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Chronology of Mayne Reid's Life

Reid's Birthplace, Balleyroney
Childhood and Youth in Ireland

Early Years in America

The U.S.-Mexican War

The Rise and Fall of a Successful Author

Return to America

Final Years in England


  • April 4: Thomas Mayne Reid born in Ballyroney, County Down, Northern Ireland.
  • September: At age 16, Reid enters either Royal Academical Institution or Queen's University, Belfast.
  • June: Leaves Belfast and opens a small day school near Ballyroney.


  • January 16: Dumfriesshire arrives at New Orleans; Reid's name does not appear on the passenger manifest.
  • Dates uncertain: Employed by New Orleans commission house or corn-factor, leaving six months later after refusing to whip slaves.
  • Date uncertain: Travels to Nashville where he becomes tutor for the family of General Peyton Robertson.
  • November 19: Places advertisement in Nashville Union for opening of a "New English, Mathematical and Classical School."
  • December 1: Reid's school opens.
  • July 1: Reid closed school for vacation. Apparently did not reopen on July 14 as planned.
  • Dates uncertain: Becomes clerk for provision dealer in Natchitoches or Natchez.
  • Date uncertain:Allegedly meets Commodore Edwin W. Moore of the Texas Navy to whom he later dedicates Scalp Hunters.
  • Dates uncertain: Unsuccessful stint as an itinerant actor in Cincinnati.
  • Date uncertain: Moves to Pittsburgh.
  • November 10: First poetry published in Pittsburgh Morning Gazette.
  • March 21: Final poem published in Pittsburgh Morning Gazette.
  • Date Uncertain: Moves to Philadelphia.
  • August: First poem published in Godey's Magazine under pseudonym "A Poor Scholar."
  • Autumn: meets Edgar Allan Poe in Philadelphia.
  • September: "My Star-Browed Steed," a poem, published in Graham's Magazine.
  • August: "Song of the Avenger," a poem, published in Graham's Magazine.
  • February: "The Death of Cordova" published in Graham's Magazine.
  • Summer: At Newport, R.I. as correspondent for New York Herald.
  • September: "The Husband's Ruse" published in Graham's Magazine.
  • September 1: Goes to New York City to be Society Editor for New York Herald.
  • November 20: Finishes play "Love's Martyr" in Philadelphia.


  • November 23: Enlists in New York Volunteers to serve in Mexican War.
  • December 3: New York Volunteers mustered into federal service at Fort Hamilton.
  • December 11: Reid commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Company F; effective November 28, 1846.
  • January 9: New York Volunteers sail for Mexico.
  • January 28: New York Volunteers arrive at Brazos Santiago, Texas. Ordered to go to Tampico.
  • January 31: New York Volunteers arrive at Tampico.
  • February 15: New York Volunteers arrive at Lobos Island.
  • March 9: New York Volunteers participate in landing at Vera Cruz.
  • March 9-29: Reid and his men scout surrounding area for guerrillas.
  • April 17-18: NY Vols witness (but do not participate in) Battle of Cerro Gordo.
  • May 1: first "Sketches by a Skirmisher" published in Spirit of the Times under pseudonym "Ecolier."
  • May 15: NY Vols enter Puebla with other U.S. troops.
  • July 18: While officer-of-the-guard, Reid kills an enlisted man in his custody.
  • July 24: Court of Inquiry concludes that Reid was not justified in killing prisoner but exonerates him, more or less, due to extenuating circumstances.
  • Early August: As part of Scott's advance, NY Vols leave Puebla and enter Valley of Mexico.
  • August 19-20: Reid participates in battles of Contreras and Churubusco.
  • September 13: Reid severely wounded at Battle of Chapultepec.
  • September 16: Promoted to first lieutenant.
  • November: "The Last Adventure of a Coquette" published in Graham's Magazine.
  • May 5: Reid resigns commission.
  • Summer: Arrives back in New York. Receives medal.


  • May 5: Reid resigns commission; leaves army with rank of captain.
  • Summer: At Newport, Rhode Island.
  • Autumn: Goes to Philadelphia, where he meets his old friend Don Piatt, who invites him to visit Ohio.
  • September: "Mexican Jealousy" and "To Guadalupe," a poem, published in Graham's Magazine.
  • October: "Scouting Near Vera Cruz" and "To Her Who Can Understand It," a poem, published in Graham's Magazine.
  • October 23: Love's Martyr produced at the Walnut Street Theater for five performances.
  • January: "The Wounded Guerrilla" published in Graham's Magazine.
  • Date Uncertain: War Life privately printed in New York.
  • June 27: Sails for Liverpool with Friedrich Hecker and a band of volunteers formed to fight in the Bavarian revolution.
  • July 12: Goes home to Northern Ireland for a month's visit.
  • August: Returns to London to seek a publisher for The Rifle Rangers. Resides for a time at 33 Bryanstone Place, W1.
  • Spring: The Rifle Rangers is published by William Shoberl, who contrives to pay Reid only £25. (Reid made much more money on subsequent editions, issued by other publishers.)
  • Date uncertain: Reid returns to Northern Ireland where he writes The Scalp Hunters while staying at his parents' home in County Down.
  • Date uncertain: Reid returns to London to seek a publisher for The Scalp Hunters.
  • Date uncertain: The Scalp Hunters is published by Charles J. Skeet, London.
  • Christmas-time: Reid's first juvenile novel, The Desert Home, is published by David Bogue, London.
  • Date uncertain: Meets and begins a friendship with Hungarian revolutionary Louis Kossuth.
  • Date uncertain: Meets Elizabeth Hyde, his future wife.
  • Date uncertain: Visits Paris, France.
  • Christmas-time: Another juvenile novel, The Boy Hunters, is published.
  • February: Reid conspires to smuggle Kossuth into Italy but plans are not actually carried out. During the same month he begins a feud with The Times regarding a news report about Kossuth.
  • March: Moves to 14 Alpha Road, near Regents Park (and also near Kossuth, who resides at number 21). Continues feud with The Times.
  • October: During a meeting at the London Tavern, held "for the purpose of expressing sympathy with Turkey," Reid makes a fiery speech.
  • Christmas-time: Reid's third juvenile novel, The Young Voyageurs, is published.
  • Date uncertain: Reid is one of several speakers at a meeting held on behalf of Polish refugees at the Mechanics Hall (in Nottingham?).
  • August 15: Marries Elizabeth Hyde at Parish Church, St. Mary's, Nottingham.
  • Date uncertain: Reid and wife travel to Northern Ireland, to visit his parents. (Because the date is uncertain, this trip could taken place in early 1855 rather than late 1854.)
  • Date uncertain: The Scalp Hunters translated into French.
  • Christmas-time: The Forest Exiles is published.
  • Date uncertain: The Reids move to a cottage near the village of Stokenchurch in Oxfordshire, while retaining their home near Regents Park in London, which they visit from time-to-time, often on a whim.
  • Date uncertain: The White Chief is published.
  • Christmas-time: The Bush Boys is published.
  • Date uncertain: The Young Yagers (sequel to The Bush Boys) published by David Bogue, London.
  • Date uncertain: Reid publishes The Quadroon himself (which he finished writing while living at Stokenchurch) after his usual publisher, David Bogue suddenly dies.
  • Date uncertain: The Reids move to Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire.
  • January 3: Chambers' Journal begins serializing The War Trail.
  • May: The Reids visit Northern Ireland, driving to the port of Liverpool in their own coach, accompanied by a coachman, a maid-servant, and a "spotted carriage dog."
  • August: The Reids return to England.
  • January 2: Chambers' Journal begins serializing Ocela.
  • Dates uncertain: The Plant Hunters and Ran Away to Sea published by J. & C. Brown.
  • Date uncertain: The Boy Tar is published by George Routledge & Son.
  • Date uncertain: Oceola is published.
  • July 7: Chambers' Journal begins serializing The Wild Huntress.
  • Autumn: The Reids sublet their house in Gerrard's Cross and go to live for a time in London at 23 Woburn Place.
  • Christmas-time: Odd People is published.
  • November 18: Dion Boucicault's "Octoroon" (based on Reid's novel The Quadroon) is presented at the Adelphi Theatre in London.
  • Date uncertain: Reid adapts The Wood Rangers and Tiger Hunters "from the French of Louis de Bellemare."
  • Date uncertain: Quadrupeds is published by Charles H. Clarke, Paternoster Row, London.
  • January 18: Cassell's Family Paper begins serializing The Maroon.
  • Date uncertain: Reid decides to build a house at Gerrard's Cross and purchases 20 acres of land from Brazevore College, Oxford, on a "two nines" lease for £25. Begins construction of Mexican-style hacienda with himself as architect.
  • Date uncertain: Charles Beach, a.k.a. "Cannibal Charlie" (Mrs. Reid) or "Cannibal Jack" (Ollivant), turns up at Reid's house in Gerrard's Cross (Ollivant) or London (Mrs. Reid), with a manuscript to show Reid. It is later published as Lost Lenore.
  • Date uncertain: Following an unexpected snowfall in Buckinghamshire, Reid, on a whim, converts his wife's pony phaeton into a sleigh.
  • Dates uncertain: For a period of a year, Reid operates an unprofitable omnibus service between Uxbridge and Gerrard's Cross.
  • Dates uncertain: Reid writes a treatise on Croquet, which is published by Skeet. He later sues the Earl of Essex for plagiarizing this work.
  • November 26: Reid addresses the American Thanksgiving Day dinner at St. James' Hall in London.
  • January: Boys' Journal announces that first photographic likeness of Reid to be published (taken by Maull & Polyblank), would be available as a carte de visite, by mail, for 1 shilling. Charles Ollivant, who has not yet met Reid, buys one and complains it "was not very well printed."
  • April 29: "Garibaldi Rebuked" privately printed.
  • Late July: When a destitute woman is run over by a wagon near the Reids' house in Gerrard's Cross, Reid has her carried to his house until a doctor and magistrate can arrive. Afterward, he loans the authorities a carriage in which to transport the injured woman to the Slough workhouse, where she dies not long after her arrival. Reid's kindness is commended in the local newspapers.
  • Date uncertain: The Boy Slaves published.
  • Date uncertain: The Cliff Climbers published.
  • February 1865: The Atheneum magazine announces that The Headless Horseman will be serialized beginning March 1.
  • Date uncertain: The Headless Horseman published.
  • July: Ollivant travels to Gerrard's Cross; meets Reid and his wife for the first time and visits the newly-built "Ranche."
  • May 1: The Times publishes a letter from Reid complaining about the behavior of the 5th Royal Elthorne Militia during a drinking spree in Gerrard's Cross.
  • November 13: Reid is declared bankrupt. Shortly afterward, he gives up house at Gerrard's Cross and he and his wife move back to London, taking up residence at Fulham Place, Maida Hill.
  • November 25: Charles Ollivant, living in Manchester, receives a note from Reid asking him to come to London.
  • November 28: Ollivant arrives in London and goes to stay with the Reids in Maida Hill. A cash-strapped Captain Reid proposes that Ollivant form a committee to spur sales of The Headless Horsemen and the young man agrees.
  • November 30: An advertisement placed by Ollivant appears in The Times, calling on Reid's loyal readers to come to his aid by purchasing a copy of The Headless Horseman. The response is immediately favorable.
  • Early December: Ollivant goes home, leaving the commitee in charge of Reid's brother-in-law George W. Hyde. Upon his return to Manchester, Ollivant places similar advertisements in the newspapers there and personally canvasses his friends and acquaintances, which effort results in the sale of 45 copies of the book. Buyers include John Bright, "the sturdy champion of liberty everywhere," and Thomas Bagley Potter, MP for Rochester.
  • January 14: Reid visits Gerrard's Cross, hopeful that he can redeem at least a portion of his lost property (but never does).
  • February 4: Reid holds a poetry reading at the Hanover Rooms to raise money for the poor who are suffering during one of London's worst winters. Heavy rain keeps attendance down and only a few pounds are raised.
  • April 27: Reid begins publishing The Little Times, a newspaper smaller in size and more concise than most papers of the day.
  • May 22: Last issue of The Little Times appears. Reid suspends publication owing to poor health and lack of funds.
  • October 25: Reid, his wife, and his brother-in-law leave England on a ship sailing to America.


  • November: Arrives in America, settling in Newport, Rhode Island for the winter.
  • January: The Helpless Hand, Reid's first original Beadle and Adams Dime Novel is published.
  • February - July: The Child Wife serialized in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Magazine.
  • April: The Reids move to New York.
  • May 12: Reid becomes a United States citizen.
  • June: Returns to England for a six-week visit to copyrights.
  • July 11: Headless Horseman begins serial in Penny Miscellany.
  • October 14: Charles Ollivant sails for America to work with Reid as his private secretary.
  • December: First issue of Onward(January 1869) is published.
  • Date Uncertain: The Child Wife published in book form.
  • February: Demise of Onward.
  • April 18: Reid lectures on Byron at Steinway Hall, New York.
  • June: hospitalized with serious recurrence of Chapultepec wound.
  • October 22: On the advice of his doctor, Reid sails for England.


  • Confined in Derbyshire asylums for several months with acute melancholia.
  • Stories published anonymously in London Society.
  • Spends summer traveling through South Wales.
  • Begins repurchase of copyrights.
  • Helen Cromie spends the winter with the Reids in London.
  • Dramatizes Wild Huntress and engages in negotiations with P. T. Barnum for its production.
  • Chapultepec wound relapse necessitates use of opiates.
  • September 20: Reid and wife take up residence at "Chasewood," a rented property in rural Herefordshire
  • Begins efforts at novel syndication in provincial papers with Gwen Wynn (to be published in a three-volume edition in 1877).
  • January: Reid and wife move from "Chasewood" to "Frogmore," another rented property in rural Herefordshire
  • April 16: Becomes joint editor of Boys' Illustrated Newspaper.
  • April - September: "Rural Life in England" published in New York Tribune.
  • September: Begins receiving United States government invalid's pension for service in the Mexican War.
  • Mid-March: The Reids return to live in London
  • October 22: Mayne Reid dies in London; he is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, where his unusual tombstone bears an inscription from Scalp Hunters: "This is the 'weed prairie'; it is misnamed: It is the Garden of God."

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