Mary Ann Johnston

Mary Ann Johnston and James Barr Cleland

Mary Ann2 Johnston, (John1), 6 April 1852 1-May 19412. Mary Ann was the eighth child and third daughter of John Johnston and Margaret Tait. Mary Ann was born at their home at Lot 14, Concession 7, East Gwillimbury Township, York County, Canada West shortly after the 1851 census was taken in early 1852. Sometime before 1847 the Johnston family had settled on this farm near the village now known as Holt. The 1881 Ontario census shows Mary Ann as the only child still living with her mother Margaret and records her occupation as “Taileress”. On Wednesday 23 September 1885 Mary Ann married James Barr Cleland, 19 January 1853-1951, in Uxbridge, Scott Township, Ontario. James was a son of Joseph Cleland, 1824-19 March 1866, and Margaret Barr, 1829-23 March 1915, and was born in Ireland. According to the 1901 census for Ontario he and his parents emigrated in 1854. On 13 December 1884 James first wife Jane Jardine passed away. James and Jane had had two children:

Leslie Joseph Cleland 2 February 1879-25 April 1938 md Mary Hannah Thompson
Florence Ethel Cleland 22 May 1882-12 January 1905 md William Henry Meek

The subsequent marriage registry for Mary Ann and James records a very intriguing piece of information. Elizabeth Cockburn of Uxbridge and Susan Elizabeth Johnston of Port Elgin, Ontario witnessed the ceremony. Susan has been found to have been the wife of Port Elgin Busy Times Newspaper publisher Wesley Sandfield Johnston. W. Sandfield was born 10 February 1851 in Cartwright Township, Durham County. His parents, James E. Johnston and Elizabeth Dever, were both born in Ireland and in about 1838 they settled with some family in Upper Canada. Susan, and presumably her husband Wesley, traveled all the way from Port Elgin in Bruce County to Uxbridge in Ontario County, by rail of course, in order to attend this wedding of Mary Ann and James. Why? It seems possible that Mary Ann Johnston and Susan’s husband W. S. Johnston might have been cousins. It is also worth noting that James Cleland’s family was distantly related to still another Johnston family from County Derry, Ireland that settled near Uxbridge in Reach Township in Ontario County. Mary Ann, James and his first wife, Jane are buried in Mount Albert Cemetery. Mary Ann and James had four children.

1. Benjamin Johnston3 26 June 1886- md ? 5? children
2. Samuel T.3 26 July 1890-3 August 1890 died “aged 8 days”
3. John Wesley3 10 February 1893-1893 died in infancy
4. George Washington3 10 February 1893-23 March 1919 (John’s twin brother)


Note: Samuel T., John W. and George Washington Cleland are buried in Mount Albert Cemetery.

2 Mount Albert Cemetery Record Book (in private hands). This bound book, which contains records of burials in Mount Albert Cemetery, states that Mary Ann was interred “17 May 1941”. Mary Ann’s inscription on the Cleland family grave monument only states her year of birth and death. No other record for Mary Ann’s passing has been found. The Uxbridge Journal and Newmarket Era newspapers have been searched.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *