James Johnston

No Dates

Claimant or beneficiary


Son of Dr Alexander Johnston (q.v.) and Elizabeth Collett Gilbert, owner of Murphy's Penn or Murphy Hill in St Ann, Jamaica. Thomas Bland and William Walker (both q.v.) lodged an unsuccessful counterclaim against the compensation for enslaved persons on Murphy Hill as trustees of the marriage settlement of James's younger brother Robert.

  1. Dr Alexander Johnston, a Scottish-born surgeon who was probably the first generation to move to Jamaica, and  Elizabeth Collett Gilbert  married 07/02/1773 in Kingston, Jamaica. They had four sons and one daughter, of which James was the second son. Following the death of his parents, James Johnston became responsible for his younger brother Robert. James remained in Jamaica while Robert was at school in Aberdeen and copies of their correspondence can be found in the Powel Family Papers. James managed Murphy's Penn which he inherited from his father. Also found in the Powel Family Papers are "documents relating to [James] Johnston’s 1830 court martial, on charges that he was traceably linked to a black ancestor and thus should serve in the “brown company” instead of serving along with the other white Jamaican citizens. Johnston refused to serve in this company, and was eventually allowed to serve with the whites. Johnston was again investigated following the slave rebellion of 1832, during which the chain of military command broke down, contributing to the chaos. Whether these allegations of wrongdoing came as a result of Johnston’s previously investigated mixed-race background is not evident."



T71/857 St Ann claim no. 39 (Murphy Hill)

  1. 'Powel Family Papers, 1681-1938', Historical Society of Pennsylvannia, collection 1582, see http://hsp.org/sites/default/files/legacy_files/migrated/findingaid1582powel.pdf [accessed 07/06/2012]; see separate entry for Robert Johnston.

Associated Claims (1)

£3,045 12s 9d

Associated Estates (3)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1823 [EA] - → Attorney
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1820 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Lessee

Relationships (2)

Son → Father