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Re: Scottish Penney's
Posted by: Mark Fraser (ID *****7204) Date: February 09, 2004 at 03:29:47
In Reply to: Re: Scottish Penney's by Linda Jenness of 575

Good to find a distant cousin.

William Penney's wife was Elizabeth Johnston and the children you list are correct (they had ten children that I know of). You will see this is all confirmed in the [British] Dictionary of National Biography listing for William Penney, Lord Kinloch. A short biography of the Rev David Johnston was published in Edinburgh in 1878 titled 'A model pastor of the old school. Recollections of the Rev. David Johnston DD and the parish of North Leith.'The only information on your ancestor Jean was that she married Robert M'Brair, merchant in Glasgow

Here is all the information I have on David Johnston:

Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae:

Vol I, part 2, p. 419
Parish of Langton
David Johnstone, son of John Johnstone (minister of Amgask) b.24 April 1734.
Licens. by the Presb. of Selkirk 12 July 1757, ordained 11 May after; trans. to North
Leith 12 June 1765 [NewSt.Acct iix, Amgask Sess & Separate Reg]

Vol I, part 1, p. 96
Parish of North Leith (Edinburgh Presbytery)
Pres. by Kirk Session & inhabitants 1764, Adm 11 July 1765. Had D.D. conf. by Univ.
Edinburgh 6 March 1781 & apptd. one of his Majesty's Chaplains in Ord October
1793 on the rec. of Revd Andrew Hunter (who refused it himself). The new church,
removed from its former situation, was built in 1814. He died 5 July 1824 in his 91st
year and 67th of his ministry. 'He was a person of distinguished benevolence, and the
original Secretary and great supporter for the Industrious Blind at Edinburgh, by
whose inmates as well as by his parishoners, he was highly esteemed and beloved. He
married 5 July 1759, Elizabeth, daughter of John Tod, shipbuilder. She died 8 August
1796 aged 61 [ie born 1734-35]. They had an only son [incorrect -they had at least
one other son] John, who died a Lieutenant in the HEICS at Bombay in 1786 in his
25th age; they had a daughter [unnamed] wife of Mr William Penney; and Jennie wife
of Mr Robert M'Brair, both merchants in Glasgow.
Publications: Five Single Sermons, Edinburgh 1777-1796 8vo; Sermons, 2 vols,
Edinburgh 1805-08, the profits of which were donated to the Blind and Magdalene
Assylums and realised several hundred pounds
[presb & Syn.Reg, Scots Mag xciv, John Kay's Portraits -A Series of Original
Portraits and Caricature etchings with biographical sketches and illustrative
anecdotes. Kay lived c1745-1826 and was a barber turned caricaturist who depicted
300 leading Edinburgh citizens of his day]

Vol. I, part 1 p. 396
Appointed Chaplain in Ordinary to George III, October 1793. 26 such appointments
were made during his reign.
[Scots Magazine iv, LXI]

John Kay's "Portraits"


It may be said of this excellent man, that he inherited the vitues of the clerical character by descent. His father was minister of Arngask, in the county of Fife, and his maternal grandfather, the Rev. Mr. David Williamson, of the parish of St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, was a celebrated clergyman in the days of the persecution.

MR. DAVID JOHNSTON was born in 1733. His early years were sedulously devoted to the study of those acquirements necessary for the important office which he was destined so long and so honourably to fill. After attending the usual academical courses, and having obtained authority to preach, his character and talents soon procured for him the parish church of Langton, in Berwickshire, to which he was ordained in 1759. He remained there, however, only about six years, having been then called to the more important charge of North Leith, the population of which, though at that time only seven hundred, had increased to as many thousands before his death.

There are seldom any striking incidents to record in the biography of a parish clergyman. "The even tenor of his way" is less liable to be disturbed by those ruder shocks which frequently assail men in other spheres of life. This observation is peculiarly applicable to the subject of the present sketch. If we except the frequent alarms experienced by the inhabitants of Leith during the early part of the last war, when the country was threatened with foreign invasion, and the interesting yet arduous duty which he faithfully discharged in consoling the fears and aniimating the courage of his people, no occurrence very peculiar falls to be narrated within the scope of his history; but it would require a
volume of no ordinary dimensions to note down all the acts of genuine Christian philanthropy in which he was engaged almost every day of his existence. In the pulpit he inculcated, with earnestness and power, those principles and doctrines which all feel to be the very basis of the moral structure; while, in his parochial visitations, he sedulously laboured to carry the precepts of religion
home to the firesides of his parishioners.[footnote 1] Many still alive remember with what diligence their venerated pastor continued, even in old age, to visit the humble dwellings of the poor, and to attend the bed of sickness and of death, carrying along with him that consolation which the mission of peace never fails to bestow. Neither was his solicitude confined to the spiritual welfare of his people. In their temporal affairs he took a lively interest, and felt for their misfortunes as if they were his own. "To the widow, he was as a husband - to the orphan, as a father - to the destitute and helpless, a steward of Heaven's bounty; their protector, patron, and support."

Dr. Johnston's philanthropy was of the most active description. He was no sentimentalist, to weep at the recitation of a well-told tale, and yet turn his eyes away from actual misery. In a maritime district such as North Leith, where a great portion of the inhabitiants are engaged in the precarious and dangerous occupation of fishing, casualties are of frequent occurrence. The moment he heard of a case of distress he could not remain satisfied without instantly doing something to assist the sufferers; and, while he was no niggard of his own means, he was indefatigable in his endeavours to procure aid from others. Whether his charity was exerted in behalf of individuals or of institu-
tions, he was equally unremitting in his endeavours; and whenever a benevolent project was pointed out to him, he entered into the scheme with the most ardent enthusiasm, and prosecuted it with untiring energy. Perhaps there was no one of whom it could more truly be said, that" he went about continually doing good." [footnote 2]

With the establishment of that benevolent institution - the Blind Asylum of Edinburgh-the memory of Dr. Johnston is affectionately associated and, so deeply and actively did he interest himself in originating and promoting funds for the undertaking, that he might with justice be designated its founder. So much were his feelings bound up in the success of the institution, that he regularly devoted a portion of his time to give it his personal superintendence and watched over its progress with all the fondness of a parent. This surveillance he continued everyday in the week, except Saturday and Sabbath walking to and from Edinburgh; and, at the extreme age of ninety, gave proof of the wonderful degree of muscular activity for which he had always been remark-
able, by performing the journey as usual. He disdained the modern effeminacy of the stage-coach; and, in going up Leith Walk, generally got ahead of it.

Both in person and in features Dr. Johnston was exceedingly handsome; and in dress and manners he was a thorough gentleman of the last century. He died at Leith on the 5th of July 1824, in the ninety-first year of his age, and sixty-sixth of his ministry, leaving behind him one daughter, the only survivor of a large family, who was married to William Penney, Esq., of Glasgow. Some years prior to his death he had been assisted in his parochial duties by the Rev. Dr. Ireland [footnote 3]

The remains of this much respected and patriarchal clergyman were followed to the grave by upwards of five hundred persons, among whom were many of the most distinguished citizens of Edinburgh and Leith. The inmates of the Blind Asylum, who had been so much an object of his care, lined the access to the churchyard; and, by their presence, added much to the melancholy interest
of the scene. The Rev. Dr. Dickson of St. Cuthbert's preached the funeral sermon on the Sabbath following.

Footnote 1
On one of his catechetical rounds among the cottages of the fishermen of Newhaven, the curious version of Adam's fall was given, which, as the anecdote is illustrative of that peculiar class of people, will be found related in our notice of a "Newhaven Oyster Lass."

Footnote 2
The only dilemma in which the good old Doctor is known to have been placed with a portionof his parishioners, occurred when the old church of North Leith - abandoned to secular purposes -
was, in 1817, supplanted by the present building, with its handsome spire, surmounted by a cross.
Some of the out-and-out Presbyterians saw in this emblem an alarming approach to Popish darkness;
and, not unfrequently, when in the course of his visitations, he found himself in the place of the
catechised. On this subject the Doctor held only one opinion; but in reference to the zealous
declamation of two old women whom he one day encountered, and who had fairly borne him down
by strength of lungs, if not by strength of argument, he at last exclaimed - "Well, well, what
would you have me to do in the matter?" "Do!" replied one of them; "what wad ye do - bu0t
just put up the auld cock again!"

Footnote 3
1 Dr. Ireland, on being assured of succeeding to the parish on the death of Dr. Johnston, agreed
to perform the duties of assistant, which be did for more than twenty four years; and afterwards
lived to enjoy the fruit of all this labour only four years and a half.The incumbency was
afterward held by the Rev. Mr. Buchanan.


Testament of Rev. Dr. David Johnston, 20 May 1833, late minister of North Leith, who died 5 July 1824.


Robert Johnston Esq owing to the deceased                            243.8.8 Ĺ
Household furniture & Books                                          125.12.10
One quarterís salary as one of His Majestyís Chaplains to Scotland              11.6.6
Proportion of stipend and feu duties                                   191.18.2
Arrears of feu duties recoverable from the late John Campbell W.S.              645.17.10
Arrears of feu duties recoverable from Thomas Beattie                     80.4.1
Deposit in Bank                                                        378.1.8

Debts considered desperate: viz arrears of stipend feu duties to which no
Value ascribed       382.5.7, Gives a breakdown of his arrears of stipend listing each debtor.

Robert Johnstone Esq, merchant in Leith, his executor and nephew, late one of the Magistrates of Edinburgh.

Refers to a bond and dispositon in security to the deceased for 1,500 pounds, dated twenty [?] day of September 1811 granted by Mr William Penney, merchant in Glasgow. Penalties were in place. It appears that William Penney made over his land he held on the west side of Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Testament of 1 August 1815:

The proceeds of his estate to be invested for interest and this to be paid annually in equal shares to his daughters Elizabeth, wife of Mr William Penney, merchant in Glasgow, and Jean, spouse of Mr Robert McBrair, Broker London. This was to be paid during his daughtersí lives. Their husbands were specifically excluded from benefit. The capital was to go to their lawful children after Elizabeth and Jean died.

Codicil, 19 January 1819, Leith:
That he had advanced Robert McBrair 400 pounds for furniture and 500 pounds to assist him in carrying on his business. This money was to be deducted from the half of his daughter Jeanís inheritance.

Codicil, 26 July 1820, Edinburgh:
He stated that the 250 pounds owed by the Ministersí Fund for Widows to be paid to his daughter Elizabeth was to be deducted from her share of the inheritance as was any interest Mr Penney her husband owed her father.

Royal National Institute for the Blind, website:
The first Institution in Scotland, known as the Society for the Relief of the Indigent Blind, was opened at Edinburgh; within two months of its foundation, workshops were opened under the name of The Asylum for the Industrious Blind. The Institution was founded by the Rev. David Johnston, D.D, a minister of Leith.'
North Leith Parish Church website
In the North Leith Church graveyard in Coburn Street, many of the surviving gravestones reflect Leith's maritime history. Amongst those buried here are the grandparents of the 19th century Prime Minister, W. E. Gladstone, the Jacobite Heroine "Colonel Anne", Lady Mackintosh, who raised a regiment for Prince Charlie in the 1745 rising and Rev Dr David Johnston DD 1734 - 1824, founder of the Blind Asylum 1793, 59 years Minister of North Leith.
In 1736, following the discovery of serious rotting in the roof timbers, St Ninian's Church was extensively renovated, but by the end of the 18th century it was again too small to accommodate all the worshippers. After the fashion of the day, extra galleries had been crammed in, but it was clear to the Rev Dr David Johnston and his Kirk Session that a new church was the only solution. After many years of intense legal wrangling with certain vested interests, the splendid new church in Madeira Street was opened in 1816 to the design of William Burn, the well-known Architect


The following pictures by Sir Henry Raeburn, besides others, have been engraved: (half-length) Rev. Dr David Johnston minister of North Leith.


The Story of Leith, John Russell, Chapter 14, 1922
Thomas Gladstone was a corn merchant on the Coalhill, but his house was at the head of King Street, where the site is indicated to-day by an inscribed tablet. The Coalhill, then one of the chief business streets of the town, formed part of the "Hill" district, as the abbotís lands of St. Leonardís were now called, and a portion of the parish of North Leith, although on the south side of the water. The Coalhill was so named in the eighteenth century because it was here that vessels bringing coals for public sale were berthed. They were charged no shore dues, and all other vessels had to give place to them.
The Gladstones "sat" in North Leith Church for over forty years, where old Thomas Gladstone was elder for the "Hill" district. This would almost seem to indicate that the family had resided here before they became established in the King Street house, and, if so, then Sir John, the father of the famous prime minister, would be born in the Coalhill, and not in King Street. The Gladstone mansion in King Street was burned down just over twenty-five years ago. James Gledstane, as they then spelt their name, the brother of Thomas, was parish schoolmaster of North Leith from 1769 to 1799. The old schoolhouse may yet be seen within a pend in Bridge Street. It is now a painterís store.
The minister of St. Ninianís in old Thomas Gladstoneís day was Dr. Johnston, who was always lovingly and familiarly spoken of, especially by the fisherfolk of Newhaven, then among his parishioners, as the "bonnie Dr. Johnston," from his handsome appearance and refined and courteous manner. He was minister of North Leith for the long period of fifty-nine years, from 1765 until 1824. Between the Gladstone and Johnston families there was a lifelong friendship, and the famous statesman used to tell how as a little boy he met Dr. Johnston in Glasgow. The good doctor, then eighty-two years of age, had walked all the way from Leith, and intended walking all the way back again.
That same year he preached his last sermon in old St. Ninianís to a crowded congregation. The old church had become too small for them, and being crowded to the roof with gallery upon gallery was stuffy and unhealthy from want of proper ventilation. The congregation were about to move to a new church (the present building in Madeira Street), which, like St. Anthonyís, had been built in the fields beyond the town, and like it, too, was ere long to find itself in the heart, instead of the outskirts, of the town.

For eight years Dr. Johnston was to continue their pastor in the new building, and then, in 1824, at the age of ninety-two, he passed to his rest, and was laid among his own people in the old burial ground of St. Ninianís, where a plain recumbent slab marks his grave; and in the same year the old church, which had become the nursery of two other congregations - Coburg Street and Junction Road United Free Churches - passed from sacred to secular uses. Two old buildings stood for long years beneath the shadow of St. Ninianís Church-the old Black Swan, the village inn, and Hartís Land, a weatherworn tenement with a dovecot gable. Hartís Land has in recent years lost much of its quaintness, and all trace of the old Black Swan has now disappeared, for it was rebuilt in 1892.

'A Model Pastor of the Old School. Recollections of the Rev. David Johnston, D.D., and the parish of North Leith.' FOSTER. Margaret: pp. 70. [Privately printed:] Edinburgh, 1878. 8o. [Copy in British Library]

Frontispiece: portrait of Dr Johnston from the portrait, presumably by Raeburn

pp 7-8 His great characteristic was 'active benevolence' not evangelism.

p 18 States he was born 26 April 1734 (Fasti statates 24 April), the son of the minister of Arngask and his mother a daughter of the Rev. David Williamson of St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh (referred to as Mess Williamson in a ballad sung by one of the mob in 'The Heart of Midlothian'). The author states she has no account of his early life. He had a brother whose son Robert was a town councillor of Edinburgh.

p. 20 The author examined the church records of his first 20 years in North Leith and found they most often referred to irregular civil marriages and illegitimate births.

p. 23-24 'Dr Johnston seems to have married before his removal to North Leith. His wife Elizabeth, said to have been a very good woman, was the eldest of three Miss Todds of South Leith. The second, Jean, became Mrs Scougall, the mother and grandmother of the Scougall and Cassels families, whose names are still familiar to mercantile men in Leith. The third, Henrietta, married Mr Parish of London and Hamburgh [sic], of whom the descendants best known in Scotland are the Rosses, late of Rossie Castle, and the family of the late Sir Daniel Sandford, who married a granddaughter of Mr and Mrs Parish.' A few years after settling in North Leith he presented a memorial to the kirk-session for an increase of stipend by 400 merks (£22.4.5) owing to the expenses of a family and the increase in the cost of living. The session granted 300 merks. Dr Johnston had several children who died young including a son who died at Bombay aged 25. His two surviving daughters married early and settled in Glasgow. His household, after his wife's death consisted of just two servants. 'The younger daughter, Mrs MacBrair, who was our mother, died in middle life; but the elder, Mrs Penney, survived her father, and lived to be ninety-six.'

p. 27 From time to time Dr Johnston called his parishoners together 'mainly for prayer, but also to listen to addresses calculated to stir their blood and nerve their arm against the foe. When the state of things became more alarming, and this country was threatened with invasion by the French in 1803, he earnestly exhorted his people, not only to pray, but to lend themselves as volunteers for the defence': "if our enemies were to prevail, we may bid farewell to religion, to liberty, to property, to manufactures, to commerce. These have never been known to flourish under arbitrary and despotic governments, they prosper only in free states... The very women, whose tender sex should move compassion, have fallen a sacrifice to their violence, to their lust, to their inhumanity...Rouse, then, my countrymen; rouse, my people and stand up in your defence!...If it would tend anything to encourage and animate you, I am willing, though far advanced in life, to accompany you, and to share in the common danger.' He went on to warn his hearers against emissaries sent among them to corrupt and divide, by flattering the common people, and promising them the fortunes of the rich.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you ever heard from Richard Penney as he did not respond to my questions.


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