George Baird - The 'Laird' of Peterhead
By Rev. George W. Baird, Buchan Observer 19th April 1995
"In 1852 George Baird, labourer, Blackhouse, married Jessie Henderson, Inverugie, both in Peterhead parish. His grandfather John, then his father Alexander, had a smallholding at Blackhouse.
On marriage, George and Jessie acquired a croft in The Hillock. They worked hard and prospered.
There were ten children, my Aunt Mary gave me the names of eight of them, her father Sandy being one of them; probably two died in infancy. They had dairy cows, which were taken to graze daily in parks out the way of Buchanhaven. They grew vegetables, and they had fruit trees.
With enterprise and industry, George Baird expanded his interests; in modern parlance you would call him an entrepreneur. He acquired a horse and cart, and went in for carting. He would sometimes be seen, his cuddy harnessed to a small gig, going about his business rounds.
George next acquired a smack to trade up and down the coast, his sons helping. The main cargo was coal obtained in Fife. He got bigger and better ships Ė one of them was called The Daisy. George then established a coal selling business, supplying homes round Peterhead and district.
Townsfolk gave George the sobriguet of The Laird. In Worrellís Directory for 1877 he is listed under Coal Merchant and Dealer; also under ship-owner.
The Laird was much more than a man on the make. There was a warm, human side to him. A photograph exists of him surrounded by a score of children in front of his stable.
He had a thought for the poor and the needy; if a woman with a big family couldnít afford milk, he would see that she still got some in her pail. He was a prime backer of the soup kitchen which opened near-by at the corner of the Roanheads; he gave it potatoes and vegetables.
As a preacher, I am intrigued that this George Baird, my great-grandfather built a mission-hall next to his house in North Street. Helping him with the meetings was James Turner, who came to be an evangelist of note along the coast. Gospel services were carried on there up to the 1930s. The building, now pulled down, was latterly a barrel-store.
George Baird, The Laird, had at least two noted descendants. One grandson, Bill Gordon, was Provost of Peterhead. Another was the haulage and bus operator, James Sutherland. My father, Sandy Baird, a cousin of theirs, knew them both well."
George Baird was born in 1821 the son of Alexander Baird and Barbara Davidson.
In the 1841 census, George was listed as an Seaman (ticket number 106373 ) of Buchanhaven. At the time of the census , he was away at sea.
In 1851 he was shown as living at his parentsí farm at Buchanhaven. His occupation was still Seaman.
By 1861 he was married to Jessie Henderson and living at 14/2 North Street with his five children Ė one being Isabella, aged 12, who was born out of wedlock. (see Minutes of Kirk Sessions). He was still listed as a Seaman. On an 1867 list of Electors, published in the Buchan Observer on 1st November 1867, he was listed as a shipmaster.
The 1871 Census showed the family at the same address.
Isabella had left home to marry Alexander Cowie in 1866.
At home were:
Barbara 17, who would marry John Angus in 1873 (although she was to have a child by him in 1872). She died in 1920.
Alexander, 14, a boatbuilder. He married twice and died in 1937.
David 11. He married Margaret Angus in 1890. She died the following year and in 1892 he married Jane Davidson. David became a stone cutter by trade.
Jane 8, my great grandmother, who would marry Robert Milne Allan in 1881. She died in 1919.
William 6. He also married twice and died in 1900.
Janet 4. She married James McDougall in 1893 and died in 1949.
Margaret 2 months. Maggie as she was known married her cousin, George Baird in 1901.
By 1881, George was now listed as a Coal Merchant and living at 31A North Street. He owned (and possibly had built) a number of properties in this area - number 8 North Street and across the road numbers 23, 31, 35 and 37, which became something of a Baird enclave. Another son, George Milne had been born in 1873. He later married Elizabeth Bruce Loggie.
Both Jane and Janet were domestic servants and William was assisting his father in the coal shed. Alexander had moved with his wife to Roanheads.
In the 1891 census George was listed as a retired fisherman. Son George Milne was employed as a carter.
Jessie Henderson died in1894 and was buried in St Peterís cemetery. In the 1901 census, George, now a general carter, was at 29 North Street with daughters Margaret and Janet and Janetís two children James and Jessie McDougall.
George Baird died on 2nd May 1904. His son George Milne, living at 5 Mary Street Peterhead, was the informant and showed his late fatherís occupation as Coal Merchant.
My grandmother Janet Baird Allan helped her grandfather look after his cows and as a result she eventually inherited a share in the house at 8 North Street. Janet married her cousin William Baird in 1919 and shortly after her Uncle Davidís death the family moved into the lower floors of number 8 Ė the upper floor being occupied by Davidís widow. William Bairdís curing yard was at the rear of the house. The house was sold after World War 2 for eight hundred pounds.
Details of George Baird's Will.
SC1/37/125 f.441 - Aberdeen Sheriff Court Register of Testaments
Recorded at Aberdeen, 23 June 1904
Alexr Cowie, carter, Peterhead (This was George Baird's grandson, the son of Isabella.)
John Baird, carter, Ware Road, Buchanhaven (This was George's nephew, the son of Alexander Baird.)
He left the residue of his estate to his daughters, Janet Baird or McDougal, wife of James McDougal, seaman in Peterhead
Margaret Baird residing with him (i.e. the testator)
Made at Peterhead, 10 October 1900 and witnessed by a solicitor
SC1/36/149 f.924 - Aberdeen Sheriff Court Register of Inventories
No cash in the house
In the bank where he was designed 'cowfeeder' (i.e. dairyman) - £30/6/2
Rents from heritage
1. House, 8 North St., Peterhead
David Baird, stonecutter
Charles Lawson, blacksmith
Barbara Lamont, widow
Thomas Davidson, cooper
John Tarbston, seaman
Isabella Baird, widow
2. nos 23, 31, 35 and 37 North St
Neil Mckechnie, coal merchant
John Angus, painter
Robert Allan, labourer
Alexr Angus, cooper
John Grant, labourer
Peter Copland, cooper
Total annual rent was £31/9/-. Inventory just included the proportion from Martinmas to the deceased's date of death - £13/7/1
Total value of his estate - £93/15/9d
John Baird was no longer living in Buchanhaven, but had become a farmer on Scotstown, parish of St Fergus by June 1904. In the 1901 census, his brother George (the husband of Maggie Baird 'the Laird's' daughter) was living on a farm at Scotstown.
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