General John Reid

British Army officer, flautist, composer, his benefaction established a Chair of Music.

Reid plaque


John Robertson or Reid was educated at the University of Edinburgh and received a commission in Lord Loudon's regiment of Highlanders in 1745.

He served with the regiment on the Hanoverian side during the 1745 rebellion, and afterwards in the Netherlands, Martinique, and British North America.

He purchased some 35,000 acres in Vermont, which were seized by settlers from New England in 1774, and he lost his claim to them at the outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1776.

He returned to London, where he was promoted to the rank of General, and died in 1807.

An accomplished flautist and composer, especially of music for wind bands, his best-remembered tune today is 'In the Garb of Old Gaul'.


Reid left a sum of over £50,000 for the founding of a Chair of Music at the University of Edinburgh, the money to be further applied to the purchase of a library or for any other proper purpose.

The Chair was established in 1839, and £400 per annum was put to the purchase of rare and costly books for the University Library.

This was the first fund available to the Library for purchasing historical research volumes that were not simply textbooks.

Volumes purchased have included early printed and finely illustrated books and mediaeval MSS. Originally these were shelved in the Reid Room in Old College.

The Reid Music Library, established in the middle of the 19th century, still bears the General's name as does the Reid Concert Hall.

The plaque

Reid's plaque is in the vicinity of Bristo Square.


In honour of General John G Reid


Composer, musician, alumnus, benefactor of music at the University through the Reid Bequest