The title of laird conjures up images of royalty ~ perhaps of a lord and master ~ perhaps of a clan chieftan ~ or even perhaps of a regional kingship. In most cases, the title’s connotation is a bit greater than the actual reality. The title of laird essentially refers to the owner of a tract of land; it is a word used primarily in Scotland.
Anyone can be a laird. If I purchase and own simply a square inch of land in Scotland, I have the right to use the title of laird. There are companies which make money selling actual square inches of land in Scotland, providing to the purchaser a regal looking document announcing that the new owner of land in Scotland may use the title of laird. Of course, every landowner in Scotland does not use the title; it tends to be one of those things that non-Scots find fascinating, but which indigenous Scots take for granted.
Historically, the actual use of the title of laird tended to fall somewhere between the two points of grand master and simple landowner. Although the title could be employed by any landowner, it was primarily the owners of large tracts of land, with their estate mansions, who used the title. And because of the fact that estates tended to be handed down from the father to the eldest, or, in some cases, the most deserving son, the title of laird was something that demanded respect and was coveted within a family. The laird was not necessarily a clan’s chief, though he often was considered such, and wielded similar authority over his relatives.