Fonds - Simpson-Reid Family Fonds

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Simpson-Reid Family Fonds

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  • 1786 - 1941 (Creation)
    Simpson-Reid Family

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Physical description

7cm of textual material.

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Biographical history

The Simpson and Reid families were both based in Aberdeen, Scotland during the early nineteenth century.

Thomas Bassett Reid, the patriarch of the Reid family, originally hailed from London. He was active as a bootmaker in that city from at least 1786. In 1820 he dissolved a business partnership with one Edward Eld, leaving the latter in control of all its assets, and sometime afterward he moved to Scotland.

There he met Lilly McLachlan of Aberdeen, whom he subsequently married in 1828. The banns were published in Glasgow and the two were wed at St. Cuthbert’s Church in Edinburgh, where the couple settled. They had at least five children: Thomas, Alexander, George (b. 1832), Anne (b. 1835), and Amelia. Some time after Anne's birth, the family relocated to Aberdeen, which was to be their home for a generation.

Thomas the elder, the family patriarch, died sometime prior to 1851; his daughter Amelia died in 1857.

Thomas the younger served in the British Army; being appointed assistant surgeon in 1851 and full surgeon in 1858. During this time period — which coincided with the Rebellion of 1857 — he served for several years in India. His correspondence home provides a valuable insight into his life and impressions during this period. After returning home, he enrolled in medical school at the University of Aberdeen and subsequently became a licensed physician. He later set up a private practise in Aberdeen.

His younger brother George, an engineer, died at Suez (presumably during the construction of the canal) in 1865, leaving all his worldly goods to his mother Lilly.

Anne, a teacher by profession, married James Walker Simpson in 1861. By the time of their wedding, neither of James’ parents (James and Margaret) were still living.

Little is known of Alexander’s education and life save that he followed in his elder brother’s footsteps and became, like Thomas, a physician.

Over the course of the late nineteenth century, at least one branch of the family relocated to Canada. Alexander, his sister Anne, and her husband James Simpson all made the journey during this period. Alexander settled in Hamilton, and James is known to have relocated to Montreal some time prior to 1911.

In spite of time and distance, the Simpson, MacLachlan, and Reid families remained in contact for many years. Descendents of the family live in and around Hamilton to this day.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of correspondence, bereavement notices, and legal contracts relating to the life of the Reid-Simpson family in the late 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Of particular note are a collection of English business licenses and contracts on parchment from the early 19th century, James Simpson's pocket diaries detailing his life, and a substantial number of letters describing Thomas Bassett Reid's experiences of India during the 1850s.

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Fonds was acquired from Paul Simpson of Burlington, Ontario in May 2015.


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