William Johnston


 BORN 17 October 1779 at Port Glasgow, Scotland.
 DIED 22 December 1839 at Greenock, Scotland
 FATHER William Johnston (sailor)
 MOTHER Elisabeth Camron
 MARRIED Elizabeth Thomson (c1781-1853) on 12 July 1800 at Greenock Old Parish, Scotland.
 CHILDREN   William Johnston jnr (1801-1847)
Robert Johnston (1802-)
Margaret Johnston (1804-)
Janet Johnston (1806-1876)
John Johnston (1808-)
James Johnston (1809-)
Kerr Johnston (1812-1887)
Mary Johnston (1814-1847)
Andrew Johnston (1820-)
William Johnston, printer, died at Greenock on 22nd December 1839. (Greenock Advertiser 24.12.1839)


Bookseller, stationer, printer and newspaper owner of Greenock, Scotland. Married Elizabeth Thomson at Greenock on 12 July 1800, and had nine children. William Johnston died in Greenock, 22 December 1839, leaving an estate valued at between £300 and £450.

The following are extracts from the Scottish Book Trade Index (SBTI):

JOHNSTON, Kerr bookseller and stationer Greenock
46 Hamilton Street
Fowler 1834; 1836

JOHNSTON, William printer Greenock
14 Hamilton street
and newspaper printer Commercial Clyde List, Hamilton Street 1825 Schenck; Pigot 1820; 1825
JOHNSTON, William senior typographic and lithographic printer Greenock
46 Hamilton Street
William Johnston & Son
same address 1834-45
William Johnston
same address 1853-61
Bookseller and stationer same address 1868-75
The son seems to have been John Johnston 1834-53
Fowler 1831; 1834; 1836;
Greenock 1845; 1853; 1861; 1868; 1873; 1875 …
JOHNSTON, John lithographic printer Greenock
46 Hamilton Street
Greenock 1853
gives the address as 8 Hamilton Street.
Schenck; Fowler 1834;
1836; Pigot 1837;Fowler 1834;
1836; Slater 1852

The History of the town of Greenock by Daniel Weir (1829) says (p. 97) 'Printing, which was invented in 1430, and has done so much good in diffusing knowledge, was, till of late years, carried on here almost entirely in hand-bills, jobbing, &c. It was not till 1765 that any printer domiciled amongst us. This was a Mr. Macalpine, who was also the first bookseller. In 1802 the Clyde Commercial List was begun, and is still carried on by Mr. William Johnston. It is printed every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The same year the Greenock Advertiser was begun, and was printed by J. Chalmers & Co. In 1817 the Greenock Herald was commenced by Mr. Mennons; but was discontinued, or rather merged into the Advertiser, when Mr. Mennons became the proprietor in 1819. It is published every Tuesday and Friday.'

Information from Greenock Library says the Clyde Commercial List was published from 1804 to 1844.

SBTI says:
CLYDE COMMERCIAL LIST newspaper office Greenock
15 Hamilton Street 1831
46 Hamilton Street 1834-45
William Johnston & Son Fowler 1834-45
Fowler 1831; 1834; 1836; Greenock 1845

From William Johnston’s will, we learn that he also had a stepdaughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth McDonald Johnston married John Miller in Greenock Old Parish on 12 Aug 1817. According to William Johnston’s will, John Miller in 1839 was General Inspector of the Fisheries, Leith.

William Johnston, son of William Johnston (a sailor) and Elizabeth Cameron, was born in Port Glasgow (about 2 miles from Greenock and then as now joined onto it) on 17 October 1779. Jeremy Dunlop has considered the original documents (links below) and decided this is likely to be our man. There is also evidence that this William Johnston was son of another William Johnston.

A William Johnston of this vintage and of Greenock was involved with the fishing industry in Newfoundland. See site regarding Baine, Johnston & Co.