Lorand Johnson Discussion

Discussion on Dr. Lorand V. Johnson & his Caskieben claims

Many of the participants are claiming descent from the family written about in 1972 by Lorand V. Johnson in now questionable Johnson History.

"The Ancestry of William and John Johnson."

An Account of the Connections of the Family of

Johnston of Caskieben, and of that Ilk, of

the Garioch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland"

As with most published family histories there were errors and omissions in the publication.

A number of changes to were reflected in his 1988 edition for the Terrell Family.


Charts - Start with major changes on Chart 1 for Ben & Margery and James Seneca.

Many people have researched this family over the years and have raised questions and had concerns with some of his work. See Linda Sparks Starr’s page for discussions on the Johnson and related families Colonial Virginia Connections at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~lksstarr/

However Lorand’s work still appears as fact in many publications and family trees, online and printed.

Now in 2021, with more “real records” available on the internet and the availability of DNA testing some of Lorrand’s conclusions have finally been proven incorrect especially his claim that the early Virginia Johnsons were all related and descendants of the Caskieben line.


In 1942 Lorand V. Johnson, M.D. printed a book of genealogical charts titled “The Descendants of William and John Johnson – Colonial Friends of Virginia”

The 1972 book “The Ancestry of William and John Johnson” detailed the family and their emigration to Virginia. He claimed that they were descendants of the Caskieben line via Thomas of Craig’s youngest son James. Over the years this has became the de facto resource on the Johnson Family in Early Virginia.

The last line of his INTRODUCTION was “It is my desire that familiarity with these references will stimulate further individual reading and research for a better appreciation of this greater family.”

There were many changes and corrections in future editions including the 1988 Terrell Family Edition.

Unfortunately some of his writings were based more upon his thoughts and wishes rather than actual documented facts. His assumptions have been passed down and around so much that they appear to be facts. [see Suzanne’s Comments]

He had attempted to get a Coat of Arms but it was denied because the connection could be substantiated.


There is a lot of good and useful information in his publications but there are also errors and incorrect assumptions. The publications should only be taken as clues rather than as proof, especially where there are no specific dates or sources shown.

His page format gets a lot of information on a page but it can often lead to confusion about who the mother is for a particular child and the children are often not shown in birth order.

My personal opinion is that he occasionally looked at the tree to see where he could hang a particular family, sort of like hanging Christmas ornaments, and then moved it for the next edition.

Also see the online report Problems with Hinshaw. by Linda Sparks Starr April 2005

homepages.rootsweb.com/~lksstarr/JohnsonSection/Hinshaw.txt about how some of the relationships shown in Hinshaw’s Quaker books were influenced by Lorand. Suzanne's comments tell that he actually changed the transcribed records to match his thoughts so that they cannot be considered two separate sources.

Lorand’s Claimed Caskieben Connection

As a young man Lorand believed that the family was descended from the Caskieben line. Much of his effort went into trying to prove it. [see Suzanne’s Comments]

Thomas of Craig and his family were of the time period when America was just being founded.

Thomas’ youngest son James “the Litster” who was "provydit to nothing" became a target for the connection. The Litster or dyer society was one of the oldest of the town of Aberdeen. Little was known of him at the time and he had children with the same names as some of the early Virginia Johnsons.

1024. Thomas Johnston and Mary Irvine had the following children:

i. Thomas "of Craig" Johnston born about 1645. on 8 Jan 1664. He died in Jan 1686, age of 41. No issue

ii. William "of Craig" Johnston born about 1647. He died in 1716 at the age of 69 in Holland. No issue

iii. John "of Bishopstown" Johnston, died 1716, Bishopstown, Scotland. Title went to his descendants

iv. Anna Johnston was christened on 11 May 1652 in Dyce, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom.

v. Barbara Johnston was christened on 4 Jul 1654 in Dyce, Aberdeen, Scotland

vi. James "the Litster" Johnston was christened on 20 Jul 1656 in Dyce, Aberdeen, Scotland.

He was married three times: His first wife was Unknown

The second wife was Faith Leith and they had a daughter Elizabeth b. 26 Dec 1688 in Aberdeen

He then married Jean Ogilvie on 5 Nov 1690 in St. Nicholas Church in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Their children were all christened in the church

o Alexander on 7 Aug 1692

o Mary on 10 Jun 1694

o Jean on 31 May 1696

o William on 10 Oct 1699 > the Pewterer

o John on 16 Nov 1701

From Alexander Johnston’s Memoir of George Young (written in 1860) which was referenced on page 118 of Lorand’s 1972 edition

Thomas of Craig was twice married. After the decease of his first wife, named Eljpet Strachan,— by whom Thomas left no male issue,—he married Mary Irvine, daughter of Irvine of Kingcausie in the Mearns, a cadet of the Drum family,* who bore to the Laird of Craig Johnston, besides some daughters, four sons :

1. Thomas of Craig, who died, unmarried, in January, 1686, and was interred within the old church of St. Nicholas;

2. William Johnston, who succeeded his brother, Thomas, in the lands of Craig Johnston and others, and was an Officer in the Army: this gentleman married in Holland, but died without issue; his wife— whose maiden name was Joanna Van Millan—survived her husband for several years, and in her widowhood resided at Rotterdam ;

3. John Johnston of Bishopstown ; this son was progenitor of the now existing branches of the family; and

4. James Johnston, litster in Aberdeen, born in the parish of Dyce, in July, 1656; he, by his second wife, Mrs. Jean Ogilvie, was father of William Johnston, burgess, Pewterer in Aberdeen, who became proprietor of Badiefurrow.

Thomas Johnston of Craig died in August,1656, and Mary Irvine, his widow, in September, 1659; both were interred at Dyce.

Coming to America?

It is at this point that Lorand began his fabrication of a connection to America.

According to Lorand Johnson, it was a vessel owned by Charles Dunn (a Merchant Burgess of Aberdeen, who married Thomas’ daughter Anna on 4 January 1673) which ferried James and Faith Leith Johnson and James's three sons by first wife Margaret Alexander, to Virginia in 1696.

Lorand has sited: Cameron, Landine’s and Sailings. Edinburgh, 1842, Vol. 2, pg. 246.

  • Unfortunately no reference to any such publication has ever been found.

  • It was impossible for William and John to be on the ship in 1996 since they were not yet born.

  • As Alexander stated James the Litster was Thomas’ son and he was still in Aberdeen having children after “The Ship” sailed.

On pages 121 and 125 of the 1972 edition Lorand created new children for James’ first wife and those are the children that came to America with the fictitious James.

Someone would probably not have children with same names with different wives if the older children were still living so Lorrand had to also create a younger James to marry Jean Ogilvie and have the young children and that stayed in Aberdeen.

[since I wrote this I have found duplicate names while the first child was still living ]

For Y-DNA testing it does not matter if there is an extra male generation. The results will be the same or very similar for the descendants of John "of Bishopstown" and those of his brother James.

Caskieben DNA

In 2021 I recruited a proven descendant of the Caskieben Clan to be tested to either verify or disprove Lorand's claims.

The 37 marker Y-DNA test (Kit #954415) for a verified descendant of the Caskieben Johnston line does not match with any of the descendants of the early Virginia Johnsons that Lorand V. Johnson claimed were descendants of that line in his various publications.

See the Caskieben Lineage & DNA Results

Comments about Lorand from Suzanne Johnston

[Jeff’s comments - Over the years Suzanne worked with Lorand, did projects for him, and traveled to Scotland with him doing research. She has articles and comments at the Colonial Virginia Connections.]

I first began the search for the Johnson family in 1958. George and I were engaged and planning a wedding, and when I had asked my father-in-law what he knew about his family, he said that he knew his name, and that of his father because it was written in a book his grandfather had written. I went from there, and was very happy when I discovered Lorand's book. However, like the rest of us, what started to be a blessing became a big problem.

One thing that I would remark about is Lorand's age when he came up with his ideas of Caskieben being the guys. He had to have been a teenager. He wrote his first book when he was in college, and had been doing this for some time. I know he was named after someone he knew from history, and that his family had evidently been interested for some time, although I never found any evidence that his father himself was interested.

Lorand was at the very least a very strange guy. He saw his mission to identify his lineage and did everything he could to make it as wonderful as possible. As you saw when you went through the Aberdeen records, he passed up things that didn't make sense (such as birthdates and things that couldn't have been, and fantasized in his head about how things probably were, and then made them real by sending out notices to all sorts of people

He was earnest and spent most of his life involved with this, and yet he had no sense of proof, and in his mind was happy to have been able to make up a story that made sense. People believed him because they wanted to, and once he got enough pieces of paper around the world with his data on it, it was impossible to change people's minds.

As far as I am concerned, I knew before our first DNA tests were done that he was making this up, and I had proof that he was not correct when I discovered in the Quaker records that John Johnson and his wife Elizabeth and Benjamin Johnson and his wife Margery were appointed by a committee of Quakers to make sure that one of the members of the congregation was worthy for marriage. That was a correct record from I think the 1700's. or at least early 1800's

I know that Lorand got hold of that record after Hinshaw had had it transcribed but before it was published, because I talked to the person who wrote it [Douglas Summers Brown]. When she died at almost 100 years she was still frustrated that he had sullied her writings.

[see the Hinshaw article]

[Suzanne started the DNA testing that eventually turned into the Johnson Surname Project.]

Thanks to Suzanne & Recognition to some of the other Researchers over the Years

What's Next

See the Early Virginia Johnsons – What to do now? page

Lorand Johnson’s Caskieben Connections Proven False

By Jeffrey A. Bockman 5 May 2021

Read the PDF Report