Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Baird, John (1799-1861)

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BAIRD, JOHN (1799–1861), Scotch divine, the eldest son of the Rev. James Baird, who was successively minister of Legertwood, Eccles, and Swinton, all in Berwickshire, was born at Eccles 17 Feb. 1799, and educated in the grammar schools of Whitsome and Kelso. Later he proceeded to the university of Edinburgh, where, in 1823, he founded the Plinian Society for the study of natural history, and was its first president. Going to Ireland in 1825, he was for some time engaged by the Irish Evangelical Society as one of their preachers. In 1829 he was ordained minister of Yetholm, Roxburghshire, where he died 29 Nov. 1861. A colony of gipsies, who were little better than heathens, had long been settled at Kirk Yetholm, and Baird set himself resolutely to reclaim these people, and to make them christians and useful members of society. The work was done in connection with a society formed in Edinburgh for the 'Reformation of the Gipsies in Scotland,' and it met with a considerable amount of success. Baird wrote the 'Scottish Gipsies' Advocate,' Edinburgh, 1839, and contributed an 'Account of the Parish of Yetholm' to the 'New Statistical Account of Scotland.' A memoir of him, by W. Baird (London, 1862), contains a list of words used by the gipsies of Yetholm, compared with Grellman's list of the continental gipsy language, and the corresponding words in Hindustani.

[Memoir by Dr. W. Baird; Geo. Smith's I've been a Gipsying, 322, 330, 331.]

T. C.