James Baird

1802 - 1876

James Baird
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

James Baird

Foundryman and industrialist. Born in Old Monkland (North Lanarkshire). With his elder brother, Baird founded William Baird & Co which went on to become the largest producers of iron in Britain. He made use of the blast furnace developed by James Beaumont Neilson (1792 - 1865) and by his death the company ran more than thirty of these furnaces.

Baird was elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for the Falkirk Burghs (1850-57), which was the same seat his brother had served just four years previously.

While Baird was strongly against any trade-union activity, he paid for the education of his workers and encouraged their moral and religious development. He also gave the enormous sum of £500,000 to the Church of Scotland during his lifetime. In addition, he contributed generously to the building of individual churches in Glasgow and Aberdeen. He also created the Baird Trust, which still supports church-related activities.

In 1852, he acquired the Greenfield Estate, near Ayr, renaming it Cambusdoon. He bought the Knoydart Estate in 1857. Baird served as Deputy-Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Inverness-shire.

He died at Cambusdoon.

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