Andrew Johnstone’s will – John Joseph Johnstone did inherit! What happened?

Andrew Johnstone, grandfather of John Joseph Johnstone and Andrew Johnstone constructed a very interesting will.  I have now transcribed it, over six thousand words.  His will names seven trustees, his daughter-in-law Sarah Johnstone, William David Wightman Henderson Esquire of Whitecroft ( a relative ), John Henderson Esquire, advocate, James Stewart son of William Stewart Esquire of Hillside, William Laidlaw Esquire of Allanton, Alexander Wilson of the Paisley Bank Paisley and  Francis Wilson writer to the Signet. Possibly they are all related in some way to Andrew but equally possibly not.

He left Castlehill and land at and around Gibsonstown and Oxwhite in Tundergarth and also a property in Dumfries.  He made allowances of 800 pounds sterling to his three grand-daughters but altered this in a codicil to his will.  He reduced the amount going to his grand-daughter Sarah to six hundred pounds perhaps as she had married someone he felt unsuitable.  She had married William Bell.  He wished the money to be paid in yearly interest with the balance going to any of her ‘lawful’ children.  He also removed William Laidlaw of Allanton from his position as a trustee.  He was a writer of Dumfries and was Andrew’s daughter-in-laws brother-in-law, married to her sister Janet.  Janet had died in 1808 while in Bristol, England.

I wrote in my last post that Andrew had wanted both his grandsons to share in the inheritance of his land by his trustees coming to an agreement with his elder grandson Andrew when he reached the age of twenty-two.  I assumed that they hadn’t as John Joseph became a surgeon and lived his life in Brampton, Cumberland.  However it seems they did come to an agreement and divide the inheritance as Andrew, their grandfather, had wanted.  Scotlands People has some of the Scottish valuation rolls on line.  The earliest is for 1865 and this showed that John Joseph was the proprietor of the land at Castlehill, Oxwhite and Castlehill green.

Part of 1865 valuation roll for Tundergarth
Part of 1865 valuation roll for Tundergarth

His brother Andrew’s family held the land of the farm at outer Gibson, Bogside, cottage at Bogside, manor house, grounds and woodlands of Gibsons, railway cottage and house and land.  By 1875 John Joseph is no longer the proprietor, Castlehill, farm, house and garden and Oxwhite are in the name of Robert Jardine of Castle Milk.  James, son of Andrew still retains the land and houses as mentioned above.  His mother has the farm and house at Westwood.

The land valuation (Scotland) Act of 1854 was created to provide a uniform valuation of each piece of land in Scotland.  Each house and piece of land was listed with the name of the owner, the occupier and tenant and gave the annual rateable tax.  They were updated on an annual basis from 1855.  Although not offering as much information as the census they give a wonderful snapshot of who owns or was living in each property.  John Joseph was always recorded in his house in Brampton, Cumberland in each census so the valuation rolls give much more detail to his life.

By 1885 only John Joseph’s brothers wife Agnes was the owner of the land at Gibsonstown.  Her son James died March 4, 1882 of pulmonary phthisis, in other words tuberculosis.  John Joseph’s son Andrew who migrated to Australia also died of phthisis in 1888.  John Joseph’s first wife Elizabeth died of lung disease in 1866.  I have yet to find out what happened to her two younger sons, Andrew and Robert.  Agnes died in 1888 and in the 1895 valuation roll the Jardine family own all the houses, land, woodlands etc that had belonged to the Johnstone family.  I have to wonder why John Joseph sold or gave up his land.  Too expensive to maintain?  His only surviving son had migrated to Australia in the late 1850s.  It looks like all of Andrew and Agnes’ sons had died or migrated as well.  Still more research to be done.


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