JOHNSTONE, Sir James, 3rd Bt. (1697-1772), of Westerhall, Dumfries.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



20 Jan. 1743 - 1754

Family and Education

b. 9 Feb. 1697, 1st s. of Sir William Johnstone, 2nd Bt., of Westerhall. educ. ?Leyden 1713; adv. 1720. m. 1 Sept. 1719, Barbara, da. of Alexander Murray, 4th Lord Elibank [S], 8s. 6da. suc. fa. 8 Oct. 1727.

Offices Held

Provost of Lochmaben; sheriff of Dumfries 1743.


In 1732 Johnstone, whose brother had married the dowager Marchioness of Annandale, mother of the 3rd Marquess, then a minor, began

bestirring himself to set up in the [Dumfries] boroughs for himself and endeavouring to twist them out of Mr. Areskine’s hands, in which he availed himself of my Lord [Annandale]’s name and interest.

He was also supporting a candidate for the shire against Areskine. The Annandales at this time were engaged in a family lawsuit against Lord Hope, whose lawyer was Areskine. It was represented to Lady Annandale by Duncan Forbes that Johnstone’s conduct was ‘extremely offensive to the personal friends of Mr. Areskine’, some of whom were judges in the court of session, where the Annandale case was depending, and had ‘hitherto in the Marquess’s cause been of opinion with his Lordship’. He went on:

I hardly know how to express what I am next to say to your Ladyship. I ought not surely to insinuate that passions or disobligations may pervert judgment, but our judges are no more than men, and I leave it to your Ladyship to consider from what you have formerly heard or experienced, whether it is prudent, without any necessity, to give occasions for raising or playing with their passions to your prejudice.

He accordingly suggested that she should write to Johnstone, asking him to ‘lay aside his design for this time’, and to let him, Forbes, have such a letter as he could show to Areskine’s friends ‘to convince them that your Ladyship will have no hand in the opposition that Mr. Areskine ... may meet’.1 She followed his advice, with the result that Johnstone did not stand till 1743, when he was returned unopposed at a by-election caused by the death of his nephew by marriage, Lord John Johnstone. He voted against the Hanoverians in 1744 and was absent from the division on them in 1746, when he was classed as ‘doubtful’. Meanwhile Lady Annandale had given him the joint charge of the 3rd Marquess, who had developed symptoms of insanity after the death of his younger brother, Lord John Johnstone in 1742.2 Again returned unopposed in 1747, he lost his control of the Annandale estates and interest in 1748, when the Marquess was declared insane and Lord Hopetoun, as his nearest heir, became his tutor-at-law. He did not stand again, dying 10 Dec. 1772.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. More Culloden Pprs. iii. 66-69.
  • 2. Greig, Letters of David Hume, i. 60-89, 337-41.