[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
PAISLEY, a parish in the upper and finest district of Renfrewshire. It is bounded on the north and north-east by the parishes of Renfrew and Govan, in which direction it approaches within 2 miles of the Clyde; on the east by Eastwood; on the south by Neilston; and on the west by Lochwinnoch and Kilbarchan. In point of extent, this is the third parish in the county, and, as regards value, by far the first. From north-east to south-west, it stretches out nearly 9 miles in length. It is so deeply indented on all sides by comers of adjoining parishes, that its breadth vanes from half-a-mile to 54 miles, in consequence of which, notwithstanding its great length, and, in some parts, breadth, it only contains 16,153 imperial acres, which may be arranged thus:- Arable or in cultivation, 12,500; natural pastures and meadows, 1,500; moss, sites of houses, roads, waters, &c, 1,153; woods and plantations, 1,000. The surface, for the most part, waves gently, and frequently swells into beautiful little eminences. A considerable portion to the north of the town of Paisley is a perfect level, having been anciently moss, which extended in 1719, when a survey was made, to 300 acres, but has since been mostly reclaimed by the operation of burning. The southern border of the parish rises into a range of hills called Paisley or Stanely Braes, known also, at least in one part, as ‘the Braes of Gleniffer,’ which have been celebrated in song by Tannahill. Their highest point is 760 feet above the surface of the river Cart at high-water mark at Paisley. Though interspersed with moss and heath, they afford good sheep-pasture, and where they decline into lower ground, a considerable part is in cultivation. In these heights there is a picturesque glen with a waterfall. The view from Duchal-law, the eastern summit, is varied, beautiful, and extensive, comprising the towns of Glasgow and Paisley, with villages, mansions, and hamlets, thickly scattered. The soil of the parish is, in general, thin, with a bottom of gravel, more frequently of till, very retentive of moisture. In the flat grounds, and along the banks of the rivers, it is rich and fertile; less so, thinner, and more stony, as it rises to the south. – The principal river is the WHITE CART: which see. See also the BLACK CART and the LEVERN, which partly bound the parish. Several rivulets proceed from, the hills on the south. One of these, bearing the pretty name of the Espedair, and aptly termed in ancient Latin writings a torrent (torrens), comes brawling down to the White Cart, into which it falls above the Abbey-bridge of Paisley. To the westward are the Candren and Altpatrick burns, which lose themselves in the Black Cart. Near the Candren is a saline spring, called Candren-well, a pamphlet strongly recommendatory of which was written by the late Robert Lyall, M.D. Within the town is the Seedhill-well, a slightly mineralized spring, which was formerly used as a tonic. – Coal, sandstone, limestone, greenstone, and ironstone, abound: see, in particular, HOUSEHILL, HURLET, and QUARRELTON. The principal sandstone quarry is that of Nitshill, which gives employment to nearly 100 men. Aluminous schist is abundant at Hurlet. Fire-clay and blue-clay are prevalent in the lower part of the parish; and potter’s-clay occurs at Brediland, where coarse earthenware is manufactured. – With regard to estates and mansions, those of HAWKHEAD, HOUSEHILL, and JOHNSTONE, have been already noticed. About a mile east from Paisley is the estate of Ralston, long possessed by the respectable family of Ralston “of that ilk,” by whom it was sold about the beginning of the 18th century. In 1800, nearly the whole of it was acquired by the late William Orr, Esq., who built a handsome mansion, called Ralston-house, on part of the adjacent lands of Ingliston, which he had, 3 years previously, bought from the Earl of Glasgow. Throughout the parish, and especially in the vicinity of the town, there are many neat villas. – The parish contains not a few objects of antiquity. Near the base of the Gleniffer-braes is an old tower called Stanely-castle, which is of unknown date. This barony first occurs in the 14th century, as belonging to the Dennistons, from whom it passed to the Maxwells, and from them, in the 17th century, to the Lords Ross of Hawkhead, to whose descendant and representative, the Earl of Glasgow, it now belongs. The structure consists of a quadrangular body, with a projecting rectangular tower to protect the entrance; has contained four stories; and is about forty feet in height. A cornice at the top, the corbels of which project considerably, gives an agreeable finish to the pile. It was unroofed in 1714, and has since remained in a ruinous condition. It stands at the south-western extremity of the reservoir lately formed for supplying Paisley with water. The reservoir has given an entirely new character to the appearance of the venerable ruin. They are mutually improved; the fine sheet of water supplies the place of bare uninteresting fields, and the castle – “yon hoary veteran, grey in arms,” – imparts grace and dignity to the scene. – In the field on the south of the castle, are the shaft and pedestal of an ancient stone cross, between four and five feet high, the cross piece at the top being awanting. On the edges, the remains of wreathed work are visible. Semple (p. 238,) mentions a similar object, called ‘the Stead-Stone cross,’ as existing in his time at Auldbar, 2 miles, or so, to the east. He calls them ‘Danish stones;’ but they were more probably devotional crosses, set up in Popish times. On a rock at Harelaw Craigs, in the same neighbourhood, are 72 small holes of an oval form, an inch deep, and placed at irregular distances, the origin of which is unknown. – On the right bank of the Levern, below Barrhead, is the ruined tower of Stewart’s Raiss, once the property of Stewart of Halrig, a branch of the noble family of Darnley. – Cardonald, an antique structure, embowered in wood, on the right bank of the Cart, 3 miles east of Paisley, has belonged to the Blantyre family since the reign of James VI., and was once a seat of theirs, but is now let to various tenants Adjacent to the town, on the south-east, is the barony of Blackball, belonging to the Shaw Stewart family, and granted to their ancestor, Sir John Stewart, by King Robert III. The charter is dated on the 12th day of December, in the 6th year of the King’s reign, which, as he ascended the throne on 19th April, 1390, corresponds to the year 1395, not 1396, as has hitherto been represented. The house is a strongly built plain old pile, and affords a specimen of the confined and homely accommodation enjoyed by families of consequence so recently as 1710, when Craufurd mentions it as “one of the seats” of the Blackhall family. Latterly it was occupied by a farmer, but now it is unroofed and deserted, and presents a very dismal appearance. Of the “beautiful planting” with which it was adorned in Craufurd’s time, not a shrub remains. – On the western side of the parish lay the barony of Cochrane, the original seat, and for five centuries the property of the family bearing that surname, ennobled as Lords Cochrane and Earls of Dundonald. About the year 1750, it was sold by Thomas, 8th Earl of Dundonald; and as his lordship, 16 years afterwards, sold the abbey lands of Paisley, the family ceased to have any connection with a county where they had long been of great consideration. The greater part of the estate of Cochrane now belongs to Mr. Houstoun of Johnstone. The ruins of the manor-place have been completely swept away since 1810, and the plough now passes over their site. – To the interesting localities of CROOKSTON and ELDERSLIE, separate articles have been devoted. The Abbey of Paisley, by far the most important antiquity in the district, will be more appropriately introduced hereafter.
The TOWN of PAISLEY is situated near the centre of the parish, and is spread out on both sides of the river White Cart, 3 miles from its junction with the Clyde. The distance of the cross of Paisley from that of Glasgow is 7¾ miles. From Greenock, Paisley is distant 16 miles, and from Edinburgh 52 miles; all these calculations being by the turnpike roads. The original burgh, or older part of the town, is chiefly built on and around a fine terrace-like eminence that runs westward from the Cart, and partly on the north side of a similar eminence running parallel on the south. On the east side of the river, which is crossed by three stone-bridges, the ground is level, and is principally occupied by the New-town, the building of which was commenced in 1779, having been planned and feued out by James, 8th Earl of Abercorn, the proprietor of the ground on which it stands, who named the most of the streets in honour of the manufactures of the place. Contiguous to these, but forming no part of the plan, are Wallneuk, Croft, Smith-hills, and other streets, which were begun earlier in the same century. The suburb called the Seedhill is of much older date, and is the only part of the town, on this side of the river, which belongs to the original burgh. On the east of the town is the suburb of Williamsburgh; on the south are Dovesland, Lylesland, and Charleston; and on the west Maxwelton, Ferguslie, and Millerston. The parliamentary burgh, as formed under the act of 1832, includes the old and new towns, with the above and other suburbs, and is spread over a surface of about 3 miles by 2½, including a very small portion of the parish of Renfrew. From the nature of the surface, and the manner in which the streets branch out on the low grounds, leaving open space between them, it was thought proper, in defining the parliamentary burgh, to draw a regular boundary, by taking points chiefly on rising grounds. To have followed any other course, would have made intricate boundaries; and it was necessary also to leave space for the increase of the town. The main street runs from east to west, under various names, for about 2 miles, forming part of the road from Glasgow to Beith and the coast of Ayrshire. Another long line of streets passes through the town from north to south – but with some deflections – being the continuation of the road from Inchinnan, and merges in that to Neilston. Although the situation of Paisley is pleasant, it cannot, in point of elegance, cope with some of the larger towns of Scotland. Many of the streets, it is true, are regularly formed, and of handsome houses there are not a few; but the effect of these is often marred by the lowly thatched dwellings with which they are surrounded. An accurate plan of the town and its environs, from an actual survey by James Knox, was published in the year 1822; and a new edition, with the necessary changes and improvements, by George Martin, was published in 1837.
Though of comparatively recent date as a seat of manufactures, Paisley is of venerable antiquity. It was the site of a station formed by the Romans during their occupation of Scotland between the years 80 and 446, and designated by Ptolemy, the ancient geographer, Vanduara. By Camden it is called Randuara, and by Chalmers, in his Caledonia, Vanduaria, one or other of which has been usually adopted by subsequent writers; but they were undoubtedly in error, as the word mentioned by the geographer, given in Roman characters, can have no other form than Vanduara. This was probably a Latinized modification of the British words wen dur (white water), applied by the natives to the White Cart, which flowed past the eastern side of the encampment. Misled by the fancied similarity of name, Camden regards Renfrew, which is 3 miles to the north, as the site of the station; but the lowness of the ground there rendered it quite unsuitable for a place of defence and observation; whereas Paisley was peculiarly fitted for such a purpose, as it occupied an isolated height, and commanded an extensive view of the surrounding country, including the Roman road down Clydesdale, and the termination of Antoninus’ wall at Dunglass. But we are not left to conjecture respecting the site of the station in question; for writers of authority have given minute descriptions of considerable remains as existing at Paisley at no distant date: We allude to Bishop Gibson1 and Principal Dunlop,2 both of whom wrote in the end of the 17th century, and George Craufurd,3 whose work was originally published in 1710. All their accounts are to the same effect; and with regard to Dunlop and Craufurd, it is to be observed that they resided in this neighbourhood, and had every opportunity for inspecting the objects described. Principal Dunlop says:- “At Paisley there is a large Roman camp to be seen. The prætorium, or inner-most part of the camp, is on the west end of a rising ground, or little hill, called Cap Shawhead, on the south-east descent of which hill standeth the town of Paisley. The prætorium is not very large, but hath been well fortified with three foussées and dikes of earth, which must have been large, when to this day their vestiges are so great that men on horseback will not see over them. The camp itself hath been great and large, it comprehending the whole hill. There are vestiges on the north side of the foussées and dike, whereby it appears that the camp reached to the river of Cart. On the north side, the dike goeth alongst the foot of the hill; and if we allow it to have gone so far on the other side, it hath enclosed all the space of ground on which the town of Paisley stands, and it may be guessed to be about a mile in compass.4 Its situation was both strong and pleasant, overlooking the whole country. I have not heard that any have been so curious as to dig the ground into this prætorium; but when they tread upon it, it gives a sound as if it were hollow below, where belike there are some of their vaults. Near to this camp, about a quarter of a mile, stand two other rises or little hills, the one to the west, the other to the south, which, with this, make almost a triangular form, where have been stations for the outer guards. The vestiges of these appear, and make them little larger than the prætorium of the other camp, of the same form, without any other fortification than a foussée and dike.” From this description, it is manifest that the prætorium, or general’s quarter, stood on the site of the present bowling-green at Oakshawhead, and that the two hills occupied as outposts were at Woodside and Castlehead. The expansion of the town, and the cultivation of the country, have almost obliterated these interesting memorials of the invaders. In support of the above account, we may add, that Horsley in his Britannia Romana, published in 1732, (p. 377,) takes Paisley to be Vanduara, and says; – “There are yet some visible Roman remains at it, as well as a military way leading to it.” This way was traced by Gordon in 1725, but can be no longer seen. It diverged to the left at Glasgow, from the great Clydesdale road, and passing the Clyde at a ford which existed till 1772, went across the country to Paisley. The well-known street in Paisley, called Causewayside, may have taken its name from its running by the side of the Roman causeway. In Bleau’s map, 1654, “Causwaysid” is represented as at a little distance from the town. Beyond Paisley, on the west, no Roman station has yet been found, though some roads have been traced, and coins and armour discovered.
The Romans having finally quitted Scotland in the 5th century, the name of Vanduara was lost, and no place connected with its site occurs till the year 1157, when King Malcolm IV. granted a charter in favour of Walter, the son of Alan, first of that family, Steward of Scotland, confirming a gift (not now extant) of certain extensive possessions which King David, who reigned from 1124 to 1153, had conferred upon Walter. Lands called ‘Passeleth’ formed part of those specified in the grant, and were identical with the modern Paisley.5 There, on the east bank of the river, Walter founded a monastery, about the year 1163. At that time there does not appear to have been any village at the place, but one soon arose on the opposite bank, inhabited by the retainers and “kindly tenants” of the monks, to whom, as it stood on their lands, it belonged. In 1488, the village was created a free burgh-of-barony, but for some centuries it made little progress, the population having been only 2,200 in 1695. A view of the town and abbey, in 1693, is given in Slezer’s ‘Theatrum Scotiæ.’ The earliest symptom of external traffic occurs about the same time, in Principal Dunlop’s ‘Description of Renfrewshire,’ where it is stated (p. 145,) that by the river “boats come to Paisley with Highland timber and slates – 6,000 in a boat – fish of all sorts, and return with coal and lime.” Thus we find that, in the end of the 17th century, coal and lime were sent from hence to the Highlands, in return for timber, slates, and fish; but there is no notice of any manufactures: yet there must have been some such, for Craufurd only a few years afterwards says (p. 61,):- “This burgh has a weekly mercat, on Thursday, where there is store of provisions. But that which renders this place considerable is its trade of linen and muslin, where there is a great weekly sale in its mercats of those sorts of cloath; many of their inhabitants being chiefly employed in that sort of manufactory.” About the same time (1710) Hamilton of Wishaw (p. 73) described Paisley as “a very pleasant and well-built little town; plentifully provided with all sorts of grain, fruitts, coalls, peats, fishes, and what else is proper for the comfortable use of man, or can be expected in any other place of the kingdome.” From this graphic notice, Paisley appears to have been a very desirable place of abode. It then consisted of one principal street (the High-street), about half-a-mile in length, running westwards from the river, with some wynds and lanes in different directions.
It was not long after the Union with England, in 1707, when a free trade was opened with that country, that the spirit of manufacture began to show itself in Paisley. The fabrics produced were made upon such just and economical principles, and with so much taste and judgment, that they found a ready market not only at home, but likewise in the neighbouring kingdom. At first they consisted of coarse checkered linen cloth, and imitations of striped muslins, called bengals; afterwards of checkered linen handkerchiefs, some of them fine and beautifully variegated by the manner in which the colours were disposed. These were succeeded by fabrics of a lighter and more fanciful texture, consisting not only of plain lawns, but likewise of such as were striped with cotton, and others that were ornamented with a great variety of figures. About the year 1730 the making of white sewing thread – known by the name of ounce or nuns’ thread – was begun by the inhabitants, and was prosecuted to such an extent, that Paisley became the principal seat of that manufacture. Towards the end of the century it began to decline, and was gradually superseded by an article made of cotton, in which branch eight or nine factories, propelled by steam, are now employed. This cotton thread meets with an extensive sale throughout the kingdom. By the middle of the 18th century, the making of linen gauze was a considerable branch of trade in Paisley. In 1759 the manufacture of silk gauze was first attempted here in imitation of that of Spitalfields. In consequence of the taste of the masters, and the patient application of the workmen, their success was complete; and the result was, that elegant and richly ornamented silk gauzes were issued from Paisley in such vast variety as outdid everything of the kind that had formerly appeared. Companies came down from London to carry on this manufacture in Paisley, where it prospered to an unexampled extent. Indeed, it not only became the great distinguishing business of the town, but it filled the country round to the distance of 20 miles, and the traders engaged in it not only had warehouses in London and Dublin, but employed persons in Paris and other great towns on the continent for selling their goods. About 1785 the change of fashion, on which this trade must entirely depend, had an unfavourable effect. It was gradually dropt, and as it was necessary that new and varied fabrics should be brought forward to meet the change of fashion, muslin goods next engaged the attention of the artisans of the district. The skill of the Paisley weavers was consequently directed to this object, and productions from their looms were soon exhibited which surpassed the muslins of any other part of the kingdom. This branch rose to an unexampled height of prosperity. Of late years comparatively little has been done in it; but the fabrics, which are chiefly designed for the London market, are not surpassed anywhere in point of taste and elegance of execution. The ornamenting of muslins by fine needle-work employs a great number of young women, and is carried to great perfection. In 1817 the silk gauze began to revive, and has since thriven well; so much so that Paisley now furnishes nearly all the silk gauzes that are used in the kingdom, with the exception of those exported from France.
In 1805 the shawl manufacture was introduced in this place, and has gradually become the staple trade of the place. Imitations were at different times made of Thibet shawls and Cashmere shawls, and of the striped scarfs and turbans worn by the nations of the east, which, from their resemblance to the skin of the animal of the name, are called zebras. For making the Cashmere shawls the genuine wool is imported, and the first cloth of this description made in Britain was fabricated in Paisley. Another beautiful and ingenious species of shawl manufactured here is that known by the French name of the caterpillar, chenille. This name it received from its variegated colour and softness of feel; and it is often labelled in shops with the very descriptive words, velours au soie (velvet on silk). About the year 1823 the manufacture of crape dresses, damask and embroided shawls, similar to those imported from Canton, was introduced to Paisley, and has since been extensively prosecuted. But the shawls chiefly made now are of three qualities; – the first is wholly silk; the second, half silk and half cotton; the third, wholly cotton. The total sales, in 1834, were estimated at nearly a million of pounds sterling, and in subsequent years they were considerably greater. Machinery, invented by a Frenchman, has, since that year, been advantageously employed in finishing the shawls, in the operation of clipping, which was formerly done in a tedious and comparatively clumsy way by the hand. All the trades depending upon the shawl branch have necessarily increased, in particular that of dyeing, in which from 400 to 500 hands are employed. In the beginning of 1837 the number of looms employed in all kinds of weaving in Paisley was ascertained to be about 6,000; of which 5,700 were employed by Paisley houses, and the remaining 300 by Glasgow ones. About 2,000 looms were employed in the country by Paisley capital, chiefly in the neighbouring villages, but including some hundreds in Kilmarnock, Perth, Largs, Strathaven, &c. At that time the number of apprentices to the looms in Paisley was 728, – harness-weavers, 5,350; plain weavers, 650; female weavers, 40, – in all, 6,040. Each harness-weaver requires a draw-boy, for whom he pays, on an average, 3s. 6d. per week off his earnings. The jacquard machine, used in place of a draw-boy, has lately been attempted here in an improved form.
In the town there are two large factories for spinning cotton, and one on a smaller scale; one large silk throwing mill; and one power-loom factory for cotton cloth used in the printing of silks and other fabrics, has lately been attempted, but on a small scale. The town has also several founderies of iron and brass, flour-mills, and timber-yards, three breweries, two distilleries, one large soap-work which has been in operation since 1776, and one large tan-work which was established about the same time. In and around the town are several bleachfields. We do not here take any account of the mills and other works at Johnstone, Elderslie, and other villages at some distance, though within the limits of the original parish of Paisley.
Besides the manufactures before-mentioned, others have at different times been carried on here. About 1748 a large stocking-factory was established in New-street, and some time after other two were commenced in the town, but the business was given up about 1760. In 1772 the fabrication of silk ribbons, both flowered and plain, was begun, but it only lasted for six years. In 1788 a company began the manufacture of tapes, for which a low range of buildings, called ‘the Knitting-factory,’ was built on the north side of the town, on the line of the road to Greenock. In 1818 about 100 people were employed in this branch, and produced goods of the value of £6,000 yearly.
Paisley was the seat of a regality court, but had no corporate rights or separate municipal jurisdiction till 1488, when it was erected into a free burgh-of-barony by charter from King James IV., granted in favour of the abbot of the monastery, who, as superior, was invested with the right of electing annually a provost, bailies, and other officers. In 1490 the abbot, George Shaw, with consent of his chapter, disposed the burgh, with sundry lands and privileges, to the provost, bailies, burgesses, and community thereof, to be held of him and his successors for payment of certain burgage farms and annual rents. King James’ charter having been granted during his minority, it was confirmed by him in 1513. In 1648 the burgh obtained from parliament a ratification of its rights and privileges. Lord Cochrane, afterwards Earl of Dundonald, having, as will appear in the sequel, become superior of the burgh, the bailies and community, in 1658, purchased from him the superiority of the burgh, and the right of electing the magistrates; and in 1665 they obtained an independent tenure from the Crown by charter of King Charles II. Though Paisley is in form a burgh-of-barony, its jurisdiction and privileges are, in most respects, similar to those usually possessed by royal burghs. Real property within the burgh is held in feu of the magistrates, council, and community. According to an ancient and peculiar practice (the validity of which has been sanctioned by the Supreme court) investiture was given in burgage lands – but not houses – by a very simple process. The heir, or other person holding a conveyance to lands, and desiring to be entered or invested in place of the ancestor, or granter of the conveyance, appeared personally, or by attorney, and, in the usual manner, made symbolical resignation of his right in the hands of the magistrates, for the purpose of obtaining what is termed ‘new and heritable booking.’ This ‘booking’ consists in the registering of the res gesta (including a description of the land, and a statement of the party’s right in connexion with the person last ‘booked’) in the chartulary of the burgh; and an authenticated copy or extract under the hands of the town-clerk, was held to complete the investiture, without charter, sasine, or any other written instrument. This practice, however, became exposed, in process of time, to great inconveniences, and is now little resorted to, except in the transmission of property in the different churches. It seems to have come down from the time of the monastery, when the entry of vassals was recorded in its books. Till 1739 the burgh was governed by two bailies; but in that year the magistracy was enlarged to three bailies, a treasurer, and seventeen councillors. In 1812 the municipality was increased by the appointment of a provost, the office having remained in abeyance since the erection of the burgh. Under the act of parliament, passed 28th August, 1833, the council is composed of a provost, four bailies, a treasurer, and ten ordinary members. The magistrates are ex officiis justices-of-the-peace for the county; and the provost holds, in addition, the honourable office of deputy-lieutenant. In 1837 there were forty-two justices-of-the-peace residing in the town and neighbourhood; in 1841 they amounted to 60. The Report made by the Commissioners on Municipal Corporations, stated the heritable property of the burgh, in the year from September 1832 to September 1833, as worth £53,914 8s. 7d., according to a valuation made upon oath by persons appointed for the purpose. Added to this, debts due to the community to the amount of £4,210 14s. 11d., made the property of the burgh amount altogether to £58,125 3s. 6d. Its revenue during the same year amounted to £3,848 12s. 7d., arising from rents of houses, lands, and church-seats, casualties of non-entry, feu-duties, and burgess entries, dues of river and flesh-market, and other items. The expenditure, including the payment of the interest of debts during the same period, bad been £3,778 14s. 4d., leaving a surplus of £64 18s. 4d., in favour of the town for that year. The debts of the burgh, in 1833, amounted to upwards of £33,000, leaving a surplus of property or assets, in favour of the town, of about £25,000. The commissioners say: “It appears, on inspection of the books, and from the annual statements of balance sheets, that this debt has been gradually increasing since the year 1802, when it was about £18,000. But during that time many public works have been executed by the magistrates, which were stated to have rendered the contraction of these debts unavoidable; nor did it appear that there had been any misapplication of the funds.” In September 1841 the revenue of the corporation amounted to £3,474 1s. 9d. The value of its property at that time was £69,047 15s. 1d.; and the debts due by it were £43,086 14s. 9d.; leaving a surplus, in favour of the community, of £25,961 0s. 4d.
Under the Reform act of 1832, Paisley returns one member to parliament. Previously the town had no voice in the representation, farther than that, till the year 1770, the chief magistrate voted in name of the burgh, at all elections of a member for the county. Within four years from the first election under the Reform act, Paisley had not fewer than four representatives, namely, Sir John Maxwell of Nether Pollock, Baronet; Sir Daniel K. Sandford; Captain Alexander G. Speirs of Culcreuch; and the present member, Archibald Hastie, Esq., a native of the town and a highly respectable merchant in London. These rapid changes were caused by the resignation of the three first members. The constituency, parliamentary and municipal, as ascertained in 1841, amounted to 1,175. The ancient boundaries of the burgh, described in the charter, are much less than those fixed on for parliamentary and municipal elections. These last include that part of the town on the east side of the Cart, together with a large agricultural district which lies wholly in the Abbey parish, except a very small portion on the north, belonging to the parish of Renfrew.
In 1806 an act of parliament was passed for forming two police-establishments, one for the burgh comprising nine wards, and one for the suburbs comprising six wards. This separation having been found inconvenient, the establishments were united in 1836. Each ward returns two commissioners, making thirty in all, besides the sheriff-substitute, and the provost and bailies, who are commissioners ex officiis. The right of election is vested in householders who pay £5 or upwards of yearly rent. The expense is defrayed by an assessment on the inhabitants. The income for the year ending on the first Monday of October 1841, was £2,634 17s. 6d., and the expenditure £2,417 17s., leaving a surplus income of £217 0s. 6d.
Paisley is lighted with gas, in virtue of an act of parliament passed in 1823, by which a company was incorporated. The capital was £16,000, which has since been doubled. The works are advantageously situated on the north-west of the town.
Until lately great inconvenience was experienced from the want of a sufficient supply of water. Some of the inhabitants drew it from public and private wells, and from barrels and cisterns into which rain was conveyed from the roofs of houses; while many others purchased water from persons who made a trade of carting it along the streets in large barrels, and selling it at the rate of one penny for ten gallons; the water thus sold being partly filtered from the river, and partly procured from wells and springs in the neighbourhood. In 1825 a company was formed, and an act of parliament obtained, for raising water from the river; but objections by the proprietors of the Sacel and Seedhill mills, to the abstraction of water without an amount of compensation to which the company were unable or unwilling to agree, caused the scheme to be abandoned. A few years afterwards an ingenious and much respected towns-man, James Kerr, M.D., after a laborious examination of the Gleniffer-hills, called the attention of the public to the practicability of procuring from thence an ample supply of the desired element, by the interception of the drainage and the formation of a reservoir at Stanely. The scheme having been approved of, a capital of £40,000 was speedily subscribed, and in 1835 an act of parliament for carrying the scheme into effect was obtained. The works were commenced in 1836; were opened on 13th July, 1838; and have since been in full operation. Perhaps there are none in Britain so perfect in design, and so beautifully and substantially executed.
Paisley enjoys great facilities of communication with all parts of the country. Turnpike roads lead to it in various directions. A canal from Glasgow to Johnstone, opened in 1811, passes Paisley. By it goods and passengers are conveyed. It was originally intended that this canal should proceed to the sea at Ardrossan, but the intention has been abandoned. It is led over the river by a beautiful aqueduct bridge on the east side of Paisley. A railway for the conveyance of goods and passengers between Paisley and the river Clyde near Renfrew-ferry – a distance of 3¼ miles – was opened in 1837. The line of railway to Glasgow and Ayrshire, opened in 1840, and that to Greenock, opened in 1841, have been described in separate articles. In consequence of a short canal, to avoid the shallows at Inchinnan bridge, having been cut, and of the river Cart having been deepened soon after the year 1786, the river is navigable up to the town for vessels of from 60 to 80 tons burthen. Additional improvements upon it, for which an act of parliament was obtained, have been in progress since 1835. The expenditure on these for the five years ending November 1840, amounted to £19,032 7s. 4½d. A branch of about ¾ of a mile in length from the Great canal to the Clyde, nearly opposite the mouth of the Cart, was opened in 1840, for the benefit of the Paisley trade.
With regard to public buildings, the first place is due to the Abbey-church of the monastery, which, as has already been incidentally stated, was established here by Walter the High Steward, about the year 1163. It was founded for monks of the Cluniac order of Reformed Benedictines, who were brought from the priory of Wenlock in Shropshire, his native county, and was specially dedicated to St. James the Apostle, St. Mirinus, and St. Milburga. The latter was the patroness of the parent-house of Wenlock. Mirinus – or, as he is popularly called, Mirren – was a confessor who, in early times, passed his life in this vicinity, and became the tutelar saint of the place. The monastery was so munificently endowed by the founder and his successors, and other pious persons, that it became the most opulent in the south of Scotland, with the exception of Kelso. By the original constitution it was ruled by a prior, but in 1219-45 it was raised to the rank of an abbacy. This was the burying-place of the Stuarts before their accession to the throne of Scotland; and even after that period, it was sometimes employed as such, Robert III., and the two consorts of Robert II., having been entombed here. Fordun records that this monastery was burnt by the English in 1307. It was afterwards rebuilt, and greatly enlarged and embellished. The greater part, if not the whole of what now exists, appears to have been built in the 15th century, by Abbot Thomas Tarvas, who died in 1459, and Abbot George Shaw, who ruled here from 1472 to March 1498-9.6 A tower or steeple which had, by its own weight, and the insufficiency of the foundation, given way ere it was well completed, was rebuilt at immense cost by John Hamilton, the last abbot, in the 16th century; but about the end of the same century it again “fell with its own weight, and with it the quire [choir] of the church.”7 The remains of the strong clustered pillars that supported the tower are still to be seen. The buildings of the monastery, with its orchards and gardens, and a small park for fallow-deer, were surrounded by a magnificent wall, upwards of a mile in circumference, formed of squared freestone, and adorned with statues. This wall was constructed by Abbot Shaw, in 1485, as appears from an inscription on a stone which was originally fixed on it, and now forms the lintel of a house in Lawn-street. The wall remained nearly entire till 1781, when the Earl of Abercorn sold the stones to the feuars of the New Town, by whom they were used in building their houses. A portion which has escaped destruction is still to be seen in its place near the Seedhill bridge.
The church, when entire, appears to have consisted of a nave, a tower, a choir, and a northern transept, with the chapel, whose proper name is ‘St. Mirren’s aisle,’ but which is better known by that of ‘the Sounding aisle.’ It does not appear that there was a southern transept, the isle just mentioned partly occupying what would have formed its site. The edifice has been 265 feet in length, measured over the walls. The internal measurement of the nave is 93 feet in length, and 59½ feet in breadth, including the width of the aisles. The transept measures internally 92½ feet by 35, and the choir, which has been without aisles, 123½ by 32 feet. The measurement of the transept is carried across the church to the wall of the Sounding aisle. The west front of the church is an elevation of much dignity, composed of a central and two lateral compartments, separated and flanked by buttresses, three of which are terminated by recently erected cones, a similar one of which is on the east end of the nave. These cones are by no means ornamental. The aisles are lighted by pointed windows, in the decorated style. On the north wall towards its west end, is a porch, above which is erected the present vestry. Through this porch is an entrance in a style of architecture somewhat similar to that of the western. On the left wall of the portico is a Latin inscription, which tells that John de Lithgow, abbot of the monastery, chose this for his place of sepulture, on the 20th day of January, 1433. The clerestory windows are twelve in number, and are on each side of the main body of the nave. The eastern gable of the nave is merely a screen of modern masonry filling up the western arch beneath the place where the great tower stood. On the outside of this gable may be traced the remains of a mural tablet, apparently erected to the memory of the unfortunate John Hamilton, the last of the abbots, who was ignominiously put to death at Stirling in 1571, for adhering to the cause of Queen Mary. The initials J. H., and the Hamilton arms, with the motto ‘Misericordia et Pax,’ are still visible. But neither the modern part of the gable, the window inserted in it, the bell-turret that rises above it, nor the roof of the building, also of modern date, are at all in keeping with the other parts of the edifice. – The interior of the nave is truly magnificent. Ten massy clustered columns, 17 feet in height, with simple but elegantly moulded capitals, divide the aisles from the body of the fabric. Of these columns, the circumference of each of the two nearest the west is more than double that of any of the others, plainly indicating that they were intended by the architect, in connection with the front wall, to support two western towers. From the imposts of the columns spring pointed arches, with delicate and graceful mouldings. From a floor formed above the first tier of arches, spring those of the triforium. Above the triforium rises the clerestory, the arches of which are simple, pointed, and narrow, but of just proportions. The original roof, which has given place to a simple coved one, was finely groined with sculptured bosses, at the intersections of the ribs, of which a specimen is still to be seen, towards the west end of the southern aisle. The modern east window, in the inside, is tilled with stained glass, and beneath it is a white marble monument, erected by the county of Renfrew in 1810, in memory of William MacDowall, of Castle-Semple and Garthland, Esq., lord-lieutenant and member of parliament for Renfrewshire. The nave has been employed as a parish-church ever since the Reformation. It underwent a thorough repair in the year 1789. Stoves were introduced into the edifice in 1832; and having since been again cleaned and repaired, it forms not only one of the most magnificent, but also one of the most comfortable places of worship in Scotland. – The transept, although ruinous, displays in its northern window a fine relic of monastic grandeur. The window, about 25 feet in height, by 18 in breadth, occupies the greater part of the space that intervenes between the graduated buttresses which support the northern angles of the transept. It is formed within an arch of beautiful proportions, and of the decorated kind. The walls of the choir are now levelled to within ten feet of the ground. The font still remains, with a niche on each side near the east end of the south wall. A little to the west, in the same wall, are four recesses, supposed to have been stalls or seats for the priests.
South of the nave, and closely adjoining to it, is the cloister-court, from which entrance is afforded to St. Mirren’s aisle, a building on its east side, which is understood to have been erected about the year 1499; for in that year James Craufurd of Kilwynnet, burgess of Paisley, and his wife, founded and endowed a chapel “in the church of the parish of Paisley, on the south side thereof, to the altar of Saints Mirren and Columba.” This building is about 24 feet long, by 24 broad. Beneath a window in the east gable, now blocked up, is a series of sculptured figures, chiefly representing ecclesiastics engaged in various offices of the Romish ritual. In the south is the font. Under the elevated pavement at the east end is a vault, 14 feet deep, the burying-place of the Abercorn family, and on the north wall is an inscription in memory of three infant children of Lord Claud Hamilton. Nearly in the centre of the lower floor is an altar tomb, which, after having lain for many years in a mutilated state in the cloister-court, was, about the year 1816, reconstructed, coated with stone-coloured cement, and placed in its present sheltered situation, under the direction of the late Dr. Boog, senior minister of the church. On the top is the figure of a female in a recumbent posture, with hands closed in the attitude of prayer. This monument is popularly called ‘Queen Bleary’s Tomb,’ and is said to have been erected in honour of Marjory Bruce, daughter of the renowned King Robert, and wife of “Walter the High Steward, who died in 1326. But that princess never was queen, and it is not known that she could be fitly designated by the epithet of ‘Bleary.’ If not referring to her, the monument may represent one of the consorts of her son, Robert II., who, from a remarkable inflammation in one of his eyes, was called ‘King Bleary.’ This chapel being vaulted, and containing nothing but the monument, has an echo so striking as to have obtained for it the name of ‘the Sounding aisle.’ Instrumental or vocal music performed in it has a curious effect, from the prolongation and consequent mingling of the notes.
After the Reformation, Lord Claud Hamilton, a younger son of the Duke of Chatelherault, became commendator of this abbacy. In 1587, the whole property of the monastery, which he held for life only, was erected into a temporal lordship, and granted to him and his heirs and assigns in fee, and he was raised to the peerage with the title of Lord Paisley. His eldest son was, in his lifetime, created Earl of Abercorn. In 1652, his grandson and successor, the 2d Earl, sold this opulent lordship to the Earl of Angus, from whom, next year, the larger part of it was purchased by Lord Cochrane, afterwards Earl of Dundonald. Great portions were at different times sold by the Dundonald family. In 1764, what remained was repurchased from Thomas, 8th Earl of Dundonald, by James, 8th Earl of Abercorn, to whose successor, the Marquis of Abercorn, it now belongs.
On the south side of the abbey buildings is an ancient mansion, of old called ‘the Place of Paisley,’ which was successively the residence of Lord Paisley, and of the Earls of Abercorn and Dundonald. The last proprietor of the Dundonald family having, between 1758 and 1764, demolished the gateway, and feued off the adjoining ground for building, the appearance of this place was entirely changed, and it was rendered unfit for a family residence. It was therefore let out to tradesmen’s families, and now presents a gloomy aspect.
The next edifice which demands attention is that called ‘the County Buildings,’ erected in 1818-21, at an expense of about £28,000. This pile stands on the west bank of the river. Its general form is quadrangular, and the style of the exterior castellated. The front division contains a court-house, county-hall, council-chambers, and a number of offices for different departments of public business. The eastern range consists of the correction-house and common jail, with a chapel. The former prison and court-house stood at the Cross, and occupied the site of the new portion of what has long been known as the Saracen’s Head inn. They were removed when the County Buildings were erected; but the spire which was attached to them still remains. – On the opposite side of the area of the cross are the Coffee-room buildings, erected in 1809. The upper part is adorned with Ionic pilasters, and includes a large elegant and comfortable reading-room. – The Town’s hospital for maintaining the poor, was opened in 1752, and a small asylum for lunatics was since added. The Dispensary was established in 1786, and about 15 years afterwards a commodious House of recovery or Infirmary, for the reception of persons labouring under contagious disease, was built. – The Grammar-school was founded and endowed by royal charter, dated 3d January, 1576, and was kept in the street called School-wynd till 1802, when the present building adjacent to the High-church was erected. Near the head of Moss-street, on the east side, are the Exchange buildings, erected in 1837, partly on the site of what was till then the Fleshmarket. On the opposite side there stood till the beginning of this century the tron or custom booth, and above that a place dignified by Semple (p. 318,) with the name of ‘the Assembly-hall,’ where, 60 years since, the young people of the town were taught the accomplishment of dancing. – At the suburb of Williamsburgh, barracks for the accommodation of a battalion of infantry were erected in 1822.
Of the places of worship to be afterwards noticed, we may here particularize the High Church, a handsome building with a lofty spire, which occupies an eminence, and is seen from a great distance; St. George’s church, a spacious Grecian structure; one of the Secession churches, also Grecian; and the Episcopal chapel, which is of chaste Gothic. All these are modern structures.
Paisley was formerly the town-residence of some of the families of the nobility and gentry of the county. On the north side of the High-street, a short distance above the Cross, stands a mansion once the property of the Lords Sempill, and bearing their arms, with the date 1580. On the opposite side of the same street westwards, is a tenement which was built in 1594, and belonged to the family of Ferguslie. Farther west, a little above the head of New-street, there stood the mansion of Cochrane of Craigmuir. To these have to be added the families of Abercorn and Dundonald, successive occupants, as already seen, of the mansion contiguous to the Abbey.
Although Renfrew is the county-town, Paisley has been the seat of the court of the sheriff of the county since 1705, when it was ‘transported’ hither in virtue of a warrant by the sheriff-principal. In 1815, the county was divided into two wards, the upper of which was annexed to the court at Paisley. The practitioners before the courts here form one of the few legal bodies in Scotland that enjoy peculiar privileges, a royal charter having been granted to them on 24th June, 1803. The number of members, resident and non-resident, in 1841, is 47.
The Paisley Commercial Banking company, a joint-stock undertaking, was established in 1839. There are besides branches of two Edinburgh and two Glasgow banks, and a National Security Savings’ bank, instituted in 1838. The Paisley bank, established in 1787, and the Paisley Union bank, established some years afterwards, were discontinued, the former in 1837, and the latter in 1838.
There is a weekly market held on Thursday; and fairs, each of three days’ duration, are held in February, May, August, and November. Horse-races are run on two of the days of the August fair. They were instituted by the town-council, so far back as the year 1608: but it was only of late that they attracted any attention beyond the district. The ‘Paisley Meeting’ is now a fashionable resort. The race-course has been much improved, and no longer includes part of the turnpike road to Greenock.
An association, called the Philosophical Institution, was established in 1808, for the delivery of lectures on different branches of science and literature, and has since been carried on with various degrees of success. A Mechanics’ Institution, which had existed for some years, was incorporated with it in 1825. There are three public libraries – the Paisley, with above 5,000 volumes, the Trades’, and the Theological. There are several printing presses, and one newspaper, the Advertiser, which was commenced in 1824, and is published on Saturday.
Alexander Wilson, a poet of some note, but much better known as the Ornithologist of America, and Robert Tannahill, one of our finest song-writers, were natives of Paisley, and both belonged to the working class. The town also claims as natives two of the Edinburgh professors, John Wilson, Esq., and John Thomson, M.D.
In 1590 all the parishes in Renfrewshire, excepting those of Eaglesham and Cathcart, were formed into a presbytery, the seat of which was established at Paisley. This arrangement continued till May, 1834, when, by a decree of the General Assembly, seven parishes in the lower part of the county were, with Largs in Ayrshire, and Cumbray in Bute, formed into a presbytery, having its seat at Greenock. In 1841, the presbytery of Paisley contained 12 quoad civilia parishes, and 10 quoad sacra parishes and churches. It belongs to the synod of Glasgow and Ayr.
Till the year 1736 Paisley formed one parish, and contained only one church – the Abbey. Owing to the increase of population, a charter was obtained in 1733, from Lord Dundonald, the patron of the parish, granting liberty to the magistrates and community to build within the burgh, a church or churches, the patronage of which was to be vested in the magistrates and town-council. In 1736 a church was, in consequence, built at the foot of New-street, and the burgh was erected into a separate parish, by a decree of the Lords-commissioners for the plantation of churches. The population continuing to increase, another church was built in 1756. Being situated on the most elevated part of the town, it was distinguished by the name of the High Church, while the former erection, from its relative situation, was denominated the Laigh Kirk or Low Church. In 1781, it was found necessary to add a third place of worship, which, from its situation between the other two, received the name of the Middle Church. The burgh, which had hitherto continued one parish, was, on 20th February, 1789, by a decree of the court of teinds, divided into three parishes, which were called from their several churches, the Low church parish, the High church parish, and the Middle church parish. The patronage of these belongs to the magistrates and town-council, and the stipends of the ministers are paid out of the funds of the burgh. Since 1834, several quoad sacra parishes and churches have been erected out of these. – The earliest congregation of dissenters in Paisley was one of Antiburghers, formed about the year 1750, and which, since its union with the Burghers in 1820, has been styled the First Congregation in the town belonging to the United Associate synod. Many other bodies of dissenters have, from time to time, been formed, as will appear from the following details, which are chiefly derived from the Appendix to the Eighth Report by the Commissioners of Religious Instruction, who visited Paisley in January 1838.
1. ABBEY PARISH. – Since the burgh was separated from it in 1736, the original parish has been distinguished by the name of the Abbey Parish, or, more properly, the parish of the Abbey of Paisley. Its greatest length is 9¼ miles, its greatest breadth 5½. It is partly landward, and partly town. The great proportion of the population is assembled in the New Town and suburbs of Paisley, and in large villages. By the census of 1831, the population of the parish, quoad civilia, was 26,006. According to a survey taken in the end of 1835, the population, quoad sacra, was 17,248, of whom there belonged to the Established church 9,040; to other denominations, 7,406; not known to belong to any denomination, 802. The church has already been described. Sittings 1,158. The parish has had the benefit of two ministers since 1648. The stipend of the minister of the first charge is £376 1s. 1d.; manse and glebe £67. Stipend of minister of second charge £362 15s. 2d., without manse or glebe. Patron of both, the Marquis of Abercorn. Unappropriated teinds £1,615 7s. 10d. The parish, quoad civilia, comprehends the quoad sacra parishes of ELDERSLIE, JOHNSTONE, and LEVERN: which see; and a portion annexed, quoad sacra, to the South church parish. – The Second Relief congregation, Thread-street, established in 1807, assembles in a church built in 1808, at a cost of more than £3,000. Sittings 1,640. Stipend rather more than £200. The late minister of this congregation, the Rev. James Thomson, D. D., a pious and learned man, who died in 1841, was Professor of Divinity to the Relief synod. Paisley is the seat of one of the presbyteries of that body. – The Second United Secession congregation, Abbey-close, was established in 1765, and built a church there in 1769. The church was rebuilt in 1827, at a cost of £2,588 19s. 3d., besides nearly £300 for a hall, vestry, and library-room. Sittings 1,178. Stipend, in 1837, £260. – The Roman Catholic congregation was established, and built a place of worship in 1808, at a cost of at least £4,000. Sittings 906. The minister has no fixed salary. He is allowed to take from the funds of the congregation what is necessary for his decent support. In 1838, it was computed that the total population connected with the congregation was about 8,000, one-half of whom were resident in the town of Paisley, and the other half in some neighbouring parishes The Old Scottish Independent congregation was established in 1784 or 5; and assembles in a part of the Abbey buildings, which is rented from the proprietor, the Marquis of Abercorn. Sittings 200. Mr. James McGavin, who had been pastor for nearly 42 years, and who has since died, stated to the commissioners in 1838, that “he never received one shilling in his life for preaching.” – The Primitive Methodist congregation was established in 1833, and assembles in the hall of the Philosophical Institution, which is rented from the directors, who also make use of it. Sittings 300. Stipend £45, besides a house for the minister, which is provided and furnished by the church, and all taxes paid.
2. LOW CHURCH PARISH. – This, as already stated, was formed in 1782. Length, three-fourths of a mile; breadth, half-a-mile. It is almost wholly town. A small part is landward, but it is included within the boundaries of the burgh, and is uninhabited. A portion has been disjoined quoad sacra, and annexed to the South parish. The population, in 1831, was 6,955. In 1838 it was 6,934, 1,800 of whom belonged to the disjoined portion. Of the 6,934, there belonged to the Established church, 3,229: to other denominations, 2,651; not known to belong to any denomination, 1,054. The present parish-church was built in 1819 by the magistrates and council, aided by subscriptions from private individuals and incorporations, who retain property in it in proportion to their subscriptions. The cost, including vestry, presbytery-house, piece of ground, expense of opening streets, &c, was upwards of £7,000. Sittings 1,850. Stipend £300, paid out of the burgh’s funds. The congregation removed to this church in 1820. It is in George-street, and when built received the name of St. George’s, by which name the parish has also been often called. The New Jerusalem congregation was established in 1834, and assembles in a room of a dwelling-house occupied by the leader, whose services are gratuitous. Sittings 18.
3. HIGH CHURCH PARISH. – It is about one mile in length, and one-fourth of a mile in breadth. It was formed in 1782, and is wholly town. Quoad civilia, it includes the quoad sacra parish of Martyrs, and had, in 1831, a population of 14,621. According to a census taken by the elders in December 1835, there were in the parish quoad civilia 14,988 persons, of whom 5,672 belonged to the Establishment; 6,612 to other denominations; and 2,706 were not known to belong to any. The church was built by the community, in 1756, and the spire about 1770. The expense – according to Semple, p. 307 – was about £2,300. Sittings 1,890. Stipend £300. – The Reformed Presbyterian congregation was established in 1804. The place of worship was erected in 1811, and with a manse and garden, and a burying-ground, cost about £3,000. Sittings 955. Stipend £110, besides manse and garden. The Rev. Andrew Symington, D.D., minister of the congregation, is professor of divinity to this body of dissenters. – The Third United Secession congregation, St. James’-street, was established in 1819, and in 1820 the church was built at a cost of somewhat less than £2,000. The congregation was originally connected with the independents, but, in the course of a few years, that portion to whom the property belonged, joined the Secession synod. Sittings 1,212. Stipend £200. – The Fourth congregation of the United Secession, George-street, was at first in connection with the Original Burghers, and continued so until April 1835, when the majority resolved to connect themselves with the Secession body. The place of worship was built in 1822, and cost about £1,700. Sittings 1,058. Stipend £110. – The First Relief congregation, Canal-street, was established in 1780. The church was built in 1783, and, together with the session-house and manse, cost £2,800. Sittings 1,545. Stipend £150. – A congregation of the body terming itself “the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church,” was established in 1835, and assembles in a building held by payment of a rent of £20 per annum. Number of sittings not stated. Average attendance, in 1838, about 50. – The Berean Baptist congregation was established in 1798, and meets in the upper floor of a building in Barr-street, which is their own property, and was erected in 1819, at a cost of £300. Sittings 200. The pastors receive no emolument. – The Scottish Baptist congregation, established in 1795, assembles in the upper part of a house in Storie-street, which is their own property, and was erected, in 1799, at a cost of above £800. Sittings 410. The pastors have no emolument. – The Unitarian congregation was established in 1808, and assembles in a chapel, which, with the property connected with it, consisting of two dwelling-houses and a workshop, belongs to a joint-stock company, composed of members and attenders. The property was built in 1818, and cost £490. Sittings in Chapel 170. The pastors enjoy no emolument.
4. MIDDLE CHURCH PARISH. – This is in extent upwards of a square mile. Greatest length 1¼ mile, greatest breadth about 1 mile. It was formed in 1782, and is a town parish with a small section of the country. Quoad civilia it comprehends the quoad sacra North parish. In 1831 the population quoad civilia was 9,884. According to a census taken by the elders the population quoad sacra, in January 1838. was 6,834; of whom there belonged to the Established church, 3,554; to other denominations, 2,805; to no denomination, 475. The church was built in 1781-2, by subscription, sale of seats, &c, and cost upwards of £2,000. Sittings 1,555. Stipend £300. – The Independent, congregation was first established in the High Church parish, about the year 1796. and latterly in this parish, in May 1834, in a chapel then finished, at a cost of £850. Sittings 450. Stipend £90. – The first congregation of the Secession church in Paisley was, as we have already had occasion to state, established about the year 1750. They built a place of worship about 1762, at the head of the alley thence called Meeting-house-lane, and at the east end of what is now called Oakshaw-street. In 1781 the church was enlarged; and in 1825-6 it was rebuilt at a cost of £4,071 17s. 10d. Sittings 954. Total allowances to minister, including house-rent, £199 19s. – A congregation of Original Burghers, which had existed for about thirty-six years met for worship in this parish in May 1837. Sittings 270. Stipend £75. It was dissolved in 1839. – On 23d November, 1817, a congregation of Protestant Episcopalians was established in Paisley. They met in a school-room, till May 1819, when a building in New Snedden-street, previously occupied by various bodies of dissenters, was taken on a lease of fourteen years. In May 1833 they removed to a neat edifice built for them, fronting St. James’-street. It is called Trinity chapel, and cost, with the site, about £1,200. It is capable of containing 600 people, though, as yet, seated for about 350 only. In 1838 the clear income of the minister, including baptismal dues, did not exceed £56. Under his immediate pastoral care there are about 700 souls; but in his district far more than double that number of Episcopalians reside.
5. NORTH CHURCH PARISH. – This is a quoad sacra town parish, divided from the Middle parish in 1834. Its extent is about 1 square mile; greatest length rather more than 1 mile; greatest breadth nearly 1 mile. The population, by a census taken in 1835 by the elders, was 2,928; of whom 1,580 belonged to the Established church; 1,139 to other denominations; and 209 were not known to belong to any. The church was finished in 1834, and cost about £1,700, which, with the exception of £300 from the General Assembly’s fund, was raised by means of collections and subscriptions, chiefly in Paisley. Sittings nearly 1,000. Stipend £100. Patrons, the congregation. – The United Methodist congregation, established in September 1834, assembles in a large hall rented from a private individual, and fitted up for their use. Sittings 202. Stipend £50.
6. MARTYRS’ CHURCH PARISH. – Another quoad sacra town parish, divided from the High Church parish in 1836. Extent 20 acres; greatest length 400 yards; greatest breadth 220 yards. In January 1838 the population was 3,412; of whom there belonged to the Established church, 1,338; to other denominations, 1,421; not known to belong to any, 653. The church was built in 1835, and cost £2,120 3s. 6d., which was, to a certain extent, defrayed by subscriptions, – the Church Extension committee having granted £300. Sittings 1,200. Stipend £80, and £20 for communion expenses. Patrons, the congregation.
7. SOUTH CHURCH PARISH. – A third quoad sacra district, disjoined from the Low and Abbey parishes in 1837. It is half-a-mile long, and one-fourth of a mile broad, and is partly town and partly landward; the whole population, however, (at least in 1838,) being in the town. The population, in 1835-7, was 3,447; 1,149 of whom belonged to the Established church, 1,281 to other denominations, and 1,017 were not known to belong to any. The church was built in 1835-6, and cost £2,129 1s. 6½d., which was defrayed partly by subscription and collections, partly by a grant of £400 from the Church Extension fund. Sittings 972. Stipend £100, secured to the extent of £80. Patrons, the congregation.
8. GAELIC CHURCH. – In 1834 this place of worship was received into the number of churches in the Paisley presbytery, but no parochial locality has been assigned to it. The church was built by subscription in 1793, and cost about £1,800. Patrons, the congregation. Sittings 1,085. Stipend £110, and a manse. The congregation is scattered over the town, and the villages and country districts within 5 or 6 miles of it. In 1837 the Highland population was computed as follows:- Town population, including a small number of dissenters, 2,000; country population, belonging to the Established church, 1,396; belonging to other denominations, 84; – total, 3,480. In this estimate the children of native Highlanders were included, although born in the low country and understanding English; but the minister believed that he had reckoned none but such as understood Gaelic better than English. The Highland population fluctuates to a considerable extent as to persons, but not as to its gross numbers. They consist almost entirely of the poor and working classes.
As respects education, it appears from the report of the presbytery to the General Assembly, in 1834, that there were then in the Abbey parish thirty-two schools, attended by 2,318 scholars, and in the town parishes thirty-three schools, attended by 2,458 scholars. This amount of persons receiving instruction is greatly less than what it ought to have been, in proportion to the population, which, at the date in question, was about 58,000.8 The above return, however, did not include Sunday-schools, which, in 1836, were attended by 4,198 persons. Since the date of the return considerable additions to the means of education have been made. These chiefly consist of three school-rooms erected, and one enlarged, by means of a government grant of £700, augmented by the liberality of the inhabitants; an infant school built by public subscription; and a small seminary endowed by the late Mr. and Mrs. Corse of Greenlaw. In 1836 an association was formed for the erection of an institution to be called ‘The Paisley Academy,’ for the benefit of those whose circumstances might enable them to give to their children the higher branches of instruction; but this laudable project not having met with sufficient support, has, at least for the present, been abandoned. In the course of a few years great benefit will accrue to the children of the poor from a liberal endowment made by John Neilson, Esq. of Nethercommon, a native of Paisley, who died in November 1839, and who had, in company with his father and brother, long carried on the business of grocers and drysalters in the town. This gentleman, by his deed of settlement, set apart a portion of the residue of his estates, amounting to about £18,000, to form an endowment in Paisley for educating, clothing, and outfitting, and, if need be, maintaining of boys who have resided within the parliamentary boundaries of the town for at least three years, whose parents have died either without leaving sufficient for that purpose, or who, from misfortune, have been reduced, or who, from the want of means, are unable to give a suitable education to their children. Although the trustees are, by the deed, appointed to purchase a suitable piece of ground in the town for the erection of an institution-house within five years from the testator’s death, yet they are not to build it till after the expiry of that period; so that they will have ample time to mature their plans. We may here mention another endowment, also made by a native of the town, though not precisely of an educational nature. The late Miss Elizabeth Kibble, by her deed of settlement, dated 27th August, 1840, set apart £7,500 to be applied by trustees “in founding and endowing in Paisley an institution for the purpose of reclaiming youthful offenders against the laws.”
By the returns of 1801, 1811, and 1821, Paisley ranked as the third town in Scotland in point of population, coining next to Glasgow and Edinburgh. By 1831 Aberdeen exceeded it to the amount of a few hundreds, and now, in 1841, while Aberdeen has increased still more in proportion, Dundee has got ahead of both, thus reducing Paisley to the rank of the fifth town. In truth, this place, once so prosperous, has retrograded. In the course of 1841 an unparalleled number of manufacturing houses have become bankrupt; and in the end of the year, while these sheets pass through the press, the destitution of the working classes, caused by the want of employment, is most appalling; insomuch that (children and other dependents being included) about a fifth part of the population are maintained by public charity. It is gratifying to be enabled to add, that this deep distress is patiently borne, and that for its alleviation the sympathies of the benevolent throughout the empire are unceasingly exerted.
According to the government census of 1841, there were within the parliamentary boundaries of Paisley 10,133 inhabited houses, 671 uninhabited, and 9 building. The population within the boundaries was, by the same census, 48,125. The population of the town and Abbey parishes, in 1841, was 60,963. Illustrative of the statistics of these, we subjoin a statement prepared by Mr. Wilson of Thornly. That statement, it will be observed, makes the population within the parliamentary limits somewhat more than the government return.
Population of the Abbey and Town parishes of Paisley, during Fifty Years, from the Comparative Account of the Population of Great Britain in the years 1801, 1811, 1821, and 1831, (page 400,) and other sources.
|The whole area of these Parishes, *25.24 Square miles,||16,153 Imperial acres.|
|Area of the Parliamentary district, *5.50||£10,200|
|Valuation in the Countv-books, or Cess-roll,||£11,782 Scots.|
|Land Rent in the year 1791,||£10,200|
|. . . . . in the year 1810,||24,000|
|Annual value of the real property as assessed April,||75,125|
INCREASE IN TEN YEARS.
|In the Burgh,||1122||339||783|
|In Abbey parish,||2375||1237||1138|
|Population.||Inhabitants on one|
Square Mile in the
|Landward Division, comprehending Johnstone,||19.74||12,073||611|
1 Gibson’s edition of Camden’s Britannia, p. 918.
2 Description of Renfrewshire, in Appendix to Hamilton of Wishaw’s work, printed by the Maitland Club in 1831, p. 145.
3 Craufurd’s Renfrewshire, ed. 1818, p. 14.
4 This, it must be recollected, means the small town, as it existed about the year 1690.
5 In ancient deeds the name is also written Passelet, Passelay, and (Latinized) Pasletum. It afterwards became Paslay, Pasley, and finally, io the 18th century, assumed the present form – Paisley. Of this name various etymologies have been suggested. Those who are curious in such investigations are referred to Mr. Ramsay’s book on Renfrewshire, p. 6, and the New Statistical Account of Paisley, at the beginning of the article.
6 See the Auchinleck Chronicle, where (p. 19) “the mony notable thingis” done by Abbot Tarvas towards re-edifying the structure are recorded; and Craufurd (p. 17), who says that the “wall, with most part of the fabric of the abbey that now stands, was built” by Abbot Shaw.
7 Appendix to Hamilton’s Description, p.147.
8 In a parliamentary paper entitled ‘Abstract of Education Returns,’ (Scotland,) 1834, we find the following remark under the title ‘High Church Parish,’ (of Paisley,) p. 621. – “It is a singular fact that of the families employed in factories, a greater proportion of the children are attending school than of the families of weavers or labourers, and this goes far to demonstrate the wisdom of some clauses in the Factory bill.” – On the same page the Middle Church parish is erroneously stated to be “entirely landward.” Its true condition is stated on our preceding page.
22 thoughts on “Paisley, pp.477-487.”