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James Key Caird

James Key Caird

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Sir James Key Caird, 1st Baronet (7 January 1837 – 6 March 1916) was a Scottish jute
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

 baron and mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

. He was one of the city's most successful entrepreneurs, who used the latest technology in his Ashton and Craigie Mills. James Caird was born in Dundee
Dundee
Dundee is the fourth-largest city in Scotland and the 39th most populous settlement in the United Kingdom. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea...

, and was the son of Edward Caird (1806–1889) who had founded the firm of Caird (Du ndee) Ltd in 1832. The business was originally based in a 12 loom shed at Ashtown Works. The elder Caird was one of the first textile manufacturers to weave cloth composed of jute
Jute
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which has been classified in the family Tiliaceae, or more recently in Malvaceae....

 warp and weft. As the use of jute
Jute
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus, which has been classified in the family Tiliaceae, or more recently in Malvaceae....

 became increasingly popular, the Caird business expanded and thrived.

In 1870 James Caird succeeded his father as head of Caird (Dundee) Ltd. Under his leadership Ashton Works was re-built, expanded and equipped with the latest machinery. In 1905 the firm also took over Craigie Works, which had formerly supplied Caird with much of his yarn. Eventually the two works employed 2,000 hands. The Dundee Advertiser reported that Caird was a good employer who ran an efficient business which was also "a model of comfort for the workers".

James Caird made a substantial fortune from his business interests and reibvested much of it in his home city. Most notably he gifted both the Caird Hall
Caird Hall
The Caird Hall is the principal concert auditorium in Dundee, Scotland.Built between 1914 and 1923 and named after its benefactor, the jute baron James Key Caird, the Caird Hall regularly hosts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra....

, which dominates City Square, and Caird Park in the north of the city. The Marryat Hall, gifted by his sister Mrs Emma Grace Marryat, links to the Caird Hall. In total, between 1895 and 1914 James Caird gave £240,940 in donations to various good causes institutions and organisations in Dundee
Dundee
Dundee is the fourth-largest city in Scotland and the 39th most populous settlement in the United Kingdom. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea...

 and elsewhere. In 1902 Caird offered £18,500 to the directors of the Dundee Royal Infirmary
Dundee Royal Infirmary
Dundee Royal Infirmary, often shortened to DRI was a major teaching hospital in Dundee, Scotland. Until the opening of Ninewells Hospital in 1974, Dundee Royal Infirmary was Dundee’s main hospital...

 so they could erect a hospital for the treatment of cancer. He also provided £1,000 a year for five years to fund research "into the nature of this mysterious disease." The resulting facility opened 1906 and admitted its first patients in January 1907.

Caird was noted for his interest in providing financial aid for scientific research. In 1913 he he presented the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 with a cheque for £5,000, which to be used to fund physical research. Caird also offered University College, Dundee
University of Dundee
The University of Dundee is a university based in the city and Royal burgh of Dundee on eastern coast of the central Lowlands of Scotland and with a small number of institutions elsewhere....

 expansive plans for a Physics laboratory, but this offer was rejected by the College Council in 1905.

Caird funded Sir Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE was a notable explorer from County Kildare, Ireland, who was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration...

's Antarctic
Antarctic
The Antarctic is the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence...

 expedition of 1914 to 1916 on the Endurance
Endurance (1912 ship)
The Endurance was the three-masted barquentine in which Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed for the Antarctic on the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition...

, and Shackleton's open boat the James Caird
James Caird (boat)
The voyage of the James Caird was an open boat journey from Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean, a distance of...

, in which six of the Endurance's crew made the epic open boat voyage of 800 nautical miles (1,500 km) from Elephant Island to South Georgia, was named in appreciation of Caird's contribution.

In 1873 Caird married Sophy Gray
Sophy Gray (Pre-Raphaelite muse)
Sophia Margaret Gray , later Sophy Caird, was a Scottish-born model for her brother-in-law, the pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais. She was the younger sister of Euphemia Gray, who married Millais in 1855 after the annulment of her marriage to John Ruskin.-Background:Sophy Gray was born...

 (1843–82), sister-in-law of the painter John Everett Millais
John Everett Millais
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA was an English painter and illustrator and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.-Early life:...

. Her mental health was poor and Caird appears to have been rather neglectful towards her. They had one daughter, Beatrix Ada (1874–88).

Caird held an honorary degree from the University of St. Andrews.

He died at his Perthshire
Perthshire
Perthshire, officially the County of Perth , is a registration county in central Scotland. It extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south...

 estate, Belmont Castle near Meigle
Meigle
Meigle is a village in Strathmore, Scotland. It lies in the council area of Perth and Kinross in the Coupar Angus and Meigle ward. The nearest town is Forfar in neighbouring Angus. Other smaller settlements nearby are Balkeerie, Kirkinch and Kinloch. Meigle is accessed from the north and south...

, which he had purchased after the death of its previous owner Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman GCB was a British Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Leader of the Liberal Party from 1899 to 1908. He also served as Secretary of State for War twice, in the Cabinets of Gladstone and Rosebery...

. The baronetcy became extinct upon his death.