Johnstons of Shannaghan, County Down, Northern Ireland
by Wesley Johnston

Click on map for full size.

My ancestor Thomas Johnston was born in Northern Ireland about 1801 and by 1845 had come to Ontario. I know nothing about him during the intervening years. And I do not know where my Johnston ancestors lived in Northern Ireland. But I do match on 36 of 37 markers (64/67 for the expanded test) with a descendant of the Johnstons who lived at the Shannaghan townland in the 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland. So this web page provides information about that family and that location.


Shannaghan townland

I claim no expertise in understanding Northern Ireland's land system. So this is my imperfect understanding of it. The system seems to have been built up from a system of townlands. I understand that there may also have been estate lands. I am not sure how the two relate to each other. So there are towns and also townlands. And many of the townlands do not show up at all in Google Maps or Maplandia or gazeteers, since they were and are not towns. But the townlands appear to have been the administrative base upon which jurisdictions (e.g. census districts, local government districts, etc.) rested.

So, for example, I have learned that in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, Shannaghan was in the Balloolymore census district. But while Balloolymore was in the parish of Garvaghy, Shannaghan was in the parish of Newry. So it is very important to actually see the map above, which shows the townland boundaries, so that you can see that Shannaghan townland includes Katesbridge and is just east of Balloolymore townland.

Here are some more views that help to understand Shannaghan townland. (click on image to see full size.)

Belfast-Katesbridge Location Map

Satellite view of Shannaghan townland

Families in Shannaghan, 1901 and 1911
The Northern Ireland National Archives web site has a complete list of households in
1901 and 1911. (Click on the year in the prior sentence to see each list. Note that they spell it "Shannaghan" in 1901 and "Shanaghan" in 1911.) These pages have links to the inidividual families' Form A pages.
* PDF files of other 1911 forms: B1, B2, N
* PDF files of other 1901 forms: B1, B2, N -- NOTE re 1901 Forms B2 and N: There appear to be two pages missing from Form B2 and three pages missing from Form N, since there are gaps in the numbers. The National Archives is aware of some problems of this nature. So we have to watch this web page.

Griffith's Valuation of Shannaghan, 1848-1864

Freeholders in "Shanahans" in 1788 (Landlord Atcheson Thompson)
The PRONI (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland) web site has the images of the two pages of the list of freeholders in 1788.

Johnston Records

This section starts with WWI records, 1911 and 1901 censuses and works backward to earlier records. For privacy reasons, more recent records are not included.

WWI Deaths

JOHNSTON, WILLIAM. Reg. No. 315. Rank, Rifleman , 11th Royal Irish Rifles; died, home, October 24, 1918; born Shanaghan, Co. Down. (JPG file) [PDF File of all 17 pages of Irish Johns(t)on(e) WWI dead]
Joanne Johnston sends the following additional information:
Birth: 29 May 1898 -- William Henry Johnston was a Lance Corporal with the 315, 11th Bn., Royal Irish Rifles who died age 20 on 24 October 1918. He is buried in the Tipperary (St. Mary) Churchyard. The old Parish Churchyard in the centre of the town, is used by all denominations. There are 9 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war here. JOHNSTON, WILLIAM. Rank: Lance Corporal. Regiment or Service: Royal Irish Rifles. Unit; 11th Bn. Age at Death: 20. Born in Shanaghan Co Down. Enlisted in Banbridge, Co Down. Died at home. Date of Death: 24th October 1918. Service No: 315. Additional information; Son of William John and Bridget Johnston of Katesbridge Banbridge Co. Down. Cemetery, Mary's Churchyard, Tipperary. Grave location; The old military plot to the west of the Church.
Since he didn't die in battle, it will be difficult to know when and where he was wounded or if he died of disease

1911 Census

The family appears as follows in the census (Surname, Forename-Age-Sex-Relation to head-Religion):

Images of the Original Records, with additional information

1901 Census

The family appears as follows in the census (Surname, Forename-Age-Sex-Relation to head-Religion):

Images of the Original Records, with additional information

Johns(t)on(e) Prerogative Wills, 1536-1810

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Copyright © 2013 by Wesley Johnston
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Last updated January 22, 2013
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