Paisley, a busy manufacturing town of Renfrewshire, stands, backed by the Braes of Glen-iffer (749 feet), on the White Cart, 3 miles above its influx to the Clyde, 7 WSW. of Glasgow and 16 ESE. of Greenock. Although commonly identified with the Vanduara or Vindogara of Ptolemy, which Skene places rather at Loudoun Hill in Ayrshire, it first is heard of certainly about 1157 as Passeleth, a possession of Walter Fitzalan, the first Scottish ancestor of the royal Stewarts. He six years later founded here a Clugniac priory, which was dedicated to SS. James, Mirin, and Milburga, and which in 1219 was raised to the rank of an abbey. It was burned by the English in 1307; suffered much at the Reformation in 1561, and still more by subsequent vandalism; and now is represented chiefly by the aisled Decorated nave (15th century: the Abbey parish church, restored since 1862), and by the chapel of St Mirin, called the 'sounding Aisle' (1499), with the altar-tomb of Marjory Bruce. Near the abbey are statues of Wilson the ornithologist and Tannahill, who, like Professor Wilson ('Christopher North'), were natives of Paisley. There are also statues of George A. Clark, founder of the town-hall, and (since 1891) of Sir Peter and Thomas Coats. Motherwell and Alexander Smith were residents; Elderslie, 2 miles W., is the traditional birthplace of Wallace. Public edifices are the municipal (formerly county) buildings (1818); sheriff courthouse (1885); the Clark town-hall, Italian in style, and built in 1879-82 at a cost of £110,000; the new county buildings (1891), containing one of the finest council halls in Scotland; the Coats free library and museum (1871), with a picture-gallery and an observatory; the grammar-school (1576; rebuilt 1864); and the Neilson educational institution (1852). The Coats Memorial Baptist Church (1891-94), Early English in style, with a Gothic crown completing the central tower, is, it is claimed, the finest ecclesiastical edifice built in Scotland since the Reformation, having cost £100,000. The Fountain Gardens (1868), the Brodie Park (1877), and St James's Park, round which is the racecourse, have an area respectively of 6, 22, and 40 acres.
The linen, lawn, and silk-gauze industries, important during the 18th century, are now extinct; as, too, are the 'Paisley shawls,' so celebrated between 1805 and the middle of the century, their sale sometimes exceeding £1,000,000 per annum. The manufacture of linen sewing-thread, introduced in 1722 by the witch-denouncer Christian Shaw of Bargarran, has been nearly superseded since 1812 by that of cotton thread, which has assumed gigantic proportions. There are also works for dyeing, bleaching, tartans, woollen shawls, carpets, distilling and brewing, chemicals, starch, corn-flour, preserves, engineering, etc. Paisley is connected with Glasgow by electric tramway, and the electric light has been introduced. The Cart since 1786 has been deepened (to 18 feet in 1888-90); and water-works (1834-90) furnish 6,000,000 gallons per diem to Paisley and Johnstone. Paisley was made a free burgh of barony in 1488, the fourth centenary of that event in 1888 being graced by the presence of Queen Victoria, who afterwards placed a memorial of the Stewarts in the ruined choir of the abbey. Since 1833 it has returned one member to parliament. In 1843 the corporation had to suspend payment, nor was the burgh clear of debt until 1877. Pop. (1801) 24,324; (1841) 48,125; (1881) 55,627; (1901) 79,350. See Cosmo Innes' Regis-trum Monasterii de Passelet (Maitland Club, 1832), two works by Semple (1872-74), Dr Cameron Lees' Abbey of Paisley (1878), and Robert Brown's History of Paisley (2 vols. 1886).