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Weaving & Textiles

The Kilted Ancestors Prompt for July was Weaving & Textiles.

A great many of my family worked in Weaving & Textiles. Some of my later McBeath Ancestors originated from Blackford in Perthshire. On marrying Jane McDermid, William McBeath would move to Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire where he would work as a Woollen Weaver from about the 1840s until his death.

His siblings had worked in a variety of occupations including shoemaking, stone masonry & agriculture.

Although initially well known for cloth manufacturing Tillicoultry’s first mill would open in the 1790s. Many more followed & by the 1830s steam powered mills were introduced along the Tillicoultry Burn. This would see a dramatic rise in population which included William & his family.

Tillicoultry 1861/2 - Perthshire OS - Creative Commons - CC-BY - NLS Map Collection

William & Jane would have 4 children many of whom would work at a young age as piecers or winders in local factories in Tillicoultry.

Over the years the factories in Tillicoultry would produce a variety of fabrics including plaids, tweeds, tartans, blankets & shawls.

Many other family members would also follow William to Tillicoultry & into the trade as did those who married into the McBeath family. A lot of them lived close to one another on the streets that housed the millworkers cottages, most of which still remain to this day.

It is said that a weaver’s wage could be 3 times that of a miner & in those days as weavers had to have a better standard of education so as to work out the often-complicated patterns.

By 1870 there were said to be 12 mills in the area, William would remain in the trade until his death in 1898.

Weavers rows at Ochil St, Tillicoultry ©Treehouse Genealogy

By about the 1890s many of Williams family would leave the trade for other pursuits.

His son William who had also worked in the weaving industry, had by this time started up his own business working from home as a Draper/Tweed Manufacturer. With most of the family moving away from the town William Junior would make the move along with his family to Innerleithen, Peebles where he worked as a dealer in Tweeds.

Tartan Weaving - Image Public Domain - Wikicommons

I love taking a drive through to Tillicoultry & looking at the lovely rows of houses my Ancestors lived in. Within the town many clues to the towns weaving industry still exist including Sterling Mills Furniture Warehouse Building which was originally Devondale Mill.

Could it be that my love for Tartan has actually been passed down in my genes!


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My mother's family were Stewarts and worked in the textile industry in Griffin, GA USA. My grandfather, Ernest Pope Stewart, was a supervisor in the weaving room at Crompton Highland Mill. Most of my aunts and uncles worked at the mill prior to WWII, and the family lived in the Mill Village, so there were many things I identified with in your blog post. It was good, steady work; Griffin was and still is to some degree a Mill town. The Highland made velvet, velveteen, and corduroy. I don't have a direct connection to the textile industry in Scotland - maybe it was just in their blood! My Stewarts were from Paisley and emigrated to the US prior t…

Replying to

Patti, thank you for your post. I also had weavers from Paisley, a place that was famous for its production of line linens & silk. Clare

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