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Comyn and Johnston/e Coats of Arms
15-APR-2013 Cliff. Johnston

Comyn and Johnston/e Coats of Arms

Pearland, Texas

Note that there were many different Comyn family lines both in England and in Scotland. This particular line was in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Their castle was just west of Moffat. It is a ruins today.

There has been much speculation about just where the early Johnstons lived. Close by the Comyn castle ruins are the ruins of an old Johnston tower which predates Lochwood Castle. The castles in those early days were primarily towers surrounded by a courtyard within surrounding stone walls.

The saltire (X) on both coats of arms indicates that an ancestor participated in one or more of the Crusades. In the case of the Johnstons it would have been the First Crusade. The changing of the 3 sacks of grain to 3 cushions would represent the respect and deference that our Johnston paid to his father-in-law when he married his daughter.

Then there is a relationship with the Corry family that needs to be investigated further:


“Corry seems to have been the name of a place in Dumfriesshire, from which the family probably derived its name. When the Regent Murray in 1569, came to Dumfries to receive submission from the chiefs there, it is mentioned – On the 25th Oct. ‘The Lard of Johnestown obleist him to caus the Lard of Corry cum to my Lordis Regentis Grace, and answer, &c.’ (Acts of the Privy Council of Scotland, Vol. II., pp. 48, 49, &c.) It is thought probable however that in 1569 the Laird of Corry was a Johnston, the original proprietor having either sold his property or had it confiscated before that date, as was not uncommon in those turbulent days.”


The ruins of the tower of Lun, or Lunelly, as it is known in the ordinance survey, are now in too dilapidated a condition to permit us to form any conclusion as to what it once was like. What survives is probably all that remains of the 16th century Tower of the Johnstones when they owned the lands of Corrie. But the place name of Corrie Castle has tenaciously adhered to this site, and we must therefore regard it as the home of that once important family. Like the early occupants of Hutton Mote, the Corries were an Anglo-Norman family who first appeared in Dumfriesshire at the close of the 12th Century. A man named Hugh, a follower of one of the early Brus, (Brus was an early spelling of Bruce which originally was de Bruis) must have received a grant of these lands which later were to develop into the Barony of Corrie. As owner of Corrie, he was naturally called Hugh of Corrie, which became the surname of his descendants. There were no less than four Walters in succession. The first married one of the co-heiresses of the great Levinton inheritance in Cumberland. The third adhered to Scotland at Bannockburn, and so forfeited his English inheritance. He was knighted at the seige of Carlisle in 1315. The fourth Walter, during the interlude when Balliol was king-and all Annandale held by England, came to some arrangement whereby his brother, John of Corrie, who supported the English cause, was infeft in the estate forfeited by the English from Walter.

John's descendants remained in possession in 1484, when George Corrie of that ilk was attainted for supporting the Albany and Douglas invasion that was repelled at Lochmaben. Three days after that battle, the lands of Corrie were granted by the Scottish Crown to one Thomas Carruthers. There must, however, have been a remission of the forfeiture, for Carruthers is nowhere else associated with this castle, whereas till 1516, George Corrie was certainly in possession. By 1510, George became involved in debt, owing £200 to the Maxwells. Maxwell distrained and then resigned his interest in favour of James Johnstone of Lochwood, who granted it to his second son, Adam.

The Corries disappear entirely, though the younger branches of Newbie and of Kelwood survived for a while. Two traditions relating to this site should be referred to. The First Statistical Account (1794) stated that the Johnstones acquired Corrie by marriage with the daughter of Sir Thomas Corrie "near 300 years ago." That passage was penned by William Stewart, factor to the Annandale Estate. His son, Charles Stewart at Hillside, succeeded him as factor, and in 1858 wrote to George Dickson of Royal Circus, Edinburgh, a letter which was still in existence in 1897 and of which I have a copy.

It contains a copy of the tombstone of George Johnstone of Girthhead, which had then been removed for reservation to the Roe Hills vault at Johnstone Kirk. It fully substantiates Wm Stewart's statement. It runs as follows: "Here lyes George Johnstone of Girthhead and Margaret Johnstone his spouse, who was Laird of Corrie and Lenellie; descended by Father to son (? from) Adam Johnstone, brother german to the Laird Johnstone of Lockwood, who married Sir Thomas Corri of that Ilk (his) only daughter and heir to him, and so became Laird of Corrie; and Georg Johnstone son of the said Laird of Corrie; and George Johnstone son of the said George of Girthead and Elizabeth Young his spous and 11 their progenie since they cam from Corrie." ( The copy of this inscription would go far to establish the tradition if only history recorded the existence of a Sir Thomas Corri. Mr. Dickson only possessed a copy of a copy. The evidence is not conclusive, and we must suspend judgement. )

The other tradition is, in its most recent form, far more graphic and exciting and far more untrustworthy. I do not know where it originated, but I found it in Miss Jessie Corrie's Record... Vol 1, p. 142..

Corrie castle burned by the Bells of Blackwood House (Blackethouse) who carried off a daughter of the Corries. The author of The Bell Family of Dumfriersshire, page 9, referring to this tradition, somewhat sceptically gives another version. "Walter Bell of Crowdie Castle was never known to grant quarter to a foe, and his looks were harsh and forbidding. One day he went to make love to Isabella de Corrie, daughter of Sir David de Corrie of Corrie Castle. On his way he encountered a rival in the person of Johnstone of Tundergarth, whose suit Isabella favoured. Bell slew him on the banks of the Milk and carried off the distracted girl to Crowdie Castle and there got a priest to marry them. Next day Bloody Bell gave a grand dinner in honour of the event and invited Sir David de Corrie to the feast, and all went well until a priest appeared to announce that the bride was dead. Bell became insane and died in a dungeon in his own castle."

This version is not only much fuller, but materially differs from Miss Corrie's. Unfortunately, we have never heard of Sir David de Corrie or his daughter, and Crowdie Castle (i.e. Crowdieknowe in Middlebie) was not owned by Bells until long after the death of the last Corrie of this castle. But we need not be troubled by that, for a more romantic version appears in 1867 by William Johnstone, author of the Bard and the Belted Knight. (He was a Corrie man, and a teacher apparently, and wrote a book on French Pulpit Eloquence.) This account of the belted knight's (Sir Andrew Halliday's) genealogy is just as romantic and bard-like as is his tradition of Sir David. If anyone wishes to ascertain how traditions grow, let him study this one. In its earliest form it is contained in one sentence; in its latest, it covers 13 pages of print.

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