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    Barbara (Johnstone) Kinnaird
    Margaret (Johnstone) Ogilvy
    James Johnstone
    Alexander Johnstone
    Betty Johnstone
    William (Johnstone) Pulteney
    George Johnstone
    Charlotte (Johnstone) Balmain
    John Johnstone
    Patrick Johnstone
    Gideon Johnstone
    Elizabeth Carolina (Keene) Johnstone
    Martha Ford
    Bell or Belinda
    (n.d. – n.d.)
    Joseph Knight
    (n.d. – n.d.)
    Adam Smith
    David Hume
    John Swinton
  • Barbara (Johnstone) Kinnaird (1723-1765), the oldest of the Johnstone brothers and sisters to survive infancy, lived in Scotland throughout her life. She married a man from a Perthshire family, Charles Kinnaird, who inherited the title and estate of his cousin under the complicated circumstances that were so familiar in eighteenth-century inheritance disputes (his cousin's wife had been accused of attempting to fabricate a pregnancy, and the birth of two male heirs, by walking around with pillows under her dress). Charles Kinnaird came from a Jacobite family and was arrested in 1745, with a servant of Sir James Johnstone called Walter Scot, for "treasonable correspondence"; he was later described in family stories as "eating his commission in prison." Barbara had five children and a shortlived period of prosperity, during which she was able to buy "Tea-cups & Saucers" and even a carriage with her husband's "name Copper'd and a Coronet." But she and her husband separated soon afterwards. She then lived on her own in Edinburgh and died at the age of forty-one.

  • Margaret (Johnstone) Ogilvy (1724-1757), the second child, was the first of the Johnstones to become well known, or notorious, in public life. She was a Jacobite, a supporter of the "pretender" to the thrones of England and Scotland, and she and her husband, David Ogilvy, spent much of 1745-1746 traversing Scotland with the rebel armies of "Bonnie Prince Charlie." She was of enthusiastic "political notions," in the contemporary description of a pamphlet, The Female Rebels, "with black Eyes and black Hair, and her Person well sized, and an easy though not very slender Shape." When the rebellion was defeated and her husband escaped to France, she was arrested and brought as a prisoner to Edinburgh Castle. She escaped from the castle in disguise, in November 1746, with the help of one of her sisters, one of her brothers, and an elaborate conspiracy involving a tea kettle and "a little girl," to convince the guards that she was ill in bed. She later lived in exile in France and died of consumption at the age of thirty-two. Her daughter, Margaret, married a man from another Jacobite family, John Wedderburn, who was the owner of Joseph Knight, the slave who sued for his freedom in Perth in 1774.

  • James Johnstone (1726-1794), the oldest surviving son, was sent to study in Leiden on the recommendation of James Boswell's father (and "after many doubts difficulties objections Answers etc. etc. and etc.") He was a student during the war of 1745, where he was described as " slow of apprehension and unsuspicious," but "the best-natured man in the world. " He later became a soldier in the British army against which his sister had rallied. His mother described him as "poor unlucky Jamie. "He was a vast figure, in the description of an English acquaintance, cast" in a Herculean mould, of an uncouth aspect, rude address, and almost gigantic proportions, "which concealed" great integrity directed by strong sense." He married a widow called Louisa Meyrick, moved to Norfolk, inherited the family home in Scotland, which he described as a "Crazzy Rocking house," and died without legitimate children at the age of sixty-eight. He was a member of parliament in the last years of his life and an opponent of slavery.

  • Alexander Johnstone (1727-1783) became a soldier in the British army and was sent to North America. He served in Canada and later in northern New York, where a friend of the family reported that he was "very shy, & more discontented than I ever saw any body." "He had always an oddity about him, but I was willing to impute it to his cross fortune, "one of his maternal aunts wrote to his uncle in Canada. He eventually became a colonel in charge of fortifications on the West Indian island of Grenada and purchased a large sugar plantation on the island, together with 178 "Negroes and Mollatoe slaves." He was a member of the assembly of the island of Grenada, and in a case before the Privy Council in London, he accused the governor of Grenada of the torture of slaves. He died unmarried at the age of fifty-five, without legitimate children, leaving his slaves, mills, and boiling houses to his brother James.

  • Betty Johnstone (1728-1813) lived with her parents until their death, except for a difficult period during the Seven Years' War when she quarrelled with her mother about a parcel of Indian textiles. She was the family's continuing source of information, about everything from tenancy contracts to the news from Jamaica, and from opinions about her sister Barbara's separation to the arrangements for her brother George's election campaign in Carlisle. She is the most obscure of the brothers and sisters, in the sense that she never entered into the public record of events between her birth and her death, or into the record of public life. After her parents' death she rented an apartment of her own in Edinburgh—"my own opinion Ever was that of a person comed to my time of Life should have a place of there own that they may Retire to," she wrote to one of her brothers—and she died unmarried at the age of eighty-five in 1813.

  • William (Johnstone) Pulteney (1729-1805) studied in Edinburgh with Adam Smith, with whom he lived "intimately [for] four years," in Smith's description. He was described by one of his uncles as a "dealer in mystery," and he was a grave figure even in his youth; Smith wrote that "he had when I first knew him, a good deal of vivacity and humour, but he has studied them away." He was educated for the law, and he was the most respectable of the brothers and sisters. He was also the most successful. "Our friend, Johnstone, has wrote the most-super-excellent-est Paper in the World," David Hume wrote of his memorandum in a celebrated lawsuit of 1763 (over another feigned pregnancy). William married an English heiress, Frances Pulteney, changed his name to Pulteney, and was a member of parliament for thirty-six years. He owned property in Dominica, Grenada, Tobago, Florida, and New York and was a prominent parliamentary supporter of the slave trade. He died intestate in 1805, one of the richest men in England.

  • George Johnstone (1730-1787) went to sea at the age of thirteen, where he served variously as a midshipman, captain, and eventually commodore. He was a naval officer in the West Indies, Lisbon, the Cape Verde Islands, and the Cape of Good Hope, and was governor of the new British colony of West Florida from 1764 to 1766. He was a member of parliament, and closely involved in the parliamentary politics of the East India Company and of the American Revolution, initially as a supporter of the American revolutionaries (he was sent to the new United States as part of the peace commission of 1778), and later as a vehement defender of the British government. He died at the age of fifty-six, recognizing one child with his wife, Charlotte Dee, and four surviving children with his companion, Martha Ford, the daughter of an auctioneer in the Haymarket in London, with whom he had lived in the 1760s and 1770s in West Florida and Kensington Gore.

  • Charlotte (Johnstone) Balmain (1732-1773), the youngest of the sisters, was described as her mother's "favourite daughter," and she lived at home until she was thirty. During the quarrel over the Indian textiles, she took on some of her sister Betty's responsibilities for writing letters of family information ("tho greatly her inferiore in expressing or in any way acknowledging the favours I owe you," as she wrote to her brother William). She then made what her parents considered to be a catastrophically unsuitable marriage to a family friend, James Balmain, the son of the minister of a nearby church, who had become an officer of the excise or a "gauger," a collector of the duties on wines, spirits, and imported goods. Charlotte and her husband had five children, of whom two survived into adulthood. They lived in Scotland, where James Balmain was deeply involved in helping his brothers-in-law with searches in Edinburgh libraries into the history of their distant ancestors. Charlotte was forgiven by her father on his deathbed, and she died at the age of forty-one.

  • John Johnstone (1734-1795) joined the service of the East India Company at the age of sixteen, became a tax collector and merchant in Calcutta, Dhaka, and the inland province of Burdwan, and for a time was in charge of the Company's Persian correspondence. Along with William, he was the family's other successful brother. He lived in India for fifteen years and was considered to be fluent in both the "Moor's language" (Persian) and the "country language" (Bengali). He was the only one of the brothers who made a large fortune overseas, and he was the source of financial support for at least five of his brothers and sisters. In Calcutta he married Elizabeth Carolina Keene, who had published translations of the love poetry of Ovid and Horace when she was a "very ingenious young Lady of fourteen," and who travelled to India with her sister in 1761. He and Elizabeth Carolina returned to Scotland with several Indian servants, including "Bell or Belinda," and with a large, if fluctuating fortune, which he invested in landed estates, houses, and his own and his brothers' political careers. He was a member of parliament, for a short time, and an opponent of slavery. He died in Scotland at the age of sixty-two.

  • Patrick Johnstone (1737-1756), the sixth brother, joined the East India Company at the age of sixteen. His father had a "Serious Conversation" with him when he was fourteen about the "Choice of some Business for Life." In his petition to join the Company, he stated that he had been "educated in writing and Accompts," and presented a certificate of having gone "thro' a complete course of Mathematick and Book keeping" with a teacher in Edinburgh; he "promise[d] to behave himself with the utmost Diligence and Fidelity." In India, Patrick worked as an accountant and set up trade with his brother John. He died in Calcutta shortly before his nineteenth birthday, in 1756.

  • Gideon Johnstone (1739-1788), the youngest of the brothers and sisters, was the most unsettled of them all. He joined the navy and served in the West Indies together with his older brother George. He then went to join his brother John in the East Indies as a free merchant, became an official of the East India Company, and enlisted in the Company's army. He was heard of in Basra, Mauritius, and the Cape of Good Hope. In the East Indies he was reported to have set up in business, selling the water of the Ganges to Indian pilgrims. He then returned to America, and during the Revolutionary War he became a naval officer, again in the West Indies. He also served in New York, off Plymouth Sound, and off the island of Nantucket. In 1780, he married Fanny Colquitt, from a family of Liverpool lawyers and slave-ship owners, and he died in Scotland at the age of forty-nine.

  • Elizabeth Carolina (Keene) Johnstone (1743-1778) was by far the most literary of the Johnstones' extended family members, in the sense that she published a 1762 volume of poetry and had also, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, published a translation of Ovid in which Dido "talk[ed] like a debauchee," in the view of the poet Oliver Goldsmith. She was just eighteen when she and her sister sailed from England to India in the spring of 1761, "proceeding to their friends at Madrass." In four years, they travelled extensively, staying in a Calcutta "gardenhouse," and the "bungalow" of an old soldier in Chittagong. In 1764, they returned to Calcutta and it was there, the next year, that Elizabeth Carolina married John. On September 25 John requested a "passage to Europe" for "Mrs Johnstone with her Servants & necessaries," and on October 5 he and Elizabeth Carolina boarded a Bengal-constructed ship, the Admiral Stevens, for the long journey home. Back in Great Britain, Elizabeth Carolina lived with John in London and Balgonie, before moving to Alva, where she died in 1778, leaving a young son and daughter. She is commemorated in two monuments, in white marble; a tablet in the churchyard of Westerkirk, placed by her daughter Anne Elizabeth, and a bas relief in the churchyard of Alva, the profile of a beautiful young woman with a necklace in her hair.

  • Martha Ford (1744-1830) was born in London, the daughter of an auctioneer in Haymarket. She lived with George in the 1760s and 1770s and had five children with him. Martha Ford was twenty, and eight months pregnant when she arrived in West Florida with George. In Pensacola, she was registered as the owner of two plots of land in the province; a "garden lot in Pensacola," and five hundred acres of wilderness, together with all "Mines of Gold and Silver" to be found there in the future. George and she appear to have lived together, in the "Governor's House." A visiting clergyman from South Carolina wrote disobligingly that "the Governour is a Single Person, keeps a Concubine, has a Child by her and the Infection rages and is copied." After returning from Florida in 1767, George and Martha Ford lived in Kensington, and had four more children before separating in 1787. Martha Ford lived for more than forty years after George's death. She survived all four of her sons; her son George Lindsay Johnstone, who returned from India, left her a large annuity of £1,500 per year, or more than five times the value of the old Johnstone estate in Dumfriesshire. Her daughter, Sophia Johnstone, married a Sicilian duke. When Martha Ford died in 1830, she left her fortune to her grandchildren and to her daughter Sophia, "for her own sole separate use and benefit and my will is that her present husband or any future husband shall not intermeddle therewith."

  • Bell or Belinda (n.d. – n.d.), was brought to England from Bengal as "the slave or servant of John Johnstone," in 1766. She was the last person to be recognized as a slave by a British court. She has no recorded date of birth or death and her words are no more than the words of the clerks of courts. After leaving India with the Johnstones, Bell or Belinda stayed with John and his wife Elizabeth Carolina for four years in London before the family moved to Balgonie, in Scotland. In the last days of June 1771, the body of a baby boy, wrapped in a linen cloth, and "having the marks of violence" upon him, was found in the river Leven, not far from John and Elizabeth Carolina's home. Bell or Belinda was the mother. In the trial that followed, there were eighteen witnesses, but no evidence of what had really happened was uncovered. The indictment said that Bell or Belinda had murdered her child "by strangling him, or knocking him on the head," or "by some other violent means." Bell or Belinda petitioned the court to be banished to the East or West Indies or America, saying that "she cannot have any happiness in this country." She was sent, in the end, to Virginia, where she was to be sold "as a slave for life."

  • Joseph Knight, (n.d. – n.d.), originally from the Cape Coast of West Africa, was the pursuer, or plaintiff, in the case which ended the law of slavery in Britain. Knight was brought from Africa to Jamaica when he was "very young," and did "not know anything of his being sold." John Wedderburn (Margaret Johnstone Ogilvy's son-in-law) bought him in Jamaica and brought him to Scotland. In the summer of 1772, in Joseph's own account, he had "observed in the news-papers, an article which mentioned the noted decision of the Court of King's Bench, in favour of Somerset, a negro; and this naturally led him to think, that he also was intitled to be free." In 1773, Knight tried to leave the Wedderburns' household and shortly after he was stopped, he presented a petition to the Sheriff Depute of Perthshire in which he stated, "the petitioner does not admit that he is a slave." The case continued in Perth and Edinburgh and was finally decided by the highest court in Scotland in 1778, in his favor. Joseph Knight was married to Ann Thomson, a maid-servant in the Wedderburns' house in Perth.

  • Adam Smith (1723-1790), the author of The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, was a commentator on empire, social relationships, and "character and situation," and was involved with several of the Johnstones and their friends. He was tutor to William in Edinburgh, and in 1751 visited Westerhall, the Johnstone estate, where he was expected to stay "above Stairs." When John was elected to parliament in 1774, it was by defeating the son of Smith's oldest family friend, for the Dysart Burghs in Fife, the constituency which included Adam Smith's home town of Kirkcaldy. In London, where Smith lived from 1773 to 1777, and where he finished and published The Wealth of Nations, his acquaintances were also the acquaintances of William, George, and John, in and around the "British Coffee-House" in Charing Cross. With William, John Swinton, David Hume, and Adam Ferguson, Smith was part of the Edinburgh Select Society, an elite reading club. Smith was also invoked as an authority in several of the causes involving the Johnstones and their friends: explicitly by Joseph Knight's lawyers, and implicitly in Alexander's and George's Narrative of Grenada.

  • David Hume (1711-1776), wrote about the ideas and experiences of the Johnstones and their friends, or "toss[ing] about the World, from the one Pole to the other," "fluctuating situations," and "internal and external sentiment." He was also familiar with the Johnstones themselves. Their father, in searching for evidence supporting his claim to the fortune of a wealthy cousin, the Marquis of Annandale, became an intimate associate of Hume. Hume had spent a cold and melancholy winter, in 1745-1746, as the "friend and comrade," or paid companion, "like a servant," to the cousin, who was later declared a lunatic. Hume moved in the same circles as the Johnstones; he was a member of the Select Society in Edinburgh with William and of the Poker Club with Johnstone nephews. Two of the Johnstones' uncles, including the judge in Bell or Belinda's case, were among Hume's close friends in Edinburgh. He described them, in 1764, as "those with whom I have long liv'd in the greatest Intimacy." Of William's legal skill, Hume wrote that "Our friend, Johnstone, has wrote the most-super-excellent-est Paper in the World" and he described George as a "very gallant, sensible young Fellow," whom "I have seen pretty often."

  • John Swinton (1723-1799), a Sheriff Depute of the county of Perth, was the officer of the court who, in September 1771, presented a petition for Bell or Belinda, asking for a continuance because she did not "understand either the Language or Laws" of the country, and, having been brought to Perth only two days earlier, "had no opportunity of applying for assistance with her Tryal sooner." He was the same Sheriff who decided in Joseph's favour in 1774, finding "that the state of slavery is not recognized by the laws of this kingdom, and is inconsistent with the principles thereof." Like Adam Smith and William, Swinton was a member of the Select Society in Edinburgh, and was deeply involved in Scottish judicial history. His family was closely connected to the Johnstones. One of Swinton's brothers, Samuel, had been a friend of George's in the navy, and another of his brothers, Archibald, was a friend of John's in India; "worthy Swinton," in John's description, than whom "none stands higher in the lists of fame or in the good opinion and regard of all." Archibald Swinton brought an Indian scholar to Perth, where they visited John Swinton. John Swinton's son became secretary of the East India Company's Council in Calcutta; it was his grandson of whom Sir Walter Scott, whose mother was Swinton's first cousin, told a celebrated story, of a boy who mistook a hare for a tiger.