By 1853, Moylurg House, Clogher, Co. Roscommon, had become the residence of Captain John Johnston and his wife, Caroline Jane. Captain Johnston was sworn in before Captain William Duckworth as a Magistrate for County Roscommon in October of that year. [Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette/Limerick Chronicle, 5th October 1953]
In 1854, Captain Johnston was a Guardian of Boyle Union and one of the principal lessors in the parish of Eastersnow.
At the time of Griffith’s Valuation in 1857, Moylurg House was valued at £25, with John Johnston recorded as a tenant of the Rev. William Robinson, who was leasing the estate from Lord Lorton.
On 20th November 1854, Robert King, 1st Viscount Lorton, died at Rockingham at the age of 81. Captain Johnston of Moylurg is recorded as having attended Lord Lorton’s funeral in the Church of Boyle, along with Jemmet Duke of Newpark (John Duke of Moylurg’s brother) and Guy Lloyd of Croghan, “together with all the gentry, without exception, residing on his lordship’s estates (whose names we really could not undertake to particularize), with thousands of most respectable tenantry and inhabitants of the town of Boyle.” (Source: Dublin Evening Mail, Wednesday 29th November 1854)
In October 1856, Captain Johnston of Moylurg is recorded as sitting as a Magistrate at the Boyle Quarter Sessions. These sessions were the precursor to today’s District Courts and they were routinely held until 1924. The Resident Magistrates’ job was to uphold the law of the county and to pass judgement in local civil disputes and minor criminal cases. The Irish National Archives for these sessions date from 1851–1924 and comprise 11,000 volumes.
The Dublin Daily Express, Friday 30th January 1857, published a letter from a list of Boyle gentlemen, including Captain Johnston, J.P., of Moylurg, expressing solidarity and outrage at the news that some of Captain Caleb Robertson of Boyle’s cows had been deliberately poisoned.
On 26th January 1858, Captain John Johnston’s wife, Caroline, gave birth to a baby girl, named Florence Sophia, at Moylurg. (Source: Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette)
By April of that year, it was time for Captain Johnston and his family to move on.
Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette, Saturday 17th April 1858:-
“We regret to find that Captain Johnston, of Moylurg, intends to leave for the present, this part of the country. The absence of landed proprietors is at all times to be regretted; but particularly so in this instance – he, as an active and impartial Magistrate, as a private gentleman, and as a kind and accommodating neighbour, cannot at this time be well spared.”
Captain John Johnston owned Rose Lawn House in Celbridge, County Kildare, but he also held 1,400 acres of land in County Roscommon and 668 acres in County Sligo. Some of these lands were sold when he left the area.
Still working as a Magistrate in 1862, Captain Johnston died at Rose Lawn House, Possackstown, Celbridge on 18th February 1897, leaving £10,312 [roughly £1.4 million in 2020] to his son, John George Johnston (b.1864 in Dublin).
In the 1901 Census, Caroline Jane Johnston (aged 76) was still living at Rose Lawn with her three children, John George (37), Florence Sophia (43, who was born at Moylurg) and Mary Caroline (32), along with three servants, Margaret Henry (50), Mary Hogan (40) and Peter Doran (30).
By the time of the 1911 Census, Caroline had died and John George Johnston (aged 47) was still living at Possackstown with his sisters Florence Sophia (53) and Mary Caroline (43), along with three servants, Elizabeth Mary Roche (25, parlour maid/domestic servant), Hannah Crillen (23, cook) and Charles Henry Finlay (30, coachman/domestic servant).
More than 1,500 acres in County Roscommon that had been left by Captain Johnston to his son, John George Johnston, were compulsorily purchased by the Congested Districts Board on 20th March 1913.
In 2003, Roselawn, “a run-down eight-bedroom Georgian house on 284 acres” at Posseckstown, near Celbridge, County Kildare, was sold for €11 million. The purchaser was the son of multimillionaire racehorse owner John Patrick (“J.P.”) McManus, one of Europe’s richest men, with a reputed personal wealth of €2.1 billion c. 2018. “The three-storey house dates to the 1830s and is approached by a long avenue of mature oak, beech, ash and lime timbers. Although in need of a complete revamp, it contains four reception rooms and eight bedrooms.” (Source: Irish Independent, March 7th, 2004)