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John  Leith of Harthill

Extract from The Book of Bennachie, published by the Bailies of Bennachie

Harthill Castle

"John Leith of Harthill was an equally enthusiastic Royalist, albeit eccentric if not, indeed, mentally unbalanced. At Christmas, 1639, when Aberdeen was firmly in the hands of the Covenanters, vowing "by God's wounds, I'll sit beside the Provost and in no other place o' the kirk," he occupied the Provost's pew in St. Nicholas Kirk and had to be forcibly removed by the town's officers. When he appeared before the magistrates, with the provost presiding, he called the latter "a doited cock and an ass," tore up the charge, and threw the "penner and inkhorn" in the face of the clerk of the court "to the great effusion of his blood." 
He was ordered to be detained in Aberdeen Tolbooth, where he made himself as much of a nuisance as possible. He tried to set fire to the place because the chimney smoked; had daggers and cudgels smuggled in and attacked the warders; somehow acquired a gun and entertained himself by firing at passers-by on the Castlegate; and, finally, barricaded himself inside

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The Tolbooth, Aberdeen

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The Window in the Cell where
John Leith may have been held
A note about John Leith in the Aberdeen Tolbooth Museum The Aberdeen Tolbooth showing the window whence John Leith fired at passers-by The Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh, later 
immortalised by 
Sir Walter Scott
in his novel of the 
same name
After some nine months of such antics, he was tied in eighteen feet of hempen rope and removed to the Heart of Midlothian, the Tolbooth in Edinburgh. There he remained until liberated by the Marquis of Montrose after the Battle of Kilsyth. Leith returned to Harthill and conducted a vendetta against the minister and kirk session at Oyne, demanding the return of communion cups previously gifted by his brother. Finally, hopelessly in debt, he turned arsonist and, having set fire to Harthill Castle, sat Nero-like in "Harthill's Cave" on Craig Shannoch and watched it burn."

Rent Harthill Castle, for vacations or events

Clan Leith - Genealogy