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Laird Biographies from c 1784 to 1926

Andrew Laird  born c.  d. 1840) (my GGG Grandfather)
Elisabeth Park (Betsy) born c. 1786, Ireland (my GGG Grandmother)




John Laird (Dyer, born c 1817, Scotland) (my G G Grandfather)
Jane Burke (aka Jean Morris)(my GG Grandmother)

William Laird born c. 1803, Ireland
Margaret Laird (married William Park) born. c. 1805 Ireland
Ann Laird (married William Little) born c. 1807 Ireland
Andrew Laird born c. 1811 Ireland d. 1872 Paisley
Elizabeth Laird born c. 1819 Scotland
James Laird born c. 1823, Scotland
Arthur Laird born c. 1829, Scotland died 1872, Paisley aged 45
Records on Familysearch.org


John Clydesdale Laird (my Great Grandfather)
Sarah Aitchison (my Great Grandmother)

John 1843 died 1845
Jean Laird 1850
Elizabeth Laird 1853

James Aitchison Laird (my Grandfather)
Mary MacLaren Crockart (my Grandmother)

Stewart Aitchison Laird, b 1878
Jack (John) Laird, b. 1880
Jean Morris Laird  
William Park (Bill) Laird,
David Laird
Joseph (Gordon) Laird,  

Dr Stuart Morris Laird (my Father)
Alice Evelyn Leith Laird  (ms Laing (my Mother)


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Andrew Laird married  Elizabeth Park of Tyrone, born 1785 in 1801.  He was a labourer and she was a winder of pirns (bobbins).  Andrew died in December 1840. Elizabeth's father was 78 in 1840 putting his birth in about 1762. They came over from Ireland to Paisley in 1816/1817. Elizabeth's close relative, William Little, a weaver, petitioned for poor relief before his death in 1840 noting he had been in town for 24 years, had been born in County Down, and was a member of the St James Secession Church. There are records of Little tenancies in Tyrone.

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John Laird
Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire c 1817, he was a Dyer Journeyman.
In 1841 he was working (aged 24) with his brother William (38) at Thomsons Dye Works, Causeyside, Paisley, and lived with his sister, Ann (34). widowed. Another sister Elizabeth (22) worked in a cotton mill in Glasgow and brother, James, stayed with sister Margaret (36) and husband William Park, weaver, Cotton Street. His mother, Elizabeth (56)
petitioned for Poor Law Relief. (Paisley Poor Law Record)
The 1841 Census for
Paisley Gateside shows Jane Burke (20) as a silk winder living with her sister Elizabeth (30) a weaver and brother-in-law Richard Little.  The Census for 86 New Sneddon Street shows Ann Little (30) Cotton Winder, born Ireland, with William Little (3) and Mary Little (1), both born Renfrewshire.  Two households away at 7 Quay Lane stayed Elisabeth Laird (55), Andrew Laird (30) Cotton Hand Loom Weaver, born Ireland, William Laird (20) Dyer, born Ireland, James Laird (15),   Cotton Hand Loom Weaver, born Renfrewshire and Arthur Laird (12) Cotton Spinner, born Renfrewshire. *
12th August 1842 he married Jane Burke at Paisley Middle Church.
John Laird and Jane Burke had four children, John, born 6th June 1843 (? died 24th November 1845, Smallpox) Jean, born 10th March 1850 (witnesses Richard Little and Edward Burke),
John Clydesdale born 14th July 1851 (witnesses Andrew Laird and Richard Little) and Elizabeth, born 1st October 1853 (witnesses William Laird and Niven Galt) .  Edward Burke was Jane's father. The 1851 Census (taken 30th March 1851) for 40 Ladywell St (Glasgow City/Lanark 644/01 164/00 023) shows John Laird, Head, Dyer, aged 31, Jane Laird Wife, aged 31, both born Paisley, Renfrewshire and Jane Laird daughter, aged 1, born Glasgow. Ladywell St is close to Glasgow Cathedral and site of the Lady Well.
Great Aunt Jean told me that he was latterly the owner of  the  Dye Works in Rutherglen, and left money to his son, John Clydesdale to see the world.  There was a
Clydesdale Dye Works at Rutherglen, and the Rutherglen Bridge gave the new suburb of Bridgeton its name. My Grandfather, James, was born in Bridgeton.  There is mention of the firm of Brain and Murray losing control of the Clydesdale Dye Works in about 1851 due to the mismanagement of Mr Brain.  Perhaps this is when John Laird gained control?
The Clydesdale Dye Works are mentioned in an article "Disastrous Inundation at Rutherglen" 15 April 1903.
Dye Works next to Clydesdale Paint Works.
Site Record for Glasgow, 161-173 West Street, Dyeworks And Paint Factory Details
Article mentioning the Clydesdale Dye Works.
Edinburgh Gazette David Miller & Co Fancy and Turkey Red Dyers, Clydesdale Works.
(Clydesdale Chemical Works/Dye Works)

*Ages, for the most part, for all over the age of 15, were rounded down to the nearest 5 years. Jane Burke could have been anywhere from 24 to 20 on her last birthday. The 1841 Census was taken the first week in June. You can get a much better idea of their true age from the 1851 census( which was taken in March) and not rounded down
Information: Joan Laird Stock, 04/09/99.

Genmaps Old Maps

John Clydesdale Laird
(b 1851)

John Clydesdale

John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison, sitting
Great Aunt Jean and David standing

Born on 14th July 1851, in the County of Lanarkshire and the Parish of Glasgow. He had two sisters, Jean, born 10th March 1850, and Elizabeth born 1st October 1853. Jean Morris, his daughter, recalled that he was the first member of the family to be born in Clydesdale. She thought his parents had died when he was very young (perhaps 2) and he was brought up by his aunt Elizabeth Little (m.s. Burke), (husband Richard Little). She was certain the family originated in Wick. He seems to have been unaware of his sisters, which appears to confirm being orphaned at an early age. His father had left him money to see the world and he visited the USA. We now know that his Uncle, Richard Little emigrated to join his son Richard M. Little (1835-1921) in Braceville, Ohio
He seems to have had quite an experience, and on his return was teetotal.  In due course he became an elder of the Kirk and a Freemason (Kilwinning). A Tinsmith Journeyman by trade, he is thought to have invented the first conical fire extinguisher, later marketed by Minimax. He set up a factory,
The London & Glasgow Fire Appliance Co,  which burned down, but was not insured. As a result he had to return to work in a factory, working until his retirement as an Instrument Maker for Nobels in Glasgow. The family home was at Kinfauns Terrace in Ibrox, near the business. On retirement he and his wife, Sarah moved to Saltcoats, Ayrshire. When she died he moved to Southport, Lancashire, where his sons Gordon and Jack were working at the time, and then moved to Twickenham where was then looked after by his daughter Jean until his death on 7th February 1933. He often told his grandson how they used to drill forming the "British Square" at School. (This was the formation that withstood the French Cavalry at Waterloo and brought victory). His ashes lie along with his wife in Saltcoats.
Marriage Date: 31st December 1875 at 10 Greenvale Street, Glasgow, after the manner of the Free Church of Scotland

John Clydesdale with my father, 
Stuart Morris and cousin Maureen

John Clydesdale, Brighton, September 1931

Wife's Name: Sarah Aitchison of 10 Greenvale Street, Glasgow. Father, Stewart Aitchison, Carpet Weaver, mother, Mary Aitchison.
Parents' Names: John Laird and Jean or Jane Burke.
Sarah Aitchison was born in 1859 and died at Seafield, 56 Ardrossan Road, Saltcoats in 1919.
Other Information: My Great Grandfather's wedding certificate shows occupation as a Tinsmith Journeyman and address 14 Young Street Glasgow. It also shows his father to have been a "Dyer Journeyman".

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James Aitchison Laird
Born the third son of John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison on 14th August 1889 at 74 Harvie Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow. He trained as an accountant and worked first for J&G Burns, who were merged with the Laird Line (no immediate relation), in Jamaica Street, Glasgow. During a dock strike in Glasgow Emmanuel "Manny" Shinwell addressing a group of strikers suggested that if he were to invite them to "...throw the **** clerk into the Clyde..." one of the watching policemen would have him arrested for inciting a riot. He outran the dockers. The company was owned by Coastlines Ltd who transferred him to  the British and Irish Steampacket Co, which shifted its operational base to Dublin in the '20s. He became the Assistant and then Chief Accountant and became Company Secretary in 1936, which he held until his retirement. His Dublin residence was in Rathgar.

James_Mary.JPG (30549 bytes)

During the 1914-18 war he was a machine gun instructor with the Royal Flying Corps. A point came in the war when the Machine Gun Corps was taking such heavy losses that steps were taken to post all instructors into the Corps. He submitted for the usual medical and the panel of doctors pronounced him unfit for front line duty, having heard something unusual in his chest after, he thought, they had had a rather good lunch.
He retired to Hampshire with Mary and when she died stayed with his son and his family and when they were posted to Germany in 1962 moved to live with his sister, Jean, in Southsea, where he died the following year.
Marriage Date: 30th March, 1923, Camlachie, Glasgow.
Wife's Name:
Mary McLaren Crockart daughter of Robert Crockart and Agnes Scott Morton. (She had a brother, Andrew.) She did war work in WWI making dressings of sphagnum moss.

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Stewart Aitchison Laird
The eldest son of John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison born on 25th April 1878 at 28 Greenvale Street, Camlachie, Glasgow. He married Margaret Janet Isabella Hope (Meg) in Blackfriars, Glasgow on 3rd July 1905, both aged 27, profession given as Electrical Engineer (Master).  In the 1914-18 War he became a founder member of the Royal Flying Corps, reaching the rank of Major. He crashed in training and was grounded thereafter.  He marched men out of Hazbrouck in Flanders and was wounded, losing his memory, and recovered in Marylebone. He was awarded the Belgian "Croix de Guerre", awarded for carrying an important dispatch to Belgian forces during a shell barrage on his first motorcycle ride.

Stuart Laird's Miniature Medals

After the War he worked with Baird Television from its beginnings and for William Ellis, the UK holding of Disney and  became a friend of Walt Disney. Maureen (his sister Jean's daughter) remembers him taking her to the premier of "Pinocchio" in Leicester Square.
He died in early 1948 at the age of 69 of heart trouble. He was survived by his wife Meg, but had no children. She went to stay with relatives in the New Forest.  A record exists of the death of Margaret Janet Laird's (née Hope) in Lanark on 1st January 1965, aged 86.

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Jack (John) Laird

Son of John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison. 

John Clydesdale Laird (Uncle Jack) was born
at 28 Greenvale Street, Camlachie, Glasgow on 13th September 1880. He served for three years in the Cape Mounted Rifles in South Africa. And on his return served in the Imperial Yeomanry for 1.5 years.  In 1902 he was admitted as "A Freeman Citizen of Glasgow, "...for placing his services at the disposal of his country in connection with the present war in South Africa. "  While there Aunt Jean said he bought a diamond mine. He was also an electrician, and turned this knowledge into a stage act.  He toured South Africa and America with his act. He was known as "The Great Volta," and was billed as "The Electrical Marvel," and "The only man who has defied the Electrical Chair in Sing Sing Prison, New York, U.S.A"

The Sydney Sun.

In one performance he held the bare ends of two wires carrying high voltage, and handkerchiefs, pieces of paper cigarettes and the like, touched to his hair features and fingers were immediately ignited.

 New York Herald.

Down in Sing Sing prison Volta went to the electric chair of his own accord, and had enough current poured into his body to kill an army of soldiers, but got off the chair feeling just the same. Volta is a remarkable man.

He married Nellie Pople (born Cardiff, Wales, 1887) in New York about 1906, they had two children, one male and one female, both deceased. They were unnamed, so I suspect they may have been either stillborn or died soon after birth. Nellie was a chorus girl and also worked in the ticket box of a theatre run by her father. She became a part of Jack's act and they brought the act to Australia. This is where they met up with Bill.

Sergeant J C Laird's War Experiences: He includes  his own experience of enemy atrocities, life in the front line, a description of the trenches and no man's land, raids, standing to and over the top, bayonet combat and the Battle of the Somme. He recounts  how once issued with a German Overcoat, Helmet and Rifle he slipped into the German Trenches spending just under an hour passing through and returning with information on strength and disposition for an attack. His "shell shock" followed being buried with seventeen comrades by the explosion of a minenwerfer shell, he was one of two survivors.

In February 1916,  Jack went into army training camp at Bathurst with the Australian Infantry. He sailed on the "VESTALIA" on the 11th July, and spent three months in England before proceeding to France, landing at Etaples.
He was reported "sick" at Doullons, and admitted to Casualty Station with "shell shock", then transferred to 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital, before being transferred, by ambulance train to hospital at Etaples.  He returned to England for permanent base duties at Perham Downs and then to Weymouth, but was readmitted to hospital.  He returned home via New Zealand on the "PAKEHA" and was discharged in Melbourne on 22nd November 1917, as unfit for duty (shell shock and deafness).
His unit claimed he was "substantive corporal" so his rank became the subject of an investigation. Subsequently a promotion reconciliation was issued,  and promulgation appeared in 53rd Battalion Order dated 22-11-17. "All entries promulgated in Orders respecting promotions and reversions effected prior to 24-1-17 are hereby cancelled."
His first promotion was to Lance Corporal at Bathurst, and was then promoted to Acting Sergeant - voyage only. He reverted to Private on disembarkation, only to be promoted to Sergeant on arrival at Etaples, from then on he was regularly promoted to Sergeant or Corporal, always reverting to Private, the rank he held on discharge.
Jack was rather restless and moved frequently, and his brother Bill would follow, which was not so easy with an ever increasing family.  

Jack died of throat cancer. The Department of Veteran Affairs acknowledged this was probably caused by exposure to mustard gas in WWI. He is buried in Sydney with his wife Nell, though his name is not on the headstone.  He is commemorated with a individual plaque on the Memorial Wall at Rookwood added in 2001.

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Jean Morris Laird
Jean.JPG (78266 bytes)
Born at 3 Crownpoint Road in Camlachie on 25th September 1891  (Jeanie-Morris),  the only daughter of John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison. She survived all her brothers by nearly thirty years. Her earliest memory was going round Belfast pubs in pony and trip with her uncle, John Aitchison, a Brewery Manager, who had fought in the Indian Mutiny. She was certain the family originated in Wick, and originally came from Norway. She married Lionel Boulton and the family home was in Liverpool in 1923 and they moved to Twickenham in 1926. Their daughter is Maureen.

John Clydesdale and Lionel Boulton, Windsor, September 1931

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William (Bill) Laird
WPLaird.JPG (72228 bytes)
Son of John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison. Born on the 14th August, 1887, at 76 Harvie Street Glasgow. His parents were John Clydesdale Laird and Sarah Aitchison. He was called Willie 1by his family, but was known as Bill in Australia. He, with his brother Jim, sang in the church choir. He worked in his father's fire extinguisher factory, and became an electrician. Ironically the factory burned down. It was not insured. So when the lights of London were converted from gas to electricity, he followed his eldest brother, Stuart, to work in that city erecting electric street fittings in the district of Marylebone.  It was while working in London that he met a New Zealander, and heard of the opportunities in a relatively new country.  He had been interested in farming since he was a lad. He used to help look after donkeys on the beach at Saltcoats, when they were on holidays, and it was then that he decided he wanted to be a farmer. He left Tilbury on the steam ship "OTWAY" on the 29th October 1909, at the cost of Eighteen Pounds, bound for Sydney.  He went on to New Zealand.   He talked about living at Wanganui, after arriving in New Zealand, as in October 1912 he paid a deposit on land at Te Awamutu, just south of Hamilton. He got his Van-Driver's Licence in March 1913, which allowed him to drive a licenced van within the city of Auckland for twelve months, this cost him one shilling.  He was working for Winstone Ltd. Customs, Shipping General Carriers & Forwarding Agents, and was a horse drawn trollie driver.  He left their employ in June 1913, and then returned to Sydney.
He had a milk run in the Randwick area, and it was there that he met (Elsie) May.   Her father owned "Devonshire Dairies" in Botany and she delivered milk for him. They were married on the 28th October 1914
After their marriage their milk runs were combined, but when their first baby was on the way,  Jack took over one half. Edna May was born on Christmas day 1915, and died just 24 days before her first birthday.  Henry Clydesdale was born in October 1917 and Bill and May had four more children in the next seven years (the youngest of these children also died in her first year,) then a gap of seven years before the next two, three years apart.
Most of their moves were within the Sydney area, he worked as a furniture removalist, and had a furniture shop and his own horse drawn pantechnicon at one stage (pictured above). One move however was, with  Jack to Wirrimah, a fruit growing area, just north of Young. Here Bill worked as a labourer, on neighbouring farms.  May had a mail run, and would go to Bendick Murrell to pick up the mail, and deliver it on the way back to Wirrimah.

William Park and May


Great Uncle Bill with my father at Kentlyn, 1950 (from Bev in Australia)

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David Laird
Son of John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison, born at 3 Crownpoint Road Camlachie, Glasgow on 8th July 1894. He was in the TA Royal Artillery in WWI and survived with shell shock.  He was in receipt of a 100% disability pension. After the war he worked as a steward on Canadian Pacific and met his wife who was an SRN.

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Gordon (Joseph) Laird
The youngest son of John Clydesdale and Sarah Aitchison, born on 23rd September 1898 at 56 Eastmuir Street, Shettleston. He was christened Joseph Smith and adopted the name Gordon, and travelled a great deal.  He is referred to in a letter as being in "Honolu" during his "idlesake" at one point. He attempted to enlist twice in the Royal Scots Fusiliers during WWI, the first time at the age of 15 years and 9 months, but was found to be underage and sent home. On one occasion he fell out on a route march and ended up in an a hospital in Stirling, where his mother found him, as the result of a dream.  He was never of military age during WWI and ended up with consumption, and was not able to work until he was 21.  His brother Stuart took him into the electrical business in London, and he became the manager of an electical firm until he retired.

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Dr Stuart Morris Laird MB BCH BAO FFARCS
The only son of James Aitchison and Mary Crockhart. Born in Dublin on the 11th May 1926, he was educated there became a King's Scout. He studied Medicine at Trinity College.
His first medical position was as medical officer on board the RMS MALOJA of P & O for a voyage to Australia in 1950. He met William (Bill) Laird and his Family.
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My father arrives in Australia on the "MALOJA".
He then volunteered for a 16 year commission in the Royal Air Force, Medical Branch,
serving at RAF Mountbatten, RAF Fayid (Suez Canal Zone, Egypt) and RAF Habbaniya (Northern Iraq).

Alice_Laing.JPG (46587 bytes)

 He first met Alice Laing, a Flying Officer in the PMs (Princess Mary's Royal Nursing Service), in Egypt and they were engaged in Habbaniya, where they rode Army horses together in their off duty time. Once while on duty they were called to a Kurdish village where a woman was in problems in labour. The baby was delivered and the village feted them. Only later, when enquiring about the baby's progress did they find that it had been placed on the village dump as the head was distorted during labour. The baby was restored to his mother on their being assured that the head would resume normal proportions. He married Alice in 1954 at her home village of Cluny, Aberdeenshire. Alice's parents were George Laing and Alice Noble. Alice trained as a Nurse at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, working there during WWII, even through bombing raids.  She then specialised in midwifery, training in Epping Forest, at which time she visited one of her uncles who stayed at Putney. She died on 20th August 2008, in hospital, well cared for, and with her family around her.

Stuart was posted to Ely, where Iain was born in 1955, then Wroughton. He was christened at Cluny.  The next posting was Halton where Alasdair was born in 1959. In 1961 he demonstrated casevac  (casualty evacuation procedures) by air at the Paris Airshow.
In 1962 the family moved to RAF Wegburg (just in time for the Cuban missile crisis) and he finished his 16 years at the next posting, Ely in 1966.
In 1966 he was appointed consultant anaesthetist at St Lawrence, Chepstow, the Welsh Burns and Plastic Surgery Centre, where he pioneered the use of analgesia in burns dressing. He transferred to The Royal Gwent, Newport, in 1981 and received all but the highest grade of "merit award" available in the NHS, and was appointed local tutor for the Faculty of Anaesthetists.
He was, with Dr Russell Davies, a founder of the
Association of Burns and Reconstructive Anaesthetists (ABRA).
In 1971, with Dr Davies, he organised a symposium "The place of the Anaesthetist in the Treatment of the Burnt Patient" which was held at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. The first of its kind, it was attended mainly by anaesthetists with some surgeons and physicians confirming the role of the Anaesthetist and the multidisciplinary nature of the clinical problem.  After this meetings were organised on a biennial basis, incorporating anaesthesia for plastic surgery in 1978 at Chepstow.
The Association gives an annual prize, the
Russell Davies & Stuart Laird Prize, for a paper submitted by a Trainee to the Association of Burns & Reconstructive Anaesthetists, connected with both anaesthesia and plastic surgery or burns. The prize is sponsored by Abbott Laboratories Ltd.
He had a great knowledge of many subjects and participated in the television quiz "Mastermind" in 1977.
He died on 31st July 1982, at the age of 56, following a stroke. He suffered all his life from
Christmas Disease, a mild form of haemophilia which resulted from one clotting factor being absent in the blood. It passes through the female line and so ended with him, although it is believed still to affect other living relatives.

Dr S M Laird Obituary in the British Medical journal

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