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The Ghost of John Chiesly

For three hundred years Dalry was reputedly haunted by the apparition of a screaming (and sometimes manically laughing) man with a bloody stump for his right arm. This ghost was known as ‘Johnny One-Arm’ or, more correctly John Chiesly. John was an unhappy husband who petitioned for a divorce in 1688. Sir George Lockhart of the Court of Session pronounced how much he should pay his wife in an annual settlement, which Chiesly was furious about as he thought it far exceeded what was fair. He was expected, according to one account to pay about £93 per annum to maintain his wife and about eleven children. John ambushed Sir George in Old Bank Close one Sunday morning and in a fit of anger shot him dead.

John was caught and his right arm was hacked off before he was sent to the gallows. It is said that it was the right hand in which he had held the weapon.  His body was left hanging as a warning to other would be killers, especially those targeting senior law figures, until one night it was stolen.

The haunting was said to have stopped when a one armed skeleton was discovered under the floorboards or a hearthstone of a Dalry cottage and given a proper burial. I have come across conflicting dates for the finding of the skeleton, one account says it was over one hundred years ago and the second places it around 1965.

Each new account I have read concerning John Chiesly elaborates on the story even more and I suspect that it has changed several times over the years. I would be interested to see an actual account of someone witnessing ‘Johnny One-Arm’, though I suspect there is little real evidence for this ghost

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