The Baird Family of Peterhead - Stories 3

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    'Uncle Baird'


A letter from a distant relative, Andrew Scott, regarding William Baird 1872 – 1965, the son of Alexander Baird and Catherine Thomson:

"William was a herring drifter skipper and had followed the herring down the East Coast and was familiar with such places as North Shields, Grimsby, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. He was also a herring curer and he told me he lost a lot of money in unpaid bills when the Tsarist regime was overthrown by the Communists in 1917. Old letters I have seen written during the First World War refer to dangers he faced at sea but by the time I read them everybody who could have told me something about it was dead.

Anyway, after WWI finished, aunt Marjory, uncle Baird, as we always called him, and his youngest daughter Catherine (Kate), no doubt named after her grandmother, all moved out of Peterhead to a small croft (rented) next to our farm about 2.5 miles out of Maud, in the hamlet of Bulwark. The house was of the old but and ben, thatched type, then relatively common but now extinct. I knew him well. He was a shortish, thick set man, as strong as an ox and tough as nails, but a great character. Following a dispute with the factor over house improvements, he moved in 1928 when his lease expired to the bigger farm of Kiddshill near the metropolis of Auchnagatt. He remained there till he retired to the village of Stuartfield just before the second war. Kiddshill belonged to Sutherland of Peterhead, I believe a haulage contractor of some size, so maybe they spoke the same language as I remember uncle Baird telling me that in his younger days he was a carter in Glasgow."


William Baird married Isabella Duthie in 1895 at the Public Schoolhouse in Buchanhaven, William at that time gave his occupation as ‘carter’ and his address as 1 Ware Road Buchanhaven. In the 1901 census William is shown as a fisherman, working on his own account. The couple have two children, William aged 4 and Elizabeth aged 2.

Isabella died in 1913. The following year William, still described as a fisherman, married 46 year old widow Marjory Ann Shephard (maiden name Scott) by Declaration: ‘In presence of Alexander Davidson Baird, (brother) fisherman, residing at 33 Hay Crescent Peterhead and Mrs Annie Milne or Knox, wife of and residing with George Knox, Bulwark, Maud’.

It is possible that William was estranged from his son. When the latter died at the age of 50 in 1947, the certificate showed that both of his parents were deceased, although William senior did not die until 1965. William junior, a fisherman, had married Mary Bella Thomson in 1919 and at the time of his death was residing at 9 Almanythie Road. He also had a son named William.

There was a connection between the Baird family and the Sutherlands. Barbara Baird b. 1838, married James Sutherland in 1859. Their son James, born 1862 appears in the 1901 census living at 11 North Street. His occupation is given as ‘Horse hirer’. I haven’t checked to see if this Sutherland is the ‘haulage contractor’ mentioned in the letter.