Johnston of Elphinstone




Sir Gilbert Johnston of Elphinstone, is generally considered to have been a younger son of Adam de Johnston of Johnston. He acquired the lands of Elphinstone upon marriage to Agnes, daughter and heiress of Sir Alexander Elphinstone of that Ilk, and who is styled his wife in action they brought against Alexander Cockburn of Ormistoun on 11 February 1491, declaring that the sasine he had lately produced to prove his ownership of that part of the lands of Elphinstone called Woulstruddir was not prejudicial to their own rights as it had been granted by Agnes during his minority and had subsequently been broken.[1] He was sheriff of Edinburgh for a number of years and witnessed a charter by John Brown of Cummercolstone by which he conveyed his lands of Little-Kettilston to his son, Roland Brown, on 17 June 1471.[2] He also witnessed a charter by Robert Lauder of Edrington disponing his lands of West Nisbet to David Crichton of Cranston on 26 June 1474,[3] then on 1 December 1482, he witnessed a charter by Mr James Hunter, rector of Cranston[4] and on 21 September 1484, he was one of the conservators of the truce with England.[5] He d. after 11 July 1494,[6] and by 16 January 1497/98[7], and was father of,

  1. Sir Adam John of Elphinstone, (see below).
  2. John Johnston, was a witness with his brother Adam to Sasine in favour of John Hart, cook, and Isabella, his wife for a tenement and lands on the south side of the Canongate on 11 July 1494.[8]

Sir Adam Johnston of Elphinstone, is styled son and heir to Sir Gilbert Johnston in an action brought by him before the Lords Auditors on 21 May 1484, against John de Johnston of that Ilk.[9] He had succeeded by 28 May 1498 when he witnessed a mortification by Robert Bellentin, Abbot of Holyrood.[10] He had Sasine for the lands of Lequhen in 1506[11] and witnessed a charter by William Crawford of Ferme granting to his son, Walter Crawford, and his wife, Mariote Maxwell, the lands of Flaschis, in the lordship of Ferme, on 3 December of that same year,[12] and d. in 1507/08. He was father of,

Gilbert Johnston of Elphinstone, succeeded and had Sasine for the lands of Luquhen in 1508.[13] He witnessed a charter by William, Bishop of Aberdeen, by which he conveyed the third-part of the lands of Myreside to Patrick Chirnside, Burgess of Aberdeen, on 20 November 1512[14] and d. by May 1514, in all likelihood at the battle of Flodden in September 1513. He was father of,

Andrew Johnston of Elphinstone, succeeded his father and had Sasine for the lands of Ludquhane as heir to him on 28 May 1514,[15] and for which he had regression from Robert Lauder of Bass on 31 October 1534.[16] On 17 April 1548, he had a gift of the nonentries of his lands of Elphinstone on the death of the superior, George, Lord Seton, until the entry of the heir[17] and had a remission under the Privy Seal dated 15 January 1548/49, for having been in the army of John, Earl of Lennox, at Leith.[18]He had an exemption on 16 December 1552, giving him “licence to remane and byde at hame fra all oists, raidis, weris and wappinschawings to be maid within the realme or outwith be sey or land for the dayis of his lyfe”,[19] and was forfeited and his escheat goods conveyed to his four daughters on 11 February 1553/54, for having contracted his eldest son, James, in marriage with Margaret, daughter of William, Lord Ruthven.[20]  He had a second licence to remain at home from oists, weaponsschaws and conflicts on 30 November 1561[21] and d. after then and before 24 January 1564/65.[22] He m. Margaret Douglas with whom he had a conjunct charter from William Nudry of Leuchie for the lands of Leuchie, in the constabulary of Haddington, on 12 December 1544,[23] and was father of,

  1. James Johnston of Elphinstone, (see below).
  2. Gilbert Johnston, was included with his father in a remission for their having taken up arms against the Regent at the Muir of Glasgow, dated 3 April 1551.[24]
  3. Adam Johnston. He and his brother John are styled brothers to James Johnstone of Elphinstone when witness to a charter to that brother by John Logan in Restalrig for the lands of Ballincrieff, dated 5 June 1565.[25] He was appointed Provost of Crichton and was one of the curators of his nephew, Robert Johnston, son of his brother, James Johnston of Elphinstone, in 1570. He was still living in December 1594, when he is listed as one of he creditors of his late brother, James Johnston of Elphinstone.
  4. John Johnston, became a merchant and burgess of Edinburgh and is named with his brother, James Johnston of Elphinstone, in a number of writs. He was admitted to Burgess and Guild of Edinburgh on 25 October 1577, in right of his wife, Isobel, daughter of the late James Baron,[26] and was nominated one of the tutors to the eldest son of his nephew, Patrick Johnston of Elphinstone, by his latterwill of April 1606. He d. after then and before December 1607, and had issue;

4a} Janet Johnston, m. Robert Hamilton.

4a} Barbara Johnston, m. Mr John Ker, minister at Preston.

4a} Rachel Johnston, all of whom were served heirs portioners to their father on 10 December 1607.[27]

  1. Robert Johnston of Leuchie, to whom his father conveyed the lands of Leuchie and which he, in turn, conveyed to his brother, James Johnston of Elphinstone, which was confirmed under the Great Seal on 4 November 1570.[28] He was admitted to Burgess of Edinburgh on 22 September 1570, in right of his wife, Janet, daughter of the late John Stevenson.[29]
  2. Mariota Johnston, m. by 7 November 1551, to David Home of Wedderburn, when they had conjunct charters for his lands of Moriestoun and Haitschaw, both in Berwickshire.[30] She d. in 1564 having had issue.
  3. Margaret Johnston,
  4. Agnes Johnston,
  5. Margaret Johnston, secundus,
  6. Janet Johnston, all of which latter four daughters had the gift of their lands father’s escheat goods on 11 February 1553/54.[31]
  7. A daughter, who m. Sir William Cranstoun of Cranstoun and had issue.

James Johnston of Elphinstone, to whom his father conveyed the lands of Elphinstone with the turret, fortalice etc., by charter dated 12 May 1531[32] and is styled son and apparent heir to Andrew Johnston of Elphinstone, when witness to a charter by George Douglas of Corheid granting the lands of Moffat, Granton and others in the town of Moffat to Thomas Johnston in Cragoburne and Katherine Johnston, his wife, on 27 June 1550[33]. He was one of those accused on 19 March 1565, of the murder of David Riccio,[34] following which he was included in a remission dated 18 July 1566, for having been with James, Earl of Morton, Patrick Lord Ruthven, and Patrick, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, at Holyrood the previous March when they detained the king there[35] and was included in a safe conduct granted to Robert Stewart, Lord Holyroodhouse, on 1 April 1567, allowing them to to “pas furth of hir realme to the pairtis of France, Germane or utheris beyond sey, and to remane thairin for doing of thair leifull erandis and besines for the space of five yeiis”.[36] He d. on 16 December 1594,[37] having m. firstly, to Margaret, daughter of William, 2nd Lord Ruthven, (c/m 24 March 1549/50[38]), who was dead by 29 October 1563, when he took instruments relating to an annualrent which had been due to them from the lands of Mains of Wedderburn,[39] and by whom he had issue. He m. secondly, to Janet, daughter of Sir John Melville of Rait, (c/m 25 March 1564. She was widow of Sir James Kirkcaldy of Grange who had d. in February 1559 ; and d. in September 1612), and was father of,

  1. Patrick Johnston of Elphinstone, (see below).
  2. Mr John Johnston, was joint-executor with his sister Martha, to their father in 1595. He m. Elizabeth Haldane, who was executrix to him, and d. on 2 November 1603.[40] He was father of,

2a} Gilbert Johnstone, who is styled son to Mr John Johnstone, brother to the Laird of Elphinstone, when witness to a charter by Sir David Home of Wedderburn to Mr Alexander Kynneir, minister of Quitsum, dated 21 December 1627.[41]

  1. James Johnston, is styled the eldest son by his father’s second wife, Janet Melville, in 1570. He appears to have been a wayward character and his father, in his Will of 1594, stipulated that as he has “behaved himself most proudlie and rebellouslie” and “offendit me grivouslie mony wayis” he had removed him “fra the name of ane sone and fra all benefit qlk he myt haif had throw me”. He was served heir to his father on 10 November 1603.[42]
  2. Robert Johnson, to whom to father conveyed the lands of Leuchie in 1570 and in which he and his brother James are styled sons by Janet Melville.[43] He m. Susanna Hamilton[44] and d. before February 1623 having had issue;

4a} John Johnston of Leuchie, succeeded his father and had his lands of Leuchie apprised by his cousins, Patrick Johnston and Samuel Johnston of Elphinstone, on 15 February 1623.[45]

  1. Margaret Johnston, m. Alexander Crichton of Naughton, (he was widow of Christian, daughter of Sir James Kirkcaldy of Grange[46]), with whom, on 1 October 1580, she had a conjunct charter for his lands and barony of Naughton.[47]
  2. Jean Johnston, m. by 9 December 1585, to William Bonar of Rossie, (he d. in February 1601[48]), when, on his resignation, they had a conjunct charter for his lands of Carnbaddie. Surviving him, she was his executor in 1601, and had issue.
  3. Barbara Johnston, m. firstly, to John Haldane, 12th of Gleneagles, (he was widow of Isobel, daughter of David Home of Wedderburn, and d. in 1591), and surviving him, she m. secondly, soon after 28 September 1594, to David Home of Godscroft, when as his future wife, they had a charter from his brother, Mr John Home, for the lands of Loukiescheill, in the barony of Poppillhall.[49]
  4. Martha Johnston, m. Alexander Inglis, eldest son and apparent heir of John Inglis of Travit, (c/m 9 and 13 June 1603[50]).

Patrick Johnston of Elphinstone, is styled eldest son and apparent heir to James Johnston of Elphinston when witness with his father to a charter by Alexander Crichton of Naughton, dated 16 August 1587, granting the lands of Nether Cramond to Mr David MakGill of Nesbitt.[51] He was also a consenting party a contract by that same Alexander Crichton dated May 1592[52] and succeeded to Elphinstone on his father’s death in December 1594. He m. Elizabeth, sister of Sir Walter Dundas of that Ilk,[53](who survived him and was executrix to him), and d. in April 1606.[54] He had issue;

  1. Sir Samuel Johnston, 1st Baronet, of Elphinstone, (see below).
  2. Robert Johnston,
  3. Patrick Johnston, was apprenticed to James Neill, merchant in Edinburgh, on 26 July 1615[55] and is styled brother to Samuel Johnston of Elphinstone in discharge by him to Sir Walter Dundas of that Ilk on 7 August 1618, for clothes bequeathed to him by his late uncle, Robert Dundas, “brother of the said Sir Walter.”[56] He and that same brother apprised the lands of Leuchie from their cousin german, John Johnston of Leuchie, on 15 February 1623.[57] He m. Margaret Allan.[58]
  4. Barbara Johnston, who is styled the eldest child in her father’s Latterwill of 1606 and to whom he left 7,000 merks
  5. Martha Johnston,
  6. Marie Johnston, all of whom, excepting their eldest brother Samuel, are named in their father’s Testament in 1606 and are then styled minors.

Sir Samuel Johnston, 1st Baronet, of Elphinstone, succeeded his father in 1606 and on 18 September 1612, he had a licence to “go abroad to the realms and countries of France, Spaine, Flanderis, and utheris pairtis beyond the sea for the space of five years”[59] but he does not appear to have taken advantage of that as he was at home in Scotland on 8 June the following year when his eldest son was baptised. He was heavily involved in coal mining and had a grant of the monopoly of his inventions for drying coal on 28 April 1620,[60] although he was afterwards found guilty of colluding to raise the price of coal and warded in Edinburgh tollbooth for a time. He was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia but although the original Patent is missing, the precept for the lands and barony of “New Elphingstoun” passed the Privy Seal on 18 October 1627,[61] with remainder to his heirs male whatsoever.

He m. on 20 November 1607, to Jean, daughter of Archibald Douglas of Spott,[62] and d. on 18 February 1637,[63] having had issue;

  1. James Johnston, bap. at Tranent, on 8 June 1613 and d. young.
  2. Sir John Johnston, 2nd Baronet, of Elphinstone, (see below).
  3. Elizabeth Johnston, bap. at Tranent, on 22 October 1611 and m. John Seton of Pitmedden, (he was killed at the battle of the Bridge of Dee, on 18 June 1639), with whom, in implementation of their marriage contract, she had a conjunct charter for his lands of Pitmedden on 4 December 1633.[64] She was contracted on 6 March 1643, to marry James Johnstone, 1st Earl of Hartfell, but died before that could be fulfilled.[65]
  4. Marie Johnston, is styled second daughter in her father’s latterwill.
  5. Anna Johnston, who is styled the youngest daughter in her father’s Latterwill.

Sir John Johnston, 2nd Baronet, of Elphinstone, bap. at Tranent, on 18 July 1615 and is styled the “onlie sone” in his father’s Latterwill of 1637. Succeeding his father, he had service as heir to him in the lands of Leuchie on 20 February 1645.[66] He m. at Tranent, on 9 February 1635, to Margaret, daughter of Robert Keith of Benholm,[67] and d. before April 1663, having had issue;

  1. Sir James Johnston, 3rd Baronet, of Elphinstone, (see below).
  2. William Johnston, bap. at Tranent, on 10 August 1638.
  3. John Johnston, bap. at Tranent, on 22 June 1643 and was apprenticed to Robert Hamilton, merchant in Edinburgh, on 1 April 1663.[68]
  4. Margaret Johnston, bap. at Tranent, on 21 November 1639 and m. at the Canongate, Edinburgh, on 25 October 1664, to James Bothwell, brother of Alexander Bothwell of Glencorse.[69]
  5. Jean Johnston, bap. at Tranent, on 30 May 1641.

Sir James Johnston, 3rd Baronet, of Elphinstone, who succeeded his father and was served heir general to him and also to his grandfather, Sir Samuel Johnstone, on 5 May 1666.[70] He also had service as heir to his father in the lands of Leuchie on 2 June 1673, which he disponed the following year to William Primrose, second son of Sir Archibald Primrose,[71] and was serving as a Captain in the army of the Duke of Luneburg by April 1677.[72] He is unheard of after that date and the Baronetcy has remained dormant since then.




[1] Acta Dom. Conc. I, p. 162.

[2] C2/7/138.

[3] C2/7/347.

[4] C2/11/21.

[5] Cal Docs Scot. Vol. IV, no. 1505.

[6] Protocol Book of James Young, No. 720.

[7] Protocol Book of James Young, No. 997.

[8] Protocol Book of James Young, No. 720.

[9] Acta Dom Conc. I, p. 139*.

[10] C2/13/347.

[11] Ex. Rolls, Vol. 12, p. 718.

[12] C2/14/266.

[13] Ex. Rolls, Vol. 13, p. 658.

[14] C2/19/6.

[15] Ex Rolls Vol. 14, p. 551.

[16] PS1/10/48.

[17] PS1/21/85.

[18] PS1/22/70.

[19] PS1/25/40.

[20] PS1/26/45.

[21] PS1/30/69.

[22] PS1/32/134.

[23] C2/29/103.

[24] PS1/34/58.

[25] C2/32/573.

[26] SRS Edinburgh Burgess Roll.

[27] C22/4/137 & 138.

[28] C2/32/17.

[29] SRS Edinburgh Burgess Roll.

[30] C2/30/635 & 638.

[31] PS1/26/45.

[32] C2/32/595.

[33] C2/35/326.

[34] RPC First Series, Vol. 1. p. 437.

[35] PS1/35/78.

[36] PS1/36/31.

[37] CC8/8/28/pp.63-69.

[38] CS5/10/111.

[39] Wedderburn Papers, no. 80.

[40] CC8/8/38/pp.730-731. In which he is styled brother german to Patrick Johnston of Elphinstone.

[41] Wedderburn papers, no. 519.

[42] C22/3/49.

[43] C2/34/469.

[44] C2/47/362. See also: RS24/7/f.90. She was mother to a James Cochrane.

[45] C3/2/285.

[46] RD1/8/95.

[47] C2/35/577.

[48] Edinburgh Tests.

[49] Wedderburn charters, no. 177.

[50] C2/44/251.

[51] C2/45/68.

[52] C2/40/221.

[53] GD75/293.

[54] CC8/8/43/pp.284-287.

[55] SRS Register of Edinburgh Apprentices.

[56] GD75/293.

[57] C3/2/285.

[58] RS25/35/f.227.

[59] RPC First Series, Vol. 9, p. 462.

[60] RPC First Series, vol. 12, p. 258.

[61] PS5/1/pp.117-118.

[62] OPR – Prestonpans. See also: RS24/9/f.367.

[63] CC8/8/58/pp.506-509.

[64] MS3531/3/1.

[65] Annandale charter chest.

[66] C22/18/224.

[67] OPR – Tranent.

[68] SRS Roll of Edinburgh Apprentices.

[69] OPR – Canongate, Edinburgh.

[70] C22/28/151.

[71] GD110/313.

[72] GD190/3/195.