James Reid was the eldest son of Dr. James Reid of Ellon, Aberdeenshire, and his wife Beatrice Peter of Canterland. He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and University, graduating as M.A. in 1869 and as M.B, C.M, with highest honours in 1872. After two years of general practice in London and a period of postgraduate study in Vienna, he joined his father in practice at Ellon. In 1881, owing to the illness of Dr. William Marshall, the resident physician to Queen Victoria, he was given medical charge of the Royal Household at Balmoral. The post became permanent on Marshall’s death, and he moved with the Court to London. Here he worked under Sir William Jenner’s direction, and in 1887 was appointed Physician-Extraordinary to the Queen. Two years later, on the failure of Jenner’s health, Reid succeeded him as Physician-in-Ordinary. The Queen formed a high opinion of his abilities and grew accustomed to ask his advice on affairs not connected with medicine. After her death, he remained as Physician-in-Ordinary, first to Edward VII and then to George V. He was no longer a regular member of the Court, however, and took a house in London. He became consulting physician to the King Edward VII Sanatorium at Midhurst.
Reid was created C.B. in 1889, K.C.B. in 1895, a baronet in 1897, and G.C.V.O. in 1901. He served in a Volunteer battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, reaching the rank of surgeon lieutenant-colonel. He was a man whose tact and wisdom eminently fitted him for a career that demanded a high degree of both qualities. He married in 1899 the Hon. Susan Baring, daughter of Baron Revelstoke, one of the Queen’s Maids of Honour, and had two sons and two daughters.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1923; B.M.J., 1923; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1924, 16]