William Johnston (Johnson, Johnstone). Origin: Other.
William Johnston was granted 160 acres on 17 February 1789 in the current settlement of Burnt Ground. This land was bordered by the land of Joseph Lightborne, George Johnson, Jew Fish Creek, and the sea. On the Lands & Surveys map, his name is written “Wm. Johnstone,” whereas on the Tatnall map, the same parcel is depicted as belonging to “William Johnson.” And finally, the deed for this land grant spells his name “William Johnston,” demonstrating that spelling was obviously a fluid thing in the 18th century. His land was surrounded by that of Joseph Lightbourne, George Johnston (who we determined was actually Johnson), Catherine Curtis, and Abraham Pratt—all of whom were Old Inhabitants.
A William Johnstone received land in East Florida in 1768. We believe that this is merely an alternate spelling of Johnson. A Dr. William Martin Johnston, settler of East Florida who fled to Jamaica, is listed in Siebert. However, the deed for the 160-acre grant issued to William Johnston does not include his middle name, nor does it state he was a Loyalist. Furthermore, he was granted a waiver of quit rent for only 2 years, indicating he was not considered a Loyalist. A William Johnstone had a son born on 9 October 1784 on New Providence. The surname Johnston is also found in the 1740 census on New Providence. We have labeled him as “other” because as a settler in East Florida, and then of Jamaica, we found no evidence that he was a Loyalist, and although it is possible he came from an old Bahamian family, we have no direct proof.
Reference: Siebert, David Library of the American Revolution, 1740C