BAIRD, Sir John Lawrence, Viscount Stonehaven (1874-1941)


BAIRD, Sir John Lawrence, Viscount Stonehaven (1874-1941)
governor-general of Australia
son of Sir Alexander Baird, was born on 27 April 1874. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and spent a year in Australia in 1894 as aide-de-camp to Sir Robert Duff, governor of New South Wales. He joined the diplomatic service in 1896 and during the next 12 years was stationed at Vienna, Cairo, in Abyssinia, and at Paris and Buenos Aires. He was elected to the house of commons as Unionist candidate for Rugby in 1910, and held this seat for 12 years. After the outbreak of the 1914-18 war he joined the Intelligence Corps in France and was awarded the D.S.O. in 1915. He was recalled to London in 1916 to become a parliamentary member of the air board until the close of the war. He then became parliamentary secretary to the home office and, having been elected for Ayr Burghs in 1922, became minister of transport and commissioner of works until 1924. He showed himself to be an excellent minister. In 1925 he was appointed governor-general of Australia and was thoroughly efficient and conscientious in his office, his travels extending to the mandated territory in New Guinea. In the closing years of his term, Australia was involved in a serious depression, and after his departure in September 1930, Lord Stonehaven took every opportunity to express confidence in the financial credit of Australia. The Conservative party had been defeated in 1929 and he became its chairman after his return. When the Nazi party arose in Germany he strongly opposed the policy of appeasement. "You will never buy Hitler off," he said in one of his speeches. When war broke out he supervised the arrangements for tracing missing men and the wounded in base hospitals in France. He died in Scotland after a short illness on 20 August 1941. He married in 1905, Lady Ethel Keith-Falconer, daughter of the Earl of Kintore, who survived him with two sons and three daughters. He had succeeded his father as second baronet in 1920, was created Baron Stonehaven in 1925, and Viscount Stonehaven in 1938.
The Times, 21 August 1941; The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 August 1941; Debrett's Peerage etc. 1942.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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