Kilnside House
Ferguslie House

Ferguslie House- click for larger version

Photograph by Thomas Annan

Ferguslie House was best known as the home of Mr Thomas Coats of the well-known firm of J and P Coats, thread manufacturers in Paisley. It was built in 1828 by Hippolyte J Blanc with additions by Abercrombie of Paisley, converted into a hospital in 1916 and demolished in 1920. In 1845, it was recorded that the remains of a castle were also on the site, the land having been granted in 1544 by the Abbot of Paisley to a man called John Hamilton. The house was situated across the main road from the giant Ferguslie Mills complex behind the pond in the park which is still there today..

The aerial photo below shows how close it was to the mills. It is the white building in the top middle above the pond that is still there now.

ferguslie house  aerial photo 1930's

This postcard shows the ornamental pond in the gardens of Ferguslie House as it was in the very early years of the twentieth century. A bridge connects the island to the banks and these have been extensively Iandscaped  with trees and flower beds.

ferguslie pond

The former stables to Ferguslie House on the main road have now been converted and divided into flats.

ferguslie stables

Here is some
background on the Coats family.

Sir Peter Coats and Thomas Coats

Members of Paisley's famous Coats family, Peter and Thomas took over the running of their father's Ferguslie threadworks, J and P Coats, in the 1830s. Under their leadership, the company became one of the world's leading thread manufacturers.

Thomas CoatsThomas Coats (1809 - 1883), unlike Peter, had intended to work in the family firm and had been apprenticed to McDowall, the Johnstone engineering firm, to give him a good technical training. It also gave him a good grounding in the practical aspects of textile machinery. He and his wife moved into Ferguslie House in 1845 and brought up their 11 children there. His death in 1883 was marked by a public funeral with 2,000 people following his coffin.
Peter, and his brother Thomas, were largely responsible for the rapid expansion of J and P Coats during the 19th Century. As sales in America increased during the late 1840s, the capacity of the Ferguslie Mills doubled, and then doubled again in the 1850s.

The Coats family and public life

The family were major benefactors. Thomas Coats best known gifts to Paisley were the Observatory and the Fountain Gardens. He was a supporter of many local societies and charities and was deeply involved in education. He became the first chairman of the education board in 1873 and remained in that position until his death. After his death the Thomas Coats Memorial Church was built by his family in his memory.

Peter Coats also played a large part in the life of Paisley. He was the director of Paisley Infirmary, Paisley Philosophical Institution and the Government School of Design, among others. He is probably best remembered for his gift of the free library and museum to the town. With this gift, Paisley became only the third place in Scotland to have a library and museum run by the local council. Peter was later knighted by Queen Victoria for this particular piece of generosity.

From Ramsay Philip (1839) Views in Renfrewshire, with historical and descriptive notices,

T H E mansion house of Ferguslie is pleasantly situated on a rising ground, a short distance west of Paisley, and south of the line of the Glasgow and South-Western railway and is surrounded by a beautiful and well-wooded park. The greenhouses. -which are extensive, are profusely furnished with rare and valuable plants. A glance at e picture -ill shew that the style of the house is unique, and the decoration original. is memorable as having been the residence, for nearly half-a-century, of the late Mr. Thomas Coats, one of the partners of the well-known firm of J. & P. Coats, Thread manufacturers in Paisley. He was born in Paisley in 18o9, and acquired, in 1845, the portion of Ferguslie on which the house stands ; and in 1872 he acquired the remainder, which lies to the north of the railway, and on which his son, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Glen Coats, is presently erecting a palatial residence in the Scottish Baronial style, called Ferguslie Park.

The late Mr. Coats was a liberal benefactor to his native town,-having led to it the Fountain Gardens and the Observatory, both amply endowed ; and also given considerable sums to improve the accommodation of the Schools erected by the school Board, of which he was chairman from its formation till his death, which took place 15th October, 1883. The high esteem in which Mr. Coats' memory is cherished is out to be perpetuated by the erection of a statue of him, for which funds have been generally subscribed by all classes of the community. The mansion will ever be associated th the Ferguslie Collection of Scottish Coins, which was gathered together by Mr. Coats the course of many years, and is regarded as the finest and most complete now in persistence.

The estate of Ferguslie formed a portion of the extensive possessions of the Abbey of Paisley in pre-Reformation times. According to the Registrum Monasterii de Passelet, it s granted, in 1544, by John Hamilton, Abbot of Paisley, to John Hamilton, a scion of ~ Hamiltons of Orbiston; but from an entry in the Register of the Great Seal, it appears a John Hamilton was only tenant in Ferguslie in i547, and had not become proprietor til 1551. His wife, Janet Livingstone, died at Ferguslie in September, 1552; and he s living four years after that date. Margaret, grand-daughter of Hamilton of Ferguslie, s married, about 1609, to John Wallace, son of William Wallace of Elderslie, and Chamberlain to James, Earl of Abercorn.

Her brother, the Laird of Ferguslie, died married, and left the estate to his sister, on condition that she and her heir should take ! name of Hamilton; and she was known as the guidwife of Ferguslie. Under this ne she became the object of Presbyterian persecution, and the dealings of the Presbetary of Paisley with her for non-attendance on public worship are very fully detailed the Records. As illustrating the character of the time, some of the details may be quoted. The story is more fully related in Dobie's Cunninghame, P. 209 :" June 8th, i643.-The guidwife of Ferguslie having been repeatedly summoned forattending worship in her Parish Church of Paisley, and her husband reporting that he could not for want of health, the Presbytery ordain the minister to go to Ferguslie,, in presence of the guidwife, read and expound the Scriptures and sing Psalms. He regrets his having done so; they appoint him to examine her upon oath, whether it be guility of body or scruples of conscience which prevent her attendance.