Reid & Sons of Newcastle
During a flying visit to Newcastle last week, I was delighted to see that Reid & Sons were still in business and fortunately the friend that accompanied me was in possession of a camera and was able to take a couple of photos of their shopfront which dates to the early years of the last century.
Reid & Sons are the only firm that used the services of the Newcastle Assay Office that are still in existence today.
This business was formed by Christian Ker Reid in 1788. He was born in Canongate, Edinburgh on the 8th September 1756 the son of Andrew Reid, a brewer, and his wife Christian Bruce. At the age of twelve he was apprenticed to the Edinburgh silversmith William Davie, the indentures being signed on the 29th March 1769. He was to be William Davie's final apprentice. Having completed his term with Davie, Christian Ker Reid secured a position with Langlands & Robertson as a journeyman and arrived in Newcastle in June 1778.Christian Ker Reid by an unknown artist
CKR married Margaret Todd at the All Saints Church, Newcastle, on the 27th February 1781, but within two years he was a widower as Margaret died on the 21st January 1783. He married again on the 28th October 1784 to Mrs Margery Thomson nee Forsdyce and fathered at least thirteen children by her.
In late 1787 or early 1788, after nearly ten years with Langlands & Robertson, CKR opened in business on his own account, firstly on the south side of St Nicholas Churchyard, moving to the Groat Market in 1790 and then to Dean Street in 1801.
Christian Ker Reid's first submissions to the Newcastle Assay Office were on the 1st February 1791
The first of Christian's sons to join the business was David Reid, officially in February 1818, but the 'CR over DR' mark was entered at Newcastle and London (Grimwade 3387) in 1815. However, David was not the first of the sons to enter the trade, as Christian's eldest son, William Ker Reid (Grimwade 1236, 3217a, 3286) was already working in London by this time in partnership with Joseph Cradock and may well have been trained by his now father-in-law, Edward Barnard (Grimwade 575, 2309). William's marriage to Mary Barnard on the 11th February 1812 was not the only link between these two great families of silversmiths, for, on the 26th August 1815, David Reid married another daughter of Edward Barnard, Elizabeth.
The second son to join the firm was Christian Bruce Reid, he was apprenticed to Andrew Morison, a Freeman of the Newcastle Company probably in the employ of Christian Ker Reid. The attempted enrolment of Christian Bruce Reid's indenture to Morison was a cause of a great dispute between the Newcastle Company and Reids as CKR had never become a Freeman of Newcastle and the Company felt an apprenticeship to a journeymen who was working for a non-Freeman was not permissible. The Company sought legal advice and despite being advised to accept the enrolment, still managed to hold up everything for nearly a year before finally accepting the situation. Upon the completion of his apprenticeship, Christian Bruce Reid became a partner in the business.
Christian Ker Reid died on the 18th September 1834, his wife, Margery had died on the 31st August 1832.
Reid & Sons were now in the hands of David Reid and Christian Bruce Reid, but in c.1845, CBR decided to leave the trade to devote his time to his brewery business. It would appear that he sold his share of the business to his brother, William Ker Reid. Around this time David's son, Christian John, who had served his apprenticeship under his uncle, Christian Bruce, became a junior partner .
In 1868 the firm was rocked by the deaths of David Reid and his brother William Ker Reid within the space of six days. William, who had already retired from the firm in 1858, died on the 1st February and David on the 7th February 1868.
William Ker Reid was born on the 14th August 1787, his marriage to Mary Barnard produced thirteen children, seven boys and six girls. His London business was passed to his eldest son, Edward Ker Reid, who had been apprenticed to his father. Edward married Anna Barnard, the eldest daughter of John Barnard, further linking the two families.
David Reid was born on the 20th March 1792, his marriage to Elizabeth Barnard produced twelve children.
Following David Reid's death in 1868, Christian John Reid appointed his sons, Thomas Arthur Reid and Walter Cecil Reid and his brother David Reid (2) (aka David Reid junior) as partners.
David Reid (2) retired on the 31st July 1882. He was born on the 13th July 1832 and died on the 18th January 1914.
1884 saw the closure of the Newcastle Assay Office, Reids entered new marks at London on the 15th September 1885 and within the next twenty years had also entered marks at the Birmingham and Chester assay offices.Reid & Sons - Newcastle - 1884
Christian John Reid died on the 19th April 1891. He was born on the 12th November 1816 and was with Reid & Sons for his entire working life. His death left the business in the hands of Thomas Arthur Reid and Walter Cecil Reid, they were joined shortly after by a new partner, Francis James Langford.
William Cecil Reid retired on the 1st April 1895. He was born on the 21st August 1846. Following his retirement, Thomas Arthur Reid's son, Christian Leopold Reid became the new partner. By 1909 Francis James Langford had been replaced by William Septimus Leete.
Thomas Arthur Reid was born on the 13th February 1845 and died on the 8th June 1910.
Christian Leopold Reid was born on the 19th December 1872 and died on the 16th August 1924.
Reid & Sons became a limited liability firm on the 6th March 1930. In 1967 they became a subsidiary of Northern Goldsmiths Co. Ltd who were founded in Newcastle in 1892. Curiously enough the retail outlets of Reids and Northern Goldsmiths are just a few doors apart in Blackett Street, Newcastle.Northern Goldsmiths shop beneath their famous clock, a Newcastle landmark. Reid & Sons shop can be seen to the right of the photo, beneath their clock.
Amongst the more important commissions carried out by Reid & Sons are the FA Cup, the Rugby League Trophy and Ernest Shackleton's chronometer.
In 2003, Reid & Sons celebrated their 225th anniversary (they include the ten years that Christian Ker Reid spent as a journeyman with Langlands & Robertson). They have been at their beautiful Blackett Street premises for over a hundred years. Should you visit Newcastle, then a visit to see Reid & Sons is one I would certainly recommend.
Sources:A Directory of Newcastle Goldsmiths
- Margaret A.V. GillMarks of London Goldsmiths and Silversmiths 1837-1914
- John P. FallonMarks of London Goldsmiths and Silversmiths 1697-1837
- John P. FallonNineteenth Century Silver
- John CulmeThe Directory of Gold & Silversmiths, Jewellers & Allied Traders 1838-1914
- John CulmeLondon Goldsmiths 1697 - 1837 Their Marks & Lives
- Arthur G. GrimwadeThe Compendium of Chester Gold & Silver Marks 1570-1962
- Ridgway and Priestley
Various internet sources, and a very nice lady at Reid & Sons, whose name I forgot to ask, who found the image of Christian Ker Reid.