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John o' Groat

with his two brothers Malcolm and Gavin, came from Holland in the reign of James IV. of Scotland, and purchased the lands of Warse and Dungisbay. In process of time their families increased, and there came to be eight families of the same name.They lived together amicably, and met once a year in the original house; but on one occasion a question of precedency arose, who was to go out first, and who was to take the head of the table.. John o' Groat promised them the next time they came he would contrive to satisfy them all. Accordingly he built an eight-sided room, with a door and window in each side, and placed a round oak table in the room. This building went ever after with the name of John o' Groat's House. The site of this house is the Berubium of Ptolemy, in the vicinity of Duncansby Head.

Hear, land o'cakes and brither Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat's ...
A chield's amang you takin' notes.
And, faith, he'll prent it.

Burns: Captain Grose.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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