Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry

The Johnstones
Page 5

I am indebited to Nora Solesbury & William Fleming for their invaluable help researching this branch of the Johnstone family and for supplying the photographs you see below.

James Johnstone was a brother of my 2xgreat grandfather William Johnstone. He was born in 1839 in Muirkirk, the second child of Thomas Johnstone & Helen McKersie. For more information on Thomas & Helen, please click on the following link:

James spent his early years in Glenbuck, Muirkirk, but by 1851 he was already working away from home in nearby Douglas probably as some kind of farm servant. By 1861 he was back in Muirkirk working as a ploughman and living with his uncle James McKersie (as was his younger brother Thomas Johnstone too). All records found so far suggest that James worked for the rest of his life in and around Muirkirk as some kind of agricultural labourer or farm servant.

He married Elizabeth Dickson Stewart in Muirkirk in 1868 and they had 7 children together, all of whom survived to adulthood. In 1871 James & Elizabeth were living at Midrow, Muirkirk with two young daughters and James's unmarried brother Samuel. By 1881 the family had moved to Cunningham Cottage, Muirkirk; a property which we think was owned and possibly even built by his uncle James McKersie. The table below gives an abbreviated transcription from the 1881 census (GRO ref Volume 607 Enumeration District 1 Page 5).

Page 5]The undermentioned Houses are situated within the Boundaries of the
Civil Parish Muirkirk, Ayrshire, Scotland
No. of Schedule Road, Street and Name of HouseName and Surname of each personRelation to Head of FamilyCondition AgeProfession or OccupationWhere Born
  Cunningham CottageJames JohnstoneHeadMarried 42Ag. Lab.Muirkirk
   Eliza JohnstoneWifeMarried 36 Hurlford, Ayr
   Agnes JohnstoneDaur 11scholarMuirkirk
   Thomas JohnstoneSon 9scholarMuirkirk
   William JohnstoneSon 7scholarMuirkirk
   Grace JohnstoneDaur 4 Muirkirk

James Johnstone died in Glenbuck, Muirkirk in 1887 aged only 48. His death is recorded on a gravestone in Muirkirk cemetery along with his wife, his parents and grandparents. A transcription of the stone is given 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 48 years; and Elizabeth Dickson Stewart wife of the above James Johnston who died 25th June 1905 aged 60years.

All but one of James & Elizabeth's children married and had children of their own. The photo below shows 5 of James and Elizabeth's children in later life. By the time the photo was taken the eldest daughter Ellen Wood (nee Johnstone) had emigrated to New Zealand and the oldest son Thomas Johnstone had sadly died. The five shown below are therefore from left to right, William Johnstone (born 1873), Grace Campbell (nee Johnstone born 1876), Agnes Johnstone (born 1869), John George Alexander Johnstone (born 1884) and James McKersie Johnstone (born 1881). If you hover your cursor over their faces you should see the names.

James Johnstone and Elizabeth Dickson Stewart's eldest son was Thomas Johnstone, born in 1871 in Muirkirk. This Thomas Johnstone married Janet Prentice in 1893; the photos below show Thomas & Janet.

Thomas and Janet Prentice had 7 children, 5 of whom survived to adulthood. The following picture shows the 5 surviving children, taken at a family wedding in 1959.

Many of this branch of the family remained in the farming business. This brilliant photo below shows John Prentice Johnstone with his Blackfaced tups probably taken in the 1930s. Many thanks to cousin Nora for sharing this fantastic photo.

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