Robert Johnston

1783 - 1839


Son of Dr Alexander Johnston (died 1786) and Elizabeth Johnston (later Weir), both of Jamaica. Robert Johnston was 'of Murphy's Hill', and his wife Catherine Cole Johnston (née Taylor) was heiress to Harmony Hill, both in St Ann Jamaica. The trustees of the Johnstons' marriage settlement were awarded the compensation for Harmony Hill, whilst in the case of Murphy's Hill, the trustees claimed apparently unsuccessfully as mortgagees for £4000, presumably a part of the marriage settlement secured on the estate which is shown as belonging to James Johnston (probably Robert's elder brother) as owner-in-fee. In addition Robert Johnston himself launched (in right of his wife as residuary legatee of her father John Taylor) and then withdrew a counter-claim on the Running Gut estate of George Whitehorne Lawrence in St James and counter-claimed for a further 21 enslaved against Thomas Monkhouse under St Ann No. 646.

  1. Although Robert Johnston is identified as 'Great Britain' in the Register of Claims for Running Gut, he and his wife appear to have lived primarily in Jamaica, and then in Newport, Rhode Island after 1833. Robert was educated in Aberdeen, and undertook a Grand Tour of Europe 1812-1814. He married Catherine Cole Taylor in 1818, reportedly at St George's Hanover in London; the birthplace of Robert James Johnston in 1819 is also reported to have been London.


T71/857 St Ann No. 118 for Harmony Hill; T71/857 St Ann No. 39 for Murphy's Hill; T71/873 St James No. 653 for Running Gut; T71/857 St Ann and T71/1183 - the claim has no number but appears in List D between No. 645 and 647: the compensation appears to have been paid to two Glasgow merchants.

  1. There is an account of the Johnston family included in Historic Society of Pennsylvania Collection 1582, Powel Family Papers 1681-1938 [accessed 16/05/2011]. This summary indicates (pp. 4-5) that Robert Johnston and his family moved from Jamaica to Rhode Island in 1833 in anticipation of Emancipation. Ashmeade-Hawkins Family Tree at [accessed 03/08/2012] shows the marriage at St George's, which is partly borne out by an incomplete index entry online on the same site to Pallot's Marriage Index, which shows the marriage of 'Robert' [sic] and Catherine Cole Taylor at St George's Hanover in 1818, although the underlying image is of a different and unrelated marriage [accessed 16/05/2011]; the Ashmeade-Hawkins Family Tree also gives (also unsourced) the birthplace of Robert James Johnston as London, for which no verification has yet been found.

Further Information

Catherine Cole Taylor
Robert James, Mary, Catherine Elizabeth, Annie Taylor

Associated Claims (2)

£2,184 18s 9d
£3,045 12s 9d
Other association

Associated Estates (1)

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
1820 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Trust beneficiary

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)


Relationships (4)

Husband → Wife
Son → Father
Son-in-law → Father-in-law
Notes →
Johnston married Catherine Cole Taylor in 1818, several years after her father's...

Addresses (1)

Newport, Rhode Island, USA - United States of America