Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone was the son of Sir Richard Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone, 1st Baronet. He succeeded as second Baronet in 1807, at the age of seven, on the death of his father. In 1830 he was elected to the House of Commons for Yorkshire as a Whig, a seat he held until the constituency was abolished in 1832. The latter year he was returned for Scarborough. During the 1835 parliament he defected from the Whigs to the Conservatives, and lost his seat in 1837, but regained it in 1841, and continued to represent the constituency until his death 28 years later. However, from 1857 he sat as a Liberal.
Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone married Louisa Augusta Venables-Vernon-Harcourt, daughter of the Most Reverend Edward Harcourt, Archbishop of York. He died, from injuries in a hunting accident, in February 1869, aged 69, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Harcourt, who also succeeded him as Member of Parliament for Scarborough and who was elevated to the peerage as Baron Derwent in 1881. Lady Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone survived her husband by less than half a year, and died in August 1869.
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- Cokayne, G.E. (Editor) (1906). The Complete Baronetage, Volume 5. Pollard & Co.
- Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]
- Leigh Rayment's list of baronets
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs
- Lundy, Darryl. "FAQ". The Peerage.[unreliable source]
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Sir John Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone