John Damian (15th–16th c.) was a Scottish alchemist who assisted King James IV (1473–1513). John Damian apparently lacked great alchemical knowledge but made up for his deficiency in brashness and daring. He convinced James to set up an alchemical laboratory in Stirling Castle where Damian spent huge sums of money for years trying to make Gold. James eventually tired of the expense and made Damian an abbot. Damian continued to borrow money from the king to supplement his abbot’s salary. He was fond of elaborate clothing and whiskey and wine. Despite his lack of alchemical success, Damian remained on good terms with James and played dice and cards often with him.
Once while still at Stirling Castle, Damian attempted to fly by fastening wings made of feathers to himself and leaping off the castle battlements. He fell to the ground and broke a leg. He explained away his failure by the fact that some of the feathers were from barn-door birds who seldom flew much.