JOHNSTON, Peter (1749-1837), of Carnsalloch, Dumfries.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1780 - 5 Mar. 1781
6 Feb. 1782 - July 1786

Family and Education

b. 5 Aug. 1749, 1st s. of Alexander Johnston of Carnsalloch, by Janet, da. of James Gordon of Campbelton, Kirkcudbright.  educ. Eton 1762-6; Trinity Hall, Camb. 1766-9; L. Inn 1769, called 1775. unm.  suc. fa. 15 Nov. 1775.

Offices Held

Bankruptcy commr. 1784-1831.


Johnston was a family friend and protégé of James Murray of Broughton, on whose recommendation he was returned in 1780 for Kirkcudbright on the joint Murray-Galloway interest.1 The following March the House declared the election void. At the by-election Johnston was defeated but seated on petition.

Directed in politics by Keith Stewart and Henry Dundas, he supported North’s Administration to the end; voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and against Fox’s East India bill, 5 Dec. In January 1784 he was counted by Robinson as a supporter of Pitt.

At the general election Murray, having decided to stand himself for Kirkcudbright, accused Johnston of base ingratitude for not withdrawing in his favour, and resentfully acquiesced in an agreement to share the Parliament with Johnston and Alexander Stewart. Johnston was therefore returned on the understanding that at the end of two sessions he would vacate in Murray’s favour. By May 1785 Murray was pressing Johnston to fulfil the agreement before the end of the current session and declined to concede further time for Galloway and Keith Stewart to solicit an employment for him. In July, however, Murray eloped abroad with Johnston’s sister, and resigned his pretensions to Alexander Stewart. Johnston, having failed to obtain an office in India, denied any obligation to vacate his seat for Alexander Stewart; but when confronted with a copy of the agreement signed by Keith Stewart (which he had not previously seen) was prepared to negotiate. Eventually he agreed to retire at the end of the 1786 session.2  He died 3 Oct. 1837.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Murray to Keith Stewart, 28 Jan. 1784, 12 June 1784, Seaforth mss, SRO.
  • 2. Letters from Murray and Johnston to Keith an Alexander Stewart, May 1785-Jan. 1786, ibid.