History of the Johnstone Family

The following history is reproduced by kind permission of members of the extended family.

History of the Johnstone family

Belfast:
R. Aickin and Company, Limited, Printers, Publishers, Etc. Fountain Street.

The following Newspaper cutting – source and date unknown – appears inside this copy. It reads –

Johnstones of Annandale

Mr John James Hope-Johnstone, of Annandale, who has just passed away at the age of seventy, at Raehills, Dumfriesshire, was in his younger years in the Grenadiers and saw service abroad.

For several years he was Conservative Member for Dumfriesshire, but since retiring from active politics he lived at Raehills, on of the most beautifully – situated homes in Great Britain, standing on the side of a finely-wooded hill. Below is a lovely glen, in which a spot is shown whence the patriot Wallace leapt across the stream to escape his enemies, and another place of interest close by is an uncanny haunted glen. Mr Hope-Johnston’s chief care was his estate, which includes most of the land round Moffat, famed for two centuries for its sulphur wells, which yet attract many visitors. The deceased gentleman was a bachelor, and a nephew, Mr E W Hope-Johnstone, inherits his large property. The Hope-Johnstons of Annandale have a very “land pedigree,” as an old Border verse indicates –

“Within the bounds of Annandale
The gentle Johnstones ride;
They ha’e been here a thousand years,
A thousand more they’ll bide.”

Though the Johnstons of Annandale belong to the untitled gentry, the deceased gentleman had a good claim to the Earldom of Annandale and Hartfell, which has been dormant since the death of the third Marquis of Annandale in 1792, as well founded a claim to the honour as his very remote kinsman, Sir Frederic Johnstone, has to the Marquisate of the last Lord Annandale, whose heir male he is. But somehow the Johnstones have not been successful, and have had the mortification of seeing claimants with lesser claims than themselves awarded dormant Peerages. Some day perhaps they may have their honours restored.

“Thieves a’.”

It is rather amusing to see the Johnstones alluded to as “gentle.” An old Annandale song runs:-

Ca, cuddie, ca’
The Johnstones and the Jardines ride thieves a’,
The Johnstones and the Jardines ride awa’ wi’ a’.

And they were ever fighting. If there happened to be a sanguinary Border affray in Galloway Johnstones were sure to be in the thick of it; and when they were not fighting they were raiding, with the risk of incarceration in either an English or Scottish prison. The Johnstones carried things with a high hand, and anything they set their hearts upon they had by force of arms, if possible.

The following appears in printed format in the publication:

Nunquam Non Paratus
(“Never Unprepared”)

Presumptuous mortal, dost thou dare
Such motto on thy crest to wear?
In this thy firm resolve declared,
That thou art never unprepared?

Never unprepared to meet
Alike the bitter and the sweet?
Firmly to bear misfortune’s frown,
Or wear, with humble mind, a crown!
Never unprepared to scorn
The false and mean, though proudly born;
To raise the fallen, the oppressed defend,
To stand the injured poor man’s friend?

And thou prepared to take thy stand,
The foremost for thy native land,
And there, in death or victory,
Give her thy life or liberty?
Prepared though it should cost they blood,
To hate the evil, choose the good –
To bide the test, whate’er befalls,
When honour, truth, and conscience calls?

Prepared, with high resolve unbending
That knows no art, no mean descending,
To meet thy friend, to speak thy mind,
To live in love with all mankind –
To walk with purpose firm and high,
And, more than all, prepared to die –
Return to dust beneath earth’s sod –
Art thou prepared to meet thy God?

And canst thou boldly lift thy hand
Before the Bar where all must stand,
And there, with fearless front, defy
The judgements searching scrutiny?
Ah! Mortal, tell how thou hast dared
To say that thou art thus prepared?

Is He thy friend beyond all other,
Who sticketh closer than a brother?
Hast thou been washed in that pure fountain,
That flows from Calvary’s holy mountain?
And art thou covered with His dress
That clothes the sinner’s nakedness?
Hast thou been born from on high –
Art thou indeed prepared to die?

Down like a stream thy peace shall flow,
I joy, in sorrow, weal or woe;
Cast on the mountain’s barren steep,
Or fettered in the dungeon deep;
On stormy ocean’s tempest tossed –
Thy home afar – thy pathway lost.

Through every change, in every place,
Thou shalt possess thy soul in peace;
Nor lives there under heaven’s wide span
A calmer or a happier man.
Even griefs celestial lights unfold,
Like clouds that glow with sunset’s gold,
And sorrows all below must meet,
Are turned, like Marah’s waters, sweet.
Above all ills thy soul is lifted,
And thou, beloved of heaven, art gifted
With richest blessings from on high,
Prepared to live – prepared to die.

HISTORY OF THE JOHNSTONE FAMILY.

“It has not been determined at what time the great family of Johnstone first settled in Annandale, County of Dumfries in Scotland.”

“The first trace we find of them is in the reign of Alexander 111., when Hugo de Johnstone, who is supposed to be descended from the Seigneur de Cornville (amended to Jeanville), who came over with the Conqueror, owned lands in East Lothian which he bequeathed to his son John, who gave a portion of them to the Monastery of Sotray about 1285, for the “safety of his soul”; his descendants – Thomas, Walter, Gilbert and John – swore allegiance to Edward 1, of England, John being termed in the deed “Chevalier of the County of Dumfries.””

“It is more than likely, however, we think, that the Johnstones had long previously resided in Strathannand.”

“The name is suggestive of a Saxon origin; and the idea is a natural one, that they either gave it to or received it from the parish of Johnstone in Annandale.”

So says William McDowall in his most interesting history of Dumfries, which fairly bristles with anecdotes to the credit and discredit of the Johnstones. He further mentions in a footnote – “The Parish of Johnstone,” says Chalmers, “derived its name from the village and the hamlet from its having become, in Scoto- Saxon times, the “tun” or dwelling place of some person who was distinguished by the name of John. This place afterwards gave the surname to the family of Johnstone, who became a powerful clan in Annandale.”

There is certainly no doubt, that however vague the time of their occupation of Dumfries, during the reign of James VI, of Scotland and !, of England, the Johnstones of Annandale were a very powerful clan indeed. Even during the fourteenth century an immense number of families bearing the name of Johnstone were to be found in Annandale, all counting kinship with the Lord of Lochwood, as the ancestral castle of the Johnstones was called, and ready at all times to sally forth to war under their chief’s banner, either against the King himself, or on predatory incursions on other Border tribes, chief amongst whom were the Maxwells and Gordons; with both of these clans the Johnstones waged an hereditary feud, which never rested, and which caused much bloodshed through many generations.

Although the Johnstones were not equal to their great enemies the Maxwells in numbers or in power, they were a race of such uncommon hardihood, much attached to their Chieftain and each other, and residing in the strong and mountainous district of Annandale, from which, as from a fortress, they would sally and return to its fastness after having accomplished their inroads. They were, therefore, well able to hold their own against the Maxwells.

One of the strongest characteristics of the Johnstone clan, was their united ness and devotion to their Chieftain, and when a summons came from any quarter, stalwart fighting men were always forthcoming; they were always true to their family motto, “Nunquam non Paratus,” and ready they were on all occasions. SO well was this known to be the case, that when in 1585 Lord Maxwell was declared a rebel, a commission was given to the Laird of Johnstone to pursue and apprehend him. In this, however, Johnstone was unsuccessful. Two bands of hired soldiers, whom the government had sent to his assistance, were destroyed by the Maxwells, and Lochwood, the chief house of the Lair, was taken and wantonly burned, so that, as the Maxwells put it, “Dame Johnstone might have light to put on her hood.” Lochwood was erected in a warlike and turbulent age, and was of immense strength, and its position among impassable bogs and marshes made it almost impregnable. James the VI of Scotland, who is credited with “never saying a foolish thing,” said of Lochwood, “that the man who built it, though he might have the appearance of an honest man outwardly, must have been a knave at heart.” It was built in the fourteenth century, and the ruins of it are still to be seen at the north end of the parish of Johnstone.

Johnstone was so overcome at the disgrace of defeat, being a man of proud and haughty temper, that he died of grief, and this commenced a long series of mutual injuries between the hostile clans. In 1608 Lord Maxwell invited Sir James Johnstone to a conference, each Chieftain to bring one friend only. They met at a place called Auchmanhill, 6th August, when the attendent of Maxwell, after falling into bitter and reproachful language with Johnstone of Gunmanlie, who was in attendance on his chief, at length fired his pistol. Sir James Johnstone turning round to see what happened, Lord Maxwell shot him in the back with poisoned bullets; when the gallant old knight lay dying on the ground, Maxwell rode round him to try and kill him, but Johnstone defended himself with his sword till the life and strength failed him.

This feud went on till 1613, when Lord Maxwell was taken prisoner in Caithness, brought to Edinburgh for trial, and by order of the King, who wished to warn the nobility and disorderly Borderers, publicly beheaded on 21st May, 1613. “Thus,” says Sir Walter Scott, “was ended by a salutary example of severity, the foul debate betwixt the Maxwells and the Johnstones, in the course of which each family lost two Chieftains, the Maxwells dying, one on the field of battle, and one by the executioner’s sword; the Johnstones, one died of a broken heart, and the other by the assassin’s bullet.”

There are many very interesting accounts of the determination and courage of the Johnstones, both of men and women, one of the most interesting being that of Margaret, Lady Ogilvy, daughter of Sir James Johnstone, third Baronet of Westerhall. She was one of the most ardent supporters of Prince Charles Edward Stuart when he raised his standard in Scotland in 1744.

Lady Ogilvy in order to make her husband uphold the tottering Stuart’s fortunes rode with him at the head of their clan to the battle of Culloden; she was taken prisoner with some other ladies, and conducted to Edinburgh Castle; she was not, however, released when the other ladies were as “so much mischief had been done by women taking an active part in the Stuart cause, and so many had incited their husbands to take the field who would otherwise have stayed quietly at home, that it was necessary to make an example amongst them, as Lady Ogilvy was one of the highest rank and greatest influence at Culloden, she had been selected.”

Lady Ogilvy was accordingly tried and condemned to be executed six weeks after in the place where traitors suffered in Edinburgh.

Amongst those who had access to her room was the washerwoman, a little ugly deformed person, with a peculiar hitch in her walk, Lady Ogilvy was extremely desirous of learning to imitate this walk, and every time the woman came she made her walk up and down to teach her. On the Saturday preceding the execution, she induced the woman to change clothes with her, took up the basket and joined the wash girl who was waiting outside, went through the gates of the castle and past the sentry, and to the utter astonishment of the wash girl, when they were at a safe distance, threw down her basket, straightened herself, and ran as hard as she could down the High Street, where, on reaching Abbey Hill, she found horses and carriages awaiting her; she drove by settled stations from Edinburgh to Dover, seeing the hue and cry out after her in every town she entered.

At length, she found herself on a vessel ready to sail for France, and just as they were about to start, the captain and crew were stopped by an embargo from Government to have every vessel searched for Lady Ogilvy, who was supposed to be on one of them.

The searcher came on board having a huge picture, life size of a huge masculine woman, whom he called Lady Ogilvy. The courageous woman caught sight of the picture, and walking up to the agent said, “Ah! That is a picture of Lady Ogilvy, it is strikingly like her, if you go by that you cannot fail to find her.” The man thanked her, searched the vessel, failed to find her, so the embargo was taken off, the sails hoisted, and Lady Ogilvy reached the shores of France in safety, where she joined her husband, but unfortunately died at the early age of thirty-three. This was one of the many interesting anecdotes which one may read of the women of the Johnstones, renowned for their beauty and their courage. Lady Oglivy’s brother, William Johnstone, who married Miss Pulteney, sole heiress of the Earl of Bath, and who took their name and called himself Johnstone Pulteney, was one of the claimants of the Marquessate of Annandale on the death of his eldest brother. Sir Frederick Johnstone, the eighth baronet, son of William Johnstone, is the present owner of the Westerhall estate, the great American possessions, and the claimant of the Marquessate of Annandale.

The Johnstones had been Knights for many generations, but in 1633 James, son of Sir James Johnstone, was created Lord Johnstone, and in 1643, Earl of Hartfell; he was succeeded by his son, created Earl of Annandale in 1661. Unfortunately since 1792 the title of Marquis of Annandale has lain dormant, there being no direct successor, although many claimants.

As to the vexed question, “Who is the heir of the Johnstones?” deponent sayeth not. To put the history of the family as briefly as possible: –

Hugo de Johnstone was living in Haddingtonshire in 1215. His descendants, John, left two sons, Sir Adam, who died in 1455, and Gilbert, ancestor of the Johnstones of Gretna.

The elder of these two sons – Sir Adam – is the meeting point of all the claimants for the Annandale honours. He left three sons –

  1. John – from whom come all the Johnstones known as “Johnstones of Annandale,” and also through them the Hope-Johnstones
  2. Matthew – from whom come all the Johnstones of Westerhall, Aloa, and Lord Derwent
  3. Gilbert – from whom come the Johnstones of Elphinstone.

As far back as 1838 the House of Lords Committee decided that it had been proved that all male descendants of the first Lord Johnstone were extinct. The Lords have also decided that all male descendants of John, first of the Annandale branch (son of Adam, who died 1455) are extinct as Sir Frederick Johnstone had no claim to the title until he had killed off John’s descendants. Westerhall has managed to do this to his own satisfaction, and has proven his own pedigree back to Matthew. He has also produced one document shewing that this Matthew was the son of Adam who died 1455, but a second copy of this document or any other bearing on the point cannot be found in Britain, or in the Royal Libraries of Russia or Spain, or in the Pope’s Library.

There are plenty of Johnstones of Westerhall and Gretna alive today. The Johnstones of Elphinston were created Baronets, but the third Baronet got into money difficulties, and his estates were seized by the then Lord Roseberry. The Baronet disappeared, and it is not known if he left descendants or not, but a member of this branch of the family were Merchant Burgesses of Edinburgh, as the Johnstones seem to have a leaning towards trade when they get into difficulties, possibly for the reason that they are more unsuited to trade than anything else they could attach themselves to.

When James the First of England offered a free grant of land to any of those Scottish clansmen who would leave Scotland and settle in Ireland, with that roving spirit of adventure which belonged to his people, thither came Thomas Johnstone, third son of the then Earl of Annandale.

The Johnstones had become Protestant about the middle of the 16th century, but whether Thomas came as a settler only, or as a shepherd of his flock, it cannot be said; in any case he became Rector of Ballyroney, Drumgooland and Ballynahinch, in the County of Down. He was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Down and Connor, 27th March 1618; Presbyter by same, 4th May 1618; appointed Vicar of Drumgooland, 10th October 1628; and Curate of Clonduff, 28th May 1634. He was Master of Arts. He lived there to a good old age, enjoying life after the fashion of his kind, but seriously as became a pious Scot. His eldest son (according to Heterogenea) James had a son John, who married a niece of the Rev. James Mace, Rector of Lisburn. John Johnstone purchased a large farm at Ballinderry, County Antrim, near Portmore, and settled there about 1670. He had five sons and three daughters. Thomas, a lieutenant in the army, died in America; his descendants own large tracts of land in Virginia and Kentucky. One daughter married Laird Catherwood of Ballyvester, near Donaghadee; the second married George Watson of Brookhill, near Lisburn; and the third daughter married John Kelly, of Ballinderry.

The aforesaid John Johnstone died in 1740, aged 101 years; his grandson, Thomas Johnstone, Park Ranger to the late Marquis of Hertford, died at Portmore, on the 30th July 1800, in his 90th year of his age. He left a goodly family of seven sons and one daughter. Of the sons, perhaps, the best known is John Moore Johnstone, born 14th December, 1741, and for many years agent to Lord Moira, also a Justice of the Peace, and a man of many attainments; he wrote a history of the Johnstone family, as far as he knew it, and called it Heterogenea, or Medley, and to it this article is much indebted.

William Johnstone, grandnephew of John of Portmore, and cousin of the above, and also a lineal descendant of the Honourable and Reverend Thomas Johnstone, Rector of Ballynahinch, was born about the year 1758. He was married to Miss Hannah Ferris about 1782 or 1783,; she belonged to an old and respectable family resident through many generations in Aghalee. William Johnstone held an important post under the agent of the Marquis of Hertford, and was himself a man of considerable property and position in the county; in some deeds which are still in possession of the family he is described as William Johnstone, Gentleman. He also supported his Church in a staunch and true manner, and in the old books belonging to Ballinderry Parish Church his name may be seen several times as holding various positions. As the Johnstones were ever better soldiers than priests, and always ready for a fray, so in the rebellion of 1798 William Johnstone was not “backward in coming forward,” and he served the King gallantly and faithfully as befitted his illustrious and warlike ancestry. He was appointed lieutenant in the Ballinderry Yeomanry, of which the Marquis of Hertford was Captain. He followed the fortunes of war through the very severe and arduous times which lasted till the rebels were subdued, and then retired from service, and in the year 1804, desiring to leave Ballinderry and go to Glenavy, he bought from Doherty Gorman, Esq., a farm of 135 acres, in those days considered an estate, and removed there with his wife and five sons and two daughters. He did not, however, survive this change many years, as owing to the exposure, camping out, short rations, and the many privations to which officers as well as men were subjected during the Rebellion, the life of William Johnstone was considerably shortened, and he died very suddenly whilst yet a comparatively young man.

The house in Ballinderry in which Lieutenant William Johnstone was born and lived, and where all his children were born, is now occupied by Mrs. Benjamin Tisdall.

The children of Mr. Johnstone were:-

Margaret born September 11th, 1784.

William, born January 5th 1790, was being educated for the Army, but died at an early age.

James, born November 16th 1792, emigrated to Canada, where he purchased a large tract of land at Meaford, Canada; here rather late in life he married, and dying at a goodly age left a son William; who still survives; and other sons and daughters. James Johnstone, who was one of the boldest riders and fastest men of his set, was a Captain of the Yeomanry and was described as the “most devilish, handsome man in the country.” He died in 1886

Thomas Johnstone was in the Navy as medical officer on one of H.M. Men of War. The ship, which was not by any means fine as the iron-clad warriors of the present day, was captured by pirates, one of whom gave Dr. Johnstone his life and liberty for curing him by his medical skill (unfortunately all the other officers and crew were put to death). After some time Dr. Johnstone was married to a Maltese lady named Cornelia De Jamo, they had three children, one son and two daughters. After his death his widow returned to her own country.

Thomas, born February 5th 1796, died in Switzerland where he was travelling after qualifying as a medical man.

John Moore, born January 11th 1799, died 8th May 1848, of whom more anon.

Sara, born August 15th 1800, an exceedingly handsome, attractive woman, died at the comparatively early age of 32, 10th January 1832.

Philip, born November 24th 1804, died September 23rd 1882. His father and mother dying when he was yet an infant, Philip Johnstone was brought up amongst relatives who belonged to the Moravian Church, although his parents had been attached members of the Established Church of England (as it was then), and it being the great desire of his father that Philip should become a clergyman of that church. So strong was that desire that Lieutenant Johnstone enjoined it on his elder sons to see this purpose was effected; however, Philip, upon coming to years of maturity, cast in his lot with the Wesleyan Methodists, of which body he remained for fifty-six years an honoured and consistent member. From time to time he filled different offices, was Leader, Sunday School Superintendent, and Trustee of the Donegall Square Church, Belfast.

He went to Belfast in the year 1827, and engaged in wholesale tea business in Rosemary Street. In 1849 he commenced his connection with the linen business, starting as one of the principals of a well-known firm of Johnston and Carlisle, Brookfield Mills. He was one of the most successful merchants in Belfast, and made a large fortune by the linen business. Later on he joined his sons, David and Samuel, in the flax spinning business, carried on by them in Jennymount Mills.

Philip Johnstone also took a great interest in municipal affairs in Belfast, was one of the original members of the new municipal body inaugurated in 1842, and was some time later elected an Alderman. In 1871 he was elected Chief Magistrate of the Town, and his portrait was presented to the Council Chamber.

He died on September 23rd, 1882, universally regretted, and his remains were followed to the City Cemetery by a very large and representative assembly. He married Miss Hester Woods and left five surviving children, two sons, David, and Samuel (who married Miss Agnes Barbour), and three daughters, Hester, who married Rev. Francis Graham; Jemina, unmarried; Maud married to Mr. Edward Jenkins, author of “Gink’s baby,” “The Devil’s Chain,” &c.

John Moore Johnstone, with whom this sketch will deal specially, was the fourth son of Lieutenant William Johnstone. He was born in Ballinderry, and when his father removed to Glenavy was only five years of age.

When a boy of fourteen his father died, his mother having died some years previously, and John, with his brothers and sisters, who were still infants in the sight of the law, were left to the care of guardians, one of whom retired from office, leaving the poor children in the care of a man whom their father had believed would guard and protect them, but who, unfortunately, proved utterly devoid of honour, and enriched himself and plundered the orphans of their patrimony, so that when John Moore Johnstone came to man’s estate, his property was very considerably less than what it should have been.

When still a very young man, in fact only twenty-two years of age, John met with the romance of his life. He fell in love with Jane, younger daughter of the late John Thompson of Rosamonds Hill, Ballinderry, a very beautiful girl of sixteen years of age; her mother was of Manx descent, her people having settled in Ballinderry two generations before, and having given their name of Rosamond or Rossman to the part of the country where they settled. By her father, Miss Thompson was descended from Bishop Jeremy Taylor. In point of family the Thompson’s were not equal to the lordly Johnstones, for a while John Moore Johnstone’s father served his King as an Officer, John Thompson, who served no whit less faithfully, was only a serjeant in the same corps. His service cost him his life, for one of his thumbs being cut off in an engagement, erysipelas set in, and he laid down his life for his country, and

“How can man die better, than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, and the temple of his Gods.”

In spite, however, of the superiority of John’s birth and lineage, Jane’s mother looked very coldly on the handsome suitor, and forbade his attentions to her daughter; unfortunately, the reputation if the Johnstones left a very great deal to be desired, and the good Dame Thompson cherished her daughter too tenderly to give her to the gay gallant without knowing something more creditable of him, for not even the charm of his manner, nor his undoubted good looks and position in the country were sufficient to weigh in the balance against belonging to the wildest, fastest family in the country. However though parents may object and exercise their lordly away – and in 1820 parents were feared and obeyed in a way that we degenerate specimens at the fin de siecle know nothing of – yet love will find a way, and the little blind god had too firmly planted his arrows in the hearts of the youthful pair to be driven out by parental harshness, and one fair Spring day in 1820, as Jane, with devout and pious mien, looking as sweet and fair and quakerish as it was possible for a maiden to look, wended her way to the Moravian Church where her family worshipped, she was joined by the “Young Lochinvar” riding one horse and leading another by the bridle; a word in her ear, and a helping hand, and she was seated in the saddle, and together they rode to Lisburn, and were joined in holy matrimony by the Rev. Edward Cupples in Lisburn Cathedral, and “those whom God has joined, let no man put asunder.” Neither of them ever regretted the runaway match, bad as the example might be to their grandchildren; they were lovers always. To Jane there was but one man in the world – her husband – and he always looked upon her as a queen amongst women.

They had thirteen children.

William John, born 25th December, 1821, died 23rd September 1897; married Lucinda, second daughter of Robert Stewart, Esq., of Lisburn, 4th October, 1848, had two daughters and six sons.

Thompson Moore, born 2nd October, 1823, drowned off the island of Nantucket, U.S. America, 1846.

James, born 26th May, 1825; died September 15th, 1897; married Eleanor, eldest daughter of Hugh Moore, Esq., Cremorne, Rathgar, Dublin, August 21st, 1856, had four daughters and five sons.

Thomas, born 30th June, 1827; drowned in Belfast Lough, 16th September, 1843.

Philip, born 22nd June, 1829; died 22nd May, 1859; married Hannah, second daughter of John Sibthorpe, Esq., 29 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin, 10th September, 1857. Both he and his infant son were interred in the same grave.

Hannah Jane, born 17th March, 1831; died 7th December, 1845

Sarah Ann, born 21st January, 1833; married Henry Thompson, fourth son of John Crawford Thompson, Esq., Ardmore, Crumlin, 19th August, 1852; had no children.

Wesley, born 18th September, 1834; unmarried.

Margaret, born 11th June, 1836; married Thomas Smallman, eldest son of William Henry Nassau Downer, Esq., M.D., of Rosemary Square, Roscrea, 16th February, 1859. Had four sons and one daughter.

(Notes not in original publication: Jane Rosamond Downer, daughter of Thomas Smallman and Margaret Downer was born on 22 11 1865 at Roscrea, Tipperary, Ireland. Also Charles Christopher Downer born 12 June 1864 at Roscrea, Tipperary, Ireland)

Mary Eliza, born 2nd June, 1838; unmarried

Lucinda Hester, born 8th December, 1840; married Stewart, third son of William Houghton Baskin, Esq., Upper Richmond Street, Dublin, 10th August, 1871. Had three daughters and two sons.

Susanna Rosamond, born 31st December, 1842; married Rev. Crawford Johnson, eldest son of Alexander Johnson, Esq., of Antrim, 11th July 1870. Had five sons.

Edward Averil, born 4th February, 1846; died February, 1847.

And so these two were wed.” It is usual to stop the sound of wedding bells, but in a family history like this one must go on and on, telling of the ups and downs which befell Mr. And Mrs. Johnstone. The widow of the sturdy Yeoman liked not well the French leave which our young pair had taken of her, but she loved her fair daughter too well to hold wrath against her, and when a few weeks after the runaway and guilty pair appeared on horseback at her door and craved her forgiveness with becoming humility and many expressions of repentance, she bade them come in, and embraced them, and not long after gave her a substantial fortune, which was very welcome to the impoverished coffers of the Johnstones.

John Moore Johnstone was about five feet ten inches in height, slight and very erect, and of most courtly manner; his hair was dark brown, his eyes soft grey, and a beautifully formed aquiline nose, with the square jaw which was characteristic of his Scottish ancestry. He wore side whiskers as was the fashion of the time, and always wore about his neck a black stock. In such respect was he held in the country that on the occasion of the only visit of the Marquis of Hertford to the estate, at the private dinner which was given to the principal tenants, Mr. Johnstone sat at the right hand of the Marquis.

Although Mr. Johnstone was a member of the then established Church of England, he was not satisfied at the way religion was presented to the people who attended the Parish Church of Glenavy. It was not much the fashion for a Johnstone to trouble his head about religion in any shape, for although they had always attended to the observances of the church, as I said before, they made better soldiers than priests; but whether it was the influence of his charming and clever wife, or whether it was the advance of civilization, in this as in many other matters he differed greatly from his forefathers; therefore he disapproved greatly of the way matters were managed.

The Rector lived in Lisburn, nine miles away, and drove out on Sunday to hold service, and afterward went to the Glebe, a distance of half-a-mile, to settle the week’s accounts with his caretaker. Of course, there was a curate who lived in the parish, but he “missed the tide in the affairs of men” which would have led him on to fortune as a farmer, entered the Church instead, and as he sat under his own vine and fig tree on week-days, and watched the progress of his crops and the growth of his flocks from the kindly shade of his large umbrella, and on Sundays told the parishioners that they might live as they liked, and yet go to heaven when they were ready. Though the people were utterly godless themselves, they had very strict notions of what their parsons should be, therefore, the parish was in an utterly neglected and uncared for condition.

Mr. Johnstone felt things were not right, and as his children were beginning to grow up around him, and he wished the influences about them to be beneficial, when his brother Philip, who had already joined the Methodists in Belfast, asked him to go to a Love Feast in Moira, he went in 1822, and was much pleased with what he was and heard. He did not at that time join the Methodists, not indeed until the year 1826; Mr. Joseph Ross, one of the Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries, was appointed to the Antrim Circuit, and preached at the house of Sergeant Cardwell near Glenavy; Mr. Johnstone went to hear him. I may describe his impressions in his own words; – “I took,” he says, “the most private place I could get, and listened attentively; the word came with power to my heart, and fully convinced me of the truth of the Gospel. I felt I stood in need of that change of heart the preacher spoke of, and that without it I could not enter heaven. I heard Mr. Ross again the next evening in Glenavy, and became still more in love with the doctrines which he taught; I believed the report, and saw that this salvation was what I wanted to make me happy.

“Next morning I gave the preacher an invitation to my house, and requested him to make it one of his regular stopping places. A society class was now formed of which I became a member, and two brethren from the town of Antrim were appointed to meet it alternately, which they did regularly, though they had to travel a distance of seven Irish miles for that purpose. I continued seeking the Lord until in mercy He revealed Himself to my soul, and gave me His Holy Spirit to bear witness with my spirit that I was born of God. All nature now seemed changed. I could now see God in all His works, and longed to see all the world coming to Christ that they might enjoy what I enjoyed.”

After this Mr. Johnstone prepared a place for service to be held in, a building in his farm yard know as “The Turret,” and now used as a tool house, and on the day of the first quarterly meeting held in Glenavy he came to a resolution to build a church, and at once set apart a portion of his garden as a site for the building.

He also formed a Sunday School, and his punctual attendance as a teacher, kindly, genial manner and wonderful love for children, attracted numbers and caused the school to prosper.

In 1830, through Mr. Johnstone’s instrumentality, the preaching house was built and opened by Rev. Adam Averil.

Although Mr. Johnstone cast in his lot with the Church Primitive Wesleyan Methodists he did not desert the Church of his fathers, and with his children attended service there every Sunday, and had the services and Sunday school in the preaching house at an hour when it would not interfere with the services at the Parish Church.

He was seen to the greatest advantage amongst his children, of whom he was exceedingly fond, and used to play with his little daughters, and allow them privileges unheard of in those days. He dearly loved singing, and had an exquisite tenor voice, and was never happier that when surrounded by his children. They sang together the beautiful psalms in their gem-like setting of Weyman’s Melodia Sacra and also the old Methodist hymns with their marvellous trills and turns, and variations and repeats, which seem so odd and amusing to our ears, accustomed to the lighter music of the present day.

His love for Methodism was such that when urged to change Primitive Wesleyan Methodism for another section of the Methodist body, he replied, “All I know of religion I got amongst his this people, and I think I am as near heaven with them as I should be with any other people, and I trust I will live and die amongst them.” It was his special desire and often expressed wish that his children should never sever their connection with the Methodists.

Mr. Johnstone was entirely free from bigotry, and he was never heard to speak harshly or unkindly of any body of Christians, and he always took the most charitable view of everyone and everything. Often on Sunday afternoons he would take a number of children with him and go to one or other house in the country to hold a prayer meeting.

At the time the succession to the Marquesate of Annandale and estates was being contested in Edinburgh, some of the advocates wrote Mr. Johnstone asking his permission to allow them to fight his claim; however, as the title deeds had been burnt in the fire at Portmore Church, where they had been kept for greater safety, and as it promised to be a long, very expensive, and, perhaps, in the end not successful suit, John and Philip Johnstone consulted together in the matter and decided it was better to make no claim – a decision which some of their descendants have often regretted.

Through all the ups and downs of life, in religion as well as in other matters, Mr. Johnstone was warmly upheld by his devoted wife, who was a Christian of a type we most admire and believe in, for not only was she “good for the Church,” but she was also “good for the world”; a thoroughly practical good woman, supporting and sustaining her delicate husband in the many and severe trials which came to them during their married life.

In September, 1843, their son Thomas, a remarkably fine, clever, promising lad of sixteen, who was studying for the bar in Belfast, was boating down the Lough with some friends. Seeing a steamer bearing down on them, and thinking they were going to be run down, Thomas jumped overboard to swim to land, but taking cramp, he sank before his friends could rescue him, just between the Twin Islands. Two years later their eldest daughter, Hannah Jane, died after a short illness, of water on the brain, aged 14; and in 1846, Thompson Moore, who had gone to sea on a merchantman and made several journeys to China and India, and had every prospect of speedy preferment, was drowned when on a voyage to Boston, U.S. America. The vessel got amongst breakers off the Island of Nantucket, east coast of America, Thompson Moore and five others volunteered their services in the lifeboat to make good the shore, and to fasten a cable so as to enable the rest of the crew to get to land, but a huge return wave came and swamped the boat, and the five poor fellows were drowned. Within less than a year after this, Edward, youngest child of Mr. Johnstone, died at the age of one year. These successive afflictions so wrought on a not very robust frame that Mr. Johnstone sank into continued ill-health, and on the 8th May, 1848, he laid down the burden of life, and entered his well earned rest. If the dead can be honoured by the living, he was honoured by one of the largest and most respectable funerals seen in Glenavy, many people coming from considerable distance to show the last mark of respect to the dead. He does not sleep with his fathers, but rests in the sweet, peaceful “Garden of Sleep” which surrounds the pretty church where he worshipped most of his life, and after a widowhood of almost twenty-six years, his faithful wife was laid beside him by her sorrowing children. Truly “whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,” and the noble helpmate of Mr. Johnstone finding herself a widow at forty-two, with nine children, several of them helpless little ones, bravely took up the task of life, and bore the burden and heat of the day, starting her sons honourably in life, bringing up and educating her daughters to be good and useful women in the world. She passed peacefully away when her work was done, on the 1st January, 1874, honoured and deeply regretted by all who knew her. “Her children arise and call her blessed.” The family residence at Glenavy called “Annandale” from the district in Dumfrieshire, Scotland, where the Johnstones were first heard of, is in possession of Miss Mary Eliza Johnstone, the only unmarried daughter of the above. She, with a loving regard for her parents’ wishes, has never severed her connection with Methodism, and a home has always been there for the Ministers of that Church. Miss Johnstone has also been for many years Superintendent of the Sunday School which her father commenced so long ago.

The fair and gracious chatelaine who presides over Annandale as its mistress is Margaret, Mrs. Downer, who married and lived for fifteen years, in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, and being left early a widow, at the death of her mother returned to the old home to take up the reins of office, and together with her sister, Miss Mary E. Johnstone, has kept open house for the whole family circle, and at times may be seen there a great gathering of the Clan. No matter how far the different members may wander, when homeward bound, their hearts turn fondly to the old home of Annandale, which year in and year out weathers the storm, opens its hospitable door to take them in, whilst its gentle Mistresses smile a kindly welcome on the wanderers.

In a family history like this, one may not finish as long as there remains anything to tell, and reference must be made at some length to the children, who survived Mr. And Mrs. Johnstone.

William John, the eldest child of his parents, was born on Xmas day, 1821. He received a capital education at Crumlin Grammar School, which fitted him for a commercial career. His first experience of business life was with his uncle, Philip Johnstone; subsequently, however, he and his brother-in-law, Henry Thompson, J.P., commenced business as a wholesale tea and sugar merchants in Ann Street. Mr Johnstone enjoyed a long and successful business career, which was marked by sterling integrity and uprightness of character. He was connected with the corporation of Belfast for forty years, and for twenty years was one of the Aldermen Indeed, so long had he been in the Corporation that he was regarded as the “Father” of the body. He was a Justice of the Peace; a veteran member of the Orange Institution, Lodge Eldon, No.7; and for a term of years he officiated as Grand Master of Belfast. He was also a prominent Freemason. He was a devoted member of the Church of Ireland, and its interests and advancement were very dear to his heart.

Mr. Johnstone was also connected with many of the charitable institutions of the city, and was a life Governor of the Royal Hospital. He was one of the most popular and respected citizens of Belfast, and a man of the most genial disposition, intensely loyal and devoted to his own relative, whom he was ever ready to serve.

“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed up in him that nature might stand up,
And say to all the world, this was a man.”

His patriarchal appearance and handsome kindly face won all hearts, whilst his reverence which is given only to the head of the Clan. When his sudden death came on 23rd September, 1897, his large circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances were stunned, for although he had attained the good age of seventy-five, five years more than the allotted three score and ten, yet he never seemed to be an old man; he had about him the secret of perpetual youth. The loss of his dearly loved wife a few years before, and then the death of his son, Philip Henry Johnstone, M.A., LL.D., a very promising and successful solicitor who had died early in August 1897, followed by the death of his brother, James Johnstone, who died very unrepentantly on September 15th, 1897, and to whom Mr. Johnstone was tenderly attached; all these sad events hastened his end, and he dropped dead just entering his own warehouse, on September 23rd, 1897. Expressions of his deepest grief were heard all round, and nowhere was sorrow more sincere than in his native village of Glenavy, where he loved to come, and which he always loved to serve. A vast concourse of people assembled for the funeral, and the remains were conveyed to the City Cemetery and laid beside his wife, whose loss he had never recovered.

He left four sons and two daughters.

John Moore Johnston
William Hope Johnstone
Robert Stewart Johnstone, LL.B., Administrator in the Bahamas
Alfred Ashley Johnstone
Lucinda Stewart Watson (nee Johnstone)
Jane Emily Johnstone

James Johnstone, third son of Mr. And Mrs. Johnstone, born in the merry month of May 1825, was for many years one of the good citizens of Belfast, a man of much piety, and largely connected with the many charities of the city. He took a special interest in the Balmoral Home for the rescue of little girls, and was much loved by the children. He was connected all his life with the Methodist Church, and felt the warmest interest in it. He was an office-bearer in the church for many years, and like his brother, William John, he was a most genial kindly man, and specially popular with young people. His handsome, benevolent face was well known in the streets of the city and at social gatherings. He was not a public man, as he preferred the sweet home life he enjoyed with his wife and children. He was head of the linen and damask business of James Johnstone & Co., in which his younger brother Wesley was his partner. He was also Managing director of the Old Public Bakery, which proved very successful under his efficient management. His very unexpected demise greatly shocked his relative and many friends, and one of the most pathetic incidents of the short illness which none expected would terminate fatally, was when his brother William John came to see him. The two brothers were always sincerely attached, and as James lay half unconscious in the bed his elder brother bent over him and kissed him, and spoke to him. The well-known voice seemed to recall him to himself, for he made a faint reply. He passed quietly away on the 15th September 1897, and was laid in the city cemetery exactly one week before his brother William John. He was deeply and very sincerely regretted by all who knew him. His most devoted wife and nine children survive him.

Deborah Moore Osbourne (nee Johnstone)
John Moore Johnstone
Jane Rosamond Johnstone
Margaret Ann Downer (nee Johnstone)

(Notes not in original publication: on 12 05 1898 William Henry N Downer, commission agent, father Thomas Downer, Gentleman, married Margaret Ann Johnston, Willowbank, father James Johnston, Linen Merchant at St. James Church of Ireland, Belfast. Witnesses Henry Mackey and Margaret Downer.

They had a son William Henry M Downer born 04 07 1899, baptised 09 08 1899. The address at registration was 149 Cavehilll Road, Belfast.

On 26 06 1919 William Downer, widower, merchant, 149 Cavehill Road, Belfast married Margaret Orr, 15 Malone Avenue, Belfast, a methodist, daughter of Robert Orr, Clergyman at Carlisle Memorial Methodist, Belfast. Witnesses Joseph McKay and Edward Orr.

149 Cavehill Road, was known as “Arlington”.

There is a notice of Charitable Requests in The Belfast Gazette, dated February 15th 1924 in respect of William Henry Nassau Downer, late of 102 Donegall Street, and Arlington, 149 Cavehill Road, both in the City of Belfast, Merchant, deceased. He died on 6th July 1923.)

Hugh Moore Johnstone
James Hope Johnstone
Frederick William Johnstone
Philip Johnstone
Eleanor Ruth Johnstone

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