Manuscript Book of the Literary and Convivial Association

Paisley Literary and Convivial Association, Manuscript Book of the Literary and Convivial Association, [title page], Vol. 2, [1823?] (Heritage Centre, Paisley Museum: Heritage 366 PA PC20134 Archives). Permission to use this image has kindly been granted by the Heritage Centre, Paisley Museum.


The Paisley Literary and Convivial Association was a group of about 25 men who met weekly on Saturday nights between 1814 until around 1864 for readings, discussion of pre-selected topics, and to read their original essays and literary compositions on a range of subjects. The minute book has survived and is also housed in Paisley Heritage Centre (see the Centre’s online catalogue for further details, and below for reference number).

There are two volumes (i.e. two copies) of the ‘Manuscript Book of the Literary & Convivial Association’, Volume II being the original. This manuscript book is a total of 78 pages of original poems and songs, and the contributions are signed by the association members. At the back of the book is a table of contents.

Volume I provides a history of the society and its members, which included the poets James Yool, John King, William Stewart and James Whitehill.  Yool was a weaver all his life. At around age 20, he began to publish his poetry. Stewart, a working-class man from Paisley, is described as a ‘self-made man’, who later became a teacher and emigrated to Canada. King (aka ‘Curly King’) was also a weaver.

Another member, Matthew Erskine was a weaver, later a foreman in the warehouse of J&J Robertson, shawl manufacturers. William Mardock (also Murdock) was a shoemaker who later emigrated to Canada. He worked as a lighthouse keeper, later in the newspaper trade, and published his poems.

Name of Club, Society or Group That Produced the Magazine

Paisley Literary and Convivial Association

Date of Existence

1814-1856 (‘resuscitated’ in 1860s until ?)

Date of Magazine

(compositions are from various dates added later)

Number of Issues

1 (a second, manuscript copy of this is also available in archives (Vol. 1); original is listed as Vol. 2)

Manuscript/Published Magazine


Contents and Contributions

Clippings (printed material); Poems (original); Songs (original); Table of Contents; Title page


Paisley Heritage Centre (Central Library)


Heritage 366 PA PC20134 Archives (Vols. 1 & 2);

Heritage 651.77 PA PC22140 Archives (Minute Book)