Soldier. Baird was born in Newbyth (East Lothian), his father having inherited the baronetcy of that place from his cousin. He entered the army in 1772, joining his regiment in Gibraltar the following year. Following capture in India (1780), when he was held prisoner in terrible conditions for almost four years, he fought successfully there, in Egypt (1801) and South Africa (1805). Baird led a division during the siege of Copenhagen (1807), under the command of Sir William Cathcart (1755 - 1843). He landed in Spain in 1808 with a large force in support of Sir John Moore (1761 - 1809) and at the Battle of Corunna, the following year, Baird took command after Moore's death, but was later forced to leave the field his arm having been shattered by a musket-ball. Baird received the thanks of Parliament and was created a baronet in his own right. Baird was promoted to the rank of General in 1814 and went on to serve as Commander-in-Chief in Ireland. His last command was that of Fort George (Highland), to which he was appointed in 1827.
Baird made his home at Ferntower (by Crieff, in Perth and Kinross), where he died. In 1832, his wife erected a monument to his memory on Tom na Chaistel, a hill to the west of Crieff.