ARCHIBALD REED (1766-1842)


By far the largest and most conspicuous monument in Jesmond Old Cemetery is the Gothic pile of Kenton stone erected to the design of John Dobson in memory of Archibald Reed. The Reed family can trace their origins back to Bellingham, by the River Rede, where Great, great Grandfather Archibald seems to have been a frugal and industrious businessman.

Archibald was probably born in Chipchase Castle in 1766 which his Father, Christopher Soulsby Reed, had inherited from his Uncle who had been High Sheriff of Northumberland. His Mother, Sarah, daughter of Sir Francis Blake of Twizell had brought a fortune of £10,000 upon her marriage in 1757.

After an education at the Grammar School in Newcastle and an apprenticeship as a mercer, Archibald set up as a woollen draper in Sandhill about 1790. He was to become Mayor on six occasions and had the honour of entertaining the Duke of Wellington in the Mansion House and at a ball at the Assembly Rooms. Each Mayor had a fixed annual allowance of £2,000 and because Reed's expenditure was purely on hospitality and charity, he was regarded as an ideal Mayor!!!

Archibald died in Leazes Terrace and a wall monument was erected to his memory in St Nicholas Cathedral. The tomb in Jesmond Old Cemetery was constructed in 1843 and consists of a two-stage tower with pinnacled diagonal buttresses and an octagonal spire. The slab on the west side marks the entrance to the vault, which also contains the remains of Archibald Joseph Reed, Arthur Reed and Mary Ann Reed. 

The tomb is currently a Grade 2 Listed building and is in urgent need of repair. However, following the intervention of the Friends of Jesmond Old Cemetery, there is now a group of individuals, including descendants of Reed, and organisations, such as the City Council and the Sir James Knott Trust, who are putting plans in place to restore the monument. Currently, we have raised nearly £4,000 to fund a Condition Survey which will provide a detailed survey of what needs to be done and also contribute to change the Listed status of the mounment to a Grade 2*, which help us attract further funding from the likes of English Heritage and the National Lottery. 


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