Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry

The Johnstones
Page 2

I am indebited to both Fraser Hamilton and Janet Smith for their invaluable help researching the Johnstone family. Previously, I had been "stuck" at John Johnstone and Janet Barrie, but Fraser added on a whole new generation for me. Fraser descends from Agnes Johnston, born 1780 in New Cumnock, and Janet & I, from Agnes's brother John Johnstone.

For more information on Fraser's family, why not try his wonderful website by clicking on the following link:

William Johnstone was one of my 2xgreat grandfathers. For more information on his descendants, please click on this link:

William was born in 1844 in Muirkirk, the fifth child of Thomas Johnstone & Helen McKersie. In 1851 Thomas & Helen were living at Glenbuck, Muirkirk with their 6 youngest children. Thomas Johnstone was described as a Labourer, born in Crawfordjohn. In 1861 the parents were still in Glenbuck, although all but two of the children had moved out. Thomas was then working as a Drainer, which was someone who made drains. Whether this was promotion from plain labourer seems doubtful !

I have been lucky enough to manage to trace at least something of the subsequent lives of all of Thomas & Helen's children. For a long time the fate of Samuel Johnston born in 1846 eluded me, but another descendant of Thomas & Helen has supplied the answer. This Samuel Johnston emigrated to New Zealand and there are apparently many of his descendants still living there. For more information on Samuel Johnston and his descendants, please click this link

For the rest of Thomas & Helen's children who survived to adulthood, I have managed to find out something at least of their lives and details of their families can be seen in the tree below or on subsequent Johnstone pages. Sadly Thomas & Helen's eldest son - John - died as a small child after choking on a fishbone. Helen McKersie Johnstone died on 2nd May 1870 in Muirkirk. Thomas Johnstone remained in Muirkirk, working as a Drainer, and was living alone there in 1881 on Main Street. He died on 10th April 1886 at Grasshills Farm, and is buried in Muirkirk.

Thomas Johnstone was born in 1807 in Crawfordjohn, the eldest child to John Johnstone and Janet Barrie, who had married in the village the previous year. John & Janet seem to have lived in Crawfordjohn until about 1818, then moved to Muirkirk, where their youngest son Samuel was born. Janet died not long after, in 1820. Three generations of the Johnstones are remembered on a stone in Muirkirk cemetery; Thomas Johnstone and his wife, his father and mother and two of his sons. Unfortunately at the moment the gravestone is broken into three pieces, but hopefully it will soon be restored. The photos below show the two engraved portions of the gravestone, with a full transcription below:

Erected by Thomas Johnstone in memory of Janet Barry his mother who died 12th Septr 1820 aged 38 years; also John Johnstone his father who died 7th Jan 1840 aged 62 years; and his son John who died 25th Feb 1842 aged 4 years; also Helen McKersie his wife who died 2d May 1870 aged 61 years; the above Thomas Johnston who died 4th Oct 1886 aged 78 years; also his son James Johnston died 28th April 1887 aged 48years; and Elizabeth Dickson Stewart wife of the above James Johnston who died 25th June 1905 aged 60years.

From his age at death in 1840, it seems likely that John Johnstone was the son of Thomas Johnstone and Mary Park. This is not definite though, so I've shown this line on the tree below as a dotted one. Further circumstantial evidence supports this theory - both John & Susanna Johnstone were said to be living in Greenburn, Crawfordjohn in the early part of the nineteenth century. The Scottish naming pattern which was practised by the Johnstones also suggests that John's parents were a Thomas & Mary. There are other possibilities for John's parents though (including another set of Thomas & Mary) so more work needs to be done.

The family tree below summarises what I know about this part of the Johnstone family. It is hopefully reasonably accurate, but if you spot any errors, or any relatives, please feel free to E-mail me

Please click on one of the red links on the tree to move to a different page.

If any of the above is of further interest, please feel free to contact me at:

Nicky Rowberry 2012

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Peasants to Puddles - My Family History. By Nicky Rowberry