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"Elderslie, a village in Abbey parish, Renfrewshire, with a station on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway, 2¼ miles W by S of Paisley, under which it has a post office. Consisting principally of two rows of houses along the road from Paisley to Johnstone, and inhabited chiefly by weavers and other operatives, it is notable as the reputed birthplace of Sir William Wallace, who hence is often styled the Knight of Elderslie. The estate on which it stands was granted in the latter half of the 13th century to Sir Malcolm Wallace, who is supposed to have been the Scottish hero's father, and with whose descendants it continued till, in 1729, it came to Helen, only child of John Wallace of Elderslie, and wife of Archibald Campbell of Succoth. By her it was sold, in 1769, to the family of Speirs. A plain old house in the village claims to be that in which Sir William Wallace was born; but, though partly of ancient structure, bears unmistakable marks of having been built long after his death; yet, very probably occupies the spot on which the house of Sir Malcolm Wallace stood. A venerable yew tree in its garden, known popularly as 'Wallace's Yew,' must likewise have got its name, not from any real connection with the patriot, but simply from the situation in which it stands. A still more famous oak tree - 'Wallace's Oak' -standing a little distance to the E, was gravely asserted to have afforded shelter, from the pursuit of an English force, to Wallace and 300 of his followers; and continued in tolerable vigour till 1825, when its trunk girthed 21 feet at the base, 13⅙ feet at 5 feet from the ground, and 67 feet in altitude, whilst the branches covered 495 square yards. Time and relic-mongers, however, had reduced it to little more than a blackened torso, when by the gale of Feb. 1856 it was levelled with the dust (pp. 205, 206 of Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc., 1881). At the village are a quoad sacra church (1840; 800 sittings) and the Wallace public school.—Ord. Sur., sh. 30, 1866. "

[From Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882-4.]

Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

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