The following is from a headstone located at Belfast City Cemetery:
In loving memory of Lucinda the dearly loved wife of
William John Johnston, Dunesk, Belfast
died on the 11th May, Ascension Day 1893 aged 69 years.
Also their fourth son Thomas Rossman,
died 21st September, 1888 aged 29 years
also their fifth son Philip Henry Johnston, M.A., LL.D., T.C.D.,
died 11th August 1897 aged 36 years.
William John Johnston J.P.
died 23rd September 1897 aged 75 years.
Also their grandson Philip Percival Watson
born 4th April 1888 died 11th Oct 1891
also their youngest son Alfred Ashley died 23 Dec 1908 aged 42 years
also their younger daughter Emily died 16th Sept 1953 aged 82 years.
Also of Janie the dearly loved and devoted wife of
W. Hope Johnstone, Chetmar, Malone Park,
died 7th Nov 1896 aged 29 years
and their two infant sons.
The following extract is from the Lisburn Herald 25th September, 1897.
Sudden death of Mr. W.J. Johnston, Belfast
The news of the death of the above named gentleman was received in Lisburn and district on Thursday with feelings of the deepest sorrow. Mr. Johnston suffered from an affection of the heart, but latterly appeared to be in his usual health. After the meeting of the police committee of the Belfast Corporation, at which he presided on Thursday morning, he called upon a nephew, who is now the head of the firm of Messrs. James Johnston & Son, Rosemary Street, and between half-past one and two o’clock returned to his own place of business in Ann Street. Just as he had entered the establishment and was closing the door, he was seized with an attack of heart disease, and fell to the ground. His son, Mr. Wm. Hope Johnston, immediately went to his assistance, and had his father removed into the office. Medical aid was sent for without loss of time, and in a few minutes Dr. Thompson, assistant to Dr. Graham arrived, followed very soon by Dr. Graham himself; but their skill was unavailing, and they had to pronounce life extinct. The body of the deceased was subsequently removed to his late residence, Dunesk, Stranmillis Road.
The late William John Johnston was born at Glenavy, County Antrim, on Christmas Day, 1821, and he was the eldest son of Mr. John Moore Johnston, an extensive farmer on the Hertford estate. He belonged to a family which settled in Ireland in the seventeenth century, and which came to this country from Annadale, Dumfriesshire. He received a capital education at Crumlin Grammar School, which helped to equip him for a successful commercial career, and he commenced business life in the employment of his uncle, the late Mr. Philip Johnston, Mayor of Belfast in 1871, who carried on the wholesale grocery and tobacco trade in Skipper Street. Subsequently, however, he entered into partnership with his brother-in-law, the late Mr. Henry Thompson, J.P., and together they built up a prosperous business as tea and sugar merchants in Ann Street. As a commercial man, Mr. Johnston displayed in a marked degree the energy and perseverance which he carried with him into every department of his busy life, and he won himself the regard of all who were brought into contact with him by his sterling integrity and uprightness of character. Despite the close attention he devoted to his own business affairs, he found time to take an active interest in all that pertained to the welfare of the city of his adoption, and he played a prominent part in its government. His long and honourable connection with the Corporation is well known, and it would be difficult to estimate the value of the services rendered by him with such conspicuous faithfulness during the last forty years. He first entered the Council in June, 1857, as councillor for Dock Ward, but he retired from that position in November 1867. ten years later- at the elections of 1877- he was chosen as alderman for St. George’s Ward, and up to the time of his lamented death he continued to hold that office with advantage not only to that section of the city, but also to the community at large. Had he desired, the chief magistracy of the city might have been his on more than one occasion, but he would never consent to accept the honour. He was a justice of the peace for the city, and a frequent attender on the Bench. In politics Mr. Johnston was a staunch Conservative, and in earlier days he was prominently engaged in many political contests. he was the oldest member of the Belfast Conservative Association, and for many years had been its honorary treasurer and one of its vice-presidents. He was a veteran member of the Orange Institution, his lodge being Eldon No. 7 and for a long term of years he officiated as Grand Master of Belfast. He was formerly also connected with the Royal Black Preceptory and with the Masonic Order, being the senior past master of the Prince of Wales Masonic Lodge no 154, but within the last few years had ceased to be identified with these societies. he was a devoted member of the Church of Ireland, and was a member of the Diocesan Synod and Council, a representative to the General Synod, and honorary treasurer of the diocesan clergy superannuation fund. The deceased married Miss Lucinda Stewart, daughter of the late Mr. Robert Stewart, sen., thread manufacturer, of Lisburn, and this lady died a few years ago. Of their family two daughters and six sons, there now survive the daughters, one of whom is married and four sons – John M. Johnston, Robert Stewart Johnston, LL.B. (who is a judge in the Bahamas), William H. and Alfred A. Johnston. the deceased is also survived by the following brothers and sisters – Mr. Wesley Johnston,Mrs. Henry Thompson,Mrs Stewart Baskin (Dublin), Mrs. R. Crawford Johnston, Mrs Downer (Glenavy), and Miss Johnston (Glenavy). There is no doubt that the loss of his wife, followed by the death only six weeks ago of his son, Mr. P.H. Johnston, M.A., LL.D., and the still more recent and sudden death of his brother, which occurred only last week, had a serious effect upon the health of the late alderman, and, perhaps, hastened his end.