George Murray Reith



George Murray Reith (Reverend) (b. 1863d. 27 February 1948, Edinburgh, Scotland) was a minister of the local Presbyterian church. He is better known as the author of Handbook to Singapore. First published in 1892, Handbook to Singapore was one of Singapore’s earliest tourist guidebooks.1

Early life
Reith was the eldest son of Archibald Reith.2 After obtaining his Master of Arts degree at the Aberdeen University in 1884, he pursued further education at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland.3

Reith assisted at the Dundee McCheyne Memorial before he was ordained at the Free Church Presbytery in London.4 In 1889, he was posted to Singapore, where he was made a minister of the Singapore Presbyterian Church. He served there from 1889 to 1896.5

Presbyterian minister
Reith was the eighth minister since the Presbyterian community was established in Singapore in 1856.6 Besides preaching at the local Presbyterian church and the Boustead Institute every Sunday, Reith also lectured on Scottish church history and biblical criticism.7

His sermons included discussions of social issues such as working on Sundays and problems associated with gambling at horse races.8 Nicknamed the Presbyterian Padre, Reith was succeeded by Reverend S. S. Walker in 1896, following which he returned to Edinburgh.9

Community contributions
Besides serving as a preacher and minister in Singapore, Reith was also a founding member of the Straits Philosophical Society, as well as a committee member of the Straits Settlements Association, Straits Asiatic Society, Raffles Institution and Raffles Library.10 He also gave direction to the local Theological Society which held monthly meetings.11

The community in Singapore gave Reith a silver inkstand as a parting gift when he returned to Scotland in 1897.12 However, he remained active in the local community even after his departure, contributing frequently to the local press with writings on Scottish affairs for the local Scots community. This continued well into 1910.13

Reith is known for his publication, Handbook to Singapore, which was first published in 189214 and subsequently revised by Walter Makepeace in 1907.15 The title was reissued by the Oxford University Press in 1985.16

Life in Scotland
After his return to Scotland, Reith was appointed in 1898 as the minister of St Cuthbert’s United Free Church in Edinburgh.17

In 1910, Reith published a photographic survey and description of the Scottish highlands titled The Breezy Pentlands.18 He also served as editor for the proceedings and debates of the General Assembly of the United Free Church in Great Britain from 1900.19

Reith resigned from St Cuthbert in 1911 due to poor health. Between 1916 and 1917, he served as minister of the Baird United Free Church in Cumbernauld, Glasgow.20

Published works (books)
1892: Handbook to Singapore
1897: A Padre in Partibus: Being otes and Impressions of a Brief Holiday Tour through Java, the Eastern Archipelago and Siam21
1898: Dr Archibald Reith: Biography and Selections from His Writings22
1910: The Breezy Pentlands23

1933: Reminiscences of the United Free Church General Assembly (1900–1929)24

Family

Father: Archibald Reith25
Wife: Mary McNeill Bowie (m. 1907), daughter of Reverend John S. Bowie26
The couple had four sons.27



Author

Bonny Tan




References
1. Trustees of the National Library of Scotland. (n.d.). Inventory: Acc.3564: Papers of the Rev George M Reith. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from National Library of Scotland website: http://www.nls.uk/catalogues/online/cnmi/inventories/acc3564.pdf; Page 8 advertisements Column 1: Death. (1948, March 11). The Singapore Free Press, p. 8; Padre’s guide to S’pore was first ever. (1960, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 6; Hoe, I. (1985, August 10). Fascinating flaws. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Page 8 advertisements Column 1: Death. (1948, March 11). The Singapore Free Press, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Trustees of the National Library of Scotland. (n.d.). Inventory: Acc.3564: Papers of the Rev George M Reith. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from National Library of Scotland website: http://www.nls.uk/catalogues/online/cnmi/inventories/acc3564.pdf
4. Scottish Archive Network Limited. (n.d.). Single person record details. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from Scottish Archive Network website: http://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/scancatalogue/person.aspx?code=NA8646
5. Trustees of the National Library of Scotland. (n.d.). Inventory: Acc.3564: Papers of the Rev George M Reith. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from National Library of Scotland website: http://www.nls.uk/catalogues/online/cnmi/inventories/acc3564.pdf; The new Presbyterian minister. (1896, March 31). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. The Presbyterian church. (1928, March 2). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. The Presbyterian Church. Singapore. (1893, March 2). The Straits Times, p. 3; Mr. Reith’s lectures. (1892, April 12). The Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 214. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
8. The Rev. Mr. Reith on Sunday labour. (1891, September 21). The Straits Times, p. 2; The Rev. Mr. Reith on gambling. (1891, October 19). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. The Rev. G. M. Reith. (1896, March 3). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (Weekly), p. 9; The new Presbyterian minister. (1896, March 31). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. The Rev. G. M. Reith. (1896, March 3). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (Weekly), p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. The Presbyterian Church. Singapore. (1893, March 8). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. The Rev. Mr. Reith. (1897, August 30). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Rev. G. M. Reith as an author. (1910, July 27). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Reith, G. M. (1892). Handbook to Singapore [eBook]. Singapore: Singapore and Straits Print. Off. Retrieved from BookSG: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/printheritage
15. Reith, G. M. (1907). Handbook to Singapore with map [Microfilm no.: NL 24341; NL 30196]. Singapore: Fraser and Neave.
16. Reith, G. M. (1985). Handbook to Singapore. Singapore; New York: Oxford University Press. (Call no.: RSING 957.57 REI-[HIS])
17. Scottish Archive Network Limited. (n.d.). Single person record details. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from Scottish Archive Network website: http://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/scancatalogue/person.aspx?code=NA8646; Personalia. (1915, November). The Aberdeen University Review, III(7), 271–277, p. 275. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from Internet Archive website: https://ia802605.us.archive.org/10/items/aberdeenuniversi03univuoft/aberdeenuniversi03univuoft_bw.pdf
18. Rev. G. M. Reith as an author. (1910, July 27). The Straits Times, p. 11; The breezy pentlands. (1910, June 2). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (Weekly), p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Personalia. (1915, November). The Aberdeen University Review, III(7), 271–277, p. 275. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from Internet Archive website: https://ia802605.us.archive.org/10/items/aberdeenuniversi03univuoft/aberdeenuniversi03univuoft_bw.pdf
20. Scottish Archive Network Limited. (n.d.). Single person record details. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from Scottish Archive Network website: http://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/scancatalogue/person.aspx?code=NA8646; Personalia. (1915, November). The Aberdeen University Review, III(7), 271–277, p. 275. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from Internet Archive website: https://ia802605.us.archive.org/10/items/aberdeenuniversi03univuoft/aberdeenuniversi03univuoft_bw.pdf
21. Page 2 advertisements column 3. (1897, August 18). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Dr. Archibald Reith: Biography and selections from his writings. (n.d.). Retrieved 2017, February 22 from OCLC WorldCat website: http://www.worldcat.org/title/dr-archibald-reith-biography-and-selections-from-his-writings/oclc/614135113
23. The breezy pentlands. (1910, June 2). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (Weekly), p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. OCLC. (2017). Reminiscences of the United Free Church General Assembly (19001929). Retrieved 2017, February 22 from OCLC WorldCat website: http://www.worldcat.org/title/reminiscences-of-the-united-free-church-general-assembly-1900-1929/oclc/12928444
25. Page 8 advertisements column 1. (1948, March 11). The Singapore Free Press, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Marriages. (1907, November 28). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (Weekly), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Scottish Archive Network Limited. (n.d.). Single person record details. Retrieved 2017, February 22 from Scottish Archive Network website: http://catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk/scancatalogue/person.aspx?code=NA8646



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Presbyterians--Biography
Philosophy, psychology and religion>>Religion>>Christianity
Personalities>>Biographies>>Religious Leaders
Religious leaders
Reith, George Murray, 1863–1948
Clergy--Singapore--Biography