George Johnston
Privacy Level: Open (White)

George Johnston (1764 - 1823)

George Johnston aka Johnson
Born in Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotlandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 12 Nov 1814 in Concord, New South Wales, Australiamap
Descendants descendants
Died in New South Wales, Australiamap
Profile last modified | Created 11 Feb 2016
This page has been accessed 3,814 times.



Scottish flag
George Johnston was born in Scotland.
George Johnston ... was a marine who came to Australia with the First Fleet
George Johnston came free to the Colony of New South Wales (1788-1900)

Son of Captain David Johnston aide-de-camp Lord Percy, later Duke of Northumberland. Went to America with his father and took part in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Soldier and Farmer. Served as adjutant to Governor Arthur Phillip, among the first settlers of New South Wales. Assumed the lieutenant-governorship and arrested Bligh during the "Rum Rebellion" of 1808.

George Johnston was born on 19 March 1764,[1] his baptism was on 30 March 1764 at Dumfries and the baptism record gives us his father's name, David Johnston, lieutenant of marines. His mother's name is not given in the baptism record, however we know she was Isabell McKie from a sasine record: "1774: Sasine: in favor of Isabell McKie only daughter of John Mackie, writer, Dumfries, and Mary Hodgeson spouse, both deceased, now wife of Captain David Johnston of the Chatham Division of Marines - 9 roods in Troquer." [2]

Johnston married Esther Abrahams, a First Fleet Convict and fellow passenger on the Lady Penrhyn.[3] Johnston and Esther Abrahams farmed and lived on Annandale with their children until the 1870s when it was sold and sub-divided for residential development. The main street of Annandale is named Johnston and the gates of their property now stand in the grounds of Annandale Public School.

In March 1804 he suppressed the uprising of Irish convicts from the Castle Hill government farm, at the "Battle of Vinegar Hill" fought at Windsor Road, Rouse Hill. Trooper Anlezark was with him when he arrested the leaders just before the battle.

On 26 January 1808 Johnston was one of the leaders of the "Rum Rebellion",[4] a military coup that deposed Governor William Bligh, and Johnston assumed lieutenant-governorship of the colony.

Johnston was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel on 25 April 1808. On 28 July 1808 he relinquished lieutenant-governorship to his senior officer Joseph Foveaux, who had been lieutenant-governor of Norfolk Island. Johnston sailed for England with John Macarthur in March 1809 and was tried by court-martial in May 1811. Found guilty of mutiny he was sentenced to be cashiered.

Johnston returned to New South Wales as a private individual and lived on his land at Annandale. He died on 5 January 1823.

Obituary: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser , Thursday 9 January 1823:[5]

DIED—On Sunday night last, at his seat at Annandale, GEORGE JOHNSTON, Esq. after a severe but rather short indisposition. This Gentlemen is well remembered by the oldest inhabitant, and very much respected in private life. As Lieutenant Colonel of the 102d Regiment (New South Wales Corps) his name will be handed down to posterity, blended with that of Australia ; having assumed the reigns of administration, for a short interval, during the memorable colonial inter-regnum. A large family remain to deplore a fond Parent's deprivation.

George Johnston's diaries

The disappearance of George Johnston's diaries has been described as 'an incalculable loss to Australian History' [Bergman p.120]   "George Johnston's diaries of three leatherbound volumes which he wrote from the day he left England to the time of his death were left to his son Robert. They were inherited by grandson Percival Johnston and bequeathed to great-grandson Mr Douglas Hope-Johnston. However they were taken from Percival's bedroom shortly after his death" [in 1926]. [Bergman p.104] Apparently Robert had already destroyed the volume relevant to his father's trial in 1811. [Roberts p106]

Research Notes

Father's name: George or David? We know that George Johnston's father was David Johnston, thanks to the meticulous research of Phyllis Ashworth. Amazingly, in spite of Phyllis Ashworth's work published back in 1980, the incorrect name of George for his father still persists in George Johnston's biographies in Australian Dictionary of National Biography and Wikipedia. The source for this incorrect information is probably the book Australian Men of Mark (pub.1888) and there is a family tree in a file at the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney, which has a notation in pencil "Capt George Johnson, 4 Rgt of Foot". Phyllis Ashworth in her book shows that no such person exists and that the father's name was David Johnston.

George Bain Johnston? Please note there is NO record with a middle name "Bain". Several trees on have his name "George Bain Johnston" but this is the name of Captain George Bain Johnston 1829-1882 who was a steamship proprietor on the Murray, and who died at Goolwa SA in 1882.

A local story: Connection to Annangrove? Local tradition in Annangrove suggests the first land grant in the district was 50 acres on Annangrove Ridge, granted to Major George Johnson and that he led the troops of the New South Wales Corps to put down the rebellion of convicts at Vinegar Hill in 1804. It is held by some that Johnson led his men down Annangrove Ridge instead of going along the Windsor Road and surprised the rebels from the rear. His land grant in the area is said to have been from about that time. Please note this is not supported by known records.[6]


  1. Date of birth 19 March 1764 comes from Historic Records of Australia, vol. VI, p. xxx, according to Dictionary of Australian Biography 1949 edition, and quoted in Biographical Database of Australia (BDA). However Australian Men of Mark (1888) has birth date 19 January 1764, and incorrectly has his father George Johnston
  2. Research by Robert Shannon, quoted in Ashworth p.64
  3. They did not marry until 12 November 1814: Scans on St Johns Parramatta parish register: George Johnstone of the parish of St Philip, Esther Julian of ditto, married at Concord, by special licence granted by Governor Macquarie, by Samuel Marsden. Witnesses: Isaac Nichols, Rosanna Nichols. The marriage licence has 'of Annandale', and 'Mrs' Esther Julian
  4. Wikipedia article on the Rum Rebellion
  5. Family Notices (1823, January 9). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 3. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from
  6. A History of Kenthurst and Annangrove. Catherine Charlton, 1981. ISBN A5806210 6. Source makes further comments that suggests that this is not supported by any known records and the earliest documented connection to Annangrove and the Johnson family is from about 1893 when his grandson Edward Charles Johnson purchased Portion 231.
  • G. F. J. Bergman, ‘Esther Johnston: The Lieutenant-Governor's Wife’, Journal of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, vol 6, part 2, 1966, pp 90-122
  • Roberts, Alan. Marine Officer, Convict Wife : The Johnstons of Annandale . Paddington, N.S.W., Barbara Beckett Publishing, 2008.
  • Ashworth, Phyllis G. Johnston Family Tree / by Phyllis G. Ashworth ; Drawing by Margaret Lourey. Kew, Vic.: P.G. Ashworth, 1980.  
  • Lemcke, Geoffrey. Reluctant Rebel : Lt. Col. George Johnston, 1764-1823, Willoughby, N.S.W.: Geoffrey Lemcke, 1998.
  • A. T. Yarwood, 'Johnston, George (1764–1823)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 12 February 2020.
  • Watson, Frederick, 'George Johnston' in Watson, Frederick, and Australia. Parliament. Library Committee. Historical Records of Australia / [edited by Frederick Watson]. Sydney: Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1914-1925: Series 1, Volume VI, (1916) pp. xxx-xxxv.
  • Captain Robert Johnston, R.N in Digby, Everard, and A. Peter Doyle. Australian Men of Mark. / [Edited by Everard Digby.]. Sydney [N.S.W.]: Charles F. Maxwell, 1888-1889. Transcription at Biographical Database of Australia . This includes a biography of George Johnston.

See also:


See the Changes page for the details of edits by contributors.

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Is George your ancestor? Please don't go away!
 star icon Login to collaborate or comment, or
 star icon contact private message the profile manager, or
 star icon ask our community of genealogists a question.
Sponsored Search by

No known carriers of George's DNA have taken a DNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Sponsored by Ancestry ®

Family History Search.


Enter a grandparent's name. Just one grandparent can lead you to many discoveries.

Comments: 1

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
George Johnston is 27 Degrees from Debbie Thomas

on my father's side of the family.

posted by Debbie (Fink) Thomas