Family Papers of the Laird family, consisting of letters and photographs and including some newscuttings 1750-1953.
Original letters of MacGregor Laird with typescript transcriptions, 1848-1859. Typed 'Family Story, 1750-1837'. Typescript of family letters and reminiscences by E B Laird, eldest daughter of MacGregor Laird, 1837-1899. Photographs, 1833 about - 1900. Newscuttings, 1932-1946. Letters and copies of letters relating to memorials of an research about MacGregor Laird, 1890-1953.
MacGregor Laird (1808 - 1861), Liverpool - Scottish merchant, was with his brother John, a pioneer of the iron steamship. They were both sons of William Laird (1780-1841), a Greenock rope maker who came to Merseyside in 1810 and founded the town of Birkenhead and the shipbuilding firm of Laird, latterly Cammell Laird and Company Limited. MacGregor designed a 55-ton paddle steamer, the Alburkah, which in 1832 left Liverpool for the Niger River, the first iron ship to complete an ocean voyage. It retruned to Liverpool in 1834, Laird who sailed on the voyage, having in the meantime explored the river mouth. In 1837 he was one of the promoters of the British and American Steam Navigation Company to run a line of steamships between Britain and America. In 1838 the company's ship Sirius was the first ship to cross the Atlantic from Britain to America entirely under steam.
Laird's elder brother John (1805-1874) was one of the first shipbuilders to use iron as a building material. He constructed in 1829 an iron lighter of 60 tons for use on canals, and in 1834 he build for a customer in Savannah, USA, the paddle steamer John Randolph, the first iron ship to be seen in America. He also built an iron ship, Nemesis, for the East India Company in 1839, the first iron vessel in the world to carry guns, and was the designers of the transport ship Birkenhead, which was wrecked off the Cape of Good Hope in 1852.