Admiral Sir John Erskine Baird 1833 - 1908
John Erskine Kennedy Baird was born on 16 September 1833. He was the son of Sir David Baird of Newbyth, 2nd Bt. (1795-1852) and Lady Anne Kennedy, (c.1798-1877). He married Constance Barbara Clarke, daughter of Edward Clarke, on 6 March 1905, Constance Barbara was born before 1890 and died 3 November 1931.2
The death occurred of Admiral Baird on the 8 December at Woodside House, Wootton, Isle of Wight age 75. Joining the Royal Navy in 1845 and was promoted to lieutenant around 1853 and then joined Rear Admiral Dundas flagship H.M.S. Duke of Wellington which at the time was operating in the Baltic this was during the war with Russia.
He was promoted to Commander in 1857 and given command of the sloop Devastation serving in North America and the West Indies, other posting followed in the Mediterranean and the China Station.
From 1878 to 1879 he was aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria and advanced to flag rank. As a Rear Admiral he first hoisted his flag on Swiftsure as Commander on the Pacific Station from 1884 to 1885, returning home he was appointed Admiral-Superintendent of the Naval Reserves. His next appointment was to the Channel Squadron, where in 1888 and 1889 he was involved in naval manoeuvres, which highlighted defence weakness and resulted in the great Naval Defence Act of 1899.
At the Jubilee Review, Admiral Baird was one of the four admirals in charge of the fleet, and two years later he was in command of Northumberland when the German Emperor visited and reviewed the fleets at Spithead.
After manoeuvres he took the Channel Fleet to Kiel, hoisting his flag as Hon. Admiral of the Fleet on the mast of Northumberland for inspection by the German Emperor. The Emperor later entertained him and his officer in Berlin.
In 1890 he relinquished command of the Channel Fleet and was made a K.C.B.3, finally retiring from the Navy in 1897 after more than 50 years service. It would appear that he came to live at Woodside in 1905, and became actively involved in the village.
The funeral took place at St Edmunds Church with the Rev. Dr Coleman officiating. It must have been a very impressive affair; the coffin was borne from Woodside to St Edmund Church on an open hearse drawn by 4 black horses. A party of blue jackets from Portsmouth walked on both side of the hearse and acted as pallbearers at the church.
Lady Baird led the nine family members, others attending are listed as;
Capt Grant RN. Representing the King.
Capt Wemyss Representing the Prince of Wales
Admiral Sir A.D. Fanshawe K.C.B. [Commander in Chief Portsmouth].
Admiral Sir Walter Hunt-Grubbe.
Admiral Sir William Kennedy.
Admiral Sir Michael Culine-Seymour.
There were numerous other senior naval officers and people from the island.
Citation [S2] Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage Vol. XIV Sutton Publishing (1998) p.13
Isle of Wight County Press, December 1908
2. Invested as Knight Commander, Order of the Bath 9.K.C.B.)