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The Scottish Nation

JOHNSTONE, the surname of a family, designed of Westerhall, in Dumfries-shire, who possess a baronetcy, the first of whom on record was Sir John de Johnstone, one of the Scots barons who swore fealty to King Edward I. in 1296, and is styled “Johannes de Johnston, chevalier del comitat de Dumfries,” &c. His son, John de Johnston, in the reign of Robert the Bruce, was a witness in a charter of Thomas Randolph, early of Moray, of the lands and barony of Cumlangan, which the said earl gave to his nephew, Eilliam de Moravia. His son, Gilbert de Johnston, a witness in the same charter, had a son, Sir John de Johnston, a distinguished warrior in the reigns of King David II. and King Robert II. In 1370, he defeated an English army who had invaded Scotland, and in 1372 he was one of the guardians of the west marches. He died about 1382 or 1383. His son, Sir John de Johnston, got 300 francs of the 40,000, went by the king of France, in 1385, to be divided among the Scots nobles, his faithful allies, in the war against England, and from the proportions a comprehensive scale may be formed of the power of those to whom the various sums were paid. Sir John died about 1420.

      His son, Sir Adam, at the head of his vassals, joined the Scots army under the earl of Ormond, and behaved gallantly against the English at the battle of Sark, where the Scots obtained a complete victory. He was afterwards very instrumental in suppressing the rebellion of the earl of Douglas and his brother the earl of Ormond, and King James II. made him a grant of the lands of Peddinane, now Pettinane, in Lanarkshire. The Westerhall family have long borne the principal coat of the name of Johnstone, charged for difference with the heart and crown of Douglas, in memory of the seizure of the rebellious earl, by their ancestor. Sir Adam, had, by a first wife, two sons, John, his heir, ancestor of the Annandale branch (see ANNANDALE, marquis of), and Matthew, who continued this line. By a second wife, Lady Janet Dunbar, daughter of the earl of March, and widow of Lord Seton, he had other three sons.

      Matthew, the second son, was the first to reside at Westerhall, which became the designation of the family. The seventh in descent from him, Sir James Johnstone, knight, was member for Dumfries, in the convention parliament, summoned by the prince of Orange, in 1688-9, and died in 1699. He had two sons.

      His brother, William, succeeded him as second baronet of Westerhall. By his wife, Henrietta Johnstone, he had two sons, and died in 1727. The second son, John, a lieutenant-colonel in the army, who died in 1740, married the dowager marchioness of Annandale, daughter and heiress of John Vanden Bempde of Harkness Hall, Yorkshire. By this lady, Colonel Johnstone had two sons. Richard, the elder, in 1793 assumed, by act of parliament, the surname and arms of Vanden Bempde, and in 1795, by sign-manual he took the surname of Johnstone. He was created a baronet of the United Kingdom on 6th July of the same year, and on his death in 1807 was succeeded by his son, Sir John Vanden Bempde Johnstone, M.P., D.C.L.

      The third baronet, Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall, elder son of the second baronet, became, in 1740, provost of Lochmaben, and chiefly distinguished himself by his attention to local improvements. To him the inhabitants of that part of the country were greatly indebted for good roads and convenient bridges. He was the first to propose that a bridge should be thrown over the Esk at Langholm, by which the people of Westerkirk have ready access to the limekilns and coalpits of Canobie. The family mansion of Westerhall is situated in the parish of Westerkirk, in the churchyard of which is the family vault of the Johnstones. Sir James married the Hon. Barbara Murray, eldest daughter of the fourth Lord Elibank, and by her had fourteen children. Of these, James, the eldest son, succeeded as fourth, and William, another son, as fifth baronet. George, a third son, distinguished himself as a naval officer. After passing through the subordinate stations, he was, in February 1760, appointed master and commander. In 1761, he sent the first notice of the Spanish declaration of war to Admiral Rodney, then commanding in the West Indies, in consequence of which the Havannah was taken. In August 11, 1762, he was advanced to the rank of post-captain. In 1763, he was nominated governor of West Florida, and on his return to England he was elected M.P. for Appleby, and afterwards for Cockermouth. In the course of a speech in parliament he threw out some reflections on Lord George Germaine, afterwards Viscount Sackville, which occasioned a duel between them in 1770, but fortunately it was attended with no serious consequences to either party. Captain Johnstone took a strong interest in the affairs of the East India Company, and distinguished himself by a violent attack on the conduct of Lord Clive. He contributed some material information to the pamphlet, entitled ‘A Letter to the Proprietors of East India Stock, from John Johnstone, Esq., late one of the council at Calcutta;’ and in 1771, he published ‘Thoughts on our Acquisitions in the East Indies.’ In 1778 he was one of the commissioners sent out with the earl of Carlisle and William Eden, afterwards Lord Auckland, to treat with the congress of the revolted American colonies, which mission ended unsuccessfully. As commodore of a squadron destined for the Cape of Good Hope, with the outward bound East Indiaman under convoy, he was, on 30th April 1781, attacked by a French squadron, under Mons. de Suffrein, in Porto Praya Bay, island of St. Jago, but beat them off. He subsequently took some Dutch prizes. Having put one of his officers under arrest, he was afterwards much harassed in the courts of law in consequence, but on appeal, the House of Lords decided in his favour, only 24 hours before his death, on 24th May, 1787. By his wife, a lady of the name of Dee, he had a son, John Lowther, who succeeded as sixth baronet.

      John, a younger son of the third baronet, was progenitor of the Johnstones of Alva, Stirlingshire. Sir James Johnstone, fourth baronet of Westerhall, eldest son of the third baronet, was a lieutenant-colonel in the army, and M.P. during the lifetime of his father, he occupied himself for years in searching for lead in the lands of Glendinning, parish of Westerkirk, and in 1760, discovered a valuable mineral vein, which, on being analysed, proved to be antimony, the only one in Great Britain. He died in 1797, without male issue.

      His brother, William, succeeded as fifth baronet. He married Miss Pulteney, niece of the earl of Bath and of General Pulteney, and acquiring with her an immense fortune, in 1767 changed his name, by royal sign-manual, to Pulteney. He represented, first, Cromarty, and afterwards Shrewsbury, in seven successive parliaments. In 1790 he founded the professorship of agriculture in the university of Edinburgh. He subsequently became an extensive speculator in American lands, a large proportion of which he sold to great advantage. On his death on 30th May 1805, the greater part of his estates devolved upon Sir James Morray Pulteney, who, in 1794, had married his only daughter. The Westerhall estates and title passed to his nephew, the son of his brother, Captain George Johnstone, as above mentioned.

      Sir John Lowther Johnstone, sixth baronet, was, in 1810, elected M.P. for Weymouth, and died the following year.

      His only son, Sir George Frederick Johnstone, 7th baronet, born in Dec. 1810, and M.P. for Weymouth 1832, was one of the claimants of the Annandale peerage. He married, Oct. 24, 1840, Lady Louisa Elizabeth Frederica Craven, only daughter of 1st earl of Craven, and died 7th May, 1841, in consequence of a fall from his horse. By his lady he had posthumous twin sons, the elder of whom, Sir Frederick John William Johnstone, succeeded at his birth, 5th August same year, as 8th bart. His twin brother’s name is George Charles Keppel. Their mother married, 2dly, in 1844, Alexander Oswald, Esq.

JOHNSTONE, THE CHEVALIER DE, an adherent of the Stuarts, was the son of James Johnstone, a respectable merchant of Edinburgh, where he was born in 1720. On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1745 he joined the standard of the Pretender, and was by Lord George Murray appointed his aide-de-camp. He also acted as assistant aide-de-camp to the prince, who, immediately after the battle of Prestonpans, bestowed upon him a captain’s commission. He subsequently raised an independent company, with which he joined the duke of Perth’s regiment, and served throughout the rebellion. After the battle of Culloden he remained for some time in concealment, first in different places in the north, and latterly in the house of Lady Jane Douglas, at Drumsheugh, near Edinburgh. At last, in the disguise of a pedlar, he made his escape into England, and embarking at Harwich, reached Holland in safety. He subsequently entered the French service, and was sent to Canada, where he acted as aide-de-camp to the commander of the forces. On the conquest of those provinces by the British he returned to France, and devoted his latter years to writing, in the French language, ‘Memoirs of the Rebellion in 1745 and 1746,’ which, after his death, was deposited in the Scots college at Paris, and a translation of which was published at London in 1820.

JOHNSTONE, JAMES, an eminent physician, fourth son of John Johnstone, Esq., of Galabank, was born at Annan in 1730. He studied medicine at Edinburgh, and afterwards at Paris, and took his degree of M.D. at the former place in 1750. He settled in practice at Kidderminster, where he acquired much local celebrity, by his skill and success in treating a malignant epidemical fever then raging there, of which he published an account in 1758. His reputation was considerably extended by several publications on professional subjects, and also by some important medical discoveries, amongst which were the use of mineral acid vapour in counteracting febrile contagion, and a cure for the ganglion of the nerves. Several physiological papers were contributed by him to the Philosophical Transactions, which he afterwards enlarged and published separately. The intimate friend of George Lord Lyttleton, he wrote an affecting account of that amiable nobleman’s death, inserted in Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets. He subsequently removed to Worcester, where he died in 1802. His son, the late Dr. John Johnstone of Birmingham, was the author of the Life of Dr. Parr, and several treatises on medical subjects.

      Dr. James Johnstone’s works are:

      Dissertation Medica de Aeris Factitii imperio, in corpore Humano. Edin. 1750, 8vo.

      A Historical Dissertation; concerning the Malignant Epidemical Fever of 1756; with an Account of the Malignant diseases prevailing since the year 1752, in Kidderminster. Lond. 1758, 8vo.

      Essay on the use of the Ganglions of the Nerves. Shrewsbury, 1771, 8vo.

      A Treatise on the Malignant Angina, or Putrid and Ulcerous Sore Throat. To which are added, some Remarks on the Angina Trachaelis. Lond. 1779, 8vo.

      Some Account of the Welton Water near Tewkesbury; with Thoughts on the use and diseases of the Lymphatic Glands. Lond. 1787, 8vo.

      Medical Essays and Observations; with Disquisitions relating to the Nervous System, by James Johnstone, M.D.; and an Essay on Mineral Poisons, by John Johnstone, M.D. Lond. 1795, 8vo.

      Two Extraordinary Cases of Gall-Stones. Phil. Trans. Abr. xi. 211. 1758

      On the Use of the Ganglions of the Nerves. Ib. xii. 122. 1764.

      History of a Foetus, born with a very Imperfect Brain. To which is subjoined a Supplement to the Essay on the Use of Ganglions. Ib. 404. 1767. Ib xiii. 8. 1770

      Case of Paralysis Rheumatica, cured by Tinct. Guiac. Volatil. and the application of Caustics. Med. Com. ix. 388, 1785.

      Cases of Hydrophobia. Memoirs Med. i. 243. 1782.

      Case of Angina Pectoris, from an unexpected Disease of the Heart. Ib. 376.

      On Cynanche Pharyngea; or, on a Defect of Deglutition, from a Straitening of the Esophagus. Ib. ii. 177. 1789.

      Remarks on the Angina and Scarlet Fevers of 1778. Ib. iii. 353. 1792.

      A Case of Calculi passing through the Bladder into the Rectum. Ib 536.

      A Case of an Ulcer of the Bladder communicating with the Rectum. Mem. Med. iii. 542. 1792.

      Case of a Rupture of the Bladder opening into the Pelvis. Ib. 544.

      Account of a Species of Phthisis Pulmonalis, peculiar to persons employed in pointing Needles in the Needle Manufacture. Ib. v. 89. 1799.

JOHNSTONE, BRYCE, D.D., an eminent divine of the Church of Scotland, youngest son of John Johnstone, Esq., a highly respectable magistrate of Annan, by Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Howie, minister of that town, was born there in 1747. He received the elementary part of his education at the parish school, and in 1762 entered on his academical studies at the university of Edinburgh. In 1771 he was appointed minister of Holywood, and in 1786 the degree of D.D. was unanimously conferred on him by the university of Edinburgh. He was among the first to second Sir John Sinclair’s patriotic project of a complete Statistical Account of Scotland; and from the materials furnished by him, the account of Holywood was prepared. In 1794 he drew up, for the Board of Agriculture, ‘A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Dumfries;’ and, in general, he availed himself of every opportunity to promote the improvement of the agricultural and social condition of his native country. He died in 1805. – His works are:

      The Purpose for which Christ came into the World. A Sermon. Edin. 1786.

      Commentary on the Revelation of St. John. Edin. 1794, 2 vols, 8vo.

      On the Divine Authority and Encouragement of Missions from the Christians to the Heathens. A Sermon. Edin. 1797.

      An Essay on the Influence of Relition on Civil Society and Civil Government. Edin. 1801, small 8vo.

      A volume of his Sermons, with a Memoir of his Life, by his nephew, the Rev. John Johnstone, minister of Crossmichael, was published in 1808.


The Manuscripts of J. J. Hope Johnstone of Annandale
By Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., Edinburgh (1897) (pdf)

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