Johnston of Rossinver, Leitrim One Name Study

Updated: 4 days ago


Over the past 20 years, my personal genealogy has taken a back seat to my business with client work, consultations and lectures. Now, as I winding down my business I’ve got a lot to do. The joke in my family is about my daughters cremating my file cabinets with me. I need to focus and get my “stuff” into a format that it can be shared. Honestly, I think I know how to do it…it’s just doing it. I’ve got my electronic filing system set up, but I have to admit, that I haven’t gotten all of my research into the correct files yet. I’m highly susceptible to BSO’s (bright shiny objects) so I’ll begin filing and jump into researching.


If you’ve been following me for a while, you might remember that over a year ago I wrote about a brick wall with my Johnston ancestors from Rossinver Parish in northern County Leitrim. I know that my 3x great grandfather was James Johnston. I can follow my line down from there, but I don’t know the name of James’ wife, the mother of my 2x great grandmother, Rachel. When I started, I knew Rachel had a sister, Margaret. Just as a refresher, my family was Church of Ireland and the records for the parish don’t begin until the 1880s, as the earlier records had been sent to the Public Records Office for safekeeping. Another problem is that the landlord for the area was also named Johnston and no, there are no estate records available for the family.


For the past year and a half, I jumped in and out of this research between lectures, consultations and research trip preparation. I’m really trying to focus. As you can see from the map, I’ve identified all of the Johnston families in the area and because they were Protestant, began by looking at all of the marriage records beginning in 1845. I then went to identifying all births and deaths after 1864 in order to put the various families together. One of the things I discovered was that I had multiple marriages of Johnstons marrying Johnstons!

The Superintendent Registration District (Poor Law Union) for the area was Ballyshannon (used in IrishGenealogy.ie), but Johnston wasn’t just a common name in Leitrim…it was common in Donegal and Fermanagh, both areas also in the Ballyshannon Superintendent Registration District. I had to look at each image to determine the locality. I was looking for an easier way to identify the Registration District of Kinlough and John Grenham solved the problem for me. At RootsIreland, after selecting the County (Leitrim) I could select the Parish/District of Kinlough Civil Registration. This allowed me to select only those from my area of interest when I went back to IrishGenealogy.ie to see the actual image for the detail information.

On my trip to Ireland in May, I spent a good amount of time at the Valuation Office viewing the Revision Books. The map (above) is based on the Johnstons in each parish at the time of Griffith’s Valuation. If I could identify how the property moved from one individual to another within each parish, I could possibly determine how or if these people were related.


I’ve spent most of the past week on the Revision Books, so hopefully I can move ahead. More to follow.

Happy Hunting!



Are you keeping up with the Celtic Connections lectures? As a reminder, I'll be doing a Chat on Saturday, August 27th at 2:00 EDT. If you've registered for the Conference, sign up for the Chat here or email a question here.

293 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Ready!