[Editor: This article, about the tenuous historical connection between George Reid and Robert Burns, was published in The Mirror (Sydney, NSW), 26 January 1918.]
Sir George Reid’s story.
Of the telling of stories of the Right Hon. Sir George Reid, there is to be no end. Some of the best of them are those he tells himself— of and on himself. One of the latest is his story of the narrow escape he had of being grandson of Robert Burns.
He is a countryman of the poet of the plough-tail, and one of his admirers. In one of his poems Burns regrets that, being a humble ploughboy, he is unable to aspire to the hand of the daughter of the laird. What stood between the bard and the belle was a deficit of a couple of hundred guineas. Burns had not the money — he never had as much at once in his life — and so he dared not press his suit. The lady married in due course, and George was her grandson.
If Burns had had the 200gs of which she was short, he would have married the girl. And Sir George speculated: “I might have been the grandson of Robert Burns.”
The Mirror (Sydney, NSW), 26 January 1918, p. 15
1) “Sir George Reid: His link with Burns”, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 17 November 1917, p. 6
2) John Peerybingle, “Peerybingle Papers”, The Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic.), 24 November 1917, p. 30 (see the three last paragraphs)
3) ““Bobbie” Burns’ descendants”, The Port Fairy Gazette (Port Fairy, Vic.), 16 May 1918, p. 6
George Reid’s grandmother was Jean Ronald, who was mentioned in the poem “The Ronalds of the Bennals” by Robert Burns.
See: “Ronalds Of The Bennals, The”, Burns Country
George Reid = Sir George Reid (1845-1918), leader of the Free Traders in New South Wales, NSW parliamentarian (1880-1901), federal parliamentarian (1901-1909), and the fourth Prime Minister of Australia (1904-1905); he was often referred to as “Yes-No Reid” as he had been a supporter of the movement pushing for the federation of the Australian colonies, but when it came to the first referendum for federation he took an equivocal stance, neither supporting or opposing the vote, although he later campaigned for a “Yes” vote at the second referendum for federation
gs = an abbreviation of “guineas” (plural), (also abbreviated as “gns.”; singular “gn.”); a guinea was a coin of British currency
guinea = a gold coin produced in the United Kingdom 1663-1814; guineas contained approximately one-quarter of an ounce of gold; the name derives from the Guinea region in West Africa, the original source of the gold used to make the coins; although nominally worth twenty shillings, the worth of the coin changed at various times, due to fluctuations in the price of gold, however, in 1717 the coin’s value was officially fixed at twenty-one shillings
plough-tail = the handle, or handles, of a plough (spelt: ploughtail, plough-tail, plowtail, plow tail) (also known as a ploughstaff); the back or rear of a plough (e.g. a plow tail wheel); a reference to a labourer on a farm (e.g. he worked at the plough-tail, he of the ploughtail)
the poet of the plough-tail = Robert Burns (1759-1796), a famous Scottish poet, who worked as a farm labourer
Right Hon. = an abbreviation of “Right Honourable” (i.e. very honourable), used to refer to Privy Counsellors, Governors-General, some members of the nobility (earls, viscounts, and barons), and the mayors of certain prominent cities (including the capital cities of the Australian states); in the past, Australian Prime Ministers and senior Ministers were traditionally offered appointments to the Privy Council, and (if they accepted) were therefore entitled to the honorific of “Right Honourable” (as a style, it is commonly capitalised, e.g. “the Right Hon.”) (also abbreviated as “Rt. Hon.”)
See: 1) “House of Representatives Practice, 6th edition: 5 – Members”, Parliament of Australia
2) “The Honourable”, Encyclopaedia Britannica
3) “The Right Honourable”, Wikipedia
Robert Burns = (1759-1796), a famous Scottish poet
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
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