Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Stonehaven & NE Scotland Twinning Group

    Over the Summer the Twinning Group has been organizing a response to the gifts & cards sent from the townspeople of Athens Alabama & Clan Baird to Stonehaven Care Homes. Some of the children of Stonehaven & residents of local Care Homes have now completed postcard messages & thank you booklets (see photo attached) which are now in the process of being sent to Mayor Ronnie Marks along with cultivated Scottish Thistle seeds (photo attached) to be planted at Athens Care Homes & Civic Garden to flourish in Alabamian soil & be a visual, lasting sign of our joint friendship.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mill of Nethermill Cairn

In 2019, a plaque was placed the Mill of Nethermill that celebrated the bridge being in existence for over 300 years. This bridge was built by the Bairds and the Gardens in 1719, and it was the first bridge that joined Aberdeenshire and Banffshire on the north coast. 

On July 6th, 2020, the plaque commemorating the bridge was finally united with its cairn. Many thanks to Bill and Lynn Pitt for so much hard work to get this last stage of setting the plaque in place.

The cairn is absolutely beautiful and so appropriate for our plaque, made of rock, like the cairns of the highlands of old (as you can see below). We can't wait to see it next summer for the Baird Gathering!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games 2020

For 64 years, North Carolina has held its annual Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain. Unfortunately, this year was much different. As we all know, COVID-19 affected the world in a major way. It caused businesses to shut down, flights to be canceled, and people to stay home. This included the Grandfather Highland Games. For the safety of workers, societies, and clans attending the games, it was decided to be canceled. But, this did not stop us from showing our clan pride!

Every year at the games each clan announces their presence in front of all the clans gathered. It was an old Scottish tradition done by the Chiefs of the clans at gatherings for war. This year, the Clan Baird could take part with Commander Richard Holman-Baird to represent us. For the first time in over 300 years, we had a leader to represent us. Yet, as we all know, this was unable to happen. But the Clan Baird is strong, and our unity is like no other. Despite this global pandemic, Clan Baird decided to go through with this ancient tradition. Commander Richard Holman-Baird and Branton Baird, Liaison to the Commander, created a video portraying this unique part of our heritage. Enjoy this short clip!

    Not only were we able to go through with the announcing of our clan, one of our members was able to represent us at Grandfather Mountain in person! Ryan Ferguson, Clan Baird Society's Photographer, took a trip to North Carolina on June 29th, 2020 and stopped to visit the place of the games. She took photographs of the area and the views so those who never taken part this amazing place could experience it through her. Here are some photographs she has provided for us:

Grandfather Mountain ValleyThis is the valley that hosts our well known Highland Games

View Atop Grandfather Mountain 
Here we see the scenery of
the Blue Ridge Mountains
Ryan Ferguson Atop Grandfather
Mountain's Peak

Saturday, June 27, 2020

John Logie Baird’s Trip to Trinidad in 1919

Malcolm Baird Bio: 

Malcolm Baird, Ph.D. University of Cambridge, son of John Logie Baird
Malcolm Baird is Chemical Engineering Professor Emeritus, who spent much of his career at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, a public research university in Hamilton. His research interests, according to the University website, include reciprocating-plate columns, transport phenomena, mixing and the extraction/refining of non-ferrous metals. As well as being a chemist and researcher, he has written extensively concerning his father, John Logie Baird. He sent us this article recently, written about some of the little-known facts about his very famous television-inventing father.

John Lougie Baird's Trip to Trinidad in 1919

A research note by Malcolm Baird, 8 July 2019

I have been re-examining  the colourful story of John Logie Baird’s (JLB’s) jam factory in Trinidad in 1919-1920 .   It has appeared in his own memoirs [1] and in later biographies [2,3].    Before leaving Scotland he obtained a British passport dated 18 September 1919; see his picture and signature below.   

C:\Users\malcolm.malcolm-PC\Documents\JLB Misc. 2017\JLB passport  pic 18 Sept 1919.jpg

Some new information has come up about his  outwards trip in 1919, 100 years ago.   

JLB  suffered from bad colds and breathing problems while running his “Baird Undersock” business in Glasgow.   He was persuaded to move to Trinidad  by Godfrey Harris who had been his neighbour in Helensburgh and a fellow-student in Glasgow before the war.    Harris had moved to New York and he sent glowing accounts of the business opportunities in Trinidad.   Jam could be made from the abundant and cheap fruit and shipped to Britain where it was in short supply and very highly priced in the shops.  Here is an extract taken from p.33 of his published memoirs [1]:.

“I was full of optimism and I set out blithely for the West Indies, taking a cheap passage in a cargo boat so as to keep as much as possible of my capital intact.  ... I arrived in Port of Spain after three very unpleasant weeks in a heaving cargo boat.”

This was not the whole story.  According to my mother’s memoirs [2], in about 1917 JLB had met a girl to whom he became deeply attached.    

 “His health was so poor that marriage was out of the question, and one of the reasons for going to Trinidad  was that a warm climate might cure him.  What he hoped for was a return to Glasgow with his health restored and his position in business assured.  He came back with neither and found that while he was away the girl had married.”

Recent  research has established that the girl was Alice Bain (1890-1971), about whom I have written a detailed article [4].  She married another man  on 24 September 1920, shortly before JLB’s return from Trinidad.

JLB’s outward travel arrangements in 1919 were somewhat confused.   Having obtained his passport on 18 September, he booked passage on the liner “Columbia” due to sail from Glasgow to New York on 22 November.   He may have intended to meet Godfrey Harris in New York before travelling on to Trinidad.    However, JLB suddenly cancelled his booking on the “Columbia” and instead  sailed on the freighter “Novian” (6400 tons) departing from Liverpool on 27 November to various ports in what was then called the British West Indies.   This was the unpleasant “heaving cargo boat” referred to in his memoirs above.    

The reason for JLB’s abrupt change of booking is not known.  It could be that his arrangement to meet Harris in New York fell through at the last minute, or it could simply be the financial saving on the fare.  Last but not least was the possibility that JLB had a sudden health problem, such as a chill, and was forced to change his booking at short notice.

C:\Users\malcolm.malcolm-PC\Documents\JLB Misc. 2018\Novian picture.jpg

The “Novian”  is shown above.  There were 11 passengers on the manifest and the conditions were spartan compared to those on the “Columbia” which had full lounge and dining facilities and a capacity of 1300 passengers..  

It is believed that JLB arrived in Port of Spain in mid December 1919.   Earlier in the month there had been serious riots in Trinidad and Tobago, arising from trouble with the stevedores at Port of Spain.   At the Governor’s request a troop of marines was landed from a British ship to quell  the unrest and there had been two fatalities.   This was reported in The Times of 15 December 1919 but, surprisingly, not in JLB’s memoirs.   His scribbled notes show that he was obsessed with the business at hand, namely jam-making .    There is nothing in his notes to support a recent claim [5] that he developed television while he was in Trinidad.


I am very grateful to Donald McLean for providing details of JLB’s cancellation of his “Columbia” booking and his booking on the “Novian”.


[1]  John Logie Baird, Television and Me (1941 memoirs).   Mercat Press (now Birlinn), Edinburgh, 2004.

[2} Margaret Baird, Television Baird.  Haum Publishing, Cape Town, 1973.

[3] Antony Kamm and Malcolm Baird, John Logie Baird, a Life.   National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2002.

[4] http://www.bairdtelevision.com/alice.html

[5] Trinidad Express, “Santa Cruz, home of the first TV”, 29 April 2012.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Clan Baird Gathering in Scotland

Clan Baird is gathering in Scotland every two years now. We were there in 2019 and will be back in 2021. We hope you will join us Agust 6-8 in Aboyne, for the Scottish Festival there and our meetings at Potarch Lodge, Balogie Estate. 

Photo: Branton Baird, holding the Standard, with Commander Richard Holman-Baird, during a ceremony commemorating the ridge at the old Auchmedden Mill, Pennan, (now named the Mill of Nethermill) which was built by Bairds and Gardens in 1719. A plaque was placed during the general meeting in 2019, celebrating the bridge being in existence for 300 years. It was the first road bridge joining Aberdeenshire and Banffshire on the north coast. 

Clan Baird, through more twists and turns than most clans endure, has revived itself in the modern
era, and we have a Commander appointed by the Lord Lyon; a leader for the first time since Culloden. Our history is one of strife and challenges due to one branch (the Auchmeddens) being Jacobites, another branch (the Saughtonhalls) being British soldiers far, far back into history, including at Culloden, another branch (the Newbyths) dying out and then being regenerated through a different line, Sir David Baird in the 19 the century, and another line rising from farming in Lanarkshire (the Gartsherries), from the original Cambusnethans of whom the Auchmeddens originated in the 1400’s.

Most of Clan Baird’s Scottish world has been played out in Lanarkshire and Aberdeenshire. Our new
Commander, Richard Holman-Baird of Rickarton, Ury, and Lochwood, owns the last Baird estate in
Scotland, Rickarton, which lies just north of Stonehaven.

Photo: Bairds and Twinning partners, meeting at Rickarton House for signing of Sister City documents with Athens, Alabama and Stonehaven, Scotland, 2019.

As all can imagine, the family fractures that have come about from being on differing sides of the Risings in Scotland, from difficulties with philosophical and political ideologies, and the loss of estates and fortunes over time, have caused a scattering of Bairds around the globe. In fact, more Bairds live in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States than still reside in Scotland. All that strife of diaspora almost caused us to dissolve as a family.

But, in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s, two groups came into being. The Bairds of Atlantic Canada and Clan Baird Society in the United States, which later became Clan Baird Worldwide, Inc. With hard work and determination, these two groups began the long journey back; visiting Scotland, seeking out family leaders still there, and trying to give us all a home once again, as part of a larger organized group than our local immediate families.

Our new Commander, Richard Holman-Baird’s grandfather and grandmother helped with these fledgling efforts, inviting all to their home and into their lives. His father and mother continued this effort, and gave Bairds a place to feel welcomed in Scotland. These efforts helped bring the varied groups of Bairds back to the table and back into the fold. Richard and his wife Polly continue this tradition and are always happy to see Bairds as part of their work.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Rethinking the Boar-Bear Myth (Partial Article)

On the shield of the Coat of Arms of the James Baird of Auchmedden, there appears a golden boar on a red background. This boar motif or charge, in heraldic terms, is common in almost all coat of arms held by those with the surname Baird. This Lord Lyon has continued this practice by granting new arms to those with the surname Baird with differenced arms, or slightly altered, yet maintaining the original boar.

It is often stated that this charge is in relation to a Baird ancestor saving a King from a boar. This story is not unique to the Bairds. Saving the King from a Boar is a common theme to Campbells, Turnbulls, and Swintons. Several non Scottish Kings have been claimed in similar stories such as Henry VIII in Sutton Coldfield and Charglemagne who both have been claimed to be rescued by a charging boar.

For the Bairds, the boar passant has held a place in the arms of Baird since the late 15th century, if not earlier. The Slains Armorial of 1565 lists Bairds of Posso as having Boar statant on a green field beneath three mullets in the chief. It, the boar, can be seen on George Baird of Auchmedden’s tomb as well. Finally, the 1857 edition of the William Baird of Auchmedden’s manuscript, the arms of William Baird, George Baird, Walter Baird, and Andrew Baird, all showing the same motif.

The 1857 edition, considered to be the closest to the original manuscript, William Baird of Auchmedden gave the origin of this charge as:

King William the Lion was hunting in one of the south-west counties of Scotland, and happened to straggle from his attendants, he was alarmed at the approach of a wild bear, and cried for help ; upon which 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 which signal service the King made a considerable addition to the lands he had given him before, and assigned him for his coat-of-arms a bear passant, and for his motto, Dominus Fecit and, if it will contribute to the credibility of this story, one foot of the bear came north with Ordinhnivas' ancestor, and is still preserved, and indeed it well deserves it, because of the enormous size, being fourteen inches long and nine broad, where it is cut from the ankle.

W N Fraser, the editor and most likely the person who transcribed this document from the original manuscript, claimed “this curious relique is in my possession.” In 1847, relying heavily on the a forthcoming manuscript, The Scottish Journal of Topography, antiquities,traditions, &c. &c. No 16 states confirms the story of a Bear and further states that the a bear did attack William the Lion in a forest in the “south-west counties.” The authors of the article claim to have also viewed the actual paw claiming they had “seen this interesting relic….” It further states that a Boar was granted by William the Lion as it was considered “the most honorable of armorial bearings…” although it was bear that was killed.

Unfortunately, especially for Disney and their movie Brave, bears appear to have been extinct well before this event occurred throughout Britain. Bears are listed in the 1880 book British Animals Extinct Within Historic Times by James E Harting. He gives the final extinction around 1000 AD. He also gives an explanation around laws regarding bear hunting in England in the 14th century refuting statements that Bears existed naturally into 14th century. Furthmore, Harting refutes the Gordon family claim that the for killing Bear, the Gordons were granted three bears on their Pennant. Harting claimed that the original latin was an “immanem aprum” or a boar.

However this doesn’t mean that bears were not imported for hunting purposes. Bears were imported according to Harting for the purposes for Bear Baiting. He quotes Fitz Stephen that during the reign of Henry II, during the time William the Lion was a prisoner in England, it was customary to watch “Boars opposed to each other in battle, or with Bulls and full-grown Bears baited by dogs.” These shows continued to the 17th century so much so that the position Master of the Bears was created.


[polldaddy poll=8232533]

The Records of Winfield Baird

Recently, the Clan Baird Society received the genealogical life work of Capt R.S. Baird. The works spans a fifty year period and includes all of the notes. This is invaluable for clan history and the society. Below is a an account of all of the items in the box.

Gartsherrie folder
A private printing of the book Baird of Gartsherrie (1875) in a red binder.
-This appears to be photostatic copy. No date given when this was reprinted.-
The Name and Family of Baird printed by Roots Research Bureau, Ltd. (1984)
-Contains a list of Bairds that immigrated to the United States including bibliography in the same red folder-

Black Folder ( No Name)
Xerox hand written descendants of Thomas Baird and Helen Muirhead
Xerox hand written descendants of James Baird and Mary Frosart(?)
Xerox hand written descendants of William Baird and Janet Forrest
Xerox of Baird of Auchmedden and their descendants with handwritten notes of wives and children
Partial letter from R.S. Baird on books researched on Nova Scotian and Canadian Bairds
Death Record from City of New York for Elizabeth Baird died 1863
Death Record from City of New York for David Baird died 1860
Letter from Saint John Branch New Brunswick Genealogical Society (1984)
-contains a list of Bairds in New Brunswick in in the earl 1800's and contains handwritten notes in three colors on the back-
Census Saint John Census of 1851
Probate Files
Letter from Waterside Farm on Bairds who immigrated to New Brunswick
-Handwritten notes attempting to show descent from the Bairds of Auchmedden-
Letter to Sarah Thorne R S Baird asking to investigate a link between the Bairds of Auchmedden and the New Brunswick Bairds
Letter to RS Baird acknowledging receipt of the letter
Cemetery records on the Property of Otis Bostwick, Wickham, NB containing Baird graves
Letter to R S Baird detailing the areas searched
-Not a lot of success but she sent word of the Earl of Kintore.-
Letter to Sarah Thorne regarding thoughts
Letter to Sarah Thorne regarding thoughts on research
28 letters of correspondence regarding the search for Bairds in NB.

Fermaine Folder
Copy of the Baird and Beard Familes of Fermie Baird Catchings

Grey Folder
Copy of Bairds in the North of Scotland by Niall Baird (Palmers Cross, 1990)
-contains a bio of the famous Baird families and the Armorial bearing for each. Includes photos and armorial bearings for 5 Baird familes.-
Copy of Scots Magazine on William Baird o Auchmedden
Copy of the Book The Bairds of Auchmedden and Strichen
Copy of Civil War Times Illustrated with and Artivle on Major General Absalom Baird
Copy of Genealogical Collections concerning the Sirname of Baird

Red Seilhamer Folder
Copy of The Bard Family

About: The Pictish Boar Blog

    The Clan Baird Society worldwide is an international organization that supports the research and preservation of Baird and Scottish cul...