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Leighton Library, Dunblane

Scotland's oldest purpose-built independent library founded in 1687

Robert Leighton

Robert Leighton was born in 1611 and related to a family of some distinction from near Montrose. Three generations neatly epitomise the changing face of religion in Scotland in the seventeenth century. Leighton' s grandfather was a pre-reformation Catholic, while his father, Dr. Alexander Leighton, was a strong Presbyterian who was tortured on account of his beliefs and his vehement expression of them.

Robert himself became Minister at Newbattle, then Principal of Edinburgh University before being appointed by King Charles II to become Bishop of Dunblane as part of that monarch's restoration of episcopacy.

Leighton reputedly agreed to become Bishop on condition that he was given the poorest diocese in Scotland, Dunblane, and he fulfilled his duties with humility evidently hoping to be a focus for reconciliation between the conflicting ideologies.

His time in Glasgow, in particular, saw opposition from Covenanters in the south-west but he remained a figure of tolerance and moderation.

Robert Leighton retired to live with his half-sister, Sophia Lightmaker, in Sussex, where he died on 25th June, 1684, being buried in the churchyard at Horsted Keynes.

Having never possessed great wealth, he bequeathed his books and a sum of money to build a library to house them back in Dunblane for use primarily by the local clergy.

Click here for an illustrated article by Bill Inglis giving more detailed information about Robert Leighton.

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