Thursday, 26 September 2013

George Husband Baird


Eighteenth Principal of Edinburgh University (1761 – 1840)


George was born on 13th July 1761 in the holding of Bowes, in the hollow to the
west of Inveravon farmhouse in the Parish of Borrowstouness
to James Baird and Marion Spottiswood.



He received his early education at the Parish School of Borrowstouness,
but when his father purchased the property at Manuel, he was sent to the Grammar School
at Linlithgow and on reaching age 12, he was entered as a student
in Humanity at Edinburgh University.


O.S. 6 inch – 1 mile, 1st edition. Stirlingshire, Sheet XXX1, 1843 – 1882 (Survey 1860, Publication 1865)

He was ordained Minister of Dunkeld, Perthshire in 1787 and appointed Minister of
Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh in 1792, the same years in which he became joint
Professor or Oriental Launguages in Edinburgh University.

On 4th August 1792 at Dunkeld, he married Isabella Elder, eldest daughter of Lord Provost
Elder, who “had paramount influence in the Council, and exercised it for the election of
his youthful and untried son-in-law. It was sometimes thought that his chief claim to the
Principalship was as ‘Husband’ of the Lord Provost’s daughter”.
The appointment nevertheless turned out well although he was at a distinct disadvantage in
succeeding a man of high literary fame like Principal Robertson.

In 1793, he succeeded Principal Robertson and became Principal at the early age of thirty-three.

George held the position for a period of forty-seven years during which he saw the number of
students double from 1000 to 2000 and new University buildings erected.

He was chosen as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1800.

Later in life he threw his whole soul into a scheme for the education of the poor in the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland. He submitted his proposals to the General Assembly
in May 1824, advancing them with great ability and earnestness. The following year,
the Assembly gave it’s sanction to the scheme.

At the age of his sixty-six, although not in the best of  health, he travelled the entire Highlands
of Argyll, the west of Inverness, Ross and the Western Islands from Lewis to Kintyre.
The following year he visited the Northern Highlands and the Orkneys and Shetlands.


The above portrait is held within the collection of
The University of Edinburgh Fine Art Collection.

George was one of 6 (known) children, all born in Bo’ness (Borrowstouness)
to James Baird and Marion Spottiswood whose marriage was also recorded at
Bo’ness on 2nd March 1753.

Janet, born 7th January 1754
James, born 31st August 1755
Marion, born 18th February 1759
George Husband Baird, born 13th July 1761
Thomas, born 13th May 1763
Thomas (2), born 29th May 1765

George married Isabella Elder at Dunkeld, Perthshire 4th August 1792

The couple went on to have 5 (known) children:
Emelia Husband Baird, born 1st December 1793
Thomas Elder Baird, born 30th September 1795
Marion Spottiswood Baird, born 13th July 1797, Edinburgh
James Baird, born 27th December 1799, Edinburgh
Emelia Husband Baird, born 22nd October 1801

Thomas Elder Baird married Catherine Sarah Anne Holcombe
At Edinburgh, 3rd October 1848

He can be found on the following Census Returns:

1841 Census, Living at Manuel, Muiravonside, Stirlingshire
Thomas E. Baird, age 40, Advocate, born c1801, Scotland

1851 Census, Living at Lothian Cottage, Dalkeith, Midlothian
Thomas E. Baird, age 54, Advocate not practising, born c1797, Edinburgh
Catherine Baird (nee Holcombe), Wife, age 48, born c1803, England

1861 Census, Living at Garronne, Vale Parish, Guernsey, Channel Islands
Thomas Elder Baird, age 65, Barrister not in practise, born Scotland
Catherine Baird (nee Holcombe), Wife, age 49, born England
Harcourt Holcombe, Nephew, age 5. Officer’s son, born England
Penuel Holcombe, Niece, age 3, Officer’s son, born England

1871 Census, Living at Hastings, Parish of S. Mary Magdalene, Sussex
Thomas E. Baird, age 75, born Scotland
Catherine Baird, Wife, age 69, born Hull, England
Harcourt Holcombe, Nephew, age 5. Officer’s son, born England
Penuel Holcombe, Niece, age 3, Officer’s son, born England

Daughter Marion Spottiswood Baird married Isaac Bayley on 8th August 1823

Marion, Isaac and their family can be found on the following Census Returns:

1841 Census, Living at Regent Terrace, South Leith, Edinburgh
Isaac Bayley, Head, age 40, Writer or Solicitor, Born c1798, Scotland
Marion S. Bayley (nee Baird), age 40, born c1798, Midlothian
George Bayley, age 9, born c1832, Midlothian
Edward Bayley, age 4, born c1837, Midlothian
Thomas Bayley, age 3, born c1838, Midlothian
Margret Bayley, age 1, born c1840, Midlothian

1851 Census, Living at 13 Regent Terrace, South Leith, Edinburgh
Isaac Bayley, Head, age 53, Solicitor, Supreme Courts, Born c1798, Caputh, Perthshire
Marion S. Bayley (nee Baird), Wife, age 53, born c1798, Edinburgh
George Bayley, Son, age 19, Apprentice to Writer to the Signet, born c1832, Edinburgh
Edward Balyley, Son, age 14, Scholar, born c1837, Edinburgh
Thomas E. Bayley, Son, age 13, Scholar, born c1838, Edinburgh

1861 Census, Living at 13 Regent Terrace, South Leith, Edinburgh
Isaac Bayley, Head, age 63, Solicitor, Supreme Courts, Born c1798, Caputh, Perthshire
Marion S. Bayley (nee Baird), Wife, age 63, born c1798, Edinburgh
George Bayley, Son, age 29, Writer to the Signet, born c1832, Edinburgh
Margaret C. Bayley, Daughter, age 20, born c1841, Edinburgh

No research has been carried out on the other two children of George Husband Baird and
Isabella Elder but it is believed that they both died in their  early twenties

Several articles report that after his wife Isabella’s death, he lived with his daughter Marion
and son-in-law Isaac Bayley at 13 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh where he died
on 14th January 1840, whilst others state he died at his family property at Manuel, but the above
Census Returns indicate that the Bayley Family resided in Edinburgh and also list Edinburgh
as the place of birth for their children

Wherever he died, he his father and eldest son Thomas are commemorated on a stone in
Muiravonside Churchyard.


The inscription reads:

Sacred to the memory of
John Baird of Manuel
21st May 1757 – 3rd February 1824
Also of
The Very Reverend George Husband Baird, D.D.
Of Forneth and Manuel
Sometime Minister of Dunkeld and of the New Greyfriars, the New North
And of the High Churches in Edinburgh
Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Edinburgh
And for forty seven years
Principal of that University
Born 13th July 1761, died 14th January 1840
And of Thomas Elder Baird, Advocate
His eldest son
Born 30th September 1795, died 18th January 1876


Muiravonside Parish Church




www.memento-mori.co.uk

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