A surname of England, Scotland and Ireland: in the south and west of England from the English place names Johnstone (Devon), Johnston (Pembrokeshire), or Johnson Hall (Staffordshire) in the north of England and Scotland from the Scots place names Johnstone (Dumfrieshire) or St. Johnston (now Perth); in Ireland, also erroneously for MacKeo(w)n. See JOHNSON. (Reaney, Cottle, Spiegelhalter, Black, MacLysaght). Traced by Guppy in Cumberland and Westmorland, as Johnston(e), south of the Forth and Clyde, especially in the border counties and particularly in Dumfrieshire, and by Spiegelhalter in Devon.



At St. John's: Church of England Baptisms: Sept. 29, 1818 - James of William and Jane Johnson of Capelin Bay - b. Nov. 30, 1816.
  The Courier Newspaper: Dec 16, 1846 - James Johnston of Fairyland (sic), blacksmith, and Elizabeth Goffe of Goffe Bridge, Co. Wexford, Ireland were married by Rev. T.F. H. Bridge.
At Caplin Bay: Voter's List for Caplin Bay: 1840, 1841, 1842 - James Johnston; 1847, 1849, 1852, 1855, 1859 - William Johnstone.
  Lovell's 1871 Directory - William Johnston, fisherman.
  McAlpine's 1894 Directory - Peter Johnson - fisherman; William Johnson - fisherman.
  McAlpine's 1898 Directory - Peter Johnson - fisherman; William - fisherman.
  McAlpine's 1904 Directory - Peter Johnson - fisherman; William Johnson - fisherman.
  Southern Shore Death Records: April 11, 1907 - Old Age - William Johnson - Ferryland - Aged 92.
At Ferryland: Ferryland District Surrogate Court Records: 1825 - Pitt, Robert: Indenture signed for an apprenticeship in blacksmithing with James Johnson (sic) and his mother, Jane. Witnesses: William Sask, Thomas Norris.
  Ferryland Church of England Burials: January 22, 1843 - Pitt, Robert - Ferryland - 68. Priest: William Bowman.
  Entry in Diary of Robert Carter III: Jan. 28, 1843 "James Johnson of Caplin Bay has this winter opened up the forge of Mr. Holdsworth for carrying on business on his own account".
  Voter's List for Ferryland: 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847, 1849, 1852, 1855, 1859 - James Johnston, 1855 - Nicholas Johnston.
  Registry Crown Lands: James Johnson granted land at Ferryland - 1847.
  Births, Deaths, Marriages in Newfoundland Newspapers (1810-1890): Mrs. William Johnson died at Ferryland on May 5, 1885, age 100 yrs, there 75 yrs.
  Church of England Burials: October 20, 1880 - James Johnson - Ferryland - 63.
  Southern Shore Death Records: Ferryland - December 9, 1912 - Old Age - Nicholas Johnston - b. Caplin Bay - age 91.
  Church of England Burials: December 12, 1912 - Nicholas F. Johnson - Ferryland - Fisherman - 91.
Family History: Research indicates that the Johnston family likely came to the Ferryland/Caplin Bay area in the second decade of the 1800s. In 1818, the Church of England baptism record of James Johnston, at St. John's, stated that William and Jane Johnston lived at Caplin Bay. When James was about nine years old, he became an apprentice to Robert Pitt, the blacksmith operating the Holdsworth forge in Ferryland. It appears that his father, William was dead by this time since Jane Johnson (sic) signed the indenture for his apprenticeship. Within the same year, Jane married again or entered into another relationship with James FitzPatrick. Two more children were born to her, one in 1826 and one in 1828. Young James Johnston continued in his apprenticeship with Robert Pitts, but by 1837, the situation had soured, and his mother, Jane Fitzpatrick, applied to the Ferryland Court for James' release from his contract with Pitts. It is unknown how the Court ruled in this case.

When Robert Pitt, the blacksmith, died in January 1843, James Johnston almost immediately took over the Holdsworth forge in Ferryland. A few years later, in 1846, James married Irish-born Eliza Goff and started a family there. James and Eliza Johnston raised a family of thirteen at Ferryland. Most of their children grew to adulthood at Ferryland, while others left there to follow various trades, especially at St. John's. The Johnstons were Anglican, but over time there were several mixed marriages, especially amongst those who remained in the predominately Roman Catholic Ferryland District. When James Johnston died in October 1880, his eldest son William, took over his blacksmithing business at Ferryland. William operated the forge there, and later some of his sons worked with him in the family business. It was primarily William's fourth son Charlie, who carried on the family business, with the assistance of his brother, Nicholas. The Newfoundland 1921 Census shows that William and his wife Kate, their son Gordon and their son Charlie, who had also married by then, were all living together in the Johnston family home at Ferryland.

About the same time that James Johnston married, his brother William married Bridget Rossiter of Caplin Bay. They had six children there, all raised as Roman Catholics. While it appears William himself remained true to his Anglican faith, he may have converted to Catholicism on his deathbed in 1907. James and William also a brother Nicholas, who lived at Ferryland. As far as I can determine, Nicholas Johnston never married. He was only listed once in the Voter's List at Ferryland, even though he lived until he was 91 years old.
Present Status: There are no surviving male Johnstons at Calvert now, but there are descendants of William and Jane throughout other parts of Newfoundland, the rest of Canada, the U.S.A., and probably worldwide. Over the years, some descendants of James, the blacksmith, have gained recognition for their artistic talents. His great-granddaughter, Ruby Elaine Johnston, went to the U.S.A., became an actress and was the first wife of well-known Hollywood actor Hal Holbrook. In more recent times, Wayne Johnston, the great-great-grandson of James and Eliza, is a well-known Canadian novelist.

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