Robert Johnston

Date published: 30/06/2014

Click to enlarge
Mayor of Newbury 1883. f
©from Rod Thomason’s “The Regalia of the Town of Newbury, Berkshire” and is reproduced by kind permission of the author - a Town Macebearer
Mayor of Newbury 1883. f
Click to enlarge
Mayor of Newbury 1883. f
©Picture kindly supplied by Newbury Town Council
Mayor of Newbury 1883. f





          We have to record the death of Mr Robert Johnston of Northbrook-street, which took place somewhat suddenly on Friday last. Mr Johnston, who had been in declining health for some time past, was seized about four o'clock with an epileptic fit whilst walking near Porchester-villas. Dr Ryott was fortunately at hand and rendered the best medical assistance that was possible. On being conveyed to his home his medical attendant, Dr Watson, was called in, but another fit followed, in which Mr Johnston passed away.

          Born in 1826 he was thus in his 63rd year of his age. A native of the North of England, Mr Johnston came to Newbury many years since, and by his force of character and success in business he rose to a leading position in the town. He entered the Corporation in 1878 on the Borough Extension Act coming into force, and served the office of Mayor in 1883-4, his term being memorable as that in which the Art and Industrial Exhibition was held, and the gold chair worn by our Mayors was obtained. His genial disposition and kindly hospitality secured for him cordial respect, and he retired from office amid general congratulations. Mr Johnston also served the office of guardian of the poor to the duties of which he gave much time and attention. In politics Mr Johnston was a Liberal, and during the period of its existence was Treasurer of the Liberal Club in the Broadway. As a past officer of the                                         Berkshire Lodge of Freemasons he was held in esteem by his Brethren, who at their meeting on Friday adopted a resolution of condolence with the widow and family.

          The funeral took place yesterday, and in accordance with a resolution passed at a special meeting, the Mayor and members of the Corporation were present in their official capacity. The funeral cortège left the residence of the deceased in Northbrook -street shortly after noon, the coffin being conveyed on an open hearse. The members of the Corporation, who had assembled at the Town Hall and taken their seats in carriages, joined the procession which proceeded at a slow pace to the Cemetery. On alighting at the gates of the Cemetery the procession was reformed and was preceded by the Rector of Newbury reading the opening sentences of the Burial Service. The Mayor, who wore his gold chain, which was draped in crape, was accompanied by the Town Clerk (Mr H. Burke Godwin) and the following members of the Council, Alderman Wilson, Adey and Lucas, Councillors T. Fidler, Stone, C. Lucas, J. Hopson, Hall, Ravenor, Midwinter, R. Long, S. Knight, Wintle and A. Jackson.

          There were also present Dr Watson, Messrs T. Dreweatt, A. Burns, F.J.Linton, J. Mason,  T. Hawkins, &.

          The mourners were the three sons of the deceased Mr J. A. Johnston, Mr E. B. Johnston, Mr F.V. Johnston. The service was conducted by the Rector of Newbury. The coffin was covered with beautiful floral wreaths and crosses, sent by sympathising friends, including Mr & Mrs Burgess, Mr A. Burns, Miss Stratton, Miss Read,  Miss Simpkins, Mrs Warrener, and others. The Royal Standard at the Town Hall floated half mast high. All along the route shutters were put up and window blinds drawn.

          The coffin was of polished oak with brass furniture and inscribed:


Born November 26 1826

Died February 1, 1889

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs Penford & Son of Northbrook Street. The following is a copy of a letter forwarded to Mrs Johnston on behalf of the Corporation by the Town Clerk:-

“I am instructed by the Town Council of Newbury to convey to you and the family of the late Mr Councillor Johnston their sincere condolence on your recent bereavement. The Council feel that the Town has lost one who always had its prosperity at heart, and the Corporation a member who was ever ready to give them the benefit of his sound judgment and large experience, and who discharged the duties of his Mayoralty with marked success, and to the warm appreciation of the Burgesses. I be to add my personal sympathy and remain &”


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