William Johnston (Irish politician)

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William Johnston (22 February 1829 – 1902) was a nineteenth-century Irish politician and member of the Orange Order. He is noted for his opposition to the Party Emblems Act and Party Processions Act, which banned Orange marches .

Johnston was the eldest son of John Brett Johnston of Ballykilbeg, co. Down, and his wife Thomasina Anne Brunette Scott, daughter of Thomas Scott. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin being awarded B.A. in 1852 and M.A. in 1856.[1] He wrote ultra-Protestant Tracts and fiercely Unionist novels during the decade and published a newspaper called The Downshire Protestant from 1855 to 1862. In 1857 he stood unsuccessfully for parliament at Downpatrick.[1]

In 1867, Johnston organised an Orange Order parade from Bangor to Newtownards in County Down despite the Party Procession Acts. The parade took part on 12 July 1867 and about 30,000 took part. Johnston was sentenced to a short term in prison the next year for his actions.[2] He was also elected as Member of Parliament for Belfast in 1868 and held the seat until 1878. He was called to the Bar at King's Inns Dublin in 1872.[1]

Johnston was Inspector of Fisheries in Ireland from 1878 to 1885. In 1885 he was elected an independent MP for Belfast South until his death.

Johnston married firstly in 1853, Harriet Allen daughter of Robert Allen of Kilkenny. He married secondly in 1861 Arminella Frances Drew, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Drew, D.D. He married thirdly in 1863, Georgiana Barbara Hay, daughter of Sir John Hay, 5th baronet.[1] He was the father of Charles Johnston (1867–1931).


  • Protestant Work to be Done (1853)
  • The Nunnery Question 1854
  • Narmo and Aimata, a tale of the Jesuits in Tahiti 1855
  • Nightshade 1857
  • The Boyne Book of Poetry and Song (editor) (1859
  • Popish Tyranny, and God-sent deliverance, or the days of William the Third, a lecture (1860)
  • Speeches (1869)
  • Under Which King? (originally serialised in Downshire Protestant) 1873


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Lanyon
and Samuel Gibson Getty
Member of Parliament for Belfast
1868 – 1878
With: Thomas McClure 1868-1874
James Porter Corry 1874-1878
Succeeded by
James Porter Corry
and Charles Lanyon
New constituency
from part of Belfast
Member of Parliament for Belfast South
1885 – 1902
Succeeded by
Thomas Henry Sloan
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Thomas Johnston
Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Preceptory
Succeeded by
H. W. Chambers