John Joseph Johnstone – brick wall smashed!!!

Not only have I broken down this brick wall but it has been smashed!  How can you go from not knowing much about a family to knowing so much?  It is an amazing thing.  I wrote about John Joseph Johnstone a little while ago and also about his medical connections and clergymen connections through his children.  After the Canberra Congress and the talk I attended on finding your English military prior to WWI given by Paul Milner, I revisited John Joseph Johnstone and his militia connection.  He joined the 4th Cumberland Rifle Volunteers when they were inaugurated in April 1860 as the Honorary Assistant Surgeon.  They were also known as the ‘Belted Will’.  I contacted Carlisle record office this week but they were surprised they didn’t have any information on the volunteers aside from three receipts for one gentleman, unrelated.  I then had another look at newspapers on findmypast.  I found two mentions for John Joseph in relation to the Talkin Tarn Regatta and wrestling in Brampton and who was in the crowd watching.  The first mentioned in a row, his future son-in-law Thomas Forster, him self, and Miss Johnstone.  I knew that his daughter Jessie married Thomas Forster.  In the other article listed next to John Johnstone was Andrew Johnstone, Esq., from Gibsontown.  Was this his brother?  No relationships were mentioned in either article.  Acting on the assumption that it may be his brother I investigated Andrew Johnstone of Gibsontown in Dumfriesshire, just south of Lockerbie where John Joseph was said to come from.

It was his brother!  I found him in the census in 1841 to 1861.  His mother Sarah was living with them in the censuses from 1841 to 1861.  She died in 1868 six years after the death of her son Andrew.  I bought her will which named her son John Joseph Johnstone, surgeon of Brampton, Cumberland as the executor.  Bingo, it was him!  I then found I already had the births of Sarah’s two sons Andrew and Joseph Johnstone baptised in Tundergarth, Dumfries in 1806 and 1809 respectively.  So John Joseph Johnstone was baptised as Joseph Johnstone in 1809.  I then found his father’s will.  He died in 1816 when John was only about seven years old.

Baptism John Joseph Johnstone at Tundergarth
Baptism John Joseph Johnstone at Tundergarth
Baptisms Andrew Johnstone at Tundergarth
Baptisms Andrew Johnstone at Tundergarth

Then I found his grandfather’s will, Andrew Johnstone of Castlehill and Gibsontown which was very extensive and named his only son, John, his daughter-in-law Sarah Johnstone and his grandchildren, including Andrew and John Joseph and their sisters.  He left a lot of land and dwellings by the sound of it and wanted both his grandsons to inherit.  He says that the lands of Castlehill have ‘been long’ in his family and wished them to continue so down his male line.  As his elder grandson Andrew had been looked after by the terms of John and Sarah Johnstone’s marriage contract in 1802 he wished his trustees to enter into an agreement with him (Andrew) on his twenty-second birthday when he inherited to allow the lands of Gibsontown to be ‘feudally vested’ in his brother John Joseph Johnstone and those of Castlehill to be ‘feudally vested’ in Andrew Johnstone.  I would suggest that this didn’t happen as Andrew Johnstone was living at Gibsontown by 1841 and John Joseph had qualified as a surgeon in Edinburgh and was living in Brampton, Cumberland.  I will have to investigate who was living at Castlehill.  Andrew (senior) also left some money to Jeanie Johnstone widow of ? Edgar, perhaps his sister and also to Andrew Johnstone of Burn and his sister Agnes Johnstone, 30 and 20 pounds respectively.  Who are they?  See below for some information.  More questions to be answered.

Marriage 1802 John Johnstone & Sarah Johnston at Dumfries
Marriage 1802 John Johnstone & Sarah Johnston at Dumfries

Their grandfather Andrew was a merchant in Dumfries.  He was said to be ninety years old when he died in 1824.

John Joseph Johnstone’s mother Sarah was the daughter of Joseph Johnston of Langbedholm (Longbottom) and his wife Sarah Grierson (daughter of John Grierson, dyer).  It seems Joseph and Sarah only had two daughters, Sarah and her sister Janet who was married to William Laidlaw of Allanton and writer in Dumfries.  Their were marriage contracts for both girls and a court case regarding their inheritance, in particular that of Janet.

John Joseph’s brother Andrew married Agnes Bryden and had at least ten children.  After Andrew died at the age of fifty-six in 1862 his heir was his eldest son John.  John died in 1866 and in turn names his heir as his brother James although Adam was in between them in age.  Perhaps he had already migrated to New Zealand.  It seems James died in 1882, his sister Mary in 1885 and their mother Agnes in 1887.  Then daughter of Andrew and Agnes, Agnes Bryden died in Dumfries in 1911 and Elizabeth (Lizzie) died in Lockerbie in 1925.  There are still a few to account for.

Further to the above mentioned John and Agnes Johnstone of Burn they may be the children of John and Janet Johnstone of Burn, Tundergarth, Dumfriesshire.  His will names brothers William, a blacksmith in Burn, Martin, a farmer in Corrielaw, Andrew living in Illinois, USA, Agnes married to ? Paxton, Mary married to ? Wood and Sarah, his sister ‘in satisfaction’.  More work to be done here.

The will of 1763 for John Johnstone, portioner of Castlehill which means he was one of the inheritors, mentions his son John Johnstone, some time minister in Brampton but then at Durisdeer.  The link of Castlehill and Brampton suggests some more family connections to be investigated.  There are a number of wills that could pertain to the son John Johnstone.

It is amazing to go from having a brick wall that has stood for years and has baffled others before me to go to a plethora of information with still more to find.  Does anyone have connections to anyone mentioned here or have any photos?  I wonder what happened to the land at Castlehill that Andrew was so intent on keeping in the family.  There is a lot more research to be done but I have finally found John Joseph’s parents and three of his grandparents.

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