Clan Johnston/e in America

The Organization

Clan Johnston/e in America is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, and nonpolitical organization of persons or their spouses who have a reasonable presumption of descent from ancestors in Scotland or Northern Ireland named Johnston or Johnstone. Its first meeting was held in October 1976 at the Stone Mountain Games in Atlanta, Georgia. The following year the organization adopted its Constitution and By-Laws.

Clan Johnston/e in America collects and preserves historical and genealogical information concerning Johnston(e)s and maintains archives of materials at the Ellen Payne Odom Library in Moultrie, Georgia. It publishes a quarterly newsletter, the Spur and Phoenix, participates in various Scottish games throughout North America, makes available to members tartan and other clan-related merchandise, and generally engages in activities which foster fellowship and awareness of Clan heritage.

Origin of the Name

The first use of the name Johnston(e) was recorded in Annandale, the valley of the River Annan, in southern Scotland, during the period 1170 to 1194 with three references to Gilbert, son of John, and a fourth to the same person as Sir Gilbert de Joneston. In time, the Johnston(e)s became a powerful Border clan and became involved in frequent episodes of Border warfare.

The Chief's Line

In 1633, James Johnstone of Johnstone in Annandale was created Lord Johnstone of Lochwood by Charles I, and ten years later he became Earl of Hartfell. The extinct Earldom of Annandale was conferred on the second Earl of Hartfell, who died in 1672. His son became Marquis of Annandale in 1701. The Marquessate and all Peerages and Titles became dormant on the death of George, third Marquis, in 1792.

On February 16, 1983, after a lapse of nearly 200 years without a Chief of Clan Johnstone, the Lord Lyon of Scotland recognized Percy Wentworth Hope Johnstone of Annandale and of that Ilk as Chief of the Name and Arms of Johnstone. Upon his death a few months later, his son Patick Andrew Wentworth Hope Johnstone of Annandale and of that Ilk became the present Clan Chief. In 1985, the House of Lords recognized his claim to be the 11th Earl of Annandale and Hartfell. The Chief resides with his wife, Susan Josephine Johnstone (nee Ross), one son, David, and one daughter, Julia, at Raehills on their Annandale Estate.

Various Annandale Johnston(e)s

The largest number of Johnston(e) families originated in the Annandale area of Scotland. Few of these can show a genealogical connection to the Chief. Many Johnston(e)s with ancestors from southern Scotland descend from various major cadet lines, such as the Johnston(e)s of Elsieshields, Westerhall, Newbie, Poldean, and Elphinstone, to name a few. Even more cannot show a connection to a major cadet family.

The Caskieben Branch

The Caskieben branch of the Clan traces its origin to Stiven de Johnston in Aberdeenshire who lived during the reign of King David II (1331-1368). He was a man of great learning, on which account he was called "the clerk", and became principal secretary to the Earl of Mar. Stiven married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Sir Andrew Garioch of Caskieben, through whom he obtained the lands of Caskieben and Crimond.

King Charles I created Sir George Johnston of Caskieben a Baronet of Nova Scotia on March 31, 1626. In 1630, Sir George became Sheriff of Aberdeen.

Sir Thomas Alexander Johnston III, 13th Baronet of that Ilk, Hilton, and Caskieben, was acknowledged by the Lord Lyon as Head of the House of Johnston of Caskieben. He was a Charter Life Member of Clan Johnston/e in America and served as Vice-President since its founding in 1976. Sir Thomas died On November 10, 1984, in Mobile, Alabama. He is survived by his wife, Lady Helen DuBois Johnston, two daughters, Helen DuBois Sargent, and Leslie Sheldon Johnston, and a son, Thomas A. Johnston IV, who succeeds to the title.

Other Scottish Johnston(e)s

Some Johnston(e)s may find that their origin is neither Annandale or Caskieben, but from various other places in Scotland. For example, there are Johnston(e)s from Perth, the ancient name for which was St. Johnston.

Ulster Johnston(e)s

During the early 1600s, many Johnston(e)s migrated to Ulster, which was then an unsettled frontier. It has been said that there are now more Johnston(e)s in Northern Ireland than in Scotland! Many of these Johnston(e)s subsequently migrated to America.

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This page was last updated on April 22, 2000.
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