Baird, Sir John 1620-1698, of Newbyth in Aberdeenshire, judge, son of James Baird of Byth in the same county, advocate, and for some time commissary of Edinburgh, and Bathia, daughter of Sir John Dempster of Pitliver, was admitted advocate on 3 June 1647. It must have been about the same year that he married Margaret, daughter of Sir William Hay of Linplum, by whom he had four children, three sons and one daughter, viz. John, born on 4 Oct. 1648; Margaret, born on 23 Dec. 1649; John, born on 23 Sept. 1652; and William, born on 12 Nov. 1654. He appears to have been knighted by Charles II on his accession to the throne of Scotland in 1651. In the correspondence of the Earls of Ancram and Lothian (1616-67) we find him referred to as Sir John, under date 1653. Thenceforward his name occurs with some frequency in that correspondence, and usually in such a connection as to suggest that he was regarded as a person of some weight and sagacity. Like his father he belonged to the covenanting party, and was considered of sufficient consequence to be excluded from the operation of the Act of Indemnity passed by the parliament of Scotland in 1662, being then mulcted in the sum of 2,400l. His eminence at the bar, however, could not be ignored, and in 1664 he was created an ordinary lord of session, assuming the title of Lord Newbyth. In the Scottish parliaments of 1665 and 1667 he represented Aberdeenshire, and sat on the committee of taxation in the former, and on that of supply in the latter, parliament. He was not returned to the parliament of 1669. In that year a grant of the barony of Gilmertoun within the sheriffdom of Edinburgh, made in his favour by the crown in 1667, was ratified by the parliament. In 1670 he was nominated one of the commissioners to negotiate the then projected treaty of union between England and Scotland. In 1680 his youngest and only surviving son, William, was created knight baronet. By reason of his opposition to the arbitrary measures of the government he was superseded in the office of lord of session in 1681, Sir Patrick Ogilvie of Boyne being appointed in his place. He acted as commissioner of the cess for the shire of Edinburgh in 1685, and also as commissioner of supply for the same county. On the accession of the Prince of Orange he was re-appointed ordinary lord of session (1689), and retained his seat upon the bench until his death in 1698.
In the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh there are preserved certain papers in the handwriting of Lord Newbyth, being a collection of decisions ranging from 1664 to 1667, and a collection of practiques belonging to the period between 1664 and 1681.
Memorials of the Trubles in Scotland and England (Spalding Club), ii. 415
Corresp. of the Earls of Ancram and Lothian (1616-1667), 375, 384, 391-6, 508
Nicholl's Diary (1650-1667), 428
Fountainhall's Hist. Notices (1661-1688), ii. 333-4
Brunton and Haig's Hist. Acc. of the Senators of the Coll. of Justice, 391
Leven and Melville Papers (1684-1691), 307
Acts of the Parls. of Scotland, vii. 425b, 527b, 530a, 539a, 584, viii. 463b, ix. 69a, 137a
Beatson's Political Index, iii. 75, 111
Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ii. 607
William Baird of Auchmedden's Dominus Fecit, Genealogical Collections concerning the Sir-name of Baird and the families of Auchmedden, Newbyth, and Sauchton Hall in particular, Edinburgh, 1857
edited by William N. Fraser, and re-edited by F.M.B.S., London, 1870, 4to.
Contributor: J. M. R. [James McMullen Rigg]