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Sir James Baird, 11th Bart of Saughtonhall

2 May 1946 - 18 February 2024

It is with profound sadness that The Alliance Team of Clan Baird of Scotland & Baird Heritage announce the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague, the sole petitioner to the Chiefship of Clan Baird, Sir James Andrew Gardiner Baird, 11th Bt. of Saughtonhall. We honour his work, his work ethic, his leadership, and the contributions he has made to the historic research of our Clan.

Sir James’ son and heir, Sir Alexander Baird, 12th Bt. of Saughtonhall will step into the role as Petitioner to the Lyon Court. In the interim, we request the family have privacy during their time of mourning.

 

Sir James Andrew Baird, 11th Bt of Saughtonhall

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Memorial
A reflection by Judith Cosby nee Baird (Sir James’s 1st Cousin)

Like many of his ilk, Sir James Baird was considered an eccentric. He was a larger-than- life figure with a complex character. He was also incredibly kind hearted, with a tremendous sense of humour and generous to his friends. I remember he always stood up for the underdog.

When he started something he would not let it go, almost to the point of being obsessive. Thus his lifelong passion and extraordinary research into the Baird family which he had worked on for almost forty years. The aim of this research was to correct many inaccuracies about the Baird family in the public domain, and to prove his right to the 1672 unquartered arms of Auchmedden, for which he was awaiting the hearing of his application to the Court of Lord Lyon in Edinburgh and came so close to achieving at the time of his death.

In the same way, when in the 1990’s the Lloyds of London Insurance Market nearly collapsed he formed the view that he and many of the 28,000 of other Lloyds ‘Names’ had been drawn in to try and stave off the crisis. Driven by a desire to help those in trouble, he would not be deterred in his determination for the truth to come out. His research document “The Myth of Hindsight” was encyclopaedic and informed very many if not all of the successful claims brought by those affected to recover very considerable sums indeed. He dedicated well over a decade to this pursuit including making representations to Parliament enquiries to try and get government to act, not unlike the present Post Office scandal, albeit writ much larger.

 

James Andrew Gardiner Baird (Andrew as he was known by his family and early friends) was born in 1946 and grew up in Hertfordshire. His family had moved there from Scotland some twenty years earlier after the loss during the First World War of his grandfather, who was one of the early victims of the horrors of the Western Front. He attended Eton College where in the latter stages he learnt to play the bagpipes. He was a crack shot and some believed he would have made a great gamekeeper.

Brothers Julian and Andrew (Sir James)

 

On leaving school he enrolled into the Army as a Cadet Officer, but army life was not to his liking. He went to France and helped and hunted game and boar on a family estate near Dijon for about three years where he spoke fluent French and learnt to appreciate fine food and wine. He then joined an insurance company in the City of London before going to Australia as a “£10 Pom” an Australian Government sponsored scheme to encourage immigration to Australia for just a £10 ticket. He bought himself a house in Sydney where he lived for a number of years. He was good with animals and while there adopted a dingo. Whilst there he also gained a pilot’s licence.

On returning to the UK he met and eventually married Jean Jardine and they had a son, Alexander. Sadly the marriage was dissolved in 1988. He succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father, Sir James Richard Gardiner Baird 10th Bart of Saughtonhall in 1997, which title Alexander now inherits to become 12th Baronet of Saughtonhall.

In more recent years he would come and stay with my husband David and I here in Ireland for several weeks at a time. Arriving laden with gifts, wine and cheeses - particularly the smelly varieties such as Eppoisses (Sometimes too smelly for himself, but yet he expected us to eat them). He would often bring bulbs for my garden, at one time he even appeared with a load of different varieties of potatoes. When he arrived at the airport, to avoid being charged for excess baggage, he would remove clothes from his suitcase and donned several layers, topping them with a brown boilersuit. He looked quite a sight and said that nobody came near him!

 

When staying with us he always wanted to help on our farm. What he really liked doing was chopping and splitting wood – we were always well supplied for logs in the winter months after his visits – as well as poisoning weeds (for which I was not always keen!). He was an expert on injecting gorse which was growing in the wrong place and on one occasion, David sent him out into a 5 acre field with a knapsack sprayer. It was a monumental task that occupied him for two whole weeks.

In the evenings he would remain in the kitchen doing his research, emailing and enjoying a glass or two of red wine. Having said that he did offer us a glass and even bought the odd bottle of white wine specially for me. He also knew that I had a fondness for Pernod and on his final visit, just before last Christmas, he presented me with two bottles. David and I will both miss him greatly.

 

God rest his soul

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