Prepared for the 1875 Edition.
From the suppression of the monastery at the Reformation in 1560, the staple trade of Paisley had been weaving, and on the arrival of the four brothers Tannahill in 1756 there were 1311 working looms in town, 710 employed in linen cloth, 517 at muslin and silk gauze, 30 miscellaneous, and 54 unoccupied, but which were very quickly filled. The two manufacturers of importance at the time were Mr. Humphrey Fulton from Beith, in Ayrshire, who commenced business at Maxwelton, in 1749, and Mr. Andrew Brown from Kilmarnock, who commenced business in New Street, in 1753. Each of these houses carried on business for upwards of a hundred years, in the face of all the fluctuations of the fancy weaving, the changes in business and depressions in trade. The weavers of Paisley were principally located in the Townhead—west end of the main street—Causeyside and the suburbs. Textile manufactures rapidly increased, and multitudes of weavers flocked into the town from all parts of Scotland, and particularly from Ayrshire, to participate in the prosperity.
The Tannahill brothers belonged to the more intelligent class, were superior workmen, and industrious at their occupation. Thomas Tannahill was married to Margaret Biggar in 1762, and they had several children. He purchased a house in West Brae, and he died there in 1823 at the patriarchal age of eighty-eight. He was an elder of the High Church, Paisley, for upwards of forty years. In 1763, James Tannahill, the eldest brother, was married to Janet Pollock, eldest daughter of Matthew Pollock, farmer, eldest son of Matthew Pollock of Boghall, in the Parish of Beith. At that time, she was domiciled in the house of her uncle, Hugh Brodie, farmer, Langcraft, in the Parish of Lochwinnoch. The banns of the proposed marriage were proclaimed in the Laigh Church of Paisley, and in the Parish Church of Lochwinnoch, on Sundays the 21st and 28th; and the marriage was celebrated at Lochwinnoch on Monday, the 29th August, 1763. The wedding festivities were held at the same place; and, after the conclusion of the day's enjoyments, the company, according to usual custom, sang the 127th Psalm. Before proceeding further with the Tannahills, we will briefly notice the Pollock and Brodie families with whom James Tannahill had connected himself.
The lands of Boghall were part of the lands of the barony of Braidstanes, in the Parish of Beith, belonging to Sir John Shaw of Greenock, and were feued out by him about the end of the seventeenth century. Boghall contained between forty and fifty acres; but we are not aware who was the original purchaser, or at what date it was purchased. Matthew Pollock, the grandfather of Mrs. Tannahill, however, acquired Boghall in the eighteenth century. Matthew Pollock died about the year 1770, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Matthew, who had married Janet Brodie, sister of Hugh Brodie of Langcraft. He died about 1789, leaving a family of eight children, one son and seven daughters:—1st, Matthew Pollock, tertius, then a farmer at Shawlands, near Pollokshaws, who was twice married; first, to Mary Donald, by whom he had three daughters; and second, to Janet Purdon, by whom he had three sons and four daughters; 2nd, Janet Pollock, married to James Tannahill, weaver, Paisley; 3rd, Jean Pollock, married to John Craig, cooper, Renfrew; 4th, Mary Pollock, married to Alexander M`Neil, weaver, Paisley; 5th, Agnes Pollock, married to William Orr of Kaim, in the Parish of Lochwinnoch; 6th, Anaple Pollock, married to James Stevenson, farmer at Whytehills, afterwards carter at Thorn, both in the Abbey Parish of Paisley; 7th, Ann Pollock, married to William Deans, farmer, Dovehill, in the Parish of Cathcart, near Pollokshaws; and 8th, Margaret Pollock, married to James Gavan, weaver, Millarston, Paisley. Matthew Pollock, tertius, on the death of his father, came to reside at Boghall, and he died there about 1823—about the same time as his sister, Mrs. Tannahill. Matthew Pollock, quartus, his eldest son then succeeded to Boghall ; and in ten years thereafter, in 1833, sold the property to Mrs. Margaret Sheddan, wife of James Dobie, writer and banker, Beith. The lands of Boghall, after remaining in the family for four generations, then passed quickly through several proprietors, and were acquired in 1858 by William Ross, Esq., Gallowmuir, Perth, the present proprietor, who has repaired the farm steading of the Pollocks in a substantial manner, and erected a large mansion-house, and otherwise laid off and improved the whole grounds in a very tasteful manner.
We will now take up the Brodie family. Hugh Brodie, farmer, brother of Janet Brodie, wife of the second Matthew Pollock of that name, was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew Brodie, Langcrait. In 1760, the lands of Langcraft belonged to three persons, viz., —the said Hugh Brodie, one-third ; Andrew Brodie, one-third and Bailie Robert Fulton, merchant, Paisley, the remaining one-third. In 1762, Andrew Brodie conveyed his one-third part to Elizabeth Brodie (his daughter) and Hugh Brodie (her husband) in liferent, and to Andrew Brodie (their eldest son) in fee ; and the other one-third was acquired from Bailie Robert Fulton at the same time, and conveyed in the same manner. Hugh Brodie was the poet-laureate of Lochwinnoch, and wrote several songs which were sung, but never published. He was one of the twenty-four founders, in January, 1765, of “The Kilbarchan Farmer Society,” for the parish of Kilbarchan and neighbourhood. It was one of the rules of the society that the preses should deliver an address to the members after his election. Hugh Brodie was elected fifth preses, in 1769, and he delivered an excellent poetical address on Husbandry, containing sixty verses, which was printed in William Semple's continuation of George Crawfurd's History of Renfrewshire, published in 1782, page 116. Andrew, his eldest son, a strong-built man, six feet in height, went to Dublin, and commenced business as a manufacturer. In 1804, he sold the lands of Langcraft. Hugh had another son, Robert Brodie, a little man of about 4 feet 3 inches high. He was sent to Paisley to learn the weaving, and became a frequent visitor at James Tannahill's house, being a cousin of Mrs. Tannahill's. He was a poet like his father, and being highly respected, and a thoroughly sterling man, and well gifted, he was frequently invited to weddings and funerals, at which he acted as chaplain. Robert Brodie removed to Saltcoats, and commenced the business of a linen manufacturer, and made money thereat. He still attended funerals and weddings, and when the Rev. Mr. John Henry was minister of the Parish of Ardrossan, the Kirk Session appointed him one of the elders of the Parish Church in Saltcoats. Robert Brodie took a deep interest in the welfare of the poor, and saw justice dealt out to them. This “Nathaniel without guile” died, esteemed and lamented, in 1823, in the 78th year of his age. This is the individual whom Tannahill refers to in the Kebbuckston Wedding—
“Wee Patie Brydie's tae say the grace
The bodie's aye ready at dredgies an' weddin's.”
We will now return to the Tannahills. On 29th November, 1763, Thomas Tannahill entered as master with the Weavers' Society, and on 9th December following, his brother, John Tannahill, entered as journeyman with him. On 2nd March, 1764, James Tannahill entered master with the Weavers' Society, and the same day his brother, ROBERT TANNAHILL, entered Journeyman with him. This society had been incorporated by charter from the Bailies and Town Council of Paisley on l0th October, 1702. The other two incorporated trade societies in town at the time were the Taylors, instituted in January, 1658, and the Shoemakers on 16th September, 1701.* It would thus appear from these entries that James Tannahill, the eldest brother, had taken charge of the third brother, ROBERT; and Thomas Tannahill, the second brother, had taken charge of the fourth brother, John.
The vacant steadings in the modern streets of Paisley had now been all built up with houses, but these did not accommodate the increasing population. With the view of supplying the demand for houses, the Corporation laid off several streets in the lands of Broomlands, in 1764, containing hundreds of steadings. These steadings were rouped at different times, and purchased by persons for the erection of houses for their own occupation, by builders and joiners on speculation, and by magistrates and councillors, to encourage the sale of the town's steadings. Bailies Andrew Smith and John Slater each purchased, in 1769, two steadings in Castle Street and two steadings in Queen Street, lying together, and formed a street across from Castle Street to Queen Street, which was called Cross Street—thus increasing their building stances from eight to sixteen steadings. Bailie Smith sold his steadings lying on the north side, and Bailie Slater his steadings on the south side of Cross Street.
* The Taylors' Society was dissolved in 1858, after existing 200 years, and the Shoemakers' Society was dissolved in 1859, after existing 158 years. The Weavers' Society, now called the Old Weavers' Society, has existed for two centuries, and is at present the oldest trade or friendly society in Paisley.—Ed.