Clan Johnstone, like ScotlandShop, can trace its roots to the Scottish Borders. Unlike ScotlandShop.com, the Johnstones are from Annandale while we are from Berwickshire. Like most clans from the Borders, Clan Johnstone were Reivers. We have spoken about the Reivers before and while the majority robbed from whoever they could, the Johnstones only stole from the English. Pictured is the monument at Devil’s Beef Tub in Annandale, a famous hiding place for Johnstone clan cattle.
Ok, let’s get down to the key issue here, spelling. The name of this clan can be spelled any number of ways. However, if we look at the clan’s origins, we can decipher the original spelling. I am, however, making sure not to say correct spelling – names and spelling are allowed to change over time, so please don’t get annoyed with me. Anyway, the name originally begins with a man named John. But here’s where things get a little different, the name Johnstone doesn’t refer to a son of John or a stone belonging to John. The name in fact refers to John’s town. In 1174 a certain bloke named John was given some land in Annandale. Being a very humble man, John decide to name the place John’s Toun (town). From then on he became known as John of Johnstone.
The Last Emperor of China
Here in these blogs we like to look at some distinguished members of each clan. Clan Johnstone can boast musicians, volcanologists, actors and athletes among its ranks. However, one clansman who really stood out for me was Reginald Johnstone. Reggie just so happened to name the last ever Emperor of China.
The 12th and final emperor of the Qing dynasty, Puyi was born in February 1906 and selected as Emperor when he was only 2 years old. Puyi never really ruled China, being a child, but was nevertheless treated as a living god. This resulted in PuYi being a total brat and constantly tormented his servants, the eunuchs who fed, bathed and clothed him. The young emperor didn’t get long to flex his regal muscles as a revolution in 1911 forced his abdication – well, forced his minders to abdicate on his behalf. The revolutionary forces did allow the young emperor to remain in the forbidden city where he remained until 1924.
In 1919, Reginald Johnston was appointed as Puyi’s English teacher. This made the Scottish diplomat one of only two foreigners allowed to enter the Forbidden City. It was during his time as the young Emperor’s teacher that Reginald gave Puyi the name Henry, a name the Emperor kept his whole life. In 1987, Puyi’s story was portrayed in the movie The Last Emperor. The film won 9 Academy Awards and featured Peter O’Toole as Reginald Johnstone.
I am constantly fascinated by all the amazing stories that come out of Scottish Clan history. If you have any great stories that you’d like to share with us, please feel free to get in touch. You can find the Johnstone tartan on our tartan finder.