William Baird

1796 - 1864

Industrialist and politician. The eldest of eight sons of a farmer who had begun mining coal on a small-scale, Baird was born on a farm in the Monklands area of Lanarkshire and educated at the parish school of Old Monkland. He was able to make his fortune by greatly expanding his father's coal-mining operations and building an ironworks at Gartsherrie (1828). Baird inherited these ventures on the death of his father in 1833 and set up William Baird & Company in partnership with his younger brother, James (1802-76). This company went on to become the largest producer of pig-iron in Britain. Baird continued to expand his coal interests in Lanarkshire and also in Ayrshire, leasing land from Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton (1812-61), and operating the Eglinton Iron Works at Kilwinning.

Baird served as Conservative Member of Parliament for the Falkirk Burghs (1841-6) and was a director of both the Forth and Clyde Canal and later the Caledonian Railway Company.

Baird acquired an estate at Elie (Fife) in 1853.

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