Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Caird, James

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CAIRD, Sir James, K.C.B., F.R.S., born at Stranraer, in 1816, was educated at Edinburgh. During the Protection controversy in 1849, Mr. Caird published a treatise on "High Farming as the best Substitute for Protection," which went rapidly through eight editions, and attracted much public attention. In the autumn of the same year, at the request of the late Sir Robert Peel, he visited the west and south of Ireland, then prostrate from the effects of the famine, and at the desire of the lord-lieutenant, Lord Clarendon, reported to the Government on the measures which he deemed requisite for encouraging the revival of agricultural enterprise in that country. This report was enlarged into a volume, published in 1850, descriptive of the agricultural resources of the country, and led to considerable landed investments being made there. During 1850 and 1851 Mr. Caird, as the commissioner of the Times, conducted an inquiry into the state of English agriculture, in which he visited every county in England; and his letters, after appearing in the columns of the Times, were published in a volume, which has been translated into the French, German, and Swedish languages, besides being republished in the United States. In 1858 Mr. Caird published an account of a visit to the prairies of the Mississippi. A translation of this work appeared on the continent. During the autumns of 1853, 1854, and 1855 Mr. Caird published in the Times a series of letters on the corn crops, which were considered to have had a material effect in allaying a food-panic. Invited at the general election of 1852 to offer himself to represent his native district in Parliament, he was defeated by a majority of one. At the general election of 1857 he was elected member for the borough of Dartmouth, as a supporter of Lord Palmerston, and an advocate of Liberal measures. In 1859 he was elected for Stirling without opposition, and vacated his seat in July, 1865, on accepting the office of one of the Inclosure Commissioners. In 1860 he was appointed a member of the Fishery Board, and in 1863 became Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Sea Fisheries of the United Kingdom; Professor Huxley and Mr. Shaw Lefevre, M.P., being his colleagues. That commission, after visiting the principal fishing ports of the kingdom, completed its labours in 1866; and the President of the Board of Trade, in the course of a discussion on the subject, thus expressed the opinion of the Government on the results of that inquiry: — "I may be permitted to say that I think a more able report than that which these commissioners have laid before Parliament was never made. It is evident that this inquiry has been most searching and complete, and conducted in a most diligent and judicious manner. I think the ground is now laid for putting our fishery laws on a sound and satisfactory footing. It is highly satisfactory that an inquiry undertaken in the spirit of a proposal to increase the restrictions upon fishing should have resulted in showing that the supply of fish and the interests of fishermen would be best promoted by free and unrestricted fishing." In 1864 Mr. Caird, after many years' perseverance, carried a resolution of the House of Commons in favour of the collection of agricultural statistics, which was followed by a vote of £10,000 for that object. The returns of 1866 for Great Britain, the result of that vote, for the first time complete the agricultural statistics of the United Kingdom, and are now published annually. Whilst in Parliament he was the advocate of all measures bearing on the improvement of land, successfully opposing the proposal to place a new duty on certain descriptions of corn used for feeding cattle, expounding the impolicy of discouraging the growth of barley by an unmodified malt-tax, taking a prominent part in committees and in the House in inquiries and discussions on Irish land tenure, the utilization of sewage, emigration, the game laws, and from year to year explaining the prospects of the country in regard to its supplies of corn. Retaining his practical connection with agriculture, during his parliamentary career, he took a leading part at this time in introducing the Cheddar system of cheese-making into the south-west of Scotland — a system which has greatly contributed to the prosperity of the dairy districts of that part of the country. In 1860 he carried a motion to extend the Census Inquiry in Scotland to the character of the house accommodation of the people, and thus, in the census of 1861, laid bare the startling fact that two-thirds of the people were found to be lodged in houses of only one and two rooms — a condition of things generally thought inadequate for decent accommodation. In 1865 he was appointed to the office of Inclosure Commissioner. In 1869 he revisited Ireland, and published a pamphlet on the Irish land question, soon after which he received the Companionship of the Bath. He has latterly taken an active interest in the successful introduction of sugar-beet cultivation in this country, which he first recommended in 1850. In 1868 and 1869 he published successive papers on the "Food of the People," read before the Statistical Society. In 1878 he was requested by the Government of India to serve on the commission to inquire into the subject of famines. He was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (civil division) in 1882. Sir James Caird is a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant of his native county, Wigton. He has been twice married — first, in 1843, to Margaret, daughter of Captain Henryson, R.E.; and secondly, in 1865, to Elizabeth Jane, daughter of the late Mr. Robert Dudgeon.