Most Scottish clan
tartans accepted as such today are no older than the first quarter of
the nineteenth century. Many are much younger. The Johnston or Johnstone
tartan first made its appearance in the apocryphal Vestiarium
Scoticum, which was published in 1842 by two brothers who
claimed to be grandsons of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Vestiarium Scoticum
purported to be a copy of an ancient manuscript detailing the tartans
of the various clans, but it was almost certainly a forgery. Nonetheless,
many tartans revered today had their origins in this work.
spite of the doubtful source of many of them, clan tartans have remained
very popular and and have come to symbolyze Scottish culture to most of
the world. By now, clan tartans have become standarized and have developed
a tradition of their own. I am proud to wear the Johnston/e tartan, even
though I know it had nothing to do with the Johnston/es when they were
a functioning clan.
sometimes mistake the Johnston/e tartan for the Gordon tartan. Actually,
the only thing they have in common is the green, blue and yellow colors.
There are a number of tartans with these colors, but it is the pattern,
or sett, which really distingishes one tartan from another. The Johnston/e
tartan is fairly simple, and is composed of alternating broad stipes of
blue and green. The blue stripe has three narrow black stipes running
through the middle. The green stripe also has three narrow stripes in
the middle, but the center narrow stripe is yellow. The alternating pattern
is woven in both directions (warp and weft), forming a symetrical check.
Usually it is made in a twill weave, which means the weaving is done "over
two, under two." See the pattern at the bottom of the page.
the Johnston/e tartan is woven in deep, dark colors, it is termed "modern,"
which simply means that modern chemical dyes have been used. When woven
in soft, muted colors, simulating vegitable dyes, the tartan is termed
"ancient." A third version, usually termed "weathered"
or "reproduction," has colors which are supposed to look like
tartan which has aged a long time.
The Crest Badge
The crest badge is supposed to be derived from the custom of having the
servants of great men wear their masters' crests on their clothing. Similarly,
it is claimed that clan chiefs gave representations of their crests to
their followers. In any event, the present custom probably dates from
the Victorian era.
Johnston/e Clan crest for Annandale badge consists of the Chief's crest
(a winged spur) enclosed in a conventional representation of a "strap
and backle," upon which is inscribed the Chief's motto, which is
Latin for "Never Unprepared."
Squire & Gaelic Themes
Johnston/e Clan crest for Caskieben consists of a phoneix in flames enclosed
in a "strap and buckle," upon which is inscribed the Caskieben
motto, which is Latin for "Live, So That You Will Live in the Future."
Squire & Gaelic Themes
Red Hawthorn is the plant badge of the Clan. This is probably an invention
of the nineteenth century tartan mania. Border clans did not use plant
badges which were characteristic of highlandclans.
Motto and Slogan
The original warcry or slogan of Clan Johnston/e of Annandale was "Light
Thieves All," which was a demand to the enemy to dismount and surrender.
This slogan was also used as the first motto in the Chief's arms in the
early seventeenth century. Later, the Chief adopted the current motto,
Nunquam Non Paratus, which means "Never Unprepared." Sometimes
the Chief's present motto is translated as "Ready, Aye Ready"
or simply "Aye Ready," which is also used as a slogan.
The Gentle Johnston/es - used ironically
The Rough Footed Clan