Richard and Julia Johnson

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Richard and Julia Johnson

This family history was sent to us by Sharon Draper, who lives in Australia

Early years

Julia Elizabeth Johnson, nee Tocque, spent the first 25 years of her life in Jersey. From the late 1870s, Julia lived the remainder of her life in Manchester, under the assumed surname Johnstone. Julia’s grandparents died in the 1840s. Her parents died in the 1850s. She married Richard Johnson in 1854.

In 1861 Julia and Richard were living in St Brelade with Julia’s siblings - Charles Philippe, Isabella and Susan Tocque. Richard Johnson was employed as Sgt Instructor of Musketry, Royal Jersey Militia.

Charles Philippe Tocque, a landed proprietor, was selling his farm Broadlands, St Peter, near the Cafe Francais. In December 1861 he married Sarah Mills. Julia’s sister, Elvina, had married Independent Minister, The Rev Georges Perchard, and was also living in St Brelade, at Malvern House, in 1861.

A year later, Richard Johnson and Julia Tocque were facing financial ruin. Among other creditors, Julia’s brother was disputing a debt with Richard Johnson (for house rent). Unable to pay their debts, a decret was ordered on their property. The Johnson family departed Jersey.

In October 1862, an article in the Nottinghamshire Guardian mentioned a Richard Johnson, Sgt Instructor of the Pelham Company of the Robin Hood Rifles. Richard and Julia’s youngest son, Philip Tocque Johnson, was born in Nottinghamshire in 1864.

In 1867, Mrs Johnson and her sister Miss Tocque were mentioned in the Nottingham Journal as performers in concerts. Both were accomplished singers.


The family did not settle in Nottinghamshire. Was Richard facing more difficulties?

By 1868, the family had moved 100 miles away to Fairacre (Cefn Mawr), Wrexham, in Wales. Mrs Johnson and her sister Miss Tocque were again appearing as artistes in concerts.

In January 1870 the Bryn Issa House Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies (Pen Y Bryn Wrexham), advertised in the Wrexham Advertiser, offering thorough English education, French, Music and Drawing conducted by Mrs Johnson and Miss Tocque. Home comforts and liberal diet were offered with terms from 20 guineas. Were the sisters ‘keeping the wolf from the door’?

By April 1871 Richard Johnson was working as a timekeeper, living in a lodging house in Fairacre, Wrexham. His sister-in-law, Isabel Tocque, a milliner, was visiting in Nottingham. The Perchards were still ministering in St Brelade. Brother-in-law, Charles Philip Tocque, a dyer, had become a naturalized citizen of America the previous year. In 1871, he was holidaying in St Helier where he had his daughter Ida Alice (born in America) baptised. But where were Richard’s family and Susan Tocque?

Star Hotel

Was Richard Johnson operating the Star Hotel near St Peter's Church in 1861? One debt was for cognac.


Julia’s granddaughter, Gladys Vasey, stated that Julia suffered domestic violence. Did Julia decide to make a stable life for her family, as a single parent? Did she need to be incognito to separate her family from Richard Johnson?

An 1871 Census entry may hold the clue to Julia’s disappearance. In Chorlton, Lancashire, 60 miles from Fairacre, an Elizabeth Johnston completed her household’s Census form. She stated that she was a 34-year-old wife working as a draper. As an afterthought, she crossed out wife and declared herself a widow. She recorded her children as Reginald 15 years, Edie 13 years, William 11 years, Edward 10 years and James 7y. In addition, her 27-year-old unmarried sister, Harriet, was part of the household, working as a draper’s assistant.

All the family were recorded as being born in Nottinghamshire. I have made a table comparing a 'missing' Wrexham record with the Charlton record. When the individual components are analysed, there are striking similarities.

Name Relation Age Condition Where born Occupation
Julia Elizabeth Johnson Wife 34 Married Jersey Music teacher
Elizabeth Johnston Head 34 Widow Nottinghamshire Draper
Susan Harriet Tocque Sister 27 Unmarried Jersey
Harriet Stoke (= S Tocque) Sister 27 Unmarried Nottinghamshire Draper's assistant
Ridgehill Wood Johnson Child 15 Jersey Scholar
Reginald Johnston Child 15 Nottinghamshire Scholar
Edith Roussel Johnson Child 13 Jersey Scholar
Edie Johnston Child 13 Nottinghamshire Scholar
Charles William Johnson Child 11 Jersey Scholar
William Johnston Child 11 Nottinghamshire Scholar
Edward Johnson Child 10 Jersey Scholar
Edward Johnston Child 10 Jersey Scholar
Philip Tocque Johnson Child 7 Nottinghamshire Scholar
James Johnston Child 7 Nottinghamshire Scholar


At the 1881 Census, at Moss-Side, Manchester, Julia E Johnstone recorded her family as follows:

Name Relation Age Condition Where born Occupation
Julia E Johnstone Head 44 Married Jersey Teacher of music
Reginald W Johnstone Son 26 Unmarried Jersey Soldier
Edith R Johnstone Daughter 23 Unmarried Jersey Dressmaker
Edward Johnstone Son 20 Unmarried Jersey Clerk in home trade
Philip T Johnstone Son 17 Unmarried Nottingham Warehouseman export trade
Mary Geghan Servant 18 Unmarried Manchester Domestic servant

Susan Tocque

Her sister Susan Tocque was residing in Chorlton (where the Johnstons lived in 1871). Susan correctly reported her age as 37 years, born Jersey. Her occupation was reported as dressmaker and she had a lodger, Mary Halliday.

In 1881, Richard Johnson was still employed as a clerk in an iron works in Wales. He died a few months after the Census, aged 50 years.

It is a tribute to Julia Johnstone that her children were successful. She would have been proud that her grandchildren, Maurice and Gladys Johnstone, achieved fame in the arts.

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