Johnston History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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).

Early Origins of the Johnston family

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]

Early History of the Johnston family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Johnston research. Another 239 words (17 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.

Johnston Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Johnston family (pre 1700)

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, 1st...
Another 51 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.

Johnston World Ranking

In the United States, the name Johnston is the 214th most popular surname with an estimated 121,863 people with that name. [2] However, in Canada, the name Johnston is ranked the 40th most popular surname with an estimated 41,674 people with that name. [3] And in Australia, the name Johnston is the 62nd popular surname with an estimated 35,723 people with that name. [4] New Zealand ranks Johnston as 24th with 5,866 people. [5] The United Kingdom ranks Johnston as 107th with 44,149 people. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Johnston family to Ireland

Some of the Johnston family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 73 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Johnston migration to the United States +

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
  • George Johnston, who settled in New England in 1685
  • Donald Johnston, who landed in New Jersey in 1685 [7]
Johnston Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Gabriel Johnston, who landed in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1734 [7]
  • Samuel Johnston, who arrived in America in 1734 [7]
  • Thomas Johnston, who arrived in Maryland in 1751 [7]
  • Stephen Johnston, who landed in Virginia in 1760 [7]
  • Joshua Johnston, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Johnston Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Barnard Johnston, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1804 [7]
  • Arch S Johnston, who arrived in South Carolina in 1806 [7]
  • Alexander Johnston, who arrived in South Carolina in 1806 [7]
  • Hugh Johnston, who arrived in America in 1810 [7]
  • Francis Johnston, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Johnston migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

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 [8]
  • Mr. John Johnston U.E., "Johnstone" who settled in Westmoreland County, New Brunswick c. 1784 he died in 1803 [8]
  • Mr. Thomas Johnston U.E., "Johnstone" who settled in Fredericton, New Brunswick c. 1784 he died in 1799 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Johnston Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Johnston, aged 38, a farmer, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Janet Johnston, aged 25, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • William Johnston, aged 6, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • John Johnston, aged 27, a farmer, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Elizabeth Johnston, aged 70, a widow, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Johnston migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Johnston Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Eleanor Johnston, (Johnson), (b. 1793), aged 20, Irish convict who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Catherine" on 8th December 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. John Johnston, (b. 1794), aged 26, Irish gunsmith who was convicted in Antrim, Ireland for life for forgery, transported aboard the "Dorothy" on 5th May 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. James Johnston, English convict who was convicted in Cumbria (Cumberland), England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Claudine" on 20th May 1821, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [11]
  • Mr. John Johnston, English convict who was convicted in Cumbria (Cumberland), England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Caledonia" in 19th June 1822, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [12]
  • John Johnston, a joiner, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Johnston migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Johnston Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • David Johnston, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841
  • JH Johnston, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841
  • David Prouting Johnston, aged 23, a carpenter, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • Amelia Johnston, aged 24, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1841
  • John Johnston, aged 25, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Prince of Wales" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Johnston migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [13]
Johnston Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Archibald Johnston, who settled in Barbados with his two sons and servants in 1680
Johnston Settlers in West Indies in the 20th Century
  • Mr. John E. Johnston, (b. 1855), aged 49, Cornish engineer, from Launceston, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Celtic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 12th February 1904 en route to Cúcuta, Colombia [14]

Contemporary Notables of the name Johnston (post 1700) +

  • David Cay Johnston (b. 1948), American journalist who received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting
  • Harry Allison Johnston II (1931-2021), American lawyer, politician and diplomat, President of the Florida Senate (1984-1986), United States Special Envoy for Sudan (1999-2000)
  • Clarence William "Bill" Johnston (1925-2021), American golf course architect and professional golfer who played on the PGA Tour
  • Daniel Dale Johnston (1961-2019), American singer-songwriter and visual artist
  • Dan L. Johnston (1938-2016), American lawyer and politician, Member of the Iowa House of Representatives (1967-1969)
  • 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) [15]
  • ... (Another 252 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

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 [16]
  • 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 [16]
  • 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 [16]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Charlotte  Johnston, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [17]
  • Mr. William  Johnston (1889-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [17]
Hillsborough disaster
  • Alan Johnston (1963-1989), English trainee accountant who was attending the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, Yorkshire when the stand allocated area became overcrowded and 96 people were crushed in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster and he died from his injuries [18]
HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. Donald Erskine Johnston (1921-1941), Australian Able Seaman from Dayboro, Queensland, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [19]
  • Mr. Edgar William Johnston (1919-1941), Australian Able Seaman from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [19]
  • Mr. George Johnston (1908-1941), Australian Writer from Newport, Victoria, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [19]
HMS Dorsetshire
  • William Thomas Johnston, British Leading Seaman aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [20]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. William Johnston (b. 1916), Scottish Assistant Steward serving for the Royal Navy from Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [21]
  • Mr. James Johnston (b. 1916), Scottish Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Marnock, Banff, Banffshire, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [21]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Robert Douglas Johnston, British Lieutenant Commander, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [22]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Robert William Johnston, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [23]
HMS Royal Oak
  • R. Johnston, British Stoker with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [24]
  • Alexander James Johnston (d. 1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [24]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Hugh Robert Johnston, English Able-Bodied Seaman from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [25]
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 [26]
  • 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 [26]
  • 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 [26]
  • 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 [26]
  • 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 [26]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Brooxey J. Johnston Jr., American Gunners Mate Third Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [27]


The Johnston Motto +

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


Suggested Readings for the name Johnston +

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

  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  3. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  4. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  5. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  6. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 2nd January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/catherine
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dorothy
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th February 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/claudine
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 30th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/caledonia
  13. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  14. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  15. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, March 30) Paul Johnston. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Johnston/Paul_William/USA.html
  16. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  17. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  18. ^ Hillsborough Victims (retreived 21st March 2021). Retreived from https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/15/remembering-96-victims-hillsborough-disaster-30-years-9206566/
  19. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  20. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html
  21. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  22. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  23. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  24. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  25. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  26. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  27. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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