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Roderick Reach

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Roderick Reach (1786–1853), accountant, solicitor, and co-founder of the Inverness Courier, was in Berbice in 1808, living on plantation Tarlogie, where he was the contact for creditors of the partnership, then being wound up, which owned plantation Geanies [E&DRG 5 Nov 1808]. The partners were James Craufurd Macleod (of Geanies, Ross-shire), Hugh Rose of Glastullich, and John Bethune. Reach later married John Bethune’s sister, Ann. In 1806 Alexander Reach of Demerara made a donation of 20 guineas to Tain Royal Academy and he may have been a relation of Roderick.

In 1812 Reach returned to Scotland by way of Liverpool, where he probably met with Mrs Traill (Christian Robertson), whose brother, Hugh Munro Robertson in Demerara, had given Reach a letter of introduction. Robertson described Reach as the brother of Mrs Macfarlane, in Kirkwall, where Mrs Traill had lived for a number of years. [NLS MS19332, f98, Hugh Munro Robertson to Mrs Traill, from Demerary 12 May 1812.]

In 1828 Reach, then established in Inverness, wrote a letter to Margaret Rainy (Mrs Charles Parker) on the death of his young son, Charles Parker Reach [920 PAR/II/18/2]. The two families were on close terms. The Parkers’ daughter, Susan, had held the baby ‘in her arms at his baptism’ and Charles Parker had only just send Reach a ‘set of silver tea things’ from London. The boy’s illness and his last days are described in considerable detail and, since it includes the fact that ‘the boy’s grandmother came down from Tain’, it confirms Reach’s connection to Easter Ross. It is, thus, very likely that he was the Roderick Rioch born in Tain in March 1786 – the name ‘Reach’ is pronounced Ree–ach [OPR Births 082/00 0010 0182].

The Inverness Courier was established in 1817 by Reach, along with William Ettles and James Suter. Reach retained a financial stake in the newspaper until 1831. He moved to London in 1843, from where he wrote a column for the Inverness Courier. The column was continued by his son, Angus Bethune Reach [1821–56], who became ‘one of London’s best known literary men’. [Dictionary of Nineteenth-century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland, ed by Laurel Brake & Marysa Demoor, Academia Press, 2009.]

Roderick Reach was described as ‘a shrewd and able man, with an excellent literary style’ [Charles Mackay, Forty Years' Recollections of Life, Literature and Public Affairs, 1830-1870, 1877]

At emancipation Roderick Reach, as a trustee and executor of Duncan Fraser of Fingask, was awarded part of the compensation for enslaved persons on Golden Fleece estate, British Guiana. [T71/885 British Guiana claim no. 198A&B (Golden Fleece)]

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