Alexander Reid 1570-1641

From Book Owners Online

Alexander REID or READ ca.1570-1641

Biographical Note

Third son of James Reid, minister of Banchory Ternan in Kincardineshire. He was educated at King’s College, Aberdeen where he graduated M.A before 1600. He then traveled abroad, likely to Wittenberg, then Bohemia, and finally France, where he studied surgery with Ambrose Paré. Afterwards, Reid practiced medicine, mostly in Wales, before his success took him to London. In 1616 his book A Description of the body of man... was printed.

In May 1620 he was incorporated M.A at Oxford with his brother Thomas Reid, and then created Doctor of Physic by King James VI/I. Soon after he became a foreign brother of the [[organisations::Barber Surgeons’ Company] and in 1623/24 was admitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians. In December 1632 he was appointed a lecturer on Anatomy at Barber-Surgeons’ Hall. He founded a poorhouse at Banchory, and was a benefactor of King’s College. In 1634 he published The Manual of the Anatomy or Dissection of the Body of Man.


Reid left his medical books to his alma matter King’s College, and his theological and philosophical works to Marischal College, Aberdeen. The Provenance Database created by University of Aberdeen’s special collections has thus far identified 97 books formerly belonging to Reid.

Reid’s medical library contained classical authors such as Galen and Hippocrates, as well as more contemporary works. He owned and annotated William Harvey’s Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus, (Frankfurt, 1628) (Aberdeen In pi 6121 Har). Another recent work in Reid’s library was Julius Casserius and Adriaan van de Spigel’s work on anatomy De Humani corporis fabrica libri decem... published in Frankfort in 1632, containing Reid’s signature on the title page, and his notes and underlinings in red ink (possibly KCx 61102 Spi). He also owned De Curtorum Chirurgia per insitionem, (Venice, 1597) a richly illustrated surgical treatise on skin grafting by Tagliacozzi (pi f61752 Tal 1-2)

Characteristic Markings

Walter Menzies states that Reid’s books are usually of “extremely well, though plainly bound in calf, many with the ties: a few have the remains of clasps. Their owner had the habit of binding together in one volume three or four books, sometime of very diverse subjects.” (Menzies, p.72)

Many of his books are inscribed: pi 231 Ame 1 is inscribed “Doct.Med.”

pi 6121 Har is inscribed “"Liber Collegij Regij Abredon ex dono Alex[ande]r Read Med P."

pi 4817 Aru is inscribed “"Med.Doct.” and “Alex Rhed”