Artists paintings of clan castles
scottish art

Johnstone Clan

Nunquam non paratus

Clan Johnstone information
Johnstone clan crest
scottish photo of Raehills House
Johnstone tartan
Johnstone clan map
Clan crest badge
Clan Seat
Johnstone tartan
Clan Location
photo of Lochhouse tower
picture of Lochmaben Castle
a painting of Commodore George Johnstone 1730-1787
picture of Lachmaben Castle
Lochhouse Tower
Lochmaben Castle
George Johnstone
Elsieshields Tower
  • Clan Name: Johnstone
  • Clan Motto: Nunquam non paratus
  • Clan Chief: Lord Johnstone
  • Clan Seat: Raehills, Lockerbie.
  • Clan Lands: South West Scotland.
  • Plant Badge: Red Hawthorn
  • Castle Paintings :
  • Clan Name: Johnstone - Johnston
  • Clan Motto: Nunquam non paratus - translated - never unprepared.
  • Clan Chief: Lord Johnstone, The 11th Earl of Annandale and Hartfell, 26th Clan Chief, 11th Hereditary Steward of Annandale and 11th Hereditary Keeper of Lochmaben Palace
  • Clan Lands: Borders region, Scotland.
  • Clan Tartan : modern and ancient
  • Clan links : Clan Johnston (Johnstone) Association Australia
  • Clan links :
  • Clan links :

Clan History

The Johnstone clan kept watch on the western border with England for six hundred years. The name is first recorded in that area in 1194 when there is mention of a John Johnstone who had a son called Gilbert. So John Johnstone must have been a son of John from an even earlier period.
A Sir John Johnstone, knight of Dumfries is noted in the ragman Roll in 1296.
His great grandson was a warden of the western marches in 1381 and his son Adam Johnstone has a mention as Laird of Johnstone in 1413 and he also took part in the 1448 Battle of Sark.
Adam's son took the royal side in the struggle between King James 2nd and the Douglases, which came to a head with the Battle of Arkinholm in 1455, for his help in suppressing the Douglas rebellion he was rewarded with Douglas lands around Threave castle.

Cadet branches started to take shape in the families increasing territories with John, Adam's eldest starting the Annandale branch and his brother Mathew starting a line at Westerhall.

The Clan kept most of their aggression for the English but there was a couple of ongoing feuds with the Maxwells and the Moffats.
Lord Maxwell, chief of the Clan Maxwell, was the most powerful man in the south-east during the 16th century. At the Battle of Dryfie Sands, near Lockerbie, in December 1593 he and many of his men were killed. It is said he asked for mercy but was slain.
The Maxwells were to get even in 1608 when the new Lord Maxwell, son of murdered chief, at a meeting held under trust, shot the Johnstone chief in the back. This put himself outside the law and he was later captured and executed in 1614.

The feud with Clan Moffat came to a head when the Johnstones killed Robert Moffat, clan chief, in 1557. They also burnt the local church with the Moffat hierarchy all inside cutting down any that tried to escape. The Moffat clan never recovered and seventy years later the Johnstones took control of their lands when they could not meet accrued debts.

James Johnstone, clan chief in 1633, was created Lord Johnstone of Lochwood by King Charles 1st. Ten years later he was given the title of Earl of Hartfell. He joined up with Montrose to defend the Royalist cause in 1645. Captured with his eldest son at Philiphaugh, their lives were spared at the behest of Argyll himself but they were to be imprisoned.
After the restoration, when Charles 2nd took the throne, they were released and compensated for their loyalty. The King created him Earl of Annandale and Hartfell, Viscount of Annan and added Lochmaben, Moffatdale and Evandale to the Lochwood titles.

William the 3rd Earl was promoted to Marquess of Annandale in 1701 as reward for services, being Secretary of State and President of the Privy council.
His son James the 2nd Marquess died in Naples in 1730. This was a fashionable place for rich Clan chiefs to have an apartment at that time.
His half-brother as the next in line took over as 3rd Marquess but in 1747 was declared to be incapable of managing his affairs and a curator was appointed. When he died in 1792 there being no next in line the titles were declared dormant and the estates were passed to his grand-nephew James the 3rd Earl of Hopetoun.

During the next, nearly, 200 years there were attempts to re-instate the titles but it was not until 1971 that it looked possible. In 1982 the Lord Lyon recognised Major Percy Johnstone of Annandale and of that Ilk as an heir to the dormant titles. The case was brought to the House of Lords in 1985 and the court found in favour of the Major's son Patrick, Earl of Annandale and Hartfell and Chief of the Clan.

Another senior branch of the clan is the House of Caskieben. Sir George Johnstone of Caskiebenwas created a Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1626. The 3rd Baronet fought in the army of King William of Orange in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne. The 11th Baronet lives in America.

The Clan have their fair share of local members who have stood up to play on the world stage. These two George's would be a typical example in that period.
George Johnstone,( painting above ) son of Sir James Johnstone 3rd Baronet of Westerhall, entered the Royal Navy in 1746 rising to the rank of Commodore by 1763. He was charged and court martialed for insubordination and disobedience during his rise but his record of gallantry in combat got the charge reduced to a reprimand. This must have been some record to have set such a precedent in these times.
Appointed Colonial Governor of West Florida 1763-1767, on his return he entered politics and served as an Member of Parliament for 20 years. During which he is known for publicly accusing Lord George Germain of Cowardice in Battle which resulted in a duel being fought. Tiring of politics he managed, in 1779 to again set sail, he was given command of a naval squadron and continued to add to his reputation. He died from throat cancer in 1787.
His younger brother, William Johnstone was also to become a Member of Parliament and a well known Scottish lawyer. He was to later change his name, to claim an inheritance through marriage, and was at one time known as the richest man in Britain. On the death of this brother, William Johnstone Pulteney, George's son John was to take over the reigns as 6th Baronet of Westerhall. Another illegitimate son of George, George Lindsay Johnstone, was to also later become a Member of Parliament. The painting is a beautifully painted miniature, with meticulously rendered textures, the artist manages to convey something of Johnstone's rather tricky character.

George Bain Johnstone from Annan who rose to the ranks of Lieutenant Colonel in 1808. Among his achievements were the key role he had in the only successful armed takeover of Government in Australia's recorded history, known as the Rum Rebellion. For which he was returned to Britain and cashiered, he left as a civilian to return to New South Wales and lived out his life with his family on his estate named Annandale, he died much respected in January 1823, leaving a large family.

Clan Castles

Lochwood Castle or Tower is a ruin to the south of the town Moffat. There has been a fortification on this spot long before the name Johnstone appeared in the area and it is not known exactly when or how they took possession. The stone castle remains that are seen today date back to the mid 15th century. It is believed that John Johnstone of Johnstone, Clan Chief from 1454 until 1493 may have built it. In it's history it was captured and held by the English when a paid servant girl let them in at dawn. It was also burnt out at least three times and refitted. It was the clan seat for the Earl of Annandale until the early 1700's.

Lochhouse Tower is situated within a mile of Beattock Station. It is a fair example of the Border pele. It stands on the brow of a slight hillock, two sides of which were formerly washed by a loch, which has now been drained. The tower is 38 feet by 28 feet, with walls 6 feet in thickness and rounded on the angles. No details of when it was built but probably in the 16th century. It belonged to the Johnstones of Corehead. It was allowed to lapse into decay however in 1986 it was refurbished and is today a modernised dwelling.

Elsieshields Tower stands on the banks of the Ae Water, about two miles north of Lochmaben. It was a simple keep, with a square tower built at one of the angles to contain the staircase. The entrance door was on the ground floor, and is commanded by a shot-hole from the kitchen, which occupied the whole of that floor. The first floor contained the hall, with bedrooms on the two upper flats. The top story is provided with dormer windows and large angle turrets, used as dressing-closets. There is a watch-turret erected on the west gable of the staircase tower. It is corbelled out and balanced on the gable top with just room inside for a watchman to stand and look about him. There would have been a large beacon grating for a signal fire. It belonged to William Johnstone of Elshieshields and in 1602 was burnt by Maxwell of Kirkhouse.

Lochmaben Castle by Lochmaben in Dumfriesshire, was a hereditary castle of the Bruces, it was at one time the most powerful fortress on the Borders. The Lordship of Annandale was bestowed on the Bruces by David 1st in 1124, and it is said that their original castle was on the Castle-hill, close to the town, and the present castle (ruin) was originally built in the thirteenth century by Robert Bruce (King Robert's grandfather), the competitor for the crown, who died there in 1295.
The existing castle is built on a peninsula running into Lochmaben from the south-east. A wide ditch cut across the neck of the peninsula, which joined a burn on the east was filled with water from the loch, separating it from the mainland, and forming an island of about l6 acres. In addition to the surrounding moat there were other ditches dug and flooded making the access mainly by boat.
The main structure was a parallelogram 126 feet long from north to south, by 108 feet wide from east to west. There is very little of the original structure left having been recycled through the years.
In 1503-4 James 4th repaired the castle, and built a hall within it, and it may be the scanty remains of his construction which are now visible. The walls were undoubtedly, as may be seen from their ruins, of great height, and were no doubt well provided with parapets and defences on the top; but they are now reduced to mere shapeless fragments.
This castle commanded the entrance to the south-west of Scotland, and was therefore the subject of many contests. It was taken by Edward 1st in 1298, and he is said to have strengthened its works. In 1304 Robert Bruce fled to it from England before taking the field for the crown of Scotland. After his success, he bestowed it on Randolph, Earl of Moray. The castle was handed over to the English by Baliol, but it was besieged and retaken by David 2nd in 1346. After the Battle of the Standard it again fell into Edward's hands, till Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway, reduced it, and expelled the English in 1384. In 1455 it was attained (taken from the Douglases), and became a Royal castle. It was given to the Maxwells to look after but in 1588 it was besieged and taken by James 6th from Lord Maxwell, and the governorship granted to Johnstone, Earl of Annandale.
In 1850, when the above was mainly written, a Mr. Hope Johnstone of Annandale was the Hereditary Keeper of the castle.

Westerhall in Dumfries is home to the Johnstone Baronetcy. It was originally a Douglas tower called Dalduran, seized by the Crown and given to the care of the Glendennings it was purchased in 1605 by James Johnston of Westraw. The name James Johnston of Westerhall first appears on record in 1606.

Keith Hall, Caskieben Castle is located at Inverurie 17 miles from Aberdeen. The ancient castle was owned by the Johnstones until 1633. It is joined onto Keith Hall which is a large restoration mansion built by the 1st Earl of Kintore, Sir John Keith, who had purchased the properties in 1662. The surrounding gardens were originally landscaped by Capability Brown. It is the home of the current Earl and not open to the public.

Raehills House was originally a hunting lodge for Hopetoun House. It stands on the Kinnel Water, 10 miles to the north of Lockerbie and was bought by the Johnstones in 1780. Tastefully expanded and remodeled in 1834. It is a luxury mansion house serving both as main dwelling of the Clan chief and also as a luxury hotel.


picture showing Johnstone history


Scottish contemporary Art
Scottish contemporary Art

Artists drawing of Lochhouse Tower
Lochhouse Tower
sketch 1812