Who was John Joseph Johnstone?

John Joseph Johnstone was born about 1809 near Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.  His father was John Johnstone, a yeoman.  That is all I know of his parentage.  His birth has proven difficult to find convincingly.  A book I recently came across written by one of his grandson’s, John Sjovald Hoseason Brown says that the family came from Castlemilk near Lockerbie.  Castlemilk was only built in between 1864-70 but gives (perhaps) a more precise area of where he was from.  He also mentioned Colonel Wade’s road in the area.  Ascertaining where that was may also help working out where he was born and who his parents were.

John Joseph studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh between 1826 and 1829, graduating in 1829.  According to his obituary he was a medalist at his college but the records aren’t extant to verify this.  He passed the examinations at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh in the subjects of anatomy, surgery and pharmacy and was awarded his licence on March 28, 1829.

Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh
Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh

He then went to live and practice in Haltwhistle, Cumberland, England.  He married Elizabeth Patti(n)son daughter of John Patti(n)son and Ann Pickering on August 11, 1836 at the Holy Cross church in Haltwhistle.  According to his obituary he had moved to Brampton, Cumberland in 1835.   They were to spend the rest of their lives there.  In 1841 they were living in Back street, Brampton where John Joseph was working as a surgeon.  He had a fifteen year old apprentice, John Phillips.  They also had two servants.

All of their children were born in Brampton.  They were Sarah Ann born in 1838, Elizabeth born in 1839, Andrew Alexander born in 1840 , John Joseph born in 1842, George Pickering Pattison born in 1844, Jessie born in 1845, Margaret born in 1848 and Robert born in 1850.

In 1851 they were still living in Back street and had two servants, a general servant and a groom.  All of their children were alive.  Robert and probably John Joseph (junior) died in 1852.   By 1861 there were only three of the girls at home, Sarah Ann, Jessie and Margaret.  They had one servant.  Eldest daughter Elizabeth was visiting her aunt, Margaret Patti(n)son, her husband Thomas Dinning and three of their children in Hexham, Northumberland.  Son Andrew had probably already emigrated to Australia and George Pickering Pattison was at the University of Edinburgh studying medicine.

John Joseph was commissioned to be the honorary assistant surgeon of the 4th Cumberland Rifle Volunteers in April, 1860.  He was also the public vaccinator.

Sadly his wife Elizabeth died of lung disease at home on November 25, 1866.  John Joseph married again on September 3, 1868 Amelia Barnfather, nee Hallyburton at the Presbyterian church in the district of Brampton.  She was the daughter of John Halliburton and Arabella Cox and the granddaughter of Joseph Cox of the New Brewery, Brampton. She had one son, Robert Barnfather from her previous marriage to Robert Barnfather, a draper.  John Joseph and Amelia had three children, Amelia Cox born in 1870, John Joseph born in 1871 and Arabella Halliburton (Hallyburton) born in 1872.  Their son John Joseph died in 1871.  In 1871 two of John Joseph’s daughters from his first marriage, Jessie and Margaret, were still living at home.  Sarah Ann had died in 1869.  They were still living at Gill place, Back street, Brampton.  They had two servants and a sick nurse.

By 1881 they were still in Back street living at the Hollies.  The house is still standing and had been recently renovated when I visited Brampton a few years ago.  Margaret was still living at home along with his two daughters to Amelia, Amelia and Ella (Arabella) and also his wife Amelia’s son, Robert Barnfather.  Robert was a slater and timber merchant.

The Hollies, Brampton, Cumberland
The Hollies, Brampton, Cumberland

John Joseph and Amelia were still living at the Hollies in 1891 although he had retired and was then blind.  Only their two daughters, Amelia and Arabella were at home with them.  There was a visitor, twenty-four year old Ruth Brownson.  They had one general servant.

He died on June 16, 1892 at home at the Hollies in Brampton of senile decay, said to be 83 years old.  His death was registered by his wife Amelia.  According to his obituary he had carried out an extensive practice until 12 years earlier when due to ‘ailing health and failing sight’ he had retired.  ‘As a practical surgeon there was no one better known in the county than Dr. Johnstone, his skill as a surgeon being somewhat remarkable, …’ .

His second wife, Amelia, died in June, 1901 in Brampton.

His children married in to some fascinating families and their children also have interesting stories.  Marriages of his children:

Elizabeth Johnstone married Benjamin Scarf on October 27, 1863 at Brampton.  Her witnesses were her father and her sister Sarah Ann.  She had seven children but died after childbirth on August 24, 1878.

Andrew Alexander Johnstone married Ann Hood on September 11, 1867 at Moyston, Victoria, Australia.  They had ten children before Andrew died of phitisis (TB) on July 9, 1888.  He is buried in Box Hill cemetery, Victoria.

Jessie Johnstone married Thomas Forster in 1880 at Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England.  They had two children but she died before 1891 at which time her husband had married again.

Margaret Johnstone married Joseph Catton on February 14, 1884 at Brampton.  She died in September 1917 in the Alston district, Cumberland.

Amelia Cox Johnstone married Hewley Smales Graham on January 27, 1892 at the Presbyterian church in Brampton.  They were married by her future brother-in-law’s father, Rev. Robert Brown.  They had at least two children.

Arabella Haliburton (Hallyburton) Johnstone married Robert Cunyngham Browne on April 1, 1895 also at the Presbyterian church in Brampton.  They were married by his father the Rev. Robert Brown.  They had four children.

Further blog postings will look at some of these families in more detail.  As always if anyone knows anything about any of these families or has any photos or documents etc I’d love to hear from you.  I have yet to find John Joseph Johnstone’s baptism and would love to hear from anyone who knows anything.  Lockerbie was held as a special place within the family with some children believing they were also born there although all official documents say Brampton, Cumberland.   I have investigated a family from the area born at Gibsons in Tundergarth but the Joseph born there married and was still in the area in the 1840s.  Thus far there are no other obvious candidates.


4 thoughts on “Who was John Joseph Johnstone?”

  1. John Joseph Johnstone junior b. 1842 was in Scotland in 1861 at Dryfesdale, Dumfries with his aunt and uncle Jessie and John Baird. Jessie was b. ca 1817 at Tundergarth – John Joseph Johnstone senior’s sister maybe?

    1. Yes she was his sister, she was born in 1811. John Joseph junior was a mariner according to the 1861 census. I’ve found his burial in 1862 but not where or how he died. Maybe at sea.


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