Alexander Wilson was a famous poet and ornithologist. Wilson was born in Paisley in 1766. His father had once been a smuggler, but became a moderately prosperous weaver. The family lived in the Seedhills area and as a boy Alexander, known as Sandy, attended Paisley Grammar School and in his free time liked to swim in the River Cart. At 13 years old he was apprenticed as a weaver, but after three years he left weaving to become a packman, or pedlar. However, like many Paisley weavers of the time, Wilson enjoyed writing poetry.
Wilson had 700 copies of his first volume of poetry published by John Neilson in 1789, but it was not a success. His most famous poem "Watty and Meg" was written two years later, and published anonymously. It was generally assumed to have been written by Robert Burns, a compliment of sorts. In 1792, a later poem, "The Shark, or, Lang Mills Detected" was held to have libelled the owner of Lang Mills. Wilson was sentenced to 14 days in the Paisley Tolbooth, fined, and forced to burn all copies of his libellous poem.
- The Life and Letters of Alexander Wilson by Clark Hunter. The American Philosophical Society for itsMemoirs series, Volume 154, Philadelphia. 1983. ISBN 0-87169-154-X.
- Alexander Wilson: Wanderer in the Wilderness by Robert Plate. David McKay Company, Inc. New York. 1966. Library of Congress Number 66-11348 (no ISBN).