Robert Reid (bishop)

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Robert Reid (died 1558) was abbot of Kinloss, commendator-prior of Beauly, and bishop of Orkney. He was one of the greatest of the bishops of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Scotland, and his legacy was the founding of the University of Edinburgh.

Robert Reid was educated at the University of St Andrews[1] and became the Sub-Dean at Elgin Cathedral in 1524[2] before becoming the abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Kinloss Abbey at Kinloss, Moray; he also held the priory of Beauly in commendam. He was respected for his learning and wisdom, and brought the Italian scholar, Giovanni Ferreri of Piedmont to Kinloss in 1528. Ferrerio's teachings over a five-year period made Kinloss a centre of academic excellence, and he wrote a continuation of Hector Boece's history, extending it to the end of the reign of James III of Scotland. Reid corresponded with Giovanni Ferreri in Paris, and discussed the health-care of Mary, Queen of Scots with him in December 1548.[3]

Robert commissioned altarpieces for the abbey church from the artist Andrew Bairhum, who also decorated some of the bishop's rooms, and had a new library built. While abbot, Reid was sent on diplomatic missions as the king’s commissioner, discussing peace with Henry VIII of England and going to France in connection with the marriage of James V of Scotland.

Reid was made Bishop of Orkney in 1541, and had extensive alterations made to the Bishop's Palace which was his official residence adjoining St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. He continued as Commendator of Kinloss in his post at Kinloss until 1553, then resigned in favour of his nephew, Walter Reid. He was Lord President of the Court of Session from 1543 until his death. At his death in 1558 Robert Reid left the funds that ultimately provided the endowment for the University of Edinburgh.


  1. "Robert Reid (d. 1558)". The University of Edinburgh.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Mackintosh, H B: Elgin Past and Present, Elgin, 1914, p. 32
  3. Pollen, John Hungerford, ed., Papal Negotiations of Mary Queen of Scots, SHS (1901), p.414, Robert Reid to Giovanni Ferreri, 26 December 1548.

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