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offices of Lanarkshire, in which county they had been known as respectable farmers for generations. The shield of the Auchmedden family bears a wild boar passant ; but there is a tradition that it was originally a bear. The story is, that, as William the Lion was hunting in one of the counties of the west of Scotland, and happening to straggle from his attendants, he was alarmed by the approach of a wild bear. Crying for help, a gentleman of the name of Baird, who had followed the King from England, ran up, and had the good fortune to kill the bear. For this service, the King made a considerable addition to the lands he had already given him, and assigned him for his coat-of-arms a bear passant, with the motto, Dominus fecit. A reputed foot of the slain bear is still in the possession of a member of the family.
The ancestors of the Gartsherrie Bairds were tenants of the farms of High Cross and Kirkwood. In the national religious struggle they took the side of the Covenanters, and one of them, in 1683, was fined one hundred pounds for refusing to recognise the curate settled in Cathcart. Wodrow names, as one who participated in the sufferings of the time, "a worthy, judicious man, James Baird, in or near Strathaven.” The first in the family line who rises before us, possessing a distinct individuality, is Alexander Baird of Kirkwood, who was so famous for his physical strength that he got the name of “ double-ribbed Sandy." He was the greatthe name cathole competensi comment great-grandfather of James Baird of Cambusdoon.
The father of the Bairds who first constituted the firm of “W. Baird & Co.” was Alexander Baird, born at Woodhead on the 12th May, 1765. He was a most enterprising farmer, and after a number of years of successful agricultural industry, he rose to a position of con
siderable influence in Lanarkshire. In his day the agriculture of the county was still in a very backward state. The only instruments used were the plough and the harrow, and they were both of wood. The work of the field labourer was excessively hard. He was, however, exceedingly willing, and with plough and flail and sickle and clod-hammer, he performed incredible feats of endurance and activity. The farm houses were of the most primitive kind. At a meeting of the heritors of Old Monkland, when the schoolmaster appeared and complained of the state of his house, and particularly that "the wind blew in under the door,” Mr. Baird, who was present, replied—“Oh, that's nothing; the dog comes in under mine.” The house was covered with tiles. The sons slept in the garret, and they frequently awoke in winter with the coverlet of their bed sprinkled with the snow blown in through the chinks.
A man of energy and foresight, in addition to his farms, he began in April, 1809, the working of coal on his own account, having acquired from the tenants the lease of the Woodside coal-work, near Dalserf. In 1816, he further acquired from Miss Alexander, of Airdrie House, a lease of the coal-field of Rochsolloch. William, the eldest son, who had been bred as a farmer, but who disliked the occupation, being a good book-keeper, was placed in charge of the new acquisition. The adventure so prospered under his management that his brother Alexander was installed in Glasgow as salesman. Being now thoroughly satisfied of the ability of his sons, in 1823 he took from Mr. Buchanan of Drumpellier the coal pit of Merryston. The former tenants had failed, but, chiefly owing to the energy of James, the colliery now became a first-rate concern. After having done his best and spent a large sum, the proprietors, taking advantage of a break in the lease, took possession of the field. This was a severe check, but the old farmer was not daunted. Applying to Mr. Hamilton Colt of Gartsherrie, in May, 1826, along with his sons, William, Alexander, and James, he entered on a lease of the Gartsherrie minerals. Two years afterwards they obtained a lease of the Cairnhill ironstone, near Gartsherrie. The first furnace was put in blast on the 4th : May, 1830, at ten o'clock forenoon. The second furnace was put in blast on the 11th Sept., 1832. Thus the Bairds became established in that locality with which their names have been so closely associated. Alexander Baird, the founder of the family, died at New Mains on the 23rd December, 1833. Mr. Baird was a man of no little culture, and with great native force of character. It was owing to his sagacity and outlook the Bairds came to achieve their position and fortune. His wife, Jean Moffat, died at Coats House on the 8th of July, 1851.
Some time before his death, Alexander Baird sur 1 rendered all his coal and ironstone leases and feus to his sons, William, Alexander, James, Douglas, and George, who became associated under the name of “ William Baird & Co." Some time after, Robert and David were also added to the firm. Soon after their incorporation the brothers began to extend their operations in every direction. Acquiring extensive mineral fields in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Stirlingshire, and Dumbartonshire, their prosperity went on increasing by leaps and bounds. Amongst the first mineral estates wrought by the company were Gartcloss, 1834 ; Coats, 1834; Cliftonhill and Garturk, 1835; Faskine and Palace Craig, 1841 ; and Gunnie and Blacklands, 1843. In 1845 the partners acquired the lands of Stobbs, in Ayrshire, on which their
earliest Eglinton Works were erected. The Blair Works —now out of blast-were acquired in 1852; those at Portland in 1854; and Lugar and Muirkirk in 1856. The third furnace was lighted at Gartsherrie on the 3rd April, 1834. The first at Eglinton was put in blast on the 24th December, 1846.
Apart from their business integrity and energy, some of the success which has attended the operations of this great house has been owing to the diversity of gifts which the brothers inherited. Each came to be looked upon as a specialist in some particular department. William, for example, was the book-keeper and financier ; Alexander was the salesman and negotiator; and James was the mechanic and engineer. The family numbered eight sons and two daughters, and the various facts concerning the family will be best elicited by a brief account of each.
William Baird was the eldest son, and gave his name to the firm. He was born at Woodhead on the 16th December, 1796, and died at Edinburgh on the 8th March, 1864. When his father sent him to Tweedside to learn farming, he found he took more kindly to intellectual than to manual labour. Elected a member of Parliament for the Falkirk district in 1841, he occupied for five years the unique position of the only Conservative returned by the Scottish Burghs. The Bairds have all along been distinguished by an enlightened and progressive Conservatism. Believing that the integrity of the Constitution was the best security for Capital, and the security of Capital the best guarantee the workingman could have for remunerative wages, they have fought many stiff political fights, and so sensible have constituencies been of their statesmanlike qualifications, they have been at the polls more accustomed to victory than defeat. William Baird was chairman of the Cale
donian Railway Company. Taking a large number of shares when they were low in value and nearly unsaleable, the brothers took the line in hand, and worked it up till its shares came to a large price. William Baird is closely connected with the prosperity of the Caledonian. He was a deputy-governor of the Forth and Clyde Canal. In 1853 he bought the estates of Elie in Fife, and Rosemount in Ayrshire. For the former he paid £155,000, and for the latter £47,000. He married, in 1840, Janet, daughter of Thomas Johnston, coalmaster, Gartcloss, by whom he had ten of a family-five sons and five daughters. William Baird, his eldest son, now of Elie, was born in 1848, and John George Alexander Baird, the popular member for the Central Division of Glasgow, is his second son.
John Baird, the second son, was born at Woodhead, 19th April, 1798, and died at Naples, 28th January, 1870. He was the only one of the brothers who never became a member of the House, who stuck to his father's business, and who never entered into the iron trade. He became the proprietor of the estates of Lochwood in Lanarkshire, and Urie in Kincardineshire. The former ! he received as a gift from his brothers, and the latter he got by bequest from his brother Alexander, who in 1854 had paid for it the sum of £150,000. His wife was Margaret, daughter of John Findlay of Springhill, Lanarkshire. His eldest son Alexander; now of Urie, was born in 1849.
Alexander Baird, the third son, was born at Kirkwood on the 29th December, 1799. He died a bachelor at London, 2nd March, 1862. He built the Mansion House of Urie, and extended the estate by purchasing a thousand acres from the adjoining proprietor, Patrick Keith Murray of Dunnottar. At his death his trustees purchased with