James Johnston (Royal Horse Guards officer)

James Johnston (21 May 1721 – 26 November 1795) was a general of the British Army, colonel of the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues) then colonel of the Scots Greys where he succeeded his sister's husband, Lieutenant General George Preston.

He[note 1] was the only surviving son of James Johnston (Secretary of State) and his wife, Lucy née Claxton.[1] Johnston lived at Overstone, Northamptonshire and in retirement at Weston House near Bath and with a house in St James's Place, Middlesex.[2]

Johnston was first commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards and was present with the regiment at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743 and the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745. He became a major in the regiment on 29 November 1750, was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Horse Guards on 17 December 1754[3] and commanded the regiment in Germany in several engagements during the Seven Years' War.[4]

Desperately wounded at the battle of Minden in 1759[5] he was promoted to full colonel of Horse, Royal Horse Guards 9 March 1762,[6] (the same day as his 'Irish' cousin was gazetted colonel of Dragoons) and appointed an aide-de-camp to King George III.

Promoted to major-general on 30 April 1770[7][8] on 2 May 1775 he received the additional appointment of colonel[9] of the 11th Regiment of Dragoons in place of the marquess of Lothian and was further promoted to lieutenant-general on 29 August 1777.[8][10] On 2 April 1778 he was removed from his colonelcy of Royal Horse Guards[11] and a fortnight later appointed colonel of the 6th Regiment of Dragoons.[12] In succession to George Preston, his sister's husband, he was made colonel of the Scots Greys on 4 February 1785, a post he held until his death.[4] On 25 October 1793 he was promoted general.[8][13]

Johnston married twice. His first wife (married 2 March 1747) and mother of his children was Charlotte daughter of George Montagu first earl of Halifax and Mary Lumley. Charlotte died in childbirth 28 April 1762 but she was survived by at least three sons and three daughters. Johnston then married his cousin Frances née Carter, widow of Philip Twysden Bishop of Raphoe and mother of Frances Villiers, countess of Jersey.


  1. James Johnston (died 1797)
    Johnston was often confused with another army officer of the same name and much the same age, 'Irish' Johnston. 'Irish' Johnston's father George was a third cousin of James Johnston, they shared descent from Archibald Johnston (died 1619) and his wife Rachel Arnot.
    These appointments of the two James Johnstons: Major General, Lieutenant General and General, were identical and gazetted on the same day, one man listed beside the other without distinction.* In addition on 9 March 1762 they were gazetted respectively colonel of Horse and colonel of Dragoons beside each other.


  1. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, ed. The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690–1715, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006
  2. General Johnston's Estate—All Persons having any Claims or Demands on the Estate of General James Johnston, late of Weston near Bath, in the County of Somerset, and of St James's-place, in the County of Middlesex, deceased, are desired to send an account either to Mr Daniel Robinson, Gray's-inn-place, or Mr Clarke, attorney at Bath. The Times, Friday, 25 December 1795; pg. 4; Issue 3474
  3. War Office "No. 9436". The London Gazette. 28 December 1754. p. 2.*
  4. Richard Cannon, Historical record of the Fourth or Royal Irish Regiment of Dragoon Guards (London, 1839) page 90
  5. Sir Bernard Burke, A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain, Volume 1, London, Colburn, 1852
  6. War Office "No. 10190". The London Gazette. 9 March 1762. p. 1.*
  7. War Office "No. 11039". The London Gazette. 30 April 1770. p. 1.*
  8. Robert Beatson, A political index to the histories of Great Britain and Ireland, volume II (London, 1806)page 120
  9. War Office "No. 11557". The London Gazette. 2 May 1775. p. 1.*
  10. War Office "No. 11802". The London Gazette. 6 September 1777. p. 2.*
  11. War Office "No. 11865". The London Gazette. 2 April 1778. p. 2.*
  12. War Office "No. 11865". The London Gazette. 14 April 1778. p. 1.*
  13. War Office "No. 13582". The London Gazette. 18 October 1793. p. 913.*
  • Will of James Johnston, General in His Majesty's Army of Weston near Bath, Somerset. Date 12 January 1796. Catalogue reference PROB 11/1270
  • Edward Almack. The history of the Second dragoons : Royal Scots greys.
    Lieutenant-General James Johnston.
    Colonel, 1785. Died, 26 November 1795.
Military offices
Preceded by
Cornet 's
Royal Regiment of Horse Guards

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lieutenant 's
Royal Regiment of Horse Guards

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Captain Earl of Crawford's
late 4th Troop of Horse Guards

to 1746
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sir James Chamberlain
Charles, Duke of Richmond's
Royal Regiment of Horse Guards

29 November 1750 – 1754
Succeeded by
Charles Shipman
Preceded by
of General Sir John Ligonier's
Royal Regiment of Horse Guards

2 December 1754 – 1762
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Brown
of 1st Irish Horse, 4th Dragoon Guards

9 March 1762 – 2 April 1775
Succeeded by
James Johnston
("Irish" Johnston)
Preceded by
Major General
30 April 1770 – 1777
Succeeded by
Preceded by
William Kerr
Marquess of Lothian
of the 11th Regiment of Dragoons

27 April 1775 – 1785
Succeeded by
Thomas Gage
Preceded by
Lieutenant General
6 September 1777 – 1793
Succeeded by
Preceded by
George Preston
of the 2nd Dragoons
Scots Greys

4 February 1785 – 24 November 1795
Succeeded by
Archibald Montgomerie
Earl of Eglinton
Preceded by
12 October 1793 – 24 November 1795
Succeeded by
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