In one of my
earlier articles I mentioned the fact that the Lowlanders were merchants,
farmers, fishermen, writers, teachers, etc. Another occupation was
weaving, and a place known for its weaving was the town of Paisley.
When you think of Paisley you think immediately of a type of cloth with a
'teardrop' design. Additionally many of us associate it with the calico
(which is thought to have originally come from Calcutta, India) so
popular in the U.S. in the 17 and 1800's. The Paisley teardrop pattern
also originated in the Indo-European areas, but it was modified by
European weavers, since the Indian material and items were so expensive.
This modified cloth became associated with the weavers of Paisley,
Scotland. Hence the name Paisley soon became the name of the pattern. In
the 1800's it was very popular.
The town of Paisley is approximately 7 miles west of Glasgow and you can
visit the Sma' Shot Cottages, situated appropriately on Shuttle Street, to
see weaving cottages built in the 1700's to the specifications found in
the history of Paisley. These cottages are open and free to the public.
They consist of two rooms that were used for living area plus a loom or
weaving room. One of the original looms has been restored and weaving
demonstrations are given on it. The weavers originally wove muslin, silk,
Additionally anyone who sews even a little is familiar with Coats and
Clark threads. These started in mills set up by the Coats and the Clark
families on the River. It was James Clark who invented the wooden spool
for winding and selling thread. Their rivals were the J&P Coats firm,
which was also a textile and thread manufacturer. The Coats family
expanded their company to the U.S. and Europe, and eventually merged with
their Clark rivals to form Coats and Clark.
In addition to its weaving and thread industries, it was near Paisley
where pregnant, Marjory (Bruce) Stewart, daughter of Robert the Bruce and
wife of Walter Stewart, fell from her horse, delivered her son, Robert II,
in Paisley Abbey, and died there. Robert was the first of the Stewart
line of kings. Paisley Abbey had been built in 1145 and though once
suffered a fire, it has been restored and is still there today.