James Baird - Encyclopedia


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JAMES BAIRD (1802-1876) Scottish iron-master, was born at Kirkwood, Lanarkshire, on the 5th of December 1802, the son of a coal-master. In 1826 his father, two brothers and himself leased coalfields at Gartsherrie and in the vicinity, and in 1828 iron mines near by, and in 1830 built blast furnaces. In this year the father retired, the firm of William Baird & Co. was organized, and James Baird assumed active control. His improvements in machinery largely increased the output of his furnaces, which by 1864 hall grown in number to nearly fifty, producing 300,000 tons annually and employing Io,000 hands. The brothers became great landowners,and James was M.P. for the Falkirk burghs in1851-1852and 1852-1857. He died at his estate near Ayr on the 20th of June 1876, leaving property valued at three million pounds. He had been during his life a great public benefactor, founding schools and the Baird Lectures (1871) for the defence of orthodox theology, and in 1873 the Baird Trust of L50o,000 to enable the Established Church of Scotland to cope with the spiritual needs of the masses. He was twice married but left no children.

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