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Origins Available: English, Scottish


A Boernician family in ancient Scotland first used the name Johnston. They lived in any of several place names in Scotland. Most instances of the name are thought to come from the barony of John's Town in Annandale, Dumfriesshire. The place name comes from the personal name John, and the Middle English tone or toun, meaning "a town." Other places so named in Scotland include St. John's Toun (now the city of Perth).

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The surname Johnston was first found in Dumfries (now part of the region of Galloway) where they held the barony of John's Town. There is a heraldic similarity with the Kirkpatrick family coat of arms, leading to the belief that John was a descendant of Gospatrick, Earl of Northumberland. Gilbert, son of John received a parcel of land in southern Annandale from William Bruce, Lord of Annandale, some time between 1195 and 1214.

"Shortly after 1174 John the founder of the family of Johnstone, gave his name to his lands in Annandale, Dumfriesshire, whence his son Gilbert took his surname. 'Who John, the father of Gilbert, was it is now perhaps impossible to determine. He may have been a native settler who, when the Bruces were made lords of Annandale, elected to hold his lands from them, or, as seems most likely, he followed his overlords from their Yorkshire, or more southern, estates, and was gifted with the lands to which he gave his name, and which, later, formed the parish and barony of Johnstone.'" [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)

Scribes in the Middle Ages simply spelled according to sound. The result is an enormous number of spelling variations among names that evolved in that era. Johnston has been spelled Jonsoom, Jonstoombe, Johnson, Johnstome, Jonstoom, Jonstoomb, Johnstolm, Jonsome, Johnstume, Jonstolm, Jonsolm, Jonstum, Jonstome, Jonsom, Jonsum, Jonstume, Jonsomb, Jonsombe, Jonsoombe, Jonsoomb and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Johnston research. Another 477 words (34 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1611, 1663, 1625, 1672, 1664, 1721, 1701, 1602, 1653, 1687, 1730, 1697, 1772, 1743, 1754, 1711, 1700 and are included under the topic Early Johnston History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Notable amongst the family name during their early history was Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston (1611-1663), a Scottish judge and statesman; James Johnstone (1625-1672), 1st Earl of Annandale and Hartfell; his son William Johnstone (1664-1721), 2nd Earl of Annandale and Hartfell, who was made 1st Marquess of Annandale in 1701; James Johnstone...

Another 52 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Johnston Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Some of the Johnston family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 133 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Most of the Boernician-Scottish families who came to North America settled on the eastern seaboard of what would become the United States and Canada. Families who wanted a new order stayed south in the War of Independence, while those who were still loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the 20th century, the ancestors of these families have gone on to rediscover their heritage through Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Johnston or a variant listed above:

Johnston Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Archibald Johnston, who settled in Barbados with his two sons and servants in 1680
  • George Johnston, who came to New England in 1685
  • Donald Johnston, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

Johnston Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Gabriel Johnston, who landed in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1734
  • Samuel Johnston, who arrived in America in 1734
  • Thomas Johnston, who arrived in Maryland in 1751
  • Stephen Johnston, who landed in Virginia in 1760
  • Joshua Johnston, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773
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Johnston Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Barnard Johnston, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1804
  • Arch S Johnston, who arrived in South Carolina in 1806
  • Alexander Johnston, who arrived in South Carolina in 1806
  • Hugh Johnston, who arrived in America in 1810
  • Francis Johnston, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • ...

Johnston Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Edward Johnston, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • James Johnston, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1778
  • Mr. William Johnston U.E., "Johnson" who settled in New Brunswick c. 1783 was a passenger aboard "Cyrus" on August 21, 1783 from New York to Saint John River [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  • Mr. John Johnston U.E., "Johnstone" who settled in Westmoreland County, New Brunswick c. 1784 he died in 1803 [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  • Mr. Thomas Johnston U.E., "Johnstone" who settled in Fredericton, New Brunswick c. 1784 he died in 1799 [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
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Johnston Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • William Johnston, aged 38, a farmer, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Janet Johnston, aged 25, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • William Johnston, aged 6, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • John Johnston, aged 27, a farmer, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Elizabeth Johnston, aged 70, a widow, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
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Johnston Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Johnston, a joiner, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Neil Johnston, Scottish convict from Glasgow, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Margaret Johnston, Scottish convict from Edinburgh, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Johnston arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "South Australain" in 1837
  • George Johnston a doctor, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Henry Porcher" in 1838
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Johnston Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • David Johnston landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841
  • JH Johnston landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841
  • David Prouting Johnston, aged 23, a carpenter, arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • Amelia Johnston, aged 24, arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • John Johnston, aged 25, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Prince of Wales" in 1842
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  • Donald William "Bob" Johnston (1932-2015), American record producer, best known for his work with Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, and Simon and Garfunkel
  • Arthur Johnston (1898-1954), American Academy Award nominated composer for his 1936 song "Pennies From Heaven"
  • Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862), American general who served in three different armies: the Texas Army, the United States Army, and the Confederate States Army
  • Ivan Murray "I.M." Johnston (1898-1960), American botanist
  • Brigadier-General Paul William Johnston (1892-1976), American Chairman of General Purchasing Board (1944-1945)
  • Oliver Martin Johnston (1912-2008), American motion picture animator recognized by The Walt Disney Company with its Disney Legend Award in 1989. His work was recognized with the National Medal of Arts in 2005
  • Sergeant Harold Irving Johnston (1892-1949), American Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War I
  • Tom Johnston (b. 1948), American musician, best known for his guitar work with the Doobie Brothers
  • Eric Johnston (1895-1963), American president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Mary Johnston (1870-1936), American novelist, best remembered for 'To Have and to Hold' (1900)
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Johnston Historic Events



Empress of Ireland

  • Mr. John Alexander Beddows Johnston, British 8th Engineer from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Mr. George A. Johnston (1892-1914), American Second Class Passenger from Santa Barbara, California, United States who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Mr. David Johnston (1877-1914), Canadian First Class Passenger from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914

Halifax Explosion

  • Mrs. Charlotte  Johnston, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. William  Johnston (1889-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMAS Sydney II

  • Mr. Donald Erskine Johnston (1921-1941), Australian Able Seaman from Dayboro, Queensland, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II on the 19th November 1941 and died during the sinking
  • Mr. Edgar William Johnston (1919-1941), Australian Able Seaman from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II on the 19th November 1941 and died during the sinking
  • Mr. George Johnston (1908-1941), Australian Writer from Newport, Victoria, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II on the 19th November 1941 and died during the sinking

HMS Hood

  • Mr. William Johnston (b. 1916), Scottish Assistant Steward serving for the Royal Navy from Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking
  • Mr. James Johnston (b. 1916), Scottish Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Marnock, Banff, Banffshire, Scotland, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking

HMS Prince of Wales

  • Mr. Robert Douglas Johnston, British Lieutenant Commander, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died during the sinking

HMS Repulse

  • Mr. Robert William Johnston, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died during the sinking

RMS Lusitania

  • Mr. Hugh Robert Johnston, English Able-Bodied Seaman from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking

RMS Titanic

  • Mr. James Johnston, aged 41, English Saloon Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking by escaping in life boat 2
  • Mr. Andrew Emslie Johnston (d. 1912), aged 35, English Third Class passenger from Thornton Heath, London who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Mrs. Elizabeth "Eliza" Johnston (d. 1912), (née Watson) , aged 34, English Third Class passenger from Thornton Heath, London who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Master William Andrew Johnston (d. 1912), aged 8, English Third Class passenger from Thornton Heath, London who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Miss Catherine Nellie Johnston (d. 1912), aged 7, English Third Class passenger from Thornton Heath, London who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
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  • Ancestors and Descendants of James and Althea Johnston by Aaron Montgomery Johnston.
  • Eight Children of the Winged Spur by Helen Johnston.
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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Nunquam non paratus
Motto Translation: Never unprepared

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Johnston Clan Badge
Johnston Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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Septs of the Distinguished Name Johnston
Jeanson, Johmson, Johnsan, Johnsand, Johnsane, Johnsant, Johnsen, Johnsend, Johnsent, Johnsind, Johnsint, Johnson, Johnstolm, Johnstom, Johnstomb, Johnstombe, Johnstome, Johnston, Johnstone, Johnstoom, Johnstoomb, Johnstoombe, Johnstown, Johnstum, Johnstume, Johnswon, Johnsyn, Johnsynd, Joneson, Jonsolm, Jonsom, Jonsomb, Jonsombe, Jonsome, Jonson, Jonsone, Jonsoom, Jonsoomb, Jonsoombe, Jonsown, Jonsson, Jonstolm, Jonstom, Jonstomb, Jonstombe, Jonstome, Jonston, Jonstone, Jonstoom, Jonstoomb and more.

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Citations



  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X

Other References

  1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  2. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  5. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  6. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  9. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  10. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  11. ...

The Johnston Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Johnston Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 29 August 2016 at 09:23.

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