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Book: Colonial Familes Vol 4
Johnston Family Trees
Scandinavian Ancestors-
Maryland & Virginia 1700-1850
Christopher Johnston 1750 - 1819

Susanna Stith Johnston
1759 - 1838 & Stith Ancestry

Johnston Family Origins & Migration  


BC - 600: Legendary kings of Scandinavia and Russia.

600-1000: Radbard or Radbart, King Of Garoriki (Russia),
Randver Radbardsson,
Sigurd Hring King Of Denmark & Norway,
Ragnar Lodbrock,
Bjorn "Ironside" Ragnarsson King Of Uppsala & Sweden,
Erik Bjornsson King Of Uppsala,
Emund King Of Birka b: (Erik Anundsson/Eymondson/Edmundson),
Bjorn "The Old" Ericsson,
Olof Bjornsson King Of Uppsala [1st Christian king of Sweden],
Gunhild Olafsdatter,
Thyra Haraldsdottir,
Thorgils "Sprakalägg" Styrbjörnsson,
Ulf (Ulsius) Thorkilsson,
Hringo (Earl Beorn), King of Uppland, Sweden or King Björn Thorgilsson aka Hringo,
Siward The Fairbairn Beorn.

1045: Waltheof II Earl of Huntington, first Viking descendant born in Britain, was followed by Uhtred Tydale of Huntington whose son Uhtred John established our Johnston surname.

1165: Uchtred John received grant from Robert The Bruce; established "John's Toun", thereafter known as John of Johnston.

1750-1819: Christopher Johnston born at Moffat, Scotland; emigrated to Virginia Colonies 1766, married Susanna Sith 1779, died Baltimore 1819.

1818: Christopher's daughter Elizabeth married John Miuir Hepburn at Baltimore and continued the Hepburn line in Maryland begun by Dr. Patrick Hepburn.

More detailed study of the historical record is in linked pages.

Kingdom of Northumbria

Earliest flag of Scotland 900

Flag of Denmark
earliest Nordic Cross possibly 12th century

Earliest flag of Sweden 1620

Johnstons lived under the Scottish Union flag 1606-1707

Christopher lived under the flags of Scotland until he came to Virginia and lived under

England's flag,

then Lord Baltimore's Calvert flag in Maryland, followed by

America's Grand Union flag until the Revolution, then

the Early U.S. flag of 12 stars and stripes. He probably died before Maryland's own flag came into being.

Johnston Family Armorial Bearings  

Arms of Uppland to represent Uppsala, seat of ancient ancestors Arms of Annandale where John De Johnston [Uchtred John] received lands from Robert Bruce Johnston arms drawing in book "Colonial Families of Maryland" Johnston arms by author from blazon in book noted left Johnston arms shown at
Irish version
Johnston tartan available online in many places

Johnston Surname  

Author notes: some of the web sources declaring the meanings of surnames have it wrong.
Johnson is clearly patronymic for "son of John" as is McIain, Iain/Ian being John.
Johnston and variant Johnstone are not from "son of John" but rather from "town" or "land" of John.
The subsequent adoption of the surname by others does not alter the mode of origination.

Johnston/e at Rampant Scotland
Clan/Family Histories - Johnston/Johnstone

There were a number of "John's towns" in Scotland but the earliest record of the surname is a John Johnstone at the end of the 12th century Later, Sir John Johnston of Dumfries signed the Ragman Roll in 1296, along with most of the other Scottish landowners, swearing allegiance to King Edward I. The family grew in stature and Sir John's descendants were appointed as a warden of the western marches in 1381. Adam Johnstone was named Laird of Johnstone near the beginning of the 15th century and took part in the Battle of Sark in 1448. Adam's son assisted King James II in his struggle with the Douglas family and was rewarded with land near Threave Castle which had previously belonged to the Douglases. Adam's eldest son (another John) was the ancestor of the Annandale branch of the family while another son Mathew is said to have married a daughter of the Earl of Angus (chief of the Red Douglases) and his descendants formed the Westerhall branch.

The Johnstones were one of the many Border families who frequently raided the north of England over the centuries. They also became involved in one of the many Border feuds with the Maxwells, which was only resolved by the intervention of King James VI in 1623.

James Johnstone, the chief of the clan, was made Lord Johnstone of Lochwood in 1633 by King Charles I and Earl of Hartfell in 1643. King Charles II elevated him to Earl of Annandale, and Lord Johnstone of Lochwood, Lochmaben, Moffatdale and Evandal. In 1701, a descendant was raised to the rank of Marquess of Annandale.

In early times, the city of Perth was called St John's Toun (the local football team is still called St Johnstone) and when surnames became more frequent, many of the people from there took the name Johnstone. When the MacGregor name was proscribed (banned) a number of that clan took the name Johnstone.

Other Johnstones are to be found in Strathspey, unconnected with those in the Borders. This family supported the Jacobite cause in 1715 and 1745. The head of this branch now lives in America.

In more modern times, Tom Johnston, a Labour politician, was a successful Secretary of State for Scotland during the Second World War.

The Johnston clan motto is "Nunquam non paratus" which means "Never unprepared".

Johnston/Johnstone combined was the 10th most frequent surname at the General Register Office in 1995.

Johnston at Behind the Name
Usage: Scottish
Extra: Statistics
From the name of a Scottish town, which meant "John's town".
Rankings for JOHNSTON:
  • United States ranked 214 out of 88,799
  • England and Wales ranked 214 out of 500
  • Scotland ranked 28 out of 100

Johnston/e at Wikipedia
Johnstone (surname)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Johnstone is a surname of Scottish origin related to Johnston. It is evidently derived from the Celtic Jonestun, meaning "John's land".

Sir Walter Scott wrote often of the Johnston/e family. In The Fair Maid of Perth (1828), he used a stanza from an old ballad: "Within the bounds of Annandale, The gentle Johnstones ride; They have been here a thousand years, A thousand more they'll bide."[1] For more information concerning the Johnstones, see Clan Johnstone.
Johnston at Scotclans
Gaelic Name: MacIain [ Hear name in Gaelic at web site ]
Motto: Nunquam non paratus (Never unprepared)
Badge: Red Hawthorn
Lands: Borders and Aberdeenshire
Origin of Name: John's son


Whenever there has been a Borders battle, the Johnstons have never been far away.

The first person recorded with this name was John Johnston, who, in 1174, gave his name to the land in Annandale, Dumfries-shire which he had been granted. He had a son Gilbert, whose name appears in records from 1194. Gilbert’s grandson was Sir John of Johnston, a knight of the county of Dumfries. When the Ragman Roll was drawn up to carry the names of those swearing fealty to England’s Edward I in 1296, Sir John signed.

However, Perth was at that time known as St Johnston, and Johnstonburn in East Lothian was then called Jonystoun. From these areas too records began to show families taking the Johnston name as their own. Thirdly, from Strathspey in the Highlands, Stephen the Clerk and Margaret, heiress of Sir Andrew Garioch, would marry and start a family which would eventually be known as Johnston.

But it was the fighting Johnstons of the Western Borders who would proliferate and develop their power greatest. Sir John’s great-great-grandson, Adam, was Laird of Johnston around 1413, and in 1448 fought in the Battle of Sark.

Adam’s son supported James II in putting down the Douglases, and won their lands of Buittle and Sannoch near Threave Castle as reward.

John, eldest son of Adam, was progenitor of the Annandale branch and his brother Matthew, marrying the daughter of the Earl of Angus, was progenitor of the Westerhall branch. John’s offspring would become the main Johnston family.

On 7th December 1593 was the Battle of Dryfe Sands near Lockerbie after a long-time feud between the Johnstons and the Maxwells. The Maxwells fared badly that day and Lord Maxwell, most powerful man in southern Scotland, was slain. A meeting of reconciliation in 1608 was where the ninth Lord Maxwell avenged his father with Johnston’s life. In 1614 he was brought to book and hanged.

By the start of the 1700s the chief of the Johnstons had been raised to rank of Marquess of Annandale and Secretary of State and John, 2nd of Westerhall, was a baronet of Nova Scotia.

Johnston at Geocities

Origins and Meaning of surname JOHNSTON

In form at least the surname is Scottish, deriving from the place of the name in Annandale in Dumfriesshire, which was originally ‘Johns town’.

The original John was a Norman landowner in the area in the twelfth century, and instead of taking on the straightforward patronymic ‘Johnson’, his descendants adopted the placename as their surname, becoming Johnston(e)s.

This family, the source of virtually all Scottish bearers of the name, became one on the strongest and most unruly of the Border clans, and their long feud with another clan, the Maxwells, was notorious for its ferocity.

When the clans were eventually ‘pacified’ and scattered by James II, many Johnstons fled to Ulster where, like large numbers from the other clans - Elliots, Armstrongs, Nixons and others - they settled mainly in Co Fermanagh, where the surname is today the second most numerous in the county.

As well as these Johnstons, however, many others whose name was originally Johnson adopted the Scottish name. Such adoptions occurred predominantly in Ulster, and affected those of Scottish and of native Irish origin, with the Maclans of Caithness translating their surname as Johnson, and then altering it to Johnston in many cases, and the MacShanes of the Armagh/Tyrone district, a branch of the O’Neills, doing likewise. During Anglicization many Mc Keowns in Ireland had their name changed to Johnston. Mac Eoin in the Irish language translates to 'son of John'.

Courtesy of: Edward MacLysaght's "Surnames of Ireland"

Johnston Family Factoids  

In the map at right you can see where the Johnston surnamed people were concentrated in the United Kingdom 1891 census of England and Wales. Scotland proper is not represented,

The dark spot in the southeast is London. The medium gold area at upper right is part of what used to be Northumbria. The very dark areas on the west are Cumberland and Lancashire. Cumberland borders Dumfries on the north in Scotland where Annandale is situated and where Uchtred John was given lands by Robert Bruce.

Johnstons [and Johnstone's whose map is nearly identical] have migrated down into what are today counties in England.

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