town abbey burgh century ground
PAISLEY, a municipal and parliamentary burgh of Renfrewshire, Scotland, is situated on both sides of the White Cart, 3 miles from its junction with the Clyde, and on the Caledonian and the Glasgow and South-Western Railways, 7 miles west-south-west of Glasgow and 17 east-south-east of Greenock. In 1791 the river was at great
expense made navigable to the town for sloops of about 50 tons burden. The old town, situated on rising ground on the west bank of the river, consists chiefly of long regular streets, and contains the principal warehouses and factories. The new town was begun towards the close of last century, and is built on level ground to the east, at one time forming the domains of the abbey. Surrounding the
town there are extensive suburbs, occupied chiefly by villa residences. The river is crossed by a railway viaduct, and three bridges for carriage traffic, two of these being of iron and an old one of stone. The abbey of Paisley was founded in 1164, originally as a priory, by Walter, great steward of Scotland. Its lands were erected by James II. into a regality of which the abbot was lord, and the
abbey formed the mausoleum of the Stuarts until their accession to the throne. The abbey was burned in 1307 by the English, and in 1561 by Lord Glencairn. In 1484 the grounds were surrounded by a lofty wall of hewn stone about one mile in circumference. In 1553 Claude Hamilton, a boy of ten, fourth son of the duke of Chatellerault, was made abbot in commendant, and in 1587 the lands and abbey
were made a temporal barony in his favour. His son was created earl of Abercorn. The abbey lands, after passing from the earl of Abercorn to the earl of Angus and thence to Lord Dundonald, were purchased in 1761 by the earl of Abercorn, with the view of making the abbey his residence, but changing his intention he let the grounds for building sites. The buildings inhabited by the monks have been
totally demolished, but the nave of the abbey church is entire, and has been fitted up as a place of worship. It is one of the finest extant specimens of old ecclesiastical architecture in Scotland, and also contains several fine sculptures and monuments. The unroofed transept and the foundations of the choir enclose a burying ground. The chapel of St Mirin, forming part of the transept, and now
used as the place of sepulture of the Abercorn family, contains a monument to Mary Bruce, mother of Robert II., which has been recently reconstructed. The principal secular buildings of the town are the county buildings and prison, erected in 1818 at a cost of £40,000, and afterwards extended ; the John Neilson institution, opened in 1852, a handsome structure occupying a
commanding position on the site of the old Roman camp; the George A. Clark town-hall, in the Gothic style, erected in 1882 at a cost of £50,000, and presented to the town ; the news-room, 1808 ; the grammar school, in the Gothic style,1864; the Government school of art, 1847; and the theatre. The benevolent institutions include the infirmary, the town hospital or poorhouse, the philosophical institution and humane
society, the workhouse, the lunatic asylum, and Hutcheson's charity school. The Duncan Wright educational endowment provides for natives of the town several school bursaries of the value of from £5 to £10, and several college bursaries of the value of £25. The town possesses three public recreation grounds : - the Fountain Gardens of 6 acres, presented
by Mr Thomas Coats in 1868, and containing an elegant structure for a museum and library erected by Sir Peter Coats in 1870 ; the Brodie Park, 26 acres, laid out in 1877, and presented by the late Robert Brodie of Craigiehall ; and St James's Park, formed out of the racecourse, which has lately been acquired by the corporation. There are statues of Wilson the ornithologist and Tannahill the
Linen was manufactured at Paisley before the Union, shortly after which coarse linen cloths were succeeded by plain and figured lawns. About the beginning of the 18th century an important manufacturing industry is said to have been originated by Christian Shaw, daughter of the laird of Bargarren. She acquired great skill in
the spinning of yarn, and, with the co-operation of a friend in Holland, originated the manufacture of fine linen thread. From 1760 till 1785 silk gauze was the principal manufacture. Muslin, cambric, and cotton thread next came into prominence. The shawl manufacture, introduced about the beginning of the present century, the specialty of which was imitation cashmere shawls - "Paisley filled
plaids " - is now of minor importance. A wide range of worsted goods, mixed figured fabrics, and light figured muslins at present employ the looms. The spinning of thread and cotton is perhaps the industry for which the town is best known, although it is almost equally celebrated for its patent manufactures, including soap, starch, cornflour, and preparations of coffee. There are also extensive
bleachfields, large dye and print works, engineering works, and some shipbuilding. Since the beginning of the present century the population of the burgh (area 3520 acres) has more than trebled. In 1781 it was 11,000, which in 1791 had increased to 13,800, in 1801 to 17,026, in 1821 to 26,428, in 1831 to 31,460, in 1851 to 48,026, in 1871 to 48,257, and in 1881 to 55,642, of whom 25,832 were
males and 29,810 females.
There is no doubt that on the ridge of high ground above the Cart there was a Roman fort and camp, and the supposition that Paisley was the 'sanduara of the Romans is supported by the derivation of that name, which means white water. The modern vil4age grew up round the abbey, but the origin of the name Paisley, which was
first written Paslet, has been disputed. About the end of the 15th century its growth had excited the jealousy of the neighbouring burgh of Renfrew, to protect it from the molestations of which Abbot Schaw in 1488 obtained its erection into a free burgh of barony. According to this charter, granted by James PT., it obtained the privilege of returning a member to the Scottish parliament. By the
Reform Act of 1833 it was created a parliamentary burgh with one representative. The burgh is governed by a provost, four bailies, a treasurer, and ten councillors. Among the eminent persons connected with Paisley are Patrick Adamson, archbishop of St Andrews ; Tannahill the poet ; Alexander Wilson the ornithologist ; Watt, author of Bibliotheca Britannica ; Motherwell the poet ; and Professor
John Wilson, "Christopher North."
See Crawford, history of Renfrewshire, 3d ed., with additions by George Robertson, 1818; Paisley Directory, 1832-33; Swan, Description of the Town and Abbey of Paisley, 1833; Chart Wary of the Monastery of Paisley, published by the Maitland Club, 1632; David Semple, Saint Mirin, 1872; Monastery of Paisley, 1876; J. C. Lees,
Abbey of Paisley, 1878.
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