Between them, they formed three of Paisley’s most important families.

Now their stories have been captured in a new project, dubbed ‘Dynasty: The Stewards, Coats & Clarks Heritage Project.’

Teams from Paisley’s Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and the ROAR: Connections for Life initiative undertook genealogical research into the clans to produce an interactive digital story map.

Led by social historian Lil Brookes, the nine-month project is part of the Townscape Heritage/Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme and is funded by the National Lottery, Historic Environment Scotland and Renfrewshire Council.

A demonstration of the story map took place at the University of the West of Scotland this week as Paisley bids to be named UK City of Culture for 2021.

The Stewards founded the 12th-century Paisley Abbey and later took the name Stewart, becoming the most famous family to sit on the Scottish throne.

The Coats and Clark families were two of the town’s great manufacturing powerhouses, on whose wealth much of Paisley was built.

Lil, who also uses sensory techniques to bring history alive, said: “We set out to rediscover the history of the three families by using archives and maps and newspapers. We used digital resources and carried out searches of family records online.

“We also did some sensory work as some of the ladies in our group are blind. They can’t use news archives but can use their other senses of hearing, touch and smell. Even by sensing something like an atmosphere, like the air moving, we can actually sense history without using our eyes.”

Councillor Jim Paterson, depute leader of Renfrewshire Council, added: “This is a great project which shows the importance of the history of Paisley.”

The story map can be viewed online at