JOHNSTON - HISTORY OF SURNAME

Entry in Scottish Surnames by Donald Whyte

 

JOHNSTON(E)S - VARIOUS The Johnstones of Galabank once entertained a claim to the Annandale peerage, and proved their descent from the barons of Newby and Graitney, who

branched off from the Lockwood cadets of Annandale. Lt. Col. James Johnstone, of Fulford Hall, Warwickshire, who represented this family, served with the Durham Light Infantry during World War II.

A Johnston family of Beirholm, Annandale, descended from Gavin Johnston, who received a charter of the lands of Clerk Orchard, Thornick and others, in 1555. He was ancestor of Archibald Johnston, 1611-63, of Warriston, Edinburgh, a distin guished lawyer; who became Lord Advocate in 1646. He was unfortunately induced to take office under Cromwell, who made him Lord Clerk Register and advanced him to the peerage as Lord Warriston. At the Restoration, having supported Cromwell and also the Covenanters, he fled to France. An act of forfeiture being passed against him, he was condemned to death, discovered at Rouen, and brought back to Edinburgh where he was hanged without trial. A descendant, Sir Patrick Johnston, was three times Lord Provost of Edinburgh, but was mobbed by the citizens for supporting the Union of 1707. However; he became a member of the first parliament of Great Britain. Lt. Col. George Richard Johnston, who represented this family, served in World War 1 with the Royal Horse Artillery. He became a qualified interpreter in six languages, and was granted arms by the Lord Lyon in 1950.

The Johnstones of Westerhall are an important branch of the Johnstones of Annandale, and descend from Matthew, second son of Sir Adam Johnstone of that ilk. Matthew had a charter of lands in Westeraw, Lanarkshire in 1455. The family had a long history as MPs for Dumfries and other seats. Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall, MP, was knighted by Charles II, and his son Sir John, was created a Baronet of NS in 1700. He married Rachel Johnstone, co-heiress of Sheens but, dying without issue, the title devolved on his brother; Sir William, who married Harriet, the other co-heiress. His son, Sir James, was a claimant for the Annandale title in 1792. His brother; Col. John, was ancestor of the Barons Derwent. Sir William, 5th Baronet, was a member of seven successive parliaments, and acquired the great Pulteney property through his first wife, Frances, whom he married in 1760, heiress of Daniel Pulteney. Their daughter Henrietta became Countess of Bath. The 10th Baronet is George Richard Douglas Johnston, who succeeded his father; Sir Frederick, in 1994.

The Johnstons of Caskieben possess a baronetcy of NS, conferred in 1626 on George Johnston, Sheriff of Aberdeen. This family appears to be a collateral line of the Annandale Johnstones,

and erroneously use the style 'of that Ilk'. The 11th Baronet emigrated to Alabama, USA, where his descendant, Sir Thomas Johnston, 13th Baronet, became partner in the legal firm. He died in 1984, and the present and 14th Baronet is his son Thomas Alexander Johnston.

It is difficult to pinpoint Johnstons or Johnstones descended from those who took their name from Jonyston, East Lothian, or from St John's-toun (Perth). Gilbert, son of Thomas Johnstone, who received the forfeited lands of Whiteriggs and Redmyre, in Kincardineshire, was probably of a family which derived the name from St John's-toun. The Rt Hon. Thomas Johnston, 1881-1965, Secretary of State for Scotland (1941~5), founded in the latter year; the Scots Ancestry Research Society. Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1908-73, who acceded to the presidency of the USA in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, is said to have been descended from Johnstones of Dumfriesshire.


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Tom Paterson
(last updated 9th Sep 2000)