Rev. Joseph of Cornwall

Joseph Johnston and Sarah Cooke

Joseph1 Johnston, abt 1785-before 1852. 1 Joseph is believed to have been born in Lissan Parish, County Derry, Ireland. His father’s name was James. About 1813 Joseph married Sarah “Sally” Cooke in Ireland. Sarah was born about 1785 and was a daughter of John Macook and Jane Howie. Sarah’s brother was notable Presbyterian Minister Dr. Henry Cooke, 1788-1868. Henry Cooke, and likely his sister Sarah, were born at Grillagh Townland, Maghera Parish, County Derry, Ireland. Henry dropped the “Ma” from the beginning of his surname and added an “e” around the turn of the century. Perhaps because of his later fame others in his family eventually did so as well. Henry once said that his father was a descendant of an English Puritan family that originated in Devon, and that his mother was from an old Scottish family that had settled near Bellaghy, a town near Maghera. Joseph trained to become a presbyterian minister in Londonderry. He attended the University of Glasgow as well. Joseph then moved to Cornwall, Upper Canada (Ontario) and from before 1817 until 1822 he was master of the District Grammer School. After Cornwall’s presbyterian minister, John Bethune, died in 1815 Joseph suceeded him, in 1817, as the minister there. He served in Cornwall until 1823 when he removed to Osnabruck, Upper Canada. It is believed Joseph and Sarah had at least three children in Ireland while Joseph was practicing in Canada. Joseph brought his family to Upper Canada in about 1820. By the time the 1851 Canada West (Ontario) census was taken in early 1852 the family were residing near Uxbridge, Uxbridge Township, Ontario County. The 1851 census also records Sarah as a widow and it is believed that Joseph had inherited land in Texas and died there. The following is quoted from “FASTI ECCLSIAE SCOTICANAE“, by Hew Scott, D.D., – 1928.

“JOHNSTON, JOSEPH, a native of
Ireland and licentiate of Synod of Ulster ;
officiated at Cornwall in 1815, where he
also taught the District School ; min. at
Osnabruck, 1822-8 ; went to America and
died in Texas, where he had acquired
considerable landed property.”

A historical sketch of Uxbridge contained in the Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Ontario of 1877 states “In 1847 and 1848 Messrs. Joseph, Thomas and Robert Johns[t]on arrived from Richmond Hill, and built the store now [1877] occupied by Mr. Harman Crosby”. 2 On 21 January 1863 Sarah, aged 77 years, died in Reach Township, Ontario County, Canada West. 3 Sarah and some of her children are buried in St. Andrews Presbyterian Cemetery, Quaker Hill, at Lot 35, Concession 6, Uxbridge Township. Joseph and Sarah had seven known children. The final three were born in Osnabruck, near Cornwall, Upper Canada.

Joseph2 abt 14 October 1814 4-14 May 1862 5 “A native of Co. Derry”, Ireland 6
Rachel2 abt 1816 7 -14 January 1873 8 md William Bolster 10 August 1845 9
Henry Thomas2 1819 10 -27 January 1900 11 “a native of Ireland” 12
Mary2 abt 1822 1314 md Mr. Miller of NY abt 1845 15
Robert Wilson2 abt 1826 16 -25 December 1882 17 md Donna McKay 12 Sept. 1866 18
Sarah Ann2 abt 1829 19 -30 January 1866 20 md Dr. John Nation 13 May 1856 21
Isabella Esther2 17 April 1831 22 -4 December 1903 23 md Rev. William Cleland 1 October 1856 24


1 1851 Canada West census, Uxbridge Township, Ontario County, page . In the 1851 Canada West census for Uxbridge Township, which was taken in early 1852, Joseph’s wife Sarah is listed as a widow, so Joseph must have passed away before early 1852. Fasti Ecclsiae Scoticanae states that he “died in Texas”. Microfilm No. C-11,742, District 10, Uxbridge Township, Ontario County, Canada West, page 73.
2 Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Ontario, (J. H. Beers & Co., 1877), page 12.
3 Sarah Johnston gravestone, St. Andrews Cemetery, Quaker Hill, Uxbridge Township, Durham Region, Ontario. Sarah’s age, 77 years, and date of death are inscribed on her gravestone.
4 Joseph Johnston gravestone, St. Andrews Cemetery, Quaker Hill, Uxbridge Township, Durham Region, Ontario. The age of Joseph [jr.], 47 years, 7 mo’s, his date of death and his nativity are inscribed on his gravestone. We can therefore calculate his birth date as mid October 1814.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid. Joseph’s gravestone states that he was a “Native of County Derry, Ireland”.
7 Rachel’s civil death registry states age, 57 years, and date of death. We can therefore calculate her year of birth as 1816. 7171 & 37411 73. Dr. John Nation was the attending physician and informant to the registrar. Because of her interaction with other members of this family it is realized that Rachel Johnston Bolster must have been a daughter of Joseph and Sarah, however no documentation has been found to prove this to be so.
8 Ibid.
9 The Marriage Registers of Upper Canada/Canada West, Volume 11. Part 3, Home District 1843 – 1849, Compiled by Dan Walker, Ruth Burkholder & Fawne Stratford-Devai, (Milton, Ontario: Global Heritage Press, ), page 61. This is a secondary source. Rachel Johnston’s marriage to William Bolster took place in Reach Township. They were married by Baptist minister Rev. William Hurlbert of Reach.
10 Henry Thomas Johnston gravestone, St. Andrews Cemetery, Quaker Hill, Uxbridge Township, Durham Region, Ontario. His year of birth and his date of death are inscribed on his gravestone.
11 H. T. Johnston obituary/death notice, Uxbridge Times?, Uxbridge, Ontario, 1900.
12 Ibid. This obituary for H. T. Johnston describes him as a “native of Ireland”.

16 Roberts’s age, 56 years, and his date of death are recorded on his civil death registry 12 045 83. Robert and Donna are buried in Pine Grove, Prince Albert Cemetery, Section D., Reach Township, Durham Region, Ontario. Reference WO-101-8.
17 Ibid. Roberts’s age, 56 years, and his date of death are recorded on his civil death registry 12 045 83
18 1866 Ref. 2:71. Robert’s marriage of Sept. 12, 1866 is recorded in Uxbridge newspaper.
19 Sarah Ann Johnston gravestone, St. Andrews Cemetery, Quaker Hill, Uxbridge Township, Durham Region, Ontario.
20 Ibid.
21 Sarah’s marriage of May 13, 1856.
22 1901 Toronto census.
23 Isabella’s age, 75 years, and her date of death is recorded on her civil death registry 4458 03
24 Isabella’s marriage of Oct. 1, 1856.

This page launched 13 January 2004. Updated 5 February 2004.

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