G. Archdall Reid

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Sir George Archdall O'Brien Reid KBE FRSE (7 April 1860, Roorky, India – 19 November 1929[1]) was a Scottish physician, and a writer on public health and on the subject of evolution. A socialist, he was interested in the effects of alcohol on society, and in the evolution of races.[1]

He was born in the NW Provinces of British India, the only son of Captain C A Reid of the 20th Bengal Native Infantry.[2]

His writings on evolution and heredity are of interest as examples of thinking in this field at a time when the new science of genetics was in turmoil, following the rediscovery of the work of Gregor Mendel which appeared to conflict with Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. This was the start of a period in which the Modern evolutionary synthesis came into being.

Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder of the theory of evolution by natural selection, with Darwin, wrote of Reid:

It is refreshing to turn to Mr. Archdall Reid's volume which, though unnecessarily diffuse, is full of original ideas and acute reasoning. The larger part of it is devoted to a discussion of the general subject of organic evolution. This is exceedingly well done, and it contains a very forcible argument against the possibility of the inheritance of acquired characters in the higher animals, derived from the facts of cell-division and specialisation in the development of the individual. This argument has not, within my knowledge, been so clearly and forcibly set forth by any other writer. There are also some very acute criticisms of the writings of Herbert Spencer and others on evolution, and great stress is laid on a rather neglected subject, the development of acquired characters during the growth of the individual, though on this point the author's views seem rather exaggerated and open to criticism.[2]


I was greatly pleased with Archdall Reid's view of Mendelism in _Nature_.[35] He is a very clear and original thinker.[3]


  • The Principles of Heredity
  • The Laws of Heredity (1910), Methuen and Co. Ltd London
  • The Present Evolution of Man (1896), London: Chapman & Hall

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  1. ^ "Former RSE Fellows 1783-2002" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Cunningham, J. T. (7 December 1929). "Sir Archdall Reid, K.B.E". Nature. 124 (3136): 882. doi:10.1038/124882a0. 

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