Lord Sands ~ Politician, Lawyer, Church Advisor, and Educationalist

Lord Sands ~ Born Christopher Nicholson Johnston on 18 October 1857 in Kincardine, Perthshire to the minister of the parish of Whithorn, Wigtownshire. He attended Madras College in St Andrews, then St Andrews University, Edinburgh University and Heidelberg University. In 1880, Johnston became an advocate and began a long career in the law. From junior counsel in the government, he rose to Advocate-Deputy in 1892. This post was a political one and so he spent a period out of office alongside the Conservative Party. His second stint at the job was between 1895 and 1899. From the turn of the century, Johnston occupied various sheriffdoms across Scotland: Caithness, Orkney and Zetland; Inverness, Elgin and Nairn; and, Perth in 1905. Three years earlier, Johnston was made a judge.

Christopher Nicholson Johnston married Agnes in 1898 and together they produced two sons and two daughters. Alongside his legal career, Johnston pursued that of a politician within the Conservative Party. He contested Paisley in 1892 without success. In December of 1916, he became MP for Edinburgh University and St Andrews University – now no longer a sheriff. As Lord Sands (1917), Johnston became senator of the college of justice in Scotland.

A third aspect of his life was the Church of Scotland. Amongst his roles within that organisation were: procurator; legal advisor; and, member of central committee. He was also a licensed lay preacher. As the official legal advisor to the Church of Scotland, Johnston was responsible for the negotiations that led to the unification of said church with the United Free Church of Scotland. He wrote on church law and was considered eminent in that field.

The final side of Johnston’s activity was involvement in education and youth work. He was from 1921 the Chair of the Carnegie Trust for the Scottish Universities and from 1919, president of the Boys’ Brigade. Amongst his awards are included: Honorary Degree of DD (University of Edinburgh – 1928); Honorary Degree of LLD (University of St Andrews – 1909); and Honorary Degree of LLD (University of Glasgow – 1930).

As a writer, he produced work on the law, biography, and theology and on a wide field of culture. Amongst his body of work are:

Episcopacy in Scotland (1879)
The Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1883 (1883)
The Crofters’ Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886 (1886)
Handbook of Scottish Church Defence (1892)
The Parochial Ecclesiastical law of Scotland (1903) – by John M. Duncan but revised and in parts rewritten by Christopher Nicholson Johnston
Church Finance (1905)
St. Paul and his Mission to the Roman Empire (1909)
Major Owen, and other tales (1909)
The Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts 1883-1911 (1912)
The Seven Churches of Asia (1916)
John Blaw of Castlehill: Jacobite and Criminal (1916)
Dr. Archibald Scott of St. George’s Edinburgh, and his times (1919)
The Order and Conduct of Church Service in the Church of Scotland (1923)
Off the Chain (Short Stories) (1924)
Church Finance (1926)
The Story of St. Stephen’s, Edinburgh 1828-1928 (1927)
Life of Wallace Williamson (1929)
Sir Walter Scott’s Conge (1929)
Kinlochmoidart’s Dirk, and other tales (1931)

Johnston died at home in Edinburgh on 26 February 1934.