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Tartan Ferret
Test

William Wilson & Son

Wm Wilson Label

Wilsons of Bannockburn.


The records of the Bannockburn weavers, William Wilson & Son, are unique in the field of tartan and of inestimable value to the student. The firm was well established by 1792 and continued to weave tartan for 114 years until 1906 when it was reconstituted as a private limited company manufacturing carpets. It finally went out of business 18 years later in 1924.

An estimated ten thousand letters, many legal documents, books of written patterns and samples of cloth have survuved and are in the hands of various authorities such as the National Library of Scotland, the Royal Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Tartans Society. "The Wilson weaving firm was known during the above period (1765 - 1924) to have searched the Highlands for old patterns, then re-introduced them under names of their choosing if the original clan or district could not be determined." See article by Marion Wilson.

In 1727 William Wilson was born at Craigforth in the parish of St Ninians, Stirlingshire. He became a weaver and incorporated Chapman and started the firm of William Wilson and Son in which he was followed by four generations of his descendants.
The firm was remarkable in that it was weaving tartan during the period of the proscription of the Highland Garb Act 1746-1782 and that it had a large civilian trade which eventually sent tartan to North and South America, the West Indies, Europe and the Indian continent and it supplied tartans to many of the Highland regiments from the last quarter of the 18th century until the end of the 19th. This two-pronged trade may be the reason why William Wilson and Son has been credited with or blamed for the 'invention' of clan tartans.

"The Wilson weaving firm was known during the period of 1765 - 1924 to have searched the Highlands for old patterns, then re-introduced them under names of their choosing if the original clan or district could not be determined."
The records of William Wilson & Son, are unique in the field of tartan and of inestimable value to the student An estimated ten thousand letters, many legal documents, books of written patterns and samples of cloth have survived and are in the hands of various authorities such as the National Library of Scotland, the Royal Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Tartans Society.
 

1821 letter to Wilsons


William Wilson is first mentioned in Bannockburn in 1750 when he bought a lair in St Ninians churchyard, doubtless for the burial of his father in 1751. By now Bannockburn had become a weaving community. Many of the weaver's families, including the Wilsons, the Christie's and the Patterson's were members of the First Seceders church in the Back Row, Stirling, now known as the Erskine Mary Kirk. In 1755 William Wilson and his spouse Janet Patterson took sasine of a house in in Nether Bannockburn. We think they married about 1753 but a gap in the marriage register of Saint Ninians prevents us from being sure. They had nine children, of whom three sons grow up to become members of 

the family firm. They were John (born 1754), James (born 1766) and Alexander, the youngest, (born 1771-also the year of Sir Walter Scott's birth). William Wilson, the founder, died in 1789 (the year of the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution). His older sons had predeceased him and he was succeeded by the youngest, Alexander Wilson.

The firm was well established by 1792 and continued to weave tartan for 114 years until 1906 when it was reconstituted as a private limited company manufacturing carpets. It finally went out of business 18 years later in 1924.

 

MacDougal label

Wilson label





© Scottish Tartans Authority
Scottish Tartans Authority (Scottish limited company no. 162386), c/o J & H Mitchell, 51 Atholl Road, Pitlochry, PH16 5BU
Scottish Charity Number SCO24310

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