JOHNSTON

This page is an attempt to outline what I know about our Johnston ancestry in as "readable" format as possible. Please note whereas I try to ensure that what I publish is correct, and to differentiate between what is supported by documentation etc, and what is, in my opinion, a reasonable assumption, everything should be treated with caution. IF you have come across information that you believe is relevant to your own research please either verify it independently or drop me a line to confirm its validity. Equally if believe something is incorrect, or if you wish to add any details or discuss please get in touch using the Contact Form.

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The furthest back that we can trace our Johnston line is to John Johnston, a farm grieve or servant, and Elizabeth Fairgrieve.  These are the names given as the parents of the next generation in our family tree Robert Johnston on his later death certificate. Although there is no actual record of his birth (circa 1809) there is a record of the marriage his parents John Johnston and Elizabeth Fairgrieve on 22nd November 1795 in Lasswade parish.  There is also evidence of further sons born to John and Elizabeth.  (For details of potential further sons of John and Elizabeth - See Appendix A.)

The aforementioned son, Robert, a blacksmith to trade, married Isabella Thorburn, on 3rd December 1830 in Penicuik parish. (According to some extra details included in the 1855 birth certificate of their last child, they were married in Gorebridge - the I.G.I also lists 19th November Lasswade).  Isabella Thorburn was the daughter of John Thorburn, a cooper, and Margaret Dewar, born in Gorebridge, Temple parish, and baptised there on 5th June 1812. Her parents were married on 14th February 1802 in Gorebridge. (For further details of John Thorburn and Margaret Dewar and their children - See Appendix B.)
 

Robert and Isabella had five children in the first ten years of their marriage, John born 6th January 1832, Margaret, born 5th September 1834, Alexander, born 7th October 1836, Elizabeth, born 1838/9, and Euphemia, born April? 1841, all born in Pennycuik. For the census of 7th June 1841 we find Robert and Isabella living with their five children in Pennycuik village.  The spelling of Isabella is somewhat strange, and it looks like they had not agreed on Euphemia as a name for their two month old baby, as she is listed as "N.K", standing presumably for "Not Known".

1841 Census (7th. June)  Pennycuik (697)  Book 4. Page 13.

Pennycuik Village.

Name Age Occupation Born in County
Robert Johnston 25 Smith Yes
Esabella 25   Yes
John 9   Yes
Margaret 6   Yes
Alexander 4   Yes
Elisabeth 2   Yes
N.K 2 months   No

Sometime between this census and 23rd December 1841, Robert Johnston and his family moved to Uphall, in Linlithgowshire, as it as "Robert Johnston, blacksmith, Uphall", that he is referred to in a deed of that date, when he seems to have stood as security against the debts of one Robert Thorburn, engineer, who had gone bankrupt. (For Transcript of the "Deed of Caution" - See Appendix C.) Presumably this Robert Thorburn was a relative of his wife, Isabella Thorburn, possibly her brother Robert.

It was in Uphall, probably in 1844, that Isabella, their fourth daughter, was born. Their next two children, Robert and Mary were also born in Uphall Robert circa 1846/47, and Mary circa 1849/50.

By the census of 31st June 1851, however, the family had moved on and were resident in Dechmont village, near Livingston.

1851 Census (31st. March)  Livingston (686)  Book 3. Page ?.

Dechmont Village, (entry No 41 in census), Livingston.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Robert Johnston Head 42 Blacksmith (employing 2 men) Lasswade, Edinburgh
Elizabeth Wife 39   Lasswade, Edinburgh
John Son 19 Blacksmith Pennycuik, Edinburgh
Alexander Son 16 Apprentice blacksmith Pennycuik, Edinburgh
Margaret Daughter 14 Dressmaker Pennycuik, Edinburgh
Elizabeth Daughter 12 Scholar Pennycuik, Edinburgh
Euphemia Daughter 9 Scholar Pennycuik, Edinburgh
Isabella Daughter 6 Scholar Uphall, Edinburgh
Robert Son 4   Uphall, Edinburgh
Mary Daughter 1   Uphall, Edinburgh

From this census we can see that the older children are working, John as a blacksmith, Alexander as an apprentice blacksmith, (the 2 men employed by their father?), and Margaret, at only 14, as a dressmaker. Of the younger children, Elizabeth, Euphemia, (N.K. in the 1841 census), and Isabella are at school, with the two youngest Robert and Mary, still at home. This entry in the census return seems to be only about ten doors along from the home of Isabella's future husband, John Dougal.

Robert Johnston and Isabella Thorburn were still living in Dechmont Road, Dechmont, for the census of 1861.

1861 Census (8th. April)  Livingston (669)  Book 3. Page 7 & 8.

Dechmont Village, near Livingston.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Robert Johnston Head 50 Blacksmith Lasswade, Edinburgh
Isabella Wife 48   Temple, Edinburgh
James Son 8   Livingston, Edinburgh
Jean Daughter 6   Livingston, Edinburgh

It can be seen from this census that Robert and Isabella have had at least a further two children in the intervening ten years, James born circa 1852/53, and Jean born on 22nd March 1855.  Of their older children one would certainly expected to find possibly Isabella, (aged 16), and certainly Robert, (aged 13) and Mary, (aged 10), still at home.  As we know they were all alive at the time from later records, it is possible they were away visiting, perhaps in another district. They are certainly nowhere to be found in the entire census return for Livingston Parish.

On the 24th January 1868, Isabella Johnston, their daughter, who was working at the time as a domestic servant, married "the boy down the road", John Dougal, a labourer. (SEE ONLINE DOUGAL FAMILY HISTORY) On 27th December 1867, one month before this marriage, Isabella Johnston gave birth to a daughter, Isabella.  Whether John Dougal was the father is unknown, as no father's name is given on the birth certificate, but it would seem likely.

For the census of 3rd April 1871, Robert Johnston and Isabella Thorburn were still resident in Dechmont.

1871 Census (3rd. April)  Livingston (669)  Book 3. Page 5.

Dechmont Village, Livingston.

Name Relationship Age Occupation Where Born
Robert Johnston Head 61 Blacksmith & Farmer of 8 acres, employing 1 man & 2 women Lasswade, Edinburgh
Isabella Wife 59   Temple, Edinburgh
Robert Son 23 Apprentice blacksmith Livingston, Linlithgow
James Son 18 Labourer Livingston, Linlithgow
Mary Daughter 20   Livingston, Linlithgow
Jean Daughter 15   Livingston, Linlithgow
Thomas Grandson 7 Scholar Old Monklands, Lanark
Isabella Paris Granddaughter 9 Scholar Old Monklands, Lanark

In this census the children, Robert and Mary, missing in the 1861 census have returned, with Robert following in his father and elder brothers' footsteps as a blacksmith. Robert senior is combining a bit of farming with his smithying, being recorded as farming 8 acres, and he and his wife have two grandchildren visiting, Thomas (Johnston?), and Isabella Paris. Isabella Paris, born 15th January 1862, Old Monklands, was the daughter of Robert Paris and Euphemia Johnston, Robert Johnston and Isabella Thorburn's third daughter. Robert and Euphemia were married on 25th December 1860, Livingston. (For further details of Euphemia Johnston and the other children of Robert Johnston and Isabella Thorburn - See Appendix D.) Thomas (Johnston?) would seem to have been the son of one of the two older Johnston sons, John or Alexander, but which is not known.

Seventeen months after the census of 1871, on 19th September 1872, Robert Johnston, (senior), died, aged 62 according to his death certificate. His wife, Isabella Thorburn, followed him two years later, dying after a long illness, on 8th June 1874, aged 60 according to her death certificate. Both were still resident in Dechmont at the time of their deaths, and were buried in the graveyard of Livingston parish church in Livingston village.

Inscription on Johnston headstone in Livingston parish churchgraveyard

IN MEMORY OF
ROBERT JOHNSTON
BLACKSMITH DECHMONT
WHO DIED 19th SEPr 1872
AGED 66 YEARS
ALSO ISAa THORBURN
HIS WIFE
WHO DIED 8th JUNE 1874
AGED 60 YEARS
ALSO HIS GRANDDAUGHTER
MARY JOHNSTON NICHOL
DIED 11th JULY 1907
AND HIS GRANDSON
JAMES NICHOL
DIED SEPr 1930 AGED 41
ALSO HIS DAUGHTER
JANE JOHNSTON
DIED 26th AUG 1933
AGED 78 YEARS
AND HER HUSBAND
JAMES NICHOL
DIED 30th MARCH 1934
AGED 79 YEARS