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NOTE: This is a page in which is still very much in process and includes me thinking out loud about JOHNSTONs.

Sharon Oddie Brown. October 4, 2009
Update: January 21, 2013.
Update: The family tree which I had included has doubled in size, and is hyperlinked to my rootsweb tree, so you can see the detail which I have also shared in that tree..
Update: September 24, 2014. Fixed broken hyperlink.
Update September 29, 2014. New dates for Angel WRAY; new link to 1775 sale of land; new hunch about parents of John JOHNSTON b 1830.


Woodvale History from Deeds



Going from an 1881 document concerning the COULTER Estate, it first appeared that Woodvale was in the Townland of Ducavan, Parish of Roche. What confused me about this is that although a Thomas JOHNSTON was the immediate lessor of all of Ducavan in 1854, there was no building or set of buildings in that townland worth more than £1.0.0. And Woodvale was supposedly a building of some substance.


Then a conversation with Eilie RYDER née McBRIDE who was born at Freeduff in 1920 tipped me off about a new place to look. She recalled visiting Woodvale in the 1930s. Her older brother Billie was engaged at the time and the family visited the JOHNSTONs as part of the rounds that one did at such a time. This wasn’t long after Billie and Eilie’s sister Mary Francis McBRIDE, a promising second year medical student at Trinity, had tragically died of TB that she caught during her medical rounds. The grief over her death was still hitting the family hard and although that may have not been the cause, this engagement didn’t result in marriage. But back to Woodvale. Eilie remembered that the farm was situated such that it straddled the border between Armagh and Louth, a convenient placement in those times for all sorts of reasons. This was curious since Duncavan was not on the border. Eilie also told me that the house was a substantial 2 story house. Although there was “no cordiality with the Johnstons” and the McBRIDEs, they were still “cousins” of her father and therefore needed to be included in the family social circles. They were likely 2nd or 3rd cousins since Dr. William Scott McBRIDE, their father, had only one sibling - a brother Alfred who died unmarried and without issue.


HUNCHES? When it comes to possible relations, the Freeduff Church records show an Olivia DONALDSON & an Alexander JOHNSTON of Cloghog having 3 children: Mary Jane b.1863; John James b. 1865; and a second Mary Jane b. 1869 (presumably the first one died in the interval).


Thanks to Pete Schermerhorn, master of all things map related, I then learned that Woodvale was actually in the townland of Glassdrummond: ...And there is Woodvale House ... between the border and the road fork in Ballsmill village - it looks as if it's the very first place on your left after you cross the border from Louth into Armagh (perhaps an "active" place, during the Troubles).  SOURCE: Discoverer map Number 28 - First Series, published in 1982. In a second email, Pete added: ......the road into Ballsmill is a minor, unnamed/unnumbered road. There are some areas off woodland shown around Woodvale House, and across the road.  Perhaps a demesne?

Woodvale environs



So, then I figured that I had it. Glasdrumond, Parish of Creggan, Co. Armagh with part of the holding in Co. Louth. Except that the Griffiths holding relating to John JOHNSTON includes a lake. SEE:


Ord S 31

GLASSDRUMMAN, Parish of Creggan, Co. Armagh









75 a


John Johnstone

James Eastwood

House, offices and land










John Johnstone

James Eastwood

Water (lake)





John Johnstone

James Eastwood

Water (lake)





Currently, there are no lakes beside Woodvale, but then Pete Schermerhorn had a great thought: There may not be a lake now, but the stream running along the north side of the road at Woodvale may have been dammed at some time. After all, Ballsmill implies some sort of "mill", and water power was always a good option when available. And I suspect that the Woodvale estate included that land across the road (a bit wooded on the 1982 NI map). If you look at the watercourses across the border into Louth, you'll see some definite straightening of the stream bed which actually forms the boundary between Tatnadarra and Drumbilla townlands - so the stream had been "managed" for a long, long time. I would suspect that somewhere near the Armagh/Louth border, there was a dam on that stream, to form a reservoir or lake.


Other than this, there were other sources that I checked for Woodvale:


  • A Creggan Church record (see beneath under my notes on JOHNSTON) placed Woodvale in the townland of Glassdrummond.
  • There were holdings in Glassdrummond of a John JOHNSTON in 1854 (Griffiths) and an Elizabeth JOHNSTON during the Census of 1901. In 1935, A John T. JOHNSTON was resident there. SOURCE: http://www.devlin-family.com/timelineglassdrummond.htm
  • Although a Thomas JOHNSTON was the immediate lessor of all of Ducavan, there was no building or set of buildings in that townland worth more than £1.0.0. So, it seems that he lived at Glassdrummond and held leases for Ducavan.
    • NOTE: Ducavan is a townland of 99 acres with Shortstone East and West on its southern border, Ballinbinaby on its western border and Edenkill aka Edenakill on its northern and eastern border.




My interest in Woodvale comes out of trying to run down the stories of the JOHNSTONs who may be related to Sir Thomas JACKSON and it would seem that they are the JOHNSTONs who are also connected to Woodvale. At present, I have a very modest stub of a family tree (NOTE: I suspect that others can fill in more of this for me):


Descendants of John Johnston Updated: April 16, 2014.             


1 John JOHNSTON b: Bef 1690 d: 1759
    2 Thomas JOHNSTON d: 1765
      + Angel WRAY d. aft 1`775
        3 John JOHNSTON
        3 Henry JOHNSTON d. aft 1775
    2 Graham JOHNSTON d: Aft 1764
        3 Elizabeth JOHNSTON
        3 Anna JOHNSTON b: 1815 d: Apr 1825
    2 John JOHNSTON b: Abt 1729 d: 12 Dec 1816
      + Mary UNNAMED b: Abt 1721 d: 28 Dec 1805
        3 John JOHNSTON b: 1752 d: Jun 1839
            4 Mary JOHNSTON
        3 Thomas JOHNSTON d: Abt 1809 (NOTE: only a hunch)
            4 Sarah JOHNSTON
              + Thomas MCNEIL
            4 Mary Anne JOHNSTON
              + Richard DARLEY
            4 John JOHNSTON
            4 James JOHNSTON
            4 Graham JOHNSTON
        3 James JOHNSTON b: Abt 1756 d: 1843 (NOTE: only a hunch)
            4 Mary JOHNSTON
              + John ARMSTRONG
        3 Mary JOHNSTON
          + William FALLON
            4 Louisa FALLON
            4 Anne FALLON
            4 Charlotte FALLON
        3 William JOHNSTON b: 1760 d: 16 Oct 1832*
          + Eleanor LINDSAY b: Abt 1766 d: 14 Oct 1837
            4 William Edward JOHNSTON b: Abt 1811 d: Sep 1817
            4 Norman JOHNSTON d: 1890
        3 Anne JOHNSTON b: Abt 1750
          + George HENRY
            4 John HENRY
        3 Graham JOHNSTON
    2 Ann JOHNSTON
      + Adam NOBLE
        3 Francis NOBLE b: 1759 d: Aft 1788
    2 Charity JOHNSTON
      + Thomas SHEKELTON
        3 Joseph SHEKELTON
        3 John SHEKELTON
  + Catherine DARBY
    2 Richard JOHNSTON b: Bef 1753 d: Aft 1792
      + Anne JACKSON b: Bet 1744 and 1747
        3 John JOHNSTON b: Abt 1771


* I suspect there will be more info when I can find the 9 children of these JOHNSTONs: William JOHNSTON, M.D. , one of the Founders of the Lodge, was the fourth son of John Johnston, of Woodvale, Co. Armagh, and grandson of " Johnston of The Fews," the celebrated " Tory Hunter," who built " Roxborough," beyond Newtown Hamilton, as a residence for himself, and to strengthen whose hands the Government of the day erected " The Fews Barracks." He was born in 1760, and married, in 1793, Eleanor (who d. 14th October, 1837, aet 71), second daughter of the Rev. Walter Lindsay, by whom he had nine children, the youngest of whom was the Very Rev. Norman Johnston, Dean of St. Andrew's. He died, 16th October, 1832, at Dundalk, and is buried in Creggan Churchyard. He practised as a physician for some years in Carrickmacross, and removed to Newry in 1802, living in the house in Hill Street now known as " The Atheneum," at the rere of which, in 1813, he erected Public Baths, which, however, did not prove a financial success. In 1816 he removed from Hill Street to Trevor Hill, and in 1828, on going to reside in Dundalk, he was presented with an Address and a Piece of Plate. Bro. Johnston resigned his membership of the Lodge 8th November, 1816, and was elected an Honorary Member. The History of Nelson Masonic Lodge XVIII Newry (1809-1909)


I suspect that the tree above is connected to the one beneath. I will be looking for these links when I am next in the Deeds Registry in Ireland. NOTE: My most recent best guess is that John JOHNSTON is the son of James JOHNSTON of Water Lodge, Co. Armagh and Mary BALL, the 3rd daughter of Samuel BALL (1757-1843).


1 John JOHNSTON b: 1830 d: 1897
  + Elizabeth Anne UNNAMED b: 1847 d: Aug 1912
    2 Margaret JOHNSTON
      + James SMITH
        3 Dorothy H.A. SMITH b: 1902
    2 Mary Elizabeth I. JOHNSTON b: 1877
    2 John Thomas Ball JOHNSTON b: 1880
    2 Richard Norman JOHNSTON b: 1883
    2 Unnamed JOHNSTON
      + T O'GORMAN



  • JOHNSTONs were originally Presbyterians, adventurers stationed at the Fews Barracks. SOURCE: An Account of The Barony of Upper Fews in the County of Armagh. Jon Donaldson. p11.
  • SEE: http://www.archive.org/details/redmondcountohan00carlrich for an account of Redmond Count O’Hanlon: The Irish Reparee by William Carleton.
  • It would seem that “my” JACKSON family and the JOHNSTONs were close – in death, if not in life because in 1785 in the Creggan Vestry records, there was a note made about arrangements for graves: JOHNSTON-JACKSON. 26’ by 16 ft of ground granted to John JOHNSTON[1] Esq. Of Woodvale in the S.W. corner with liberty to enclose same and 16 feet square to Mr. David JACKSON[2] & family adjoining Mr. JOHNSTON.
  • A Richard JOHNSTON married Anne JACKSON sometime in the late 1700s. He was quite possibly the Richard JOHNSTON referred to in the 1753 will of John JOHNSTON as the child of his housekeeper, Catherine DARBY. If he was the child of John JOHNSTON (and the will bequest leads me to believe this), then he was also a half brother to Thomas, Graham, John, Ann and Charity JOHNSTON.
  • The John JOHNSTON who was a half brother to Richard JOHNSTON, was the 3rd legitimate son of his father, John JOHNSTON, Known colloquially as “Johnston, King of The Fews” (a disparaging nickname – he was a much hated “tory” hunter). He had 3 sons: John, the eldest of Longfield; Thomas (who died before 1830) and James of Woodvale. I would expect James JOHNSTON to be the ancestor of the JOHNSTONs of Woodvale in the 1930s.
  • 1822 Co. Louth Freeholders Lists: Johnson John; Longfield Co. Mon.; Roachkeane and Creggan; -; Dundalk 27/10/1806; Upper Dundalk; £50; -NOTE: in 1776 Dec 4 deed includes COULTER family connections to Longfield, Co. Monaghan (NOTE: There is a Longfield Cottage near Carrickmacross).  http://www.thesilverbowl.com/documents/1776Dec4-COULTER-POLLOCK.html

As does http://thesilverbowl.cm/documents/1851APr28-COULTER-CHARLETON.html

In the 1862 Thoms Directory, a Thomas JOHNSTON is listed as a magistrate from Longfield, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan.

  • Here lieth the body of Mary JOHNSTON wife of John JOHNSTON of Woodvale in this County who departed this life on 28 (?) December 1805 (?) aged 84 years. Here also lieth the remains of the said John JOHNSTON, who departed this life the 12th day of December 1816 aged 87 years. SOURCE: Creggan guide to Creggan Church and Graveyard. Kevin McMahon and Jim Murphy. Page 32
  • John JOHNSTON, a Creggan churchwarden in 1776, was the third son of John JOHNSTON, Roxboro, better known, perhaps, as JOHNSTON of the Fews.  ... down the years, this branch of the JOHNSTON family carried BALL as a Christian name and the last generation there was a Richard George Ball JOHNSTON and a John Thomas Ball JOHNSTON. The ruins of the mill after which the village of Ballsmill was named, may still be seen in the townland of Ballynaclosha. John JOHNSTON, Roxboro, is also buried here. He was appointed chief Constable of the Fews in 1710 and his success and notoriety as a Tory Hunter for nearly half a century gave rise to the prayer: Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews, save us from JOHNSTON King of the Fews.  .. when he died in 1759 among bequests and his wills were: I leave to the poor of the parish of Creggan the sum of 5 pounds to be divided among them in such manner as the minister of the said parish and any two executors may think fit. I leave to my esteemed friend the Rev. Hugh HILL minister of Creggan my best horse or mare at the time of my decease as an acknowledgment for his many favours and a token of my regard for him  ... SOURCE: Creggan guide to Creggan Church and Graveyard. Kevin McMahon and Jim Murphy. Page 37
  • Standing in what is known as the "Ball Enclosure", this headstone is a memorial to Elizabeth Page, daughter of Captain Sam Ball, Crossmaglen, a descendant of Thomas Ball, the military adventurer who was granted 5911 acres of land in the Baron of Upper Fews at the time of the Cromwellian Plantation. Thomas Ball may have lived at, or on the site of, "Woodvale House" for some time, as the Hearth Money Rolls of 1664 record that he paid on four hearths in the townland of Glassdrummond. "Woodvale House", occupied by the Johnstons of the Fews in the 18th. century, stood in the townland of Glassdrummond. The name of the village adjacent to the house may have been changed by the Johnstons from Ballynaclera to Ballsmill. The Ball surname is also preserved in Camlyball, a townland near Newtownhamilton. SOURCE: Creggan guide to Creggan Church and Graveyard. Kevin McMahon and Jim Murphy. Page 45.
  • Registry of Deeds abstract of wills 1746 to 1785. No 355 [NOTE: My notes here are a bit of a jumble, but informative]: Johnston, Thomas, Dublin, major of the 56 regt of foot 4 Oct 1765 narrate 2pp 1765. His wife Angel, his son Jno Johnston, his son Henry Johnston, his brother in law, Adam Noble Longfield Co. Monaghan esq, his brother in law Jackson Wray Ballycastle Co. Antrim. and his brother John Johnston of Urcher Co. Armagh Esq trustees. His niece Elizabeth Johnston, Daughter of his brother Graham Johnston, the children of his sister Charity Shekelton, the children of his brother John Johnston. His estate of town and lands of Camilly, co. Armagh, and Coolfoord, Co Meath his dwelling house at Suffolk St Dublin, Witnesses Thos Benson, Dublin clerk, Stephen Reynolds, Dublin apothecary, John Wolverston gent Dublin Memorial witnessed by John Wolverston, Jno hunter clerk to said John Wolverston. 241,183, 157946 Jackson Wray[3] (seal)
  • 1775 June 11th sale of lands. Belfast Newsletter. NOTE: At time of Griffiths, a Thomas JOHNSTON leased 21 acres od Camly (McCullagh) from Reps of John REID.





Thomas Ball paid Hearth Roll Tax for 4 households in Glassdrummond – possibly including Woodvale.

1784 Feb 10

A Robert JACKSON of Woodvale was a witness to DEED: 241557, 1784 Feb 10 SEAVER –BRADFORD SEE: http://www.thesilverbowl.com/documents/1784Feb10-SEAVER-BRADFORD.html

1789 Sept 2

A number of deeds mention Richard Jackson of Woodvale (NOTE: I have yet to do more than a few fast notes of these ones):

HALL to JACKSON Book 2 (1739-1810)  Deed: 414-234-270591

  • Henry Hall of Loigh in the County of Tyrone, Gent. To Robert JACKSON of Woodvale, Co Armagh Esq. Townland of Bellaghy, CO Armagh  Also mention of Ballynahon Beg

HALL to JACKSON Book 2 (1739-1810)  Deed: 414-235-270597

  • Henry Hall of Loigh in the County of Tyrone, Gent. To Robert JACKSON of Woodvale, Co Armagh Esq. Townland of Bellaghy, CO Armagh  Also mention of Ballynahon Beg

WATSON to JACKSON Deed: 414-235-270598

  • John WATSON of Teemore, Co  Armagh Gent.  In the consideration of 300 pounds paid to him by Robert JACKSON  of Woodvale, Co. Armagh ... 94 acres with appurtenances in Parish of Mullaghbrack and County of Armagh ... lease of three lives was formerly under Robert Sibthorpe


A Jonathon JOHNSTON of Woodvale sent a letter acknowledging payment for ₤31:10 to John and Andrew COULTER and other sums were paid to him at this time by Samuel BRADFORD.  (I have not yet transcribed this note from a family archive)

1830 Sept 2

Indenture between James JOHNSTON of Woodvale in the County of Armagh Esquire and William JOHNSTON of Dundalk in the County of Louth Doctor of Medicine of the first part and Elizabeth Jackson of Urker in the County of Armagh Widow of the second part.


NOTE: In 1826, a Samuel BALL had sent a letter re: rent reassessment to Elizabeth JACKSON (she would have been a widow for almost a decade at this time): http://www.thesilverbowl.com/letters/1826_Ball_to_Jackson.htm


John JOHNSTON of Woodvale, Ballsmill, owned 79 acres in the 1876 Landowners list. He was a Justice of the Peace.


DUCAVAN: John [4]Miss M.E. JOHNSTONE[5], Woodvale, Ballsmill[6], Hackballscross, Dundalk. He has no agent. SEE: Coulter Estate document.

1884 June 4

Letter from Eliza JACKSON née OLIVER: Mr Johnston of Woodvale is now Agent to the Ball estate. I hope we will soon get our affairs settled; & we can settle any [day?]. He dined with us, one day lately; & advise very favourably dispensed. All the books & accounts of the Estate are to be given up to him on the 10th inst. Mr Brooke has made a total mess of his employers business in more cases besides ours. SEE: 1884 June 4 Letter.


Census. At House #10 in Glassdrummand. Unfortunately, the sheet linked to this page turns out to be the preceding sheet, so I can’t read the description of the property on line. Nonetheless, I did learn:




JOHNSTON, Elizabeth A.








Son Farmer & Justice of the Peace.

JOHNSTON, Richard N.


Son & Civil Engineer

SMITH, Dorothy






* Likely John Thomas Ball JOHNSTON


John T. JOHNSTON. First Northern Ireland revaluation

SOURCE: http://www.devlin-family.com/timelineglassdrummond.htm


[1] John JOHNSTON, the 3rd son of JOHNSTON of the Fews.

[2] David JACKSON (aft 1755-1796) son of George JACKSON & Margaret M’LOUGHLAN. A Richard JOHNSTON was the husband of his sister Ann JACKSON. They married 1767 at Creggan Church. I am assuming that this Richard JOHNSTON was the half brother of John JOHNSTON, born of a relationship that the John JOHNSTON sr. had with his housekeeper, Catherine DARBY.

[3] Jackson WRAY. In 1828, there was a reference to a Rev. Jackson WRAY. I don’t know if he is the same one. SOURCE: 1829, Jan 11. Newry Commercial Telegraph.

·         Belfast Newsletter 1752 Jan 19 The Lordship and Manor of Forkhill in the County of Armagh, part of which is within [?] Miles of Newry and part within 2 miles of Dundalk [?] Seaport and excellent markets for linen, yarn, and a [?] Things fit for home consumption, or exportation; it be likewise a good number of inland towns, where there are fairs and good yarn markets held, within a short distance of it: the whole will be taken out of lease next May: there is a great convenience sea of turf and water, with proper falls on the river for Mills, and good ground for bleaching-greens from 3 to 6 acres, which can have the advantage of springs, with a farm to each green of about 60 acres, more or less as shall be agreed on.  A gold Corn Miller, with a well attested character, will meet with employment; and there will be good encouragement given to protestant weavers, bleachers and industrious farmers, there being several thousand acres, mostly arable, to be let.  For further particulars inquire of Hugh Boyd Esq.: at Ballycastle, Jackson WRAY, Esq. At Coleraine and or Richard [...] NOTE: The clipping I worked from was missing part of the right-hand margin.

[4] John JOHNSTON of Woodvale, Ballsmill, owned 79 acres in the 1876 Landowners list. He was a Justice of the Peace.

[5] M.E. JOHNSTONE. SEE:Biography of Mary E. JOHNSTON. http://www.thesilverbowl.com/biographies/JohnstonMaryE_Bremner.htm

[6] Ballsmill is a village of about 10 houses, 5 miles, Irish, from Dundalk, and 4 miles, Irish, east of Crossmaglen. It lies within a quarter of a mile of the Louth border and is only a mile from the famous Roche’s Castle. . . . .
The land of the district is good. Potatoes, oats and flax are the chief crops. SOURCE: 1888 Bassett Armagh Directory.



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