The Search for a Chief
Scotland's Lyon Court informed us where Bairds must look to find a Chief
The person who wishes to serve Bairds as chief must prove he or she is the most direct living descendant to the original 1672 undifferenced Arms of Auchmedden. The descendency process is called Agnatic Succession.
Click the button below to view Sir James Baird's petition for Chief of Clan Baird.
Clan Baird does not currently have a chief.
But hopefully that will change by later this year (2022)!
Sir James Andrew Gardiner Baird, 11th Baronet of Saughtonhall is currently the sole petitioner for Chief of the name of Baird and the undifferenced arms of Auchmedden. Sir James' petition is progressing through the review process of the Court of the Lord Lyon.
(Click the button above for more information regarding Sir James' petition to the Lyon Court and substantiation of his case)
As of April 2022, the official 28 day public posting of the updated petition passed without objection so after a pause for the Court's summer recess, the next stage is one of genealogical scrutiny. This will take place at the Court of the Lord Lyon in early autumn.
Photo of a weathered stone plaque with the coat of arms of George Baird, 2nd of Auchmedden (1517-1593) inset in a wall of Baird aisle in St. Drostan's Church, New Aberdour, Aberdeenshire
Richard Holman Baird of Rickarton, Ury, and Lochwood
On 19th August 2019, the Honourable Lord Lyon King of Arms, granted a commission to Richard Holman Baird of Rickarton, Ury and Lochwood to be Commander of the Clan Baird for a period of five years.
Note that if a clan chief is recognized by the Lyon Court prior to the end of 5 year term, the interim commandership is thus terminated and the new chief becomes the permanent head of the Clan.
Photo of Commander Richard Holman Baird
Court of the Lord Lyon
The Court of the Lord Lyon is the heraldic authority for Scotland and deals with all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms and maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies.
The Lord Lyon King of Arms is also responsible for State Ceremonial in Scotland.
The Process Necessary for Baird's to have a Chief
There are misconceptions regarding the establishment of a clan chief. Even the grant of chiefship is different depending on the history of the particular Scottish surname. For a comprehensive explanation, we offer you the following:
The mechanics of obtaining a chief for a clan have evolved over time. Before the nationalization of Scotland, in the 12th and 13th centuries, the only clans Scotland had were in the Islands and Highlands. Even during that period, obtaining a chief was neither a clan-wide popularity contest nor a democratic process. The heads of the main branches (today we might term them chieftains) met to discuss and vote on a new chief if a tannist (a replacement appointed by an existing chief) wasn’t already in place. This process has never applied to Baird. The origins of the Baird surname in Scotland are Lowland, having been historically recorded in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, and Peeblesshire.
Over the subsequent centuries, as Scotland began to unify as a nation, the sovereigns and their Privy Councils instituted reforms and laws. Heraldry, better known as coats of arms, gained importance. Heraldry, a design worn on the outer coat of the leader or chief of a clan and also woven onto a banner flag and carried aloft on a staff, was a means of easy identification on the battlefield. Heraldry on a ring or wax seal stamp served as a “signature” in an age when very few people could write.
It became necessary to regulate and control heraldry as it had become a free-for-all, where individuals would copy or steal the designs from others or invent their own. In 1672, Scotland mandated the regulation of heraldry, giving all those with a coat of arms one year to register their arms. This is when the sovereign and the privy council divided the Scottish court system further, creating a dedicated judicial department called the Lyon Court, the head of which was the person assigned by the King to act on his behalf in Heraldic matters. That person was named the Lord Lyon, King of Arms. Concurrent with this new office, a catalog of the description of each Heraldic Device was made. The catalog collection is called the Register of All Arms and Bearings and is very much in use today.
Why, you might ask, does heraldry have anything to do with chiefship? For some ancient clans, it has little or nothing to do with a chief. For others, it does. Did you know that as recently as 1970 there were only 84 clans? It was not until Sir Thomas Innes of Learney became Lord Lyon, King of Arms, that things changed. During the 1970's he expanded the opportunity for perhaps 150 to 200 more Scottish surname families to seek clan status, predominantly by the use of heraldry. Baird was among those listed. Because there is so little understanding regarding the process, last December 2021, the Lord Lyon issued a Guidance paper to help. For brevity, we’ve cited the component that applies specifically to Baird.
“7. Since at least the 16th Century to be recognised as chief of a clan or family has required an individual to be entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of the clan or family (i.e. the principal arms of the clan or family that descend from one chief to the next in undifferenced form through the generations) and so be “Chief of the Name and Arms” of the clan or family. It is for the Lord Lyon to determine who has legally succeeded and is entitled to bear the undifferenced arms of a clan or family.”
In the case of Baird the undifferenced arms are those of Baird of Auchmedden, the blazon being: Gules, a boar passant, Or. All other Scottish Coats of Arms for the surname Baird are “differenced” from the Auchmedden Arms. Therefore, Baird of Auchmedden is the chiefly coat, the chiefly bloodline, and it can only be the most direct living individual who descends from that bloodline that is the individual who is eligible to petition the Lord Lyon to request to inherit or matriculate the Auchmedden Coat of Arms and thereby be recognised by Lord Lyon as Chief of the Name and Arms of Baird.
As you may well imagine, it is one thing to do a thorough genealogy to establish a connection to an ancestor, but quite a different undertaking to perform the in-depth research for two other aspects. One is to research all other ancestral descents to learn whether those lines are extant or exinct; and two, to find original documentation for ancient birth, marriage, and death in each generation. Decades of dedicated research.
Any Baird who believes they have a prior descent from Sir James Baird, 5th of Auchmedden (who registered his arms in 1672) has the right to petition the Lord Lyon to request to matriculate the Arms of Auchmedden. His or her 350 years of proofs of descent would be equally and fairly examined by Lord Lyon along with the petition and Proofs of our current petitioner, Sir James Baird, 11th Bt. of Saughtonhall.
Lord Lyon Sir Thomas Innes of Learney believed a clan was not a clan without of chief. A chief transforms a family surname group into a legal entity. Nesbit wrote, it is only with a chief that, “Arms are hereditary marks of honour . . . the distinction of the nobility. The family, in its wider and heraldic sense is a statutory group including all persons actually affiliated, or even adopted, to a central stem deriv(ed) from the founder of the race.” In one ruling, we quote, “Lyon’s 1672 Declaration is ‘Heretrix of Clan Chattan,’ for it officially defines the clan as a heritable subject, and thus in one word sweeps away the whole idea of ‘elected chiefs.’” Lord Lyon Erskine, 1672 determined, “for, be it observed, if a person can be heir or heretrix of a clan, the clan itself is thereby recognised as an incorporeal heritable subject . . . and that is in all its aspects treated of, and provided for, in the Laws of Arms.”
This legal and now traditional road to establish a chief for a clan through heraldry has been in existence for 350 years. Because of our love for Clan Baird and for Scotland, we honour and embrace the tradition and will continue to strive to adhere to the letter of the law however arduous and slow it may be. Toward that end we created Clan Baird of Scotland so that our kinsmen and kinswomen have the opportunity to learn as we have sought to learn.
We sincerely hope this article has been informative and helpful. We hope you too, will embrace Scotland’s traditional and legal pathway to chiefship and we invite all Bairds around the world to unite in our common cause. Please join us by signing up for the Clan Baird of Scotland Registration at https://www.clanbaird.scot/clan-registration
The Clan Baird Alliance
1 The Clan, Septs & Regiments of the Scottish Highlands by Frank Adam, Revised by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, 1970, p.151
Clan Baird Agnatic Succession
Note: Sir James is listed in box 55 in the chart below