Prime Minister for less than a year (1904–05), Reid was Leader of the Opposition for six years. After eight years as a member of the House of Representatives he resigned to become Australia's first High Commissioner in London.

A 'father of federation', Reid was a member of the New South Wales parliament for 20 years, and Premier from 1894 to 1899.

In the last two years of his life Reid was a member of the 'mother of parliaments', with a seat in the House of Commons from January 1916 until his death in 1918.

Initiated in Lodge Centennial No. 169 UGL of NSW on 16 November 1896.