Category: News

Competition Time

Competition Time

Competition time! One lucky person can be the winner of this limited edition Old Paisley mug. To win, visit our facebook competition post ( www.facebook.com/TheUrbanHistorian/posts/1406018369753918 ) like the post and then tells us in the comments on the post about your favourite Paisley attraction or bit of history. If you can please share the post as well.

Our full schedule for June & July will be published on Saturday morning.

The winner will be chosen on the morning of the 12 June when we are holding our first summer heritage walk that afternoon – “Paisley: A step into the past” Again this is a FREE event – but booking is essential – Book now at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/…/paisley-a-step-into-the…

Window Display @ Allan’s Snack Bar

Window Display @ Allan’s Snack Bar

We currently have a small window display/ exhibition at Allan’s Snack Bar in Storrie Street, Paisley. There are a selection of local history artefacts on display, pictures and adverts for our current history talks and heritage walks.

If you’re in town, why not pass by, check the display out and enjoy some great food at the same time!

Resumption of Heritage Walks from 24th April 2021

Very pleased to announce the resumption of our heritage walks from Saturday 24th April 2021. Numbers on each walk will be limited to five people from up to five households (6 including guide) to comply with the outdoor meeting regulations. Our full schedule of Walks and online talks is listed below and over the next week events in May will be added to the website for booking.


Friday 16th April – History Talk Online – Paisley’s Textile Heritage 7.30 to 9.30pm on Zoom

Wednesday 21st April – History Talk Online – Woodside Cemetery 7.30 to 9.30pm on Zoom

Saturday 28th April – Heritage Walk – Woodside Cemetery 1 to 3pm

Wednesday 28th April – History Talk Online – Renfrewshire Weavers (including an update on the Kilbarchan Project) 7.30 to 9.30pm on Zoom

Saturday 1st May – Heritage Walk – Industry of the White Cart 1 to 3pm

Wednesday 5th May – History Cafe Online – Abbey Parish, Paisley – a look at the registration District 7.30 to 8.30pm on Zoom

Saturday 8th May – Heritage Walk – The Monastery of Paisley in it’s Landscape 1 to 3pm

Wednesday 12th May – History Talk Online – Paisley Abbey 1163 – 1560, 7.30 to 9.30pm on Zoom

Saturday 15th May – Heritage Walk – The Industry of Lonend & Seedhill 1 to 3pm

Wednesday 19th May – History Talk Online – Shipbuilding on the White Cart, 7.30 to 9.30pm on Zoom

Saturday 22nd May – Heritage Walk – The West End of Paisley 1 to 3pm

Wednesday 19th May – History Cafe Online – Christian Shaw, the Woman 7.30 to 8.30pm on Zoom

Saturday 22nd May – Heritage Walk – The Threads of Paisley (Textile Heritage) 1 to 3pm


I look forward to seeing everyone again!

Royal Renfrew- History Talk

Royal Renfrew- History Talk

Wednesday 31 March 2021 7.30pm


Folowing on from our history cafe session on Saturday afternoon (27th March), where we looked in depth at Walter Stewart – 6th High Steward of Scotland, we now look at the Royal Burgh of Renfrew, the ancient heart of the County of Renfrewshire. The talk will look at the arrical of the Fitz Allan family, the establkishment of the Castle and the growth of the Burgh overtime. We wil also have a look at some of thr trade and industry within the Burgh concluding with a look at the Lobnitz yard and their contribution to World War 2.

Essential information: The talk will be held on Zoom at 7.30pm on the 31st March. Bookings will close at 3pm on the day of the event, and invites will be sent out shortly afterwards. The cost of the talk is £7 per household. If you register, but do not attend the event no refunds are given, but you may be given the opportunity to view the talk if it has been recorded and placed on the courses section of our website.

Ref: UH-HT17


Bookings have now closed


Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland – History Cafe

Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland – History Cafe

Saturday 27th March 2021 3 – 4pm on Zoom


Walter Stewart, the 6th High Steward of Scotland played a part in the wars of independance in Scotland during the 14th Century. Born around 1292 he became a close friend of Robert the Bruce, becoming his son-in-law on his marriage to Marjory Bruce, and later father to King Robert II of Scotland. This short history cafe session will look at his genealogy, life and the part Walter played in the Wars of Independance, the Declaration of Arbroath and other exploits in the name of King Robert I.

Essential information: The talk will be held on Zoom at 3pm on the 27th March. Bookings will close at 11am on the day of the event, and invites will be sent out shortly afterwards. The cost of the History Cafe is £5 per household. If you register, but do not attend the event no refunds are given, but you may be given the opportunity to view the talk if it has been recorded and placed on the courses section of our website.


Book Now

The Urban Historian has written a chapter in ‘Conquered By No One’ on Walter Stewart

Paisley Burgh Records

Paisley Burgh Records

& lesser known genealogical resources

Tuesday 16th March 2021 7.30pm

For Genealogists, tracing your ancestors can be hit and miss if you are searching before official registration began in 1855. This talk will explore the records that available for Paisley from the 1600s through until 1855. Some records survive in the Burgh (town council) records while otherscan be found in national taxation records and local chuch records.

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Key Information

Cost £7 per household. Meeting will be held on Zoom on Tuesday 16 March 2021 at 7.30pm. Zoom invites will be sent out at 3pm on the 16th, when bookings close.

Talk ID – UH-HT19

Archaeology and Buildings of Paisley Abbey

Archaeology & Buildings of Paisley Abbey

Thursday 11th March 2021 7.30pm

Bookings have now closed for this talk. It will be re run later in the year.

Paisley Abbey – the most dominant and historic building in Paisley today is only a fragment of the Monastery of Paisley that existed up to the rformation in 1560. Through maps, images and evidence from archaeological excavations we shall have a look at the develoment of the buldings that we know so well today, looking at the architectural details.

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Sedilia of Paisley Abbey

Key Information

Cost £7 per household. Meeting will be held on Zoom on Thursday 11th March 2021 at 7.30pm. Zoom invites will be sent out at 3pm on the 11th, when bookings close.

Talk ID – UH-HT18

Ferguslie – A brief history of the medieval estate

Ferguslie

A brief history of the medieval estate to the 20th Century


Ferguslie today is seen as a large housing scheme – totally unrecognisable from its medieval origins. The name Ferguslie is most likely derived from “the meadow of Fergus” but who was this Fergus? We will probably never know.

The lands that comprise Ferguslie were given to Paisley Abbey, possibly around 1220 when Walter, The Steward granted the lands of the Forrest of Paisley to the Abbey. The grant included the forest that lay between the Black Cart & White Cart.

The link below shows the area as it was in the mid 18th Century in General Roy’s Map of Scoland.

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=55.84325&lon=-4.44798&layers=4&b=1

The earliest recorded name with Ferguslie comes from the Abbey Rental book in 1460 when a widow, Matilde de Craig pays the Abbey £3 along with Cart Service on lands worth £6. (As a widow she would have been given a discount). It is highly possible that area Craigielea takes its name from her family.

The next named tenant is a Ninian Wallace paying rent in 1522 and 1523. In 1544 the Registrum de Monasterii de Paslet records John Hamilton obtaining the grant of the lands from John Hamilton, Abbot of Paisley – possibly a relation. The John Hamilton who obtained the lands was a descendant of the Hamiltons of Orbieston. The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland records John renting the lands in 1547 and becoming the owner of the lands in 1551. John Hamilton, Laird of Ferguslie died in 1557.

On Johns death his granddaughter, Margaret Wallace, inherited the estate. Margaret was married to a John Wallace of Elderslie – son of William Wallace of Elderslie who was Chamberlain to James, Earl of Abercorn. A condition of the inheritance was that Margaret was to change her surname to Hamilton which she duly did in 1609. She became better known as ‘Margaret Hamilton, The Guidewife of Ferguslie‘

By 1710 the estate had been sold to William Cochran, son of Colonel Hugh Cochrane, a younger brother of the Earl of Dundonald. The last Cochrane to live in the Castle or house of Ferguslie was Mrs Grizel Cochrane, sister of the 6th Earl of Dundonald. Grizel died on the 12th September 1753 at Cardonald, but on the 6th July 1748 her brother-in-law, put the Ferguslie Estate up for auction in Edinburgh. John Hare and Robert Fulton bought the estate on behalf of the Town Council of Paisley for £33,000 Scots or £2,700 Sterling. The town council held the estate until around 1800 when they sold the estate along with that of Carriagehill for the grand sum of £12,000, giving a nice cash boost to the town.

Until this time the Castle or House of Ferguslie lay to the north of the estate, close to the site of the much later Ferguslie Park House (known later as the Glen-Coats Hospital) of which only the gatehouse still survives.

The new owner of the Estate was Thomas Bisland, a wealthy Paisley Merchant, and son of the Town Treasurer. Thomas constructed a new manor house to the extreme south of the estate, naming it Ferguslie House. In 1811 Thomas became bankrupt and the estate was divided into two, along the route of the later railway. The northern portion of the estate with the old castle or house was purchased by John Campbell of Edinburgh. The southern portion centered on Ferguslie House was purchased by Miss John Maxwell of Williamwood, who in 1818 sold it on to Lorrain Wilson another Paisley Merchant. Lorrain Wilson upgraded the house and it passed to his son and then grandson in sequence. James Wilson, the grandson, sold it in 1845 to Thomas Coats.

Ferguslie House from the book Cottage to the Castle by andrew Coats

Ferguslie House

The northern portion of the estate was passed to John Campbell’s widow – Elizabeth Barr in 1853 and when she died the property was sold to Thomas Coats on the 16th Feb 1872. The purchase by Thomas reunited the northern and southern estates of Ferguslie under one owner, but the northern estate was renamed Ferguslie Park, and in 1890 a new mansion was constructed for Thomas’ son, Sir Thomas Glen-Coats.

Ferguslie Park House often hosted large parties. In 1926 when Lord Asquith stood as the Liberal candidate in a Paisley parliamentary election the house hosted a large party where Lord & Lady Asquith, David Lloyd George and his daughter Megan along with Lady Bonham Carter.

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Fergusie Park House

Sir Thomas Glen-Coats died in 1922 to be succeeded by his son Sir Thomas Coats Glen Glen-Coats.

In 1931 Woodside House, the neighbouring estate to Ferguslie House, also in possession the Coats family was given to Paisley as a home for mothers and children. This was through the will of W H Coats, another of the Coats brothers. W H Coats died in 1928 and his will stated the house should be transferred to the town council on the death of his wife.

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Woodside House

The donation of Woodside in 1931 led to an article in the Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette on the 23rd May 1931 calling on Ferguslie Park House to be given to Paisley as a replacement for the Barshaw Nursing Home (Maternity). It wasn’t until 1933 when Major A Harold Glen-Coats died that Ferguslie Park House was offered to the trustees of the Royal Alexandria Infirmary in memory of his parents, Sir Thomas & Lady Glen-Coats and Major Harold.

In 1934 the trustees of the Royal Alexandria Infirmary decided to convert the house into a 14 bed hospital with provision made for the number of beds to be increased or decreased as funds permitted. The Glen-Coats Auxiliary Hospital opened on the 19th July 1934 with 25 beds, due to a donation of £5,000 from Sir Thomas Glen Glen-Coats, his sister Mrs E H T Parsons and Major Harold’s widow. The hospital operated until 1973, and was demolished in 1982 after 9 years of dereliction and vandalism. Today the gatehouse and part of the garden survive.

Also during the 1930s the Ferguslie Houe Estate was given to the Town of Paisley by Miss Margaret & Miss Lily Coats, two of Thomas Coats’ daughters. The house was demolished and the estate was turned into the park we know today.

Based on work researched by Stephen Clancy & David Campbell in 1997 as part of the ‘Ferguslie Park History Project’ based in the former Fergulsie Park House / Glen Coats Lodge on Blackstone Rd, Fergusie Park, Paisley.

© 2021 Stephen Clancy

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