Why did your Ancestors settle in Paisley

Old Paisley

Old Parish Records

OPR's began in Paisley in 1788. Paisley is Parish no 573 in the County of Renfrew. Paisley is split into 3 areas: Paisley High Parish no 573/1, Paisley Middle Parish no 573/2 and Paisley Low Parish no 573/3.

The Name

The origins are unclear but could derive from the word pasgill, 'pasture', or more likely, passeleg which means 'basilica'.

The Early Years

It is generally accepted that William Wallace was educated at Paisley Abbey. King Robert III (1390-1406) was buried in the Abbey.

Many trades sprang up and the first school was established in 1577 by the Town Council.

In 1696 Paisley had a famous witch trial concerning Christian Shaw, which saw six people condemned as witches. They were strangled and burnt on the Gallowgreen and their remains were buried on a crossing now known as Maxwelton Cross, with a horseshoe placed on top of the burial site. This spot is still visible today although the horseshoe went missing many years ago.

The 1700 and 1800s

By the mid-nineteenth century weaving had become the town's principal industry. Paisley is still very well-known for the Paisley Shawl and its reproduction Paisley Pattern, which became fashionable around this time.

Through its weaving fraternity, Paisley gained note as being a literate and somewhat radical town. By this time there was a real mixture of religious opinions and healthy drink-fueled debate raged at night amongst the weavers, poets, merchants, masons and others. The poet Robert Tannahill lived in this setting, working as a weaver. The weavers of Paisley were also active in the Radical War of 1820.

Paisley became world famous for its thread manufacture through the Coats and Clark families, the legacy of which is still felt today.

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