Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Johnstone, Bryce

JOHNSTONE, BRYCE, D.D. (1747–1805), Scottish divine, born on 2 March 1747, was the son of John Johnstone of Gutterbraes, provost of Annan. He studied at the university of Edinburgh, and was licensed as a preacher by the presbytery of Annan on 4 Oct. 1769. Two years afterwards he was ordained as assistant and successor to the Rev. Thomas Hamilton, minister of the church of Holywood, in the presbytery of Dumfries. On the death of Hamilton in 1772 he succeeded to the full charge of the parish, and shortly afterwards a new church was built to replace the ruinous structure that had been used as a place of worship from pre-reformation times. On 12 June 1786 the university of Edinburgh conferred the degree of doctor of divinity upon him, and he remained in the pastorate of Holywood until his death on 27 April 1805. Johnstone took a leading part in the management of ecclesiastical affairs, and was regarded as one of the prominent supporters of the popular party in the general assembly. His efforts for the improvement of agriculture in Scotland were so highly valued that they were specially recognised by the board of agriculture. ‘His piety was unaffected and unmixed with bigotry. He was tenacious of his principles, but his liberality of sentiment and charity towards those who differed from him led to no obstruction in the intercourse of life.’ He published a collection of sermons in 1807 and many separately. His principal works were: 1. Article on Holywood parish in Sinclair's ‘Statistical Account,’ vol. i., 1791. 2. ‘A Commentary on the Revelation,’ 1794. 3. ‘An Essay on the way to restore and perpetuate Peace, Good Order, and Prosperity to the Nation,’ 1801.

[Scott's Fasti, i. 583; Scots Mag. lxvii. 565; Murray's Galloway; Edinburgh Graduates; New Statistical Account.]

A. H. M.