History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.


     The name BAIRD is a very common name in the Campbell County area and beyond. At this time we shall review the early beginnings of this family as it appears in the following segments. (Written by William Baird about 1770 or earlier.)

     The Surname of BAIRD is originally of the South of France where there were several Families of it in the reign of Louis IV, and it is said are still, but the first of the name mentioned in Britain came from Normandy to England with William the Conqueror.

     And from the time when it first appears in Scotland, there is reason to believe that some of that name came here with King William the Lyon, when he returned from his captivity in England, anno 1174, as it is agreed by all our historians, several English gentlemen did. For it is certain that in less than sixty years after that period, they posessed fine estates, and had made good alliances in the South and South West counties of Scotland.

     And although, in times so remote, and in which most other families, as well as those of that name, have suffered eclipses, or removal from one part of the kingdom to another, whereby their old writings have been frequently lost, it may be now impossible to make out a regular genealogy of anyone of them, yet the following extracts, from authors of unquestionable credit, will show that the name was both ancient and honourable in Scotland, as well as in France and England.

     I must first premise that the old spelling was Bard, Barde, Beard, Byrd, and Bayard, and that it was never written Baird till the latter end of the sixteenth century. This is common to all old names, and must have been owing to the different pronunciation between one province of France and another, and in Germany and Holland, and New York, which was long possessed by the Dutch, I have observed it spelt Bard and Bardt, and Baort.

     There is a tradition that as King William the Lion was hunting in one of the south-west counties of Scotland, and happened to straggle from his attendants, he was alarmed at the approach of a wild bear, and cried for help; upon which a gentleman, of the name of Baird, who had followed the King from England, ran up and had the good fortune to kill the bear, for which signal service the King made a considerable addition to the lands he had given him before, and assigned him for his coat-of-arms a bear passant, and for his motto, Dominus fecit; and if it will contribute to the credibility of this story, one foot of the bear came north with Ordinhnivas ancestors, and is still preserved and indeed it well deserves it, because of the enormous size, being fourteen inches long and nine broad, where it is cut from the ankle.

     Another version of the early Baird history is depicted in this writing.


     The name Baird may comes from the Gaelic word for a poet or may derive from a family "de Bard or de Barde" which held extensive lands in Lanarkshire in the 1200s'. The fortunes of the clan were started in the reign of William 1, "The Lion", when he made extensive grants to a member of the clan who had saved his life from a wild boar. Later, a charter was granted to Richard Baird of Meikle and Little Kyp in Lanarkshire, and in the early 14th century Robert the Bruce granted the Barony of Cambusnethan, also in Lanarkshire, to a Robert Baird. This family of Cambusnethan spread north to Banffshire and later east to Auchmeddan in Aberdeenshire. George Baird of Auchmeddan married the niece of the Earl Marischal and the family increased in importance in Aberdeenshire, supplying many sheriffs. From the Auchmeddan branch come the Bairds of Newbyth and Saughtonhall in East Lothian. The Bairds produced some notable leaders. General Sir David Baird from Newbyth served in India where he was one of only two survivors of the 73rd Highland Regiment at the defeat of British forces in 1780.. James and William Baird of Gartsherrie established the largest of Scotland iron companies in the 1830s, producing a quarter of the countries iron.

(At another time we shall explore the Baird family genealogy in the Campbell County, Tennessee vicinity.)


Time Line