Paisley (/'pe?zli/ PAYZ-lee; Scots: Paisley, Scottish Gaelic: P?islig ['p?a??l?k?]) is a large town situated in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. Located north of the Gleniffer Braes, the town borders the city of Glasgow to the east, and straddles the banks of the White Cart Water, a tributary of the River Clyde.
Paisley serves as the administrative centre for the Renfrewshire council area, and is the largest town in the historic county of the same name. It is often cited as "Scotland's largest town" and is the fifth largest settlement in the country, although it does not have city status.
The town became prominent in the 12th century, with the establishment of Paisley Abbey, an important religious hub which formerly had control over other local churches.
By the 19th century, Paisley was a centre of the weaving industry, giving its name to the Paisley shawl and the Paisley pattern. The town's associations with political radicalism were highlighted by its involvement in the Radical War of 1820, with striking weavers being instrumental in the protests. By 1993, all of Paisley's mills had closed, although they are memorialised in the town's museums and civic history.
Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church, Paisley, Scotland, ca. 1890?1900.
Map of Paisley in early 1900s
Formerly and variously known as Paislay, Passelet, Passeleth, and Passelay the burgh's name is of uncertain origin; some sources suggest a derivation either from the Brittonic word pasgill, "pasture", or from the Cumbric basaleg, "basilica", (i.e. major church), derived from the Greek ?as????? basilika. Some Scottish placename books suggest "P?ssa's wood/clearing", from the Old English personal name P?ssa, "clearing", and leah, "wood". Pasilege (1182) and Paslie (1214) are recorded previous spellings of the name. The Gaelic translation is P?islig.
It is worth noting that some sources favour the name of the town as having its roots in the Gaelic word Baisleac, which is, like the Cumbric basaleg, derived from basilika. As Paisley was part of the Cumbric speaking Kingdom of Strathclyde, before being absorbed into the Gaelic speaking Kingdom of Alba in the 11th century, and with Cumbric being considered extinct by the 12th century, it is uncertain whether the name of Paisley is of Cumbric or Gaelic origin, due to the linguistic shift that occurred around this time.
The Anchor Mills (1886) ? a remnant of Paisley's Victorian industrial heritage.
The Roman name for Paisley was Vanduara.
Paisley has monastic origins. A chapel is said to have been established by the 6th / 7th-century Irish monk, Saint Mirin, at a site near a waterfall on the White Cart Water known as the Hammils. Though Paisley lacks contemporary documentation it may have been, along with Glasgow and Govan, a major religious centre of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. A priory was established in 1163 from the Cluniac priory at Wenlock in Shropshire, England at the behest of Walter fitz Alan, Steward of Scotland (died 1177). In 1245 this was raised to the status of an abbey. The restored Abbey and adjacent 'Place' (palace), constructed out of part of the medieval claustral buildings, survive as a Church of Scotland parish church. One of Scotland's major religious houses, Paisley Abbey was much favoured by the Bruce and Stewart royal families. King Robert III (1390?1406) was buried in the Abbey. His tomb has not survived, but that of Princess Marjorie Bruce (1296?1316), ancestor of the Stewarts, is one of Scotland's few royal monuments to survive the Reformation.
Paisley coalesced under James II's wish that the lands should become a single regality and, as a result, markets, trading and commerce began to flourish. In 1488 the town's status was raised by James IV to Burgh of barony. Many trades sprang up and the first school was established in 1577 by the Town Council.
The Paisley witches, also known as the Bargarran witches or the Renfrewshire witches, were tried in Paisley in 1697. Seven were convicted and five were hanged and then burnt on the Gallow Green. Their remains were buried at Maxwelton Cross in the west end of the town. This was the last mass execution for witchcraft in western Europe. A horse shoe was placed on top of the site to lock in the evil. A horse shoe is still visible in the middle of this busy road junction today?though not the original. The modern shoe is made of bronze and bears the inscription, "Pain Inflicted, Suffering Endured, Injustice Done".
The Industrial Revolution, based on the textile industry, turned Paisley from a small market town to an important industrial town in the late 18th century. Its location attracted English mill owners; immigrants from Ayrshire and the Highlands poured into a town that offered jobs to women and children until silk fell out of fashion in 1790. The mills switched to the imitation Kashmir (cashmere) shawls called "Paisley". Under the leadership of Thomas Coats (1809?1893), Paisley became the world centre for thread making. The high-status skilled weavers mobilised themselves in radical protests after 1790, culminating in the failed "Radical War" of 1820. Overproduction, the collapse of the shawl market and a general depression in the textile industry led to technical changes that reduced the importance of weavers. Politically the mill owners remained in control of the town.
Origins of Paisley Shawls
By the mid-19th century weaving had become the town's principal industry. The Paisley weavers' most famous products were the shawls, which bore the Paisley Pattern made fashionable after being worn by a young Queen Victoria. Despite being of a Kashmiri design and manufactured in other parts of Europe, the teardrop-like pattern soon became known by Paisley's name across the western world. Although the shawls dropped out of fashion in the 1870s, the Paisley pattern remains an important symbol of the town: the Paisley Museum maintains a significant collection of the original shawls in this design, and it has been used, for example, in the modern logo of Renfrewshire Council, the local authority.
According to Monique L?vi-Strauss, information on the history of Kashmir shawls' weaving techniques had been described in books, but in a very unintelligible language. John Irwin published a book named Shawls, a Study in Indo-European Influences, in 1955, in which he relates the Kashmir shawl's history and how these shawls spread on the European market during the 19th century. The book showed images of shawls woven in India and also fifteen images of shawls woven in United Kingdom, amongst which is one assigned to a Paisley manufacture, circa 1850. But according to Monique L?vi-Strauss, it resembles by many details a shawl designed by a French designer named Antony Berrus, born in 1815 at N?mes-France and died in 1883. The designer studied at the drawing School of N?mes, before settling in Paris and opening in the French capital his own successful design studio, which employed 200 designers. His textile drawings were sold to Lyon in France, in Scotland, in England, in Austria and also in Kashmir. The fact that shawl patterns drawings were made in Europe, sold there and also to India, made the research work extremely difficult, in order to give a precise location of manufacture. Therefore, in 1973, John Irwin published an update of his book, named as The Kashmir Shawl, in which he removed all the images of the shawls related to a European manufacturing. Monique L?vi-Strauss clearly states that her research led her to focus on the shawls creative industries in France in the 19th century, for the reason that the shawl industries in the United Kingdom (Paisley), Austria (Vienna), Germany (Elberfeld) were inspired by France (Paris) and never the opposite. The author then invited textile specialists from these countries to conduct research on their own field. Monique L?vi-Strauss notes the large influence that Kashmir had on the French shawl creative industries, narrowly linking the French history of Kashmir shawls to the Indian ones.
Through its weaving fraternity, Paisley gained notoriety as being a literate and somewhat radical town and between 1816 and 1820 became the scene of a Radical War. Political intrigue, early trades unionism and reforming zeal came together to produce mass demonstrations, cavalry charges down the high street, public riots and trials for treason. Documentation from the period indicates that overthrow of the government was even contemplated by some. The weavers of Paisley were certainly active in the 'Radical War'. The perceived radical nature of the inhabitants prompted the Tory Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to comment "Keep your eye on Paisley". The poet Robert Tannahill lived in this setting, working as a weaver. Paisley's annual Sma' Shot Day celebrations held on the first Saturday of July  were initiated in 1856 to commemorate a 19th-century dispute between weavers and employers over payment for "sma' shot" ? a small cotton thread which, although unseen, was necessary in holding together garments.
A permanent military presence was established in the town with the completion of Paisley Barracks in 1822.
The economic crisis of 1841?43 hit Paisley hard as most of the mills shut down. Among the mill owners, 67 of 112 went bankrupt. A quarter of the population was on poor relief. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel decided to act. He secured additional funds for relief and sent his own representative to the town to supervise its distribution. He convinced Queen Victoria to wear Paisley products in order to popularise the products and stimulate demand.
The American Civil War of 1861?1865 cut off cotton supplies to the textile mills of Paisley. The mills in 1861 had a stock of cotton in reserve, but by 1862 there were large-scale shortages and shutdowns. There were no alternative jobs for the workers, and local authorities refused to provide relief. Voluntary relief efforts were inadequate, and the unemployed workers refused to go to workhouses. Workers blamed not the United States, but rather the officials in London for their hardship and did not support the idea of war with the United States.
First World War
Paisley War Memorial
Paisley suffered heavy losses in the First World War. The town's war memorial was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer (other sources say Harold Tarbolton) in 1922 and depicts Robert the Bruce going into battle on horseback escorted by footsoldiers dressed as First World War infantry soldiers. It was sculpted by Alice Meredith Williams.
Bottled snail incident
Paisley was also the site of an incident that gave rise to a major legal precedent. In a Paisley cafe in 1928, a woman claimed to find a dead snail in a bottle of ginger beer, and became ill. She sued the manufacturer for negligence. At the time a manufacturer was considered liable only if there was a contract in place with the harmed party. After Donoghue v Stevenson, a precedent was established that manufacturers (and other "neighbours" or fellow citizens) owe a duty not to do foreseeable harm to others by negligence, regardless of contractual obligations, which paved the way for modern tort law. The case is often called the "Paisley snail".
Second World War
Owing to its industrial roots, Paisley, like many industrial towns in Renfrewshire, became a target for German Luftwaffe bombers during World War II. Although it was not bombed as heavily as nearby Glasgow (see Clydebank Blitz), air raids still occurred periodically during the early years of the war, killing nearly a hundred people in several separate incidents; on 6 May 1941, a parachute mine was dropped in the early hours of the morning claiming 92 victims; this is billed the worst disaster in Paisley's history. The Gleniffer Braes, on the southern outskirts of Paisley, are home to a number of "decoy ponds" (mock airfields) used by the RAF after the Battle of Britain as part of a project code-named "Starfish Decoy" designed to confuse German spies.
Paisley, as with other areas in Renfrewshire, was at one time famous for its weaving and textile industries. As a consequence, the Paisley pattern has long symbolic associations with the town. Until the Jacquard loom was introduced in the 1820s, weaving was a cottage industry. This innovation led to the industrialisation of the process and many larger mills were created in the town. Also as a consequence of greater mechanisation, many weavers lost their livelihoods and left for Canada and Australia. Paisley was for many years a centre for the manufacture of cotton sewing thread. At the heyday of Paisley thread manufacture in the 1930s, there were 28,000 people employed in the huge Anchor and Ferguslie mills of J & P Coats Ltd, said to be the largest of their kind in the world at that time. In the 1950s, the mills diversified into the production of synthetic threads but production diminished rapidly as a result of less expensive imports from overseas and the establishment of mills in India and Brazil by J & P Coats. By the end of the 1993, there was no thread being produced in Paisley.
The town also supported a number of engineering works some of which relied on the textile industry, others on shipbuilding. Paisley once had five shipyards including John Fullerton and Company (1866?1928), Bow, McLachlan and Company (1872?1932) and Fleming and Ferguson (1877?1969).
Advertisement for Brown & Polson's, 1894
Advertisement for the Ferguslie Thread Works in the 1867 Paris World Fair catalogue
A number of food manufacture companies existed in Paisley. The preserve manufacturer Robertsons began in Paisley as a grocer whose wife started making marmalade from oranges in 1860. This product was successful and a factory was opened in Storie Street, Paisley, to produce it in 1866 and additional factories were later opened in Manchester, London and Bristol. The company was taken over by Rank Hovis McDougall who closed its Stevenson Street factory and transferred production to England in the 1970s. Brown and Polson was formed in Paisley in 1840 and two years later started producing starch for the weaving trades, by 1860 it was making food products including its patent cornflour. It later became CPC Foods Ltd, a subsidiary of Unilever, which produced Hellmann's mayonnaise, Gerber baby foods and Knorr soups. The company ceased production in Paisley in 2002.
In 1981 Peugeot Talbot, formerly Chrysler and before that Rootes, announced that its Linwood factory just outside Paisley would cease production. This led to the loss of almost 5,000 jobs.
At one time M&Co. (Mackays) had its head office in Caledonia House in Paisley.
In 2015, the town launched its bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021. On 15 July 2017 Paisley was announced as one of five shortlisted candidates, On 7 December 2017 it lost to Coventry. Following the announcement, Renfrewshire Council and the Paisley 2021 Board stated that Paisley's "journey will continue" and that the bid process was "just the beginning" for regeneration processes in the town.
|Photos||Paisley Town Centre|
Matches 1 to 50 of 157
|Last Name, Given Name(s)||Birth||Person ID|
|1||Adam, Jean||6 Apr 1740||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I10594|
|2||Adam, Thomas||Abt 1708||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I10958|
|3||Anderson, Elizabeth||11 Jun 1761||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17162|
|4||Anderson, James||Abt 1765||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I12881|
|5||Anderson, Janet||6 Oct 1757||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17161|
|6||Anderson, Jean||22 Jul 1769||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17164|
|7||Anderson, John||6 Apr 1731||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17157|
|8||Anderson, William||10 Jul 1764||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17163|
|9||Armour, Agnes Fulton||22 Jul 1819||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17170|
|10||Armour, Anne||3 May 1833||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17174|
|11||Armour, Jean||21 Mar 1826||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17169|
|12||Armour, John||22 Feb 1822||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17173|
|13||Armour, Margaret||20 Feb 1816||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17171|
|14||Armour, Mary||29 Apr 1824||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17172|
|15||Armour, Robert||26 May 1814||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17168|
|16||Bowie, Agnes||1 Sep 1792||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I24130|
|17||Bridget, Jenet||1816||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I7804|
|18||Bridget, Thomas||1785||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I19258|
|19||Broody, Margreat||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I22977|
|20||Bryson, Hon George Sr.||16 Dec 1813||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8404|
|21||Bryson, James||1770||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8401|
|22||Bryson, Jean||1815||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8405|
|23||Bryson, John||28 Apr 1799||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8403|
|24||Bryson, Robert||1817||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8406|
|25||Cameron, Isabella||1 Jun 1808||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I19911|
|26||Carswell, Janet||1826||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8407|
|27||Cochran, Jane||16 Nov 1792||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8402|
|28||Cochran, Margaret||1733||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I17156|
|29||Cochrane, Joseph||14 Feb 1735/36||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I10593|
|30||Cook, Thomas||30 Sep 1837||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I42632|
|31||Duncan, Agnes||2 Feb 1816||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2324|
|32||Duncan, Alexander||22 Nov 1811||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2322|
|33||Duncan, Catherine||16 Jun 1805||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2302|
|34||Duncan, Daniel||4 Sep 1818||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2325|
|35||Duncan, Elisabeth||4 Aug 1820||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2800|
|36||Duncan, Dr. George||30 Jan 1800||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2299|
|37||Duncan, Isabella||1 May 1803||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2301|
|38||Duncan, Jane||1814||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2305|
|39||Duncan, Jean||20 Dec 1805||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2320|
|40||Duncan, Jean "Jane"||6 Mar 1798||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2298|
|41||Duncan, John||8 Mar 1814||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2323|
|42||Duncan, Margaret||19 Apr 1804||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2319|
|43||Duncan, Mary A.||28 Sep 1801||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2300|
|44||Duncan, Robert||10 Mar 1809||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2321|
|45||Dunlop, Andrew||29 Aug 1828||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I26182|
|46||Dunlop, Andrew||2 Sep 1855||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I26181|
|47||Dunlop, James||Nov 1866||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I42831|
|48||Dunlop, Jean||6 Jan 1869||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I30150|
|49||Dunlop, John Sr.||23 Nov 1835||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I11272|
|50||Dunlop, John||1858||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I11268|
Matches 1 to 20 of 20
|Last Name, Given Name(s)||Christening||Person ID|
|1||Cochran, Jane||18 Nov 1792||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8402|
|2||Cochrane, John||6 Mar 1764||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I10557|
|3||Duncan, Agnes||19 Feb 1816||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2324|
|4||Duncan, Jean "Jane"||8 Mar 1798||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2298|
|5||Erskine, John||24 May 1759||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I10953|
|6||Erskine, Margaret||31 Oct 1754||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I15383|
|7||Erskine, Robert||17 Apr 1757||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I10954|
|8||Gemmill, James||27 Dec 1818||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I7803|
|9||Gemmill, Mary Veitch Pittcairn||24 Oct 1816||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I6102|
|10||Gifford, Jean||8 Jan 1791||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2348|
|11||Hamilton, Gavin McPherson||2 Feb 1829||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I19748|
|12||Lang, Mary||22 Feb 1818||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8174|
|13||Simpson, Margaret||14 Dec 1823||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I24139|
|14||Slater, James||26 May 1768||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I23080|
|15||Slater, James||23 Jul 1772||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I15760|
|16||Smith, John||15 Apr 1779||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I42024|
|17||Wark, John||15 Oct 1797||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I11106|
|18||Wilson, Mary Elizabeth||24 Oct 1799||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I12928|
|19||Wilson, McKinlay||Jul 1809||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I38773|
|20||Wilson, Dr William||13 Mar 1806||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I38772|
Matches 1 to 10 of 10
|Last Name, Given Name(s)||Death||Person ID|
|1||Adam, Thomas||Abt 1781||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I10958|
|2||Arbuckle, Margaret JEAN||16 Sep 1815||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8183|
|3||Gemmill, Margaret||Bef 1793||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I35873|
|4||Hamilton, Norris||20 Nov 1792||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I33719|
|5||Laing, Aurthur||1821||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I25709|
|6||Lang, Isobelle||Jan 1816||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I12968|
|7||Lockhart, Elizabeth||1832||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I27157|
|8||Love, Janet||11 Jan 1822||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I23082|
|9||Neilson, James||1813||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I27464|
|10||Smith, Jean||Bef 1821||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I42398|
Matches 1 to 5 of 5
|Last Name, Given Name(s)||Alt. Birth||Person ID|
|1||Anderson, Margaret||5 Jan 1756||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2317|
|2||Bryson, Robert||Abt 1825||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I8406|
|3||Cameron, James Sr.||1 Apr 1812||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I15367|
|4||Gifford, Robert||Abt 1756||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2316|
|5||Lockhart, Elizabeth||22 Mar 1833||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||I2329|
Matches 1 to 9 of 9
|1||Bryson / Cochran||17 Oct 1813||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F2830|
|2||Bryson / Symson||13 Feb 1796||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F15111|
|3||Cochrane / Adam||20 Jun 1761||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F3498|
|4||Cochrane / Erskine||3 Jun 1790||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F3488|
|5||Lang / Wilson||28 Jun 1817||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F2757|
|6||McGee / Easden||23 Jun 1792||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F3135|
|7||Peters / McFadyen||17 Feb 1821||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F5993|
|8||Smith / Erskine||28 Jan 1804||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F14880|
|9||Wark / McKelvin||8 Apr 1797||Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||F3137|
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