The Reed Family

Reed family crest

(Crest No. 324. Plate 65.)

THE Reed, Read, or Reid family, as the name is variously spelled, is of Welsh origin, and came to Ireland in the year 1170, settling in the present Counties of Galway and Clare. There have been many eminent persons of this name, both in Ireland and America. Among the latter was George Read, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was born of Irish parents, and was a resident of Delaware. He was one of the authors of the constitution of that State and also of the Federal Constitution in 1787. On being tempted by the British to abandon the American cause, he replied: “I am a poor man, but poor as I am, the King of England is not rich enough to purchase me.”

Thomas Read, a brother of the above, was a distinguished officer of the navy, and was the first American naval officer to attain the rank of commodore.

George C. Read, also an officer in the United States Navy, was born in Ireland in 1787. He became a midshipman in the United States Navy in 1804 and a lieutenant in 1810. He took part in the action between the “Constitution” and the British frigate “Guerriere,” and was assigned by Captain Hull to receive the surrender of the English Captain Dacres on that occasion. He served with distinction through the war, and commanded the “Chippewa” of Perry’s flying squadron sent out to prey on British commerce. He was made commander in 1816, captain, 1825, and subsequently commanded the East Indian and Mediterranean squadrons. He was commissioned rear-admiral in 1862.

Thomas Read, a Presbyterian clergyman and patriot during the Revolution, was born in America of Irish parents. He was instrumental in saving Washington’s army from an attack by a greatly superior force of the British by drawing a map of the country showing how a retreat from Stanton could be safely effected.

Thomas Buchanan Read, the artist and poet, was also of Irish descent. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1822, and lived for a time in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, and during his later years in Florence and Rome, Italy. He produced a large number of paintings, many of them of a high order of merit. He published three volumes of poems distinguished for their artistic excellence and instinct with patriotism. Of his shorter poems, the most popular is “Sheridan’s Ride.” Thomas Buchanan Read died in New York in 1872.

Thomas B. Reed, statesman, was born in Portland, Me., in the year 1839, and studied law at Bowdoin College. He served as acting assistant paymaster of the navy in 1864, and in 1868-9 he was a member of the lower house of the Maine Legislature. In 1870 he was elected to the State Senate. From 1870 to 1872 he was attorney-general of the State. In 1876 he was elected member of Congress, and during President Harrison’s Administration was speaker of the House of Representatives.

Among other noted personages of this name may be mentioned Brigadier-General Hugh T. Reid, who distinguished himself at the battle of Shiloh, and Mayne Reid, born in Ireland in 1818, the author of more than fifty volumes of stories for boys, which enjoyed an extraordinary popularity for many years.