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George Houstoun Reid Passes Away

Today in Masonic History George Houstoun Reid Passes Away in 1918.

George Houston Reid was an Australian politician.

Reid was born in Johnstone, Scotland on February 25th, 1845. At the age of 7 his father moved the family to Australia. There Reid attended Scotch College. At the age of 15 Reid joined the School of Arts Debating Society.

In 1876 Reid began studying law and by 1779 qualified as a barrister.

Reid had a quick wit and was an entertaining speaker. People came to see his political speeches like they were popular entertainment. In one instance a heckler pointed to Reid's paunch and asked what he intended to name it, he replied "If it's a boy, I'll call it after myself. If it's a girl I'll call it Victoria. But if, as I strongly suspect, it's nothing but piss and wind, I'll name it after you."

In 1880, Reid got elected to New South Wales Legislative Assembly. In the beginning he was not very active in his office, at the time legislatures were not paid, and he was trying to grow his law practice.

In 1883, Reid was offered the position of Colonial Treasurer, which he turned down opting for a less prestigious position of Minister for the Public Instruction. In the position Reid made several changes to the education system in New South Wales.

In the election of 1894, Edmund Barton and other protectionists lost their seats in parliament. This allowed Reid to form a government. During his term as Premier the subject of Federation was often being brought up a political ally of Reid, Henry Parkes. Reid disliked Parkes personally, and for the sake of politics had in the past supported Parkes. The issue of Federation was no different. Reid arranged for a convention of all the Australian colonies in 1895 so Federation could be discussed.

In 1901, Reid was elected to the first federal Parliament. In 1903, he resigned his seat (the first member of the house of representatives to do so), challenging the government to oppose his re-election. His resignation was over the governments refusal to accept a system of equal electoral districts. Reid became the only person in Australian history to be elected in a by-election for a seat the candidate resigned from.

In 1904 Reid became the 4th Prime Minister of Australia. Being very aware of the direction the political winds were blowing, Reid knew before long he was going to be voted out, which happened in 1905.

In 1910, Reid was appointed as Australia's first High Commissioner in London, a diplomatic posting. He held the position until 1916, when he was elected to British parliament.

Reid passed away in London on September 12th, 1918.

Reid was a member of Lodge Centennial No. 169, New South Wales, Australia.