A PROMINENT Helensburgh man wrote his first and only book at the age of 84.
And finding out about it came as a real surprise to his grandson, Professor Malcolm Baird, son of TV inventor John Logie Baird.
Malcolm, who is president of Helensburgh Heritage Trust, said: “I have just discovered that my grandfather, the Rev John Baird, B.D., wrote a book of religious commentary which was published in 1926.
“It surprises me that my aunt Annie never told me about this, as she was usually very proud of the family’s achievements. She looked after my grandfather from 1924 until his death in 1932.”
The Rev John Baird was a formidable figure, the minister of the then St Bride’s Church in West King Street, which was closed for worship in 1981 and finally demolished in 1990.
He was born in 1842 and brought up at his father’s farm, Sunny Brae, in the Camelon area just outside Falkirk. The single storey stone farm building still survives.
He was the first of his family to go to university. He entered Glasgow University in 1860, took his M.A. and then his B.D.
After he graduated he arrived in Helensburgh in 1868 and lived in the town for ten years until his marriage and later move to The Lodge at 121 West Argyle Street, which remained the family home for 90 years.
St Bride’s Church prospered as he was energetic, enterprising and a powerful preacher.
Among his many activities in the town he formed a Literary Society, of which the future Prime Minister, Andrew Bonar Law, was once a member.
His own 126-page book is entitled ‘The spiritual unfolding of Bishop H.C.G.Moule, D.D.’ and described as ‘an exposition by John Baird’. It was published in 1926 by Oliphants of London and Edinburgh.
It is in the copyright libraries at the National Library of Scotland and Cambridge University.
Handley Carr Glyn Moule was born in Dorchester and lived from 1841 to 1920.
He was schooled at home and then graduated BA from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1864, becoming a Fellow of Trinity the following year.
He became a teacher at Marlborough College, was ordained a deacon in 1867 and priest in 1868, then became his father’s curate. A chaplain to Queen Victoria for five years, the father of two was a noted theologian, writer and poet.
The two leading events of his life were 19 years as Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, which was founded to train the clergy of the future, and 19 years as Bishop of Durham from 1901 until his death.
Mr Baird wrote: “He appeals to us as a notable religious personality and a typical representative of a notable religious movement. He felt he had a mission.”
The two men actually met in 1888 when Principal Moule, already famed as a gifted and inspiring religious teacher, visited a country house in Scotland, and a Bible reading was arranged to which all the neighbourhood clergy were invited.
Mr Baird wrote: “The memory of that fatherly benediction remains uneffaced. The personality of Moule stands out in vivid form as courteous, gracious, affectionate, revealing the grandeur of a nature sanctified in Christ.
“He was a devout Christian with unique personal qualities of sweetness, nobility and refined sensibility, his presence in any company awakening the spiritual sense.
“He had deep emotional feeling, but no emotional torrents. The rich and delicate graces of his character were an impulse to purity and prayer. He looked innocently out on the world.”