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Abbey and Town Parishes of Paisley I

Passelet—Passeleth [Regist. de Passelet. Regist. Glasg.].

The parish of Paisley was in ancient times very extensive. There is reason to believe it included the royal manor and burgh of Renfrew before the reign of David I. [Regist. Glasg., p. 60.] The church of Lochwinnoch was at first a chapel dependent upon the parish church of Paisley; and it probably comprehended also the district which now forms the parish of Eastwood. Renfrew, Lochwinnoch, and Eastwood, however, had been separated and become distinct parishes at early periods long before the Reformation. Since that time some less important changes seem to have taken place. Thus, at the end of the 17th century, Lochlebosyde and Hartfield were spoken of as being anciently in the parish of Paisley, but then in the parishes of Paisley and Neilston respectively; [Inquis. Retor. Renfrew, 186.] and Ainslie’s map represents Hartfield as within the parish of Paisley, which, if it be correct, would give a continuous territory to connect the mother church with its chapel of Lochwinnoch. Charles II.’s retour of the barony of Darnley in 1680, [Inquis. Retor. Renfrew, 181.] describes some of the places as within the ancient parish of Paisley.

The church of St. Mirinus of Paisley had a parochial territory in the beginning of the 12th century, when David was restoring the cathedral church of Glasgow, and founding a royal burgh on his demesne of Renfrew. [Regist. Glasg., p. 60.] When Walter Fitz-Alan had planted his colony of Cluniac monks from Wenloc in the church of St. Mary and St. James of the Inch beside Renfrew, he granted to them the church of Passelet, with two ploughs of land. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 249.] A few years afterwards, the monks were removed to Paisley, and the parish continued the property of the monastery till the Reformation. St. Mirinus, who is said to have died at Paisley, was the patron saint to whom the original parish church of Paisley was dedicated. St. Mary and St. James were the tutelar saints of the monks’ first sojourning place at the Inch of Renfrew, and St. Milburga, a Welsh saint, was the patroness of their mother house of Wenloc. To all these saints, therefore, the Stewart’s new abbey church, which was also the parish church, was dedicated.

In the records of Paisley there are casual notices of endowed altars within the church, dedicated to the Virgin, St. Mirinus, St. Columba, St. Ninian, St. Nicholas, St. Peter, St. Catharine, St. Anne the matron. The endowments of these altars were given along with the income of St. Rocque’s chapel, by the King, in 1576, for founding a grammar school in the burgh. Buchanan then pensioner of Crossraguel and keeper of the King's privy seal witnesses the deed. [Burgh Charters.]

The chapel of St. Rocque stood in the town of Paisley. It had seven roods of land belonging to it. [Burgh Charters.] The Stewarts had a chapel at their manor place of Blackball, the chaplain of which witnessed a charter in 1272. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 232.] As early as 1180, Robert Croc of Crocston, and Henry de Ness, retainers of the Stewarts, received permission to construct oratories or chapels within their courts (in clausis suis) for celebrating divine service for their own families and guests only, by chaplains from the abbey, who were bound to bring the offerings to the mother church. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 76.]

About the year 1180 the monks of Paisley granted permission to the sick brethren of the hospital built by Robert Croc on his land, to have a chapel and chaplain—the mother church suffering no loss in oblations, and the bodies of those dying to be buried in Paisley, without mass said in the chapel. [Regist. de Passelet, p. 77.] This hospital appears to have stood on the west side of the Laveran water, between Old Crookstoun and Neilston.

In a rental given up for the assumption of thirds in 1561, the great tithes of the parish of Paisley are stated at 5 ch. 1 f. 2⅓p. of meal, and 6 ch. 9 bo. barley, with £10 for the tithes of Railstoun and Whitefurd, and £26, 13s. 4d. for the tithes of the town of Paisley, set for money. The vicarages of Paisley and Lochwinnoch together, yielded to the monastery £100.