Author: Stephen Clancy

The Urban Historian > Articles by: Stephen Clancy

New Online History Cafe Sessions

We are relaunching our Online History Cafe Sessions with monthly meetings between April & November 2022.

The first session will be Mapping Paisley’s Textile History on Thursday 14th April 2022 at 3pm UK time. The session will last 90 minutes with a talk and Q&A at the end.

You can reserve your place now at: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIpceyvqj8vGtUT2IJAFk4wTX_qdcatjIdU

The April meeting will be free, though donations towards the cost of the Zoom license are always appreciated through buymeacoffee.com/urbanhistorian

The topics for the rest of the year will be: The Royal burgh of Renfrew, Woodside Cemetery, Paisley Church’s, Paisley’s Abbey & its Monastery, a general Paisley Q & A session, Bargarran Thread & Scottish Spnning Schools and Paisley Executions. the links for the May to November talks will be available in early April.

The Threads of Paisley – A Textile Heritage Walk 26th March 2022

Paisley’s textile heritage spreads back to the early 1730s when Manufacturers copied the techniques of Christian Shaw to produce a very fine linen thread which she started to produce in 1722. By the 1730’s they were 30 or 40 if not more linen thread producers in the town, and the rest we could say is history! From dominating silk manufacturing for a short time, world dominance in cotton thread manufacturing and fame for the Paisley Shawls, this walk will explore the surviving remnants of the towns textile heritage, starting outside the Sma’ Shot Cottages museum and ending close to the Clarks Anchor Thread Mills depending upon the time.

We now have radio receivers for use during the walk to allow distancing, and to allow the guide to be heard. If you wish to make use of the receivers, you are welcome to bring your own headphones, or you can use our own which will be sanitised between uses.

BOOK NOW

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Essential Information

The Threads of Paisley – A Textile Heritage Walk

Code: UHHW2021-13 Date: Saturday 26 March 2022 Time 1.00pm. Meeting Point: Outside Sma’ Shot Cottages entrance on Sma’ Shot Lane (NOT on Shuttle Street)

Cost £5.50 By booking a ticket you accept that the Urban Historian cannot provide refunds if you are unable to attend the event as the circumstances are outwith the Urban Historian’s Control. If the event is cancelled by the Urban Historian a refund or opportunity to attend another event will be provided.

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There was a jovial beggar

I’ve just been reading the THE DIARY AND GENERAL EXPENDITURE BOOK OF WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM OF CRAIGENDS, Commissioner to the Convention of Estates and Member of Parliament for Renfrewshire which was kept between 1673 and 1680. The time period falls directly into the Covenanting time period, which was also subjected to harsh harvests leading to impoverished times. The diary and account book of Wiliam Cunningham frequently indicates donations to the poor and beggars of the area amongst other things.

The following song is attributed to Richard Brome appears in a black-letter copy of the Bagford Collection, where it is entitled The Beggars’ Chorus in the ‘Jovial Crew, published in ANCIENT POEMS BALLADS AND SONGS OF THE PEASANTRY OF ENGLAND edited by ROBERT BELL in 1857. It really describes the life of a beggar in the late 17th Century.

 There was a jovial beggar,
      He had a wooden leg,
   Lame from his cradle,
      And forced for to beg.
And a begging we will go, we’ll go, we’ll go;
And a begging we will go!

   A bag for his oatmeal,
      Another for his salt;
   And a pair of crutches,
      To show that he can halt.
            And a begging, &c.

   A bag for his wheat,
      Another for his rye;
   A little bottle by his side,
      To drink when he’s a-dry.
            And a begging, &c.

   Seven years I begged
      For my old Master Wild,
   He taught me to beg
      When I was but a child.
            And a begging, &c.

   I begged for my master,
      And got him store of pelf;
   But now, Jove be praised!
      I’m begging for myself.
            And a begging, &c.

   In a hollow tree
      I live, and pay no rent;
   Providence provides for me,
      And I am well content.
            And a begging, &c.

   Of all the occupations,
      A beggar’s life’s the best;
   For whene’er he’s weary,
      He’ll lay him down and rest.
            And a begging, &c.

   I fear no plots against me,
      I live in open cell;
   Then who would be a king
      When beggars live so well?
And a begging we will go, we’ll go, we’ll go;
And a begging we will go!

Architecture of Paisley Heritage Walk Sat 5 March 1pm

Join us on a new heritage walk exploring the town and it’s architecture. From the Westend of the town (Broomlands St/ Sandholes junction) we will head into the town looking at the changing architecture through surviving buildings. We will also look at some of the town sculptures on route.

We now have radio receivers for use during the walk to allow distancing, and to allow the guide to be heard. If you wish to make use of the receivers, you are welcome to bring your own headphones, or you can use our own which will be sanitised between uses.

Bookings have now closed for this walk

Essential Information

Archecture of Paisley Heritage Walk

Code: UHHW35 Date: Saturday 5th March 2022 Time 1pm – 3pm. Meeting Point: Junction of Sandholes & Broomlands Street, outside the Tartan Rose Pub. We will finish in the town centre.

Cost £5.50 By booking a ticket you accept that the Urban Historian cannot provide refunds if you are unable to attend the event as the circumstances are outwith the Urban Historian’s Control. If the event is cancelled by the Urban Historian a refund or opportunity to attend another event will be provided.

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Paisley Now & Then: Causeyside

A favourite walk returns. This walk explores the heritage of Causeyside from its junction with Calside & Neilston Rd to Dunn Square. This walk will start at the junction of Calside & Neilston Rd beside the water fountain, and we will head into the town looking at the changing architecture through images and surviving buildings.

We now have radio receivers for use during the walk to allow distancing, and to allow the guide to be heard. If you wish to make use of the receivers, you are welcome to bring your own headphones, or you can use our own which will be sanitised between uses.

Book Now

.

Tickets
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Essential Information

Paisley now & Then 1: Causeyside Heritage Walk

Code: UHHW18 Date: Saturday 19th February 2022 Time 1pm – 3pm. Meeting Point: Junction of Calside & Neilston Rd.

Cost £5.50 By booking a ticket you accept that the Urban Historian cannot provide refunds if you are unable to attend the event as the circumstances are outwith the Urban Historian’s Control. If the event is cancelled by the Urban Historian a refund or opportunity to attend another event will be provided.

The Paisley Notebook

We are launching our new 120 page, lined Paisley Notebook range. The first two versions are now available to purchase on Amazon.co.uk

This first notebook has a purple cover and features an image looking down church Hill towards New Street and Saucel Hill. Inside the pages are white with black lines.

You can order a note book right now for £5 plus postage direct from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09RFWSG35

Paisley to Sarasota, Florida: The Browning’s – Part 1

It’s late November 1885, around one 100 Scots are gathering at the docks in Glasgow to board Anchor Lines SS Furnessia with the intention of forming a new Scots Colony in Sarasota, Florida.  Amongst the 100 are two Paisley families the Lawrie’s and the Browning’s who have sold their possessions at auction and are heading to Sarasota to begin a new life.

The Lawrie’s and Browning’s were related. Ellen Lawrie, wife of John Lawrie, was the sister of John Browning and both descended from an old Paisley family. The first recorded Browning in Paisley is Gavin, who operated a drug store at No 1 the High Street, part of the tollbooth on the corner of Moss Street.  In the 1783 trade directory he is recorded as a ‘Druggust’ an occupation repeated on a headstone in the graveyard at Oakshaw Trinity Church which states Lair 199 “The Property of Gavin Browning Druggist 1800”. Gavin’s oldest son, another Gavin went on to study at Glasgow University and became a surgeon in Paisley.

If we move on to 1885, the Browning’s had become timber merchants and Cartwrights in the Paisley with successful businesses established in Orchard Street.  Alexander, John and Ellen’s father had run the businesses for many years, but Paisley Burgh Council were planning to redevelop Gordon’s Loan, the area we know today as Gordon Street with the old fire station dividing the road.  The Browning’s who were operating their timber mill, and a cartwright building business from two connected properties on Orchard Street had to decide what to do?

According to John Browning’s memoirs there had been some talk within the family of moving to South Africa to take advantage of the gold diamond mining happening there, but at the same time a leaflet about a proposed Scots Colony in Florida came into the possession of the Lawrie family.  Named the Ormiston Colony of Scotland after the estate of Sir John Gillespie near Edinburgh, for the sum of £100 a family could purchase a town residence and 40 acres of land outwith the town.  With the purchase of the properties in orchard Street, and the Lawrie business in the Sneddon had recently been destroyed by fire, this new venture in Sarasota was very appealing to both families.

John’s father sold the land on Orchard Street, while his eldest son, Alexander set up a new Cartwright and Timber merchants shop elsewhere in town, and John Browning and Ellen Lawrie’s families moved to Florida arriving on the 10 Dec 1885.

There is little to show where the timber & cartwright business was on Orchard Street today, but the site of the Timber Yard & Cartwright shop partly survives as the small carpark bounded by Gordon Street.

The late 19th Century Browning family was large.   Alexander Browning had 6 children and 24 grand-children.  Of the two families who emigrated in 1885, 12 grand-children moved to Florida, with the others remaining in Paisley and the local area with their respective families.  

Are you descended from the Browning family?  The hunt is now on to track down descendants of the Browning family who remained in Paisley.  Megan and her family,  descendants of John Browning’s oldest son Alexander who was 19 when he left Paisley plans to visit the town at some point in 2022 when restrictions allow and would like to know if there are any living relatives in the area.  

If you are related and would like to connect, please contact us using our contact form.

The featured image of John Brownings family taken in America. It is dated 1885, but I believe it is a few years later, as Johns youngest daughters were 12 and 4 when they arrived in New York, and they appear to be older in this image. Image source: https://www.visitsarasota.com/sites/default/files/Browning%20Family%201885%20%28Henry%20B.%20Plant%20Museum%29.jpg from the Henry B. Plant Museum.

This is the first of several blog posts on the browning family which will follow what happened to them when they arrived in America.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.
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