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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Johnston family come from? What is the Scottish Johnston family crest and coat of arms? When did the Johnston family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Johnston family history?

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).


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.

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.


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.


Another 185 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Johnston Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


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.


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

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

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, NB in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast

Johnston Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Johnston, a joiner, arrived in Van Diemenís 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

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


  • Richard Malcolm Johnston (1822-1898), American educator and author
  • Mary Johnston (1870-1936), American novelist, best remembered for 'To Have and to Hold' (1900)
  • Eric Johnston (1895-1963), American president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Tom Johnston (b. 1948), American musician, best known for his guitar work with the Doobie Brothers
  • William "Little Bill" Johnston (1894-1946), American tennis champion, winning the U.S. Championships in 1915 and 1919, and Wimbledon in 1923
  • Private First Class William J Johnston (1918-1990), American Army soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • David Cay Johnston (b. 1948), American journalist who received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting
  • Sergeant Harold Irving Johnston (1892-1949), American Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War I
  • 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
  • Brigadier-General Paul William Johnston (1892-1976), American Chairman of General Purchasing Board (1944-1945)



  • Ancestors and Descendants of James and Althea Johnston by Aaron Montgomery Johnston.
  • Eight Children of the Winged Spur by Helen Johnston.

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


Johnston Clan Badge
Johnston Clan Badge

Buy JPG Image

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...


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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  1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  2. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  3. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  4. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  5. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  6. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  7. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  9. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  10. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  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 23 March 2015 at 14:14.

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