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Tartan Ferret

The Paton Collection

The firm of J & P. Patons was established in 1815 in the town of Tillicoultry in central Scotland and . One example which has intrigued contemporary researchers came from the pattern books of the Clackmannanshire firm of Patons. An entry from the nineteenth century shows a scrap of largely blue and red tartan with the thread count falling in sevens, entitled 'The 7th Cavalry Tartan'. No British military formation has such a name, although there was an American 7th Cavalry, which achieved fame under General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, when it was massacred by the Sioux Indians. Apparently, General Custer had a liking for military bands and formed ad hoc brass and bagpipe bands. It is probable that the 7th Cavalry wrote to Scotland to commission a tartan for their pipers and drummers, since the regiment contained many Americans of Scottish descent.

"Extract from 'People's Journal' - Saturday 5th March 1949.


Because water from the burn (stream), which flows from the Ochils, was particularly suitable for dyeing processes, Tillicoultry became the centre of a tartan-weaving industry. The firm of J. and P. Paton & Co. have just designed* a new tartan for the Royal Scots Fusiliers. It is based on the Erskine and may be known as the Erskine Hunting. This is not the firm's first new creation in its 124 years of life. A medal award in 1851 led to a Royal Commission to design tartans for Queen Victoria and her Consort.
Mr J. I. Paton, a director, speaking of the firm's trading in tartans, said that many people were under the impression that there were about 80 different tartans. Actually there are nearly 400. No one knows just how many there are, but Mr Paton is collecting as many as he can. If he cannot have a piece of the cloth he is keen to have a picture or painting of the tartan.
When his collection is as complete as he can make it he hopes to make arrangements to take it to America on a dollar-earning trip.

Tartan checks are popular on the Continent too, particularly with the French and Swiss. But little of the cloth is woven in Scotia. Most of it comes from Italian mills!

There is no authority on tartan, so there are liable to be mix-ups. In the cases of old tartans much of the weaving a hundred and odd years ago was done in the glens by weavers who could neither read nor write and could not follow a pattern. They worked from memory and they made a mistake it often went unnoticed. There are today quite a few family heirlooms in which the tartan design is inaccurate."

* Either inaccurate reporting or Paton was bending the truth just a bit - Erksine Htg was first noted in 1900 - 49 years before this claim. The report perhaps should have read 'just woven'.


Some disjointed notes garnered from the Interenet:


J & D Paton :-James and David Paton  set up business in 1824 and at the time was the main employer in Tillicoultry. They had seventeen sets of carding and spinning machinery and up wards of 250 power and hand looms. Their goods were exhibited at the first Great Exhibition in London in 1851. James build a manse for the U.P.Church, bought the old manse and presented it to the village for the British Workman (?) beside what is now known as "Kirk Care") Workman Public House. (This stood . . . report ends abruptly.

Westbourne House



Westbourne House is one of the grandest houses houses in Tillicoultry, reflecting its 19th century association with the Paton family, leading woolen-mill owners and industrialists.
Now a B&B (June 2012)



Before the war the main employer had been the textile industry in mills owned by Robert Archibald and J & D Paton. The depression drove Robert Archibald out of business and almost did the same to J & D Paton which was forced to experiment in the 1930's with a new development - knitwear

Miss Ramage had an infant school in the J & D Paton works for employees' children and also for children who were employed in the factory themselves.

© 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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