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Mr David Henry Johnston

Born in East Wemyss, Fife, David Henry Johnston worked for the family business (linen manufacturers) in their Dundee office before emigrating with his own family to Oregon, USA where he became a farmer for the rest of his life.

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Personal details and history

Full name

David Henry Johnston

Date of birth


Place of birth

East Wemyss, Fife[1][2]



Marital status

Married 08-12-1869 in Monifieth[4]

Name of spouse

Alice Jane Christie[4]


George Christie - born 1870,[5] Henry Sibbald - born 1872[5]

Home address

7 William Street, Forebank, Dundee[6]
2 Laurelbank, Dundee[7]


Alma Cottage, Monifieth[4]
Harriet Street, Dysart, Fife[8]

Age at death:

69 years[3]

Place of death:

Oregon, USA[3]

Date of death:



Franklin Butte Masonic Cemetery, Oregon, USA[3]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Church of Scotland[4]

Political affiliation


Clubs / societies

Convenor of 1st Forfarshire Rifle Volunteers[6], later Captain of No 5 Company[9]

Public offices


Related subscribers

Career and worklife





Place of work

G & J Johnston, linen manufacturers[6]

Work address

25 Cowgate

Career to date:

David Henry Johnston worked as a merchant in the family firm of G & J Johnston, linen manufacturers, of East Wemyss, Fife. The office was based at 25 Cowgate, Dundee.

More information

David Henry Johnston was born into the family of George Johnston, a linen manufacturer, in East Wemyss, Fife. George and his brother James took the local handloom weaving industry into a mechanised one with their introduction of a power loom factory. The village of East Wemyss was once described as follows; ….it is pleasant to be able to state that through the enterprise of Messrs Johnston, whose steam factory is well employed, the village is what the artist would speak of as “a study in black and white – coals and linen.”[10] The linen, after it came from the bleach works on the banks of the Leven, was described “as white as the driven snaw.”[10]

David was employed as a merchant for the company in Dundee throughout the 1860s. The presence of ‘G & J Johnston’ as merchants in Dundee continued to appear in the Dundee Postal Directory up to 1871-72. In the early 1870s David Henry Johnston moved with his wife and first child George Christie back to Fife[8] where his second son Henry Sibbald was born in 1872. Thereafter, David’s brother Alexander Charles Johnston continued to conduct business as a commission merchant from the Cowgate in Dundee during the 1870s.

David’s father George died in 1874.[11] At that point, David Henry Johnstone (sometime merchant in Dundee),[11] together with his younger brother George, had become manufacturers in Sinclairtown, Fife.[11]

Three years later, David emigrated[12] with his wife and two sons to the United States in 1877.[13][5] Having set sail on the ‘Bolivia,’ the family landed at New York on 25 April 1877.[13] At that point, David was declared in the passenger list as a ‘merchant.’ He was to be followed to Oregon by his brother George five years later.

The family finally settled in Mehema, Oregon where David, far from Wemyss and, far from the linen trade, made a living as a farmer.

Wemyss Fabrics (Holdings) Ltd, the current form of a business started by David’s father and uncle, continues to trade from Dundee in 2018.


  1. Old Parish Registers. Wemyss. Births. 1834. 459/ 60 159. ScotlandsPeople website
  2. Scotland Births and Baptisms: Find My Past website
  3. via Ancestry website
  4. Statutory Registers. Monifieth. Marriages. 1869. 310/32. ScotlandsPeople website
  5. United States Federal Census. Oregon: 1880. Roll: 1082; p.161C; Enumeration District 088, Ancestry website
  6. Dundee Directory, 1864-65. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies
  7. Dundee Directory, 1867-68. Dundee Central Library, Local Studies
  8. England Wales and Scotland Census. 1871. Findmypast website
  9. Dundee Courier. 15 September 1870. p.1. Findmypast website
  10. Cunningham, Andrew S. (1906) Rambles in Scoonie and Wemyss. Leven
  11. Legal Record. Wills and Testaments. Cupar Sheriff Court. 1875. SC20/ 50/ 48. ScotlandsPeople website
  12. Dundee Courier. 14 April 1877. p.1. Findmypast website
  13. Immigration Records. 1877. Ancestry website

The information above about David Henry Johnston has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.