Born James Ian Baird, he changed his name from Baird to Keith by Interlocutor of the Lyon Court 28 June 1967. He worked as a labourer in Britain and Canada in his youth. In 1935, he married Delia Loyd and had three children:
He succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Stonehaven in 1941. During World War II, he joined the Royal Marine Engineers and rose to the rank of major. He lived in South Africa from 1947 to 1952, when he returned to manage the family estate at Rickarton. In 1974, he succeeded his mother as 12th Earl of Kintore.