Tag Archives: John Johnston

Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I began to have a fresh look for what I could find out about my JOHNSTON ancestors, from Bathgate in West Lothian, in the WALKER branch of my family tree. Now I want to write up about the new things I’ve found.

newspapers-444448_640In “Part 1”, I’ve posted a transcription of an amazing newspaper article, from the “Falkirk Herald”, on Saturday, 15th August 1925; page 11 – which I found a few days ago, via the British Newspaper Archive. The article is full of biographical information about two of my direct ancestors; Thomas JOHNSTON (my 4x Gt-Grandfather), and his father-in-law, Patrick MAIR (my 5x Gt-Grandfather).

“Part 2” is my chance to say what set me off on this, and what I’ve found; to make some more comments about the newspaper article in “Part 1”, and mention some other things that I’ve found.

findagrave-icon-2I begin in September 2016, when I was contacted through AFamilyHistoryBlog by “Nevada Bob” who had been photographing gravestones in Bathgate, for the website FindAGrave.com. Bob asked me if a particular grave was of interest to me in my family history research. That grave wasn’t! But Bob suggested that I keep an eye on the Find A Grave website for anything of interest, as he added more of his photos.

Gravestone of John JOHNSTON & Margaret YOUNG, in the Old Parish Churchyard, Bathgate, West Lothian; via www.findagrave.comA couple of weeks ago I had another look on the Find A Grave website and saw a photo and transcription, which Bob had added, that very clearly is of interest to me – see HERE. So I got back in touch with Bob, via e-mail, about it. This is the gravestone of John JOHNSTON, his wife – Margaret YOUNG, and 3 of their children. There was some brief (and understandable) confusion, with Bob mistaking a photo that I’ve posted of Margaret JOHNSTON, to be of her mother – Margaret YOUNG, who is named on the tombstone. But that was soon clarified.

Due to this, I was spurred into doing some fresh internet searches looking for anything new that I could find about the Johnston family. I started looking for gravestone records, comparing 2 websites; Find A Grave.com, and BillionGraves.com (which I’ve been using recently, and rather like). The two sites were quite similar, and I found nothing particularly new on either one. You might find that a grave is on one website, but not on another, or has been transcribed slightly differently, or that one site has a better photo than another! So its worth using the different sites.

When searching for the JOHNSTONs had yielded very little new information, I looked back further, and began searching for John JOHNSTON’s maternal Grandfather “Patrick MAIR”, JOHNSTON-family-tree-coverwho was a printer and publisher in Falkirk, and his brother “Thomas MAIR”, a “merchant”/banker in Bathgate. I knew almost nothing about them beyond what little is on the old “Genealogical chart of the JOHNSTON family”, which I’ve previously posted about.

I soon found two particular sources of information on-line, that gave me lots of new details about Patrick MAIR and his descendants. One is the Falkirk Community Trust, which operates the Falkirk Archives. They hold a collection of legal papers about Patrick, and Thomas MAIR, and some of Patrick’s descendants – mainly the RANKINEs, through one of Patrick’s daughters; Isabel(la). The Falkirk Archives’ description of the “Mair and Rankine family papers” says quite a lot about Patrick MAIR and his family, and the archives’ “finding aid (no.33)” (PDF file) also give a brief description of each document that the archive holds about the family. Both of these pieces are interesting to read through.

falkirk-herald-crop-1The second source was some old newspaper articles from the “Falkirk Herald”, available through the British Newspaper Archive. The Falkirk Herald was the first newspaper to be owned by the Johnston Press; the printing business established by Patrick MAIR and Thomas JOHNSTON, and continued by some of Thomas’ descendants. I have found articles of interest, about Patrick MAIR, and Thomas JOHNSTON, printed on 3 different occasions in the Falkirk Herald.

The earliest article is a relatively short biography of Patrick MAIR, printed on Wednesday 7th April 1909. I’m interested that this seems to be very close to the time when the “Genealogical chart of the JOHNSTON family”, that I have, was produced. Might this chart, or the chart’s author – Alexander Cuthbert, have informed the article? (No author is credited with the newspaper article!). Although one big discrepancy is that where the chart says that Patrick died in “1796”, the newspaper article states that he “retired from business in 1797”, and died “on 20th February, 1805”. I think that the newspaper article has more authority on this!

This 1909 article says that “the works which came from the press of Patrick Mair were very numerous, and it is hoped that at some future time a list of these will be obtained for publication. The next article that I’ve found lists some of these works. But I have not yet found any indication of a comprehensive list having been produced. Perhaps it’s never been done! But if anyone knows otherwise, I would be interested to hear. If so please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.

The second occasion where I’ve found an article is in an issue of the falkirk-herald-crop-2Falkirk Herald, marking the newspaper’s “eightieth anniversary”, on Saturday, 15th August 1925. It is the text of this article that I have posted in “Part 1”. It contains all the details from the 1909 article and more. This article then goes on to tell of Thomas JOHNSTON’s succession to Patrick’s printing and publishing business, and beyond, to tell of two of Thomas’ sons.

The third occasion, marking the Falkirk Herald’s “ninetieth anniversary”, on Saturday, 10th August 1935, appears to be an almost exact repeat of the “eightieth anniversary” article.

Being a “Real Christian” myself (to use the end of the title from the 1783 publication – the 1st known work from Patrick’s Falkirk Press), I was intrigued to discover in these articles the list of clearly “Christian” titles that Patrick published. I would like to find out more about some of these publications. It appears that there is quite a strong spiritual heritage, seeing just how many of Patrick’s descendants went into church ministry! I count 3 great-grandchildren – 2 named in the article, and 1 on my JOHNSTON Genealogical Chart. But Patrick’s son-in-law, Thomas JOHNSTON appears to have gone off-track – joining the non-Christian, Masonic Lodge! There are many sites which explain why, from a “Real Christian” perspective, Christianity and Freemasonry are incompatible; here are a couple of examples; www.EMFJ.org & www.Ephesians5-11.org. Also a Wikipedia article about the positions taken towards Freemasonry by various church denominations (and cults).

I would be very interested to find out more about Thomas JOHNSTON’s “progenitors”; the DAVIE family. Is there a real connection to the Covenanter, James DAVIE? I suspect the problem in proving it may be a lack of Covenanter records (equivalent to the English non-conformists)! I know from the Genealogical Chart that Thomas JOHNSTON’s paternal grandmother was a Marion DAVIE. I have no dates for Marion, except for the birth of her children between 1723 and 1728. From that we could infer that Marion was born around 1700. James DAVIE was killed in 1673, which suggests to me that perhaps he was the same generation as Marion’s grandparents! If you know anything more about this DAVIE family, please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch.

I’ve mentioned lots of generations of my family above, and I realise that it could be confusing! So I’ll finish with a couple of overlapping genealogy lists, which cover all those mentioned. Those mentioned above are in Bold text below. The number “0x” is the number of Great-grandparents back in my tree; so “3x” is my 3 times Great-grandparent(s). Or you can look at my WALKER tree page.

JOHNSTONs;

  • 6x – Thomas JOHNSTON, m. Marion DAVIE.
  • 5x – John JOHNSTON, b.1723, m. Margaret WEIR.
  • 4x – Thomas JOHNSTON, b.1755, d.1831, m.1785, Margaret MAIR, b.1767, d.1838.
  • 3x – John JOHNSTON, b.1786, d. 1872, m. Margaret YOUNG, d.1878.
  • 2x – Margaret JOHNSTON, b.cir.1818, d.1890, m.1847, James WALKER, b.1818, d.1881.

MAIRs;

  • 5x – Patrick MAIR, b.1738, d.1805, m.1863, Jean AITKEN b.cir.1726 , d.1819.
  • 4x – Margaret MAIR, b.1767, d.1838, m.1785, Thomas JOHNSTON, b.1755, d.1831.
  • 3x – John JOHNSTON, b.1786, d. 1872, m. Margaret YOUNG, d.1878.
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Old WALKER papers – JOHNSTON samplers

This is one in a series of blog post about some old papers of the WALKER family, from Kirkliston, West Lothian, Scotland. See a list of these papers HERE.

In the Walker family we have these two framed samplers which are full of genealogy information.

Sampler by Margaret JOHNSTONSampler by Mary YOUNG

One sampler was done by Margaret JOHNSTON (my paternal Gt-Gt-Grandmother, born in 1818), when she was “aged 8” (circa 1826-27). This sampler contains a series of initials on two rows, begining half-way down, which appear to be those of Margaret’s parents and siblings. Each pair of initials is beneath what appears to be a crown; IMG_2199_Margaret-Johnston-sampler_cropped

J.J. – M.Y. – M.J. – T.J. – J.J. – I.J. – J.J. – C.J.

  • J.J. = John Johnston, b. 25/9/1786, d. 9/5/1872 (father)
  • M.Y. = Margaret Young, chr. 14/11/1793, d. 29/6/1878 (mother)

Children;

  • M.J. = Mary Johnston, (dates unknown!)
  • T.J. = Thomas Johnston, b.abt. 1816, d. 8/12/1892
  • J.J. = John Johnston, b. 1/4/1821, d. 6/10/1906
  • I.J. = Isabella Johnston, b.abt. 1823
  • J.J. = James Johnston (twin), b.abt. 1826, d. 10/12/1845
  • C.J. = Charles Johnston (twin), b.abt. 1826, d. 24/10/1868
margaret-johnston-stood-photo_d-1890_200dpi
Photo of Margaret JOHNSTON (unknown date)

For further details of the above, please see the JOHNSTON family tree.

Here (right) is one of two photos I have of an adult Margaret JOHNSTON (I also have one of her husband, James WALKER, from the same date).

The date of this photo is unknown, but I guess about 1848. The name and address of the photographer, on the reverse, suggests a date between 1848 and 1865.

The second, older sampler appears to be by Mary YOUNG (b, 1777); the older sister of Margaret Johnston’s mother, Margaret YOUNG (b. 1793, Ecclesmachan, W.Lothian). At the bottom of this sampler there is a confusion of names and initials, some of which (it suggests to me) may be later additions to the sampler in an attempt to represent the whole family, including siblings not born when the sampler was origionally made! But at the top – 3rd line down – there is a clear set of initials of family members; IMG_2198_Mary-Young-sampler_cropped

3rd row;

  • * T.Y. – M.S. – A.Y. – J.Y. – M.Y. – A.Y. – T.Y. – J.Y. * A.S. – M.F. *

Bottom 1/3rd;

  • * THOMAS YOUNG * MARY SMITH *
  • MARY YOUNG / 1789 * JY * MK * AY *
  • CY * WY
  • JY, AY, TY, J(Y), – – – * TY, MS *
  • MY / A(LE)XA(—) SMITH * MARY FISHER *

Note; the letter “J” might alternatively be an “I“. I have transcribed it as a “J” because that is what fits with the matching records I’ve found; see below.

Using the initials identified in this sampler (above), I searched the IGI transcriptions of parish registers and was able to find what I believe to be closely matching details for birth/christening dates. Death dates are based on notes I’ve found among family papers about tombstones in Abercorn Churchyard, West Lothian, some of which I’ve been able to confirm through images available at BillionGraves.com as follows;

from the 3rd row;

  • T.Y. = Thomas YOUNG, b. circa 1747, d. 17/03/1824. (father)
  • M.S. = Mary SMITH, b. 01/02/1753, Muiravonside, Stirling. d. 27/04/1820. (mother)
  • A.Y. = Alexander YOUNG, chr. 04/02/1774, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian.
  • J.Y. = John YOUNG, chr. 09/01/1776, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian. d. 13/10/1844.
  • M.Y. = Mary YOUNG, chr. 11/12/1777, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian. d. 04/06/1845.
  • A.Y. = Alexander YOUNG, chr. 23/02/1780, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian. d. 18/12/1805.
  • T.Y. = Thomas YOUNG, chr. 24/01/1783, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian. d. 27/12/1811.
  • J.Y. = James YOUNG, chr. 06/06/1785, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian.
  • A.S. = Alexander SMITH, (dates unknown). (maternal Grandfather)
  • M.F. = Mary FISHER, (dates unknown). (maternal Grandmother)

Missing from this row of initials are 4 younger siblings, which might hint at the date when it was done. The missing siblings were;

  • William YOUNG, chr. 18/04/1788, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian.
  • Charles YOUNG, chr. 09/09/1790, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian. d. 05/07/1844.
  • Margaret YOUNG, chr. 14/11/1793, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian. d. 29/06/1878
  • Robert YOUNG, chr. 07/06/1796, Ecclesmachan, West Lothian. d. ? (an infant).

The bottom third of the sampler begins clearly with the parents’ names; THOMAS YOUNG and MARY SMITH, then the name MARY YOUNG (who’s handywork I believe this sampler is), and a year; 1789, which presumably represents a completion point for this sampler. The very bottom row appears to name the maternal grandparents; ALEXANDER SMITH and MARY FISHER.

If you could shed any more light on these families and their relations, perhaps through other original family documents, please leave a comment below or use the Contact Page to get in touch. Thanks.

JOHNSTON family, of Bathgate, West Lothian

Among WALKER family papers there is a fabulous, printed family tree titled “GENEALOGICAL CHART OF THE JOHNSTON FAMILY, BATHGATE”. This tree begins with James JOHNSTON, “at and previous to the year 1692. Farmer (at) East Mains of Ballencrieff, Dykeside, and Nethermuir, Bathgate (West Lothian)”, and his wife; Elizabeth SMITH.

Ballencrieff, Dykeside, and Nethermuir are farms that lay just north of the town of Bathgate.

JOHNSTON-family-tree-cover

The tree covers 7 generations of the JOHNSTON family and their descendents. It appears to have been compiled by an Alexander CUTHBERT, who had married into the JOHNSTON family in 1888. Although no date is given for when this tree was compiled, the last date it contains is the death of a John JOHNSTON (a banker in Bathgate) in October 1906.

(Google Books has an entry for this publication HERE, giving a publication date of 1909.)

While the earlier generations were farmers, the tree shows that (partly through marriage) some in subsequent generations became involved in printing and publishing in Falkirk (owners of the Falkirk Herald newspaper and the origins of the Johnston Press), and in banking in Bathgate.

I have scanned this tree (see image below). The tree is on a large sheet – 26 ¼ x 16 ½ inch (66.8 x 41.8cm), so this image is a combination of 6 x A4 scans stitched together in Photoshop.

Please click on the image to view the scan at full resolution.

Johnston-family-tree-d

PDF-logoI attach 2 PDF files produced using the “Family Tree Maker” software on my computer;

Most of the information in these files comes directly from this original printed tree. Some of this is collaborated by other family documents. I have also done my best to check it against records that are accessible on microfiche, or in a transcribed form online (e.g. parish registers, censuses, etc.), and to add any extra details that I find from those sources.

This tree forms part of my WALKER ancestry which you can find out more about HERE.

If you share a connection with this tree, please do leave a comment below, or get in touch via the Contact page.