
GU Degree:
Occupation categories: archivists
Record last updated: 22nd Aug 2019

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