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BADGE: Dearcag monaidh (vaccineum uliginosum) Bilberry

SLOGAN: Clairinch !

THE name of the Clan Buchanan is almost alone among those of Highland families in being derived, not from a personal ancestor, but from the lands on which the Clan was settled. These lands extended of old along the east shore of Loch Lomond, from the borders of Drymen parish northward for some eighteen miles, and included, besides Ben Lomond itself, as fine a stretch of country - strath and mountain - as any in the Highlands. Branches of the Clan also owned lands in the neighbouring parish of Drymen, and on both sides of the Water of Endrick, which here enters the Queen of Scottish Lochs, as well as about Killearn and Balfron and further east at Arnpryor, near Kippen; so that a good deal more than the actual parish of Buchanan may be considered as the old Buchanan country. Strange to say, however, this Buchanan country does not appear to have been the original territory owned by the Chiefs of the race in Scotland. According to the family historian, Buchanan of Auchmar, the founder of the race was a certain Anselan O'Kyan, of royal race, like that of the O'Neils in Ireland, who came over to escape troubles in the sister island about the year 1016, and with his followers took service under Malcolm II, at that time engaged in his great struggle against the invading Danes. For his services in this struggle, Anselan was granted the lands of Buchanan in Stirlingshire and of Pitquhonidy and Strathyre in Perthshire. Anselan further secured his footing in the Buchanan country by marrying an heiress of the Dennistoun family, the lands he got by her including Drumquhassle on the Water of Endrick.

MacAuslan remained for two centuries and a half the name of the Chiefs of the family, and it remains, of course, an independent surname to the present hour. The first of the face to be styled "de Buchanan" was Gillebrid, who was seneschal to the Earl of Lennox, and flourished in 1240. Meanwhile, in 1225 Macbeth, the father of Gillebrid de Buchanan, had obtained from Maelduin, Earl of Lennox, a charter for the island of Clarinch, near Balmaha, and the name of this island afterwards became the slogan or battle-cry of the Clan. In 1282 Sir Maurice de Buchanan received from Donald, the sixth Earl of Lennox, a charter of the lands of Buchanan themselves, in which the Chief was granted the privilege of holding courts of life and limb within his territory, on condition that everyone sentenced to death should be executed on the Earl's gallows at Catter. The charter is printed in Irving's History of Dunbartonshire, and the stone in which the gallows tree was set is still to be seen beside the old judgment hill of Catter, on Endrickside. At a later day Catter was itself for many generations in possession of a family named Buchanan.

During the wars of succession Maurice, the Chief of Buchanan, had the distinction of being one of the few notables of Scotland who would not sign the Ragman Roll, or swear allegiance to Edward I of England. Another of the name, Malcolm de Buchanan, signed the bond, but the Chief stood firmly for the Independence of Scotland and the cause of Robert the Bruce. Auchmar records a tradition that, after the defeat at Dalrigh, Bruce was joyfully received in the Buchanan country by its Chief, that the King's Cave, near Inversnaid, takes its name from this episode, and that Buchanan with the Earl of Lennox afterwards conveyed the King to safety.

From an early date the family of the Chiefs gave off branches, many of which remain of note to the present hour. Thus Allan, second son of Maurice, the ninth laird, married the heiress of Leny. His line ended in an heiress, Janet, who married John, son of the eleventh Chief of Buchanan, and became mother of the twelfth Chief. The eldest grandson of this pair distinguished himself in the wars abroad. After the battle of Agincourt, when France, on the strength of the "auld alliance", asked help from Scotland, and 7000 men were sent over, Sir Alexander Buchanan went at the head of a number of his clan, and at the battle of Beauge is said to have encountered the Duke of Clarence, and, escaping his thrust, to have pierced him through the left eye, and on his fall to have carried off his cap or coronet on his spear's point. The usual account is that Clarence was slain by the Earl of Buchan, Constable of France, but in telling the story, Buchanan of Auchmar quotes the book of Pluscardine Abbey, and declares that according to the family tradition it was for this service that the French King granted the Buchanan Chief the double tressure flory counterflory, which forms part of the Buchanan arms to the present day, and also for crest a hand holding a ducal cap. Sir Alexander Buchanan was himself afterwards killed at the battle of Verneuil in 1424.

Sir Alexander's next brother, Sir Walter, became thirteenth Laird of Buchanan, while the third brother, John, inherited his grandmother's estate of Leny, and became ancestor of the Buchanans of that branch.

From Thomas, third son of Sir Walter, the thirteenth Laird, who is stated by Auchmar to have married Isabel, a daughter of Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany, grandson of King Robert II, came the Buchanans of Carbeth. And from Thomas, second son of Patrick, the fourteenth Laird, came the Buchanans of Drumakil, with its branches, the Buchanans of The Moss, and others.

An interesting story is told of the founding of the house of Buchanan of Arnpryor by John, second son of Walter, the fifteenth Chief, and a daughter of Lord Graham. In the days of James IV, Arnpryor was in possession of a laird of the Menzies family. This laird was childless, and as he began to be oppressed with years, a neighbour, Forrester of Cardin, on pretence of a false debt, threatened that, if he did not assign the estate and castle to him, he would attack and capture them by force of arms. In his distress Menzies appealed to the Chief of Buchanan, offering, in return for a guarantee of protection during his life, to leave his lands and estate to one of the Chief's family. The offer was accepted, the obligation faithfully carried out, and the estate duly left to the Chief's second Son.

Of the descendant of this individual, the Laird of Ampryor in the days of King James V, an amusing story is told. As the King's forester was returning to Stirling on a certain occasion with deer for the royal table, Arnpryor took the liberty of appropriating the venison for his own use, He would listen to no remonstrance, declaring with a laugh that if James was King of Scotland, he, Buchanan, was King of Kippen. The forester proceeded to Stirling, and laid his complaint before the King, and forthwith that monarch, so well known for his exploits in disguise as the Guidman of Ballingeicht betook himself in person to the gates of Arnpryor. There he was roughly refused admittance by the porter, who informed him that the laird was at dinner, and could not be disturbed. James thereupon ordered the man to inform his master that the King of Scotland had come to dine with the King of Kippen, On receipt of the message Buchanan flew to the gate, and proceeded to make the most profuse and eager apologies.

At this, it is said, the King only laughed. He forthwith joined the laird in partaking of his own royal venison, and for ever after Buchanan of Arnpryor was known as the King of Kippen. A signet ring, given by James, is still in possession of the Chief of Buchanan.

Patrick, the sixteenth Chief of Buchanan, married a daughter of the Earl of Argyll, while John Buchanan of Leny married a daughter of the Earl of Menteith, and both fell at the battle of Flodden in 1513. The clan also fought bravely for Queen Mary at Pinkie in 1547 and at Langside in 1568.

The latter event brought upon the stage of Scottish history a member of the clan who must always remain famous as one of the greatest of Scottish scholars and men of letters. George Buchanan was the third son of Thomas Buchanan of Mid Leowen, now known as The Moss, on the water of Blane, some two or three miles south of Klllearn. Thomas Buchanan was the second son of Buchanan of Drumakil, through whom he had the blood of a daughter of King Robert III. in his veins. His wife was Agnes Heriot, of the family of Trabroun in Haddingtonshire, and his son George first saw the light in February 1506. Thomas Buchanan of Mid Leowen died early, leaving his widow to struggle valiantly for the upbringing of her eight children by the frugal cultivation of the little estate. At the age of fourteen the future historian was sent by James Heriot, his mother's brother, to pursue his studies at Paris University, but two years later his uncle died, and he was forced to return home. He next joined the forces of the Duke of Albany, to try a soldier's career; but after the hardships of the winter retreat from Wark Castle suffered a severe illness, and gave up sword and buckler. He returned to his studies at St. Andrews and Paris, became preceptor to the young Earl of Cassillis, and afterwards to a natural son of James V. Attacking the corruptions of the Greyfriars in his poem "The Franciscan", he was forced to flee to France in 1539. There he became famous as the greatest of the Scottish scholars who occupied chairs in the continental universities. Among those who boasted of being his pupils was the celebrated Montaigne, while among his friends were the Scaligers, father and son. While imprisoned in Portugal by the Inquisition, he began his famous Latin paraphrase of the Psalms, and he afterwards gained the notice of Mary Queen of Scots by a poem on her marriage to the Dauphin. On her return to Scotland, the Queen chose Buchanan as her Latin tutor, and conferred upon him the temporalities of Crossraguel Abbey, worth £500 Scots a year. By Mary's brother, the Earl of Moray, he was made Principal of St.Leonard's College at St.Andrews, and from that time onward he remained a supporter of that personage. Upon the fall of the Queen he drew up his notorious "Detection" of her doings. Afterwards, under Moray, he was charged with the education of James VI, and many amusing stories are told of his discipline of his royal pupil. For a time he was Keeper of the Privy Seal, and for long he took a large part in the public affairs of the kingdom; but he is chiefly remembered now by his two great literary works, the treatise, De Jure Regni apud Scotos and his Latin History of Scotland. He died on 28th September 1582, and is esteemed as the last and greatest of the Latinists, and one of the first apostles of modern democracy.

The scholarly tradition of the great Latinist and historian was followed by the twentieth Chief, Sir John Buchanan, who in 1618 mortified a sum of £6,000 Scots for the maintenance of three students of theology in the University of Edinburgh, and a like sum for the maintenance of three students in the University of St.Andrews. In the records of the Burgh of Dunbarton also, this same Sir John appears as the donor of various grants for the erection of a hospital there in 1635 and 1636. His wife was a daughter of Lord Cambuskenneth, grandson of the Earl of Mar. Sir George Buchanan, the twenty-first Chief, commanded the Stirlingshire Regiment in the Civil Wars of Charles I, fought at the battle of Dunbar, and was taken prisoner at Inverkeithing.

The reign of John Buchanan, the twenty-second Chief, proved disastrous to his house. Some of his proceedings, as narrated by the family historian, possess not a little of the character of conventional melodrama. On the death of his first wife, Mary Erskine, daughter of Lord Cardross, he was left with a daughter, Elizabeth, who appears to have possessed a will of her own. First he attempted to make a match for himself with the daughter of Sir John Colquhoun of Luss, but the young lady jilted him and married Stirling of Keir, which threw Buchanan into a palsy that troubled him till his death. He next arranged a match between his daughter and the son of Buchanan of Arnpryor, and broke the entail of his estate in order to leave it to the pair; but the plan was spoilt by the young lady refusing her consent. To punish her, he made a disposition of his estate to Arnpryor, but, going to Bath just then, fell in love with a Miss Jean Pringle, and married her. He thereupon cancelled the disposition, and made an enemy of Arnpryor. He next arranged a marriage for his daughter with his old friend, Major Grant, Governor of Dunbarton Castle, to whom he made a disposition of his estate; but again the girl indignantly refused. Grant and he thereupon arranged to sell the Highland part of the estate to clear it of debt. Arnpryor then, as Buchanan's man of business, so manipulated matters that at the death of the Chief in 1682, the whole estate had to be sold. It was acquired by the third Marquess of Montrose, grandson of the great Scottish general of Charles the First's time. Buchanan House, near the mouth of the Endrick, the ancient seat of the Chiefs, then became the seat of the Montrose family, and remained so till about 1870, when it was destroyed by fire, and was replaced by the present Buchanan Castle. Parts of the old mansion still remain, and possess considerable interest of their own.

Elizabeth, daughter of the last Laird of Buchanan, it is interesting to note, married James Stewart of Ardvorlich, while her half-sister married Henry Buchanan of Leny.

It was probably owing to the break in the direct line of the chiefship that the clan took no part in the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745, which perhaps was not an unfortunate circumstance for the bearers of the name.

On the failure of the direct line, the representation of the ancient race fell to the nearest heir-male of the family. There is reason to believe that Auchmar's account of the clan, published in 1723, had really for its purpose the advocacy of its author's own claim to the chiefship as head of the most recent cadet branch of the family, and therefore nearest in blood to the last of the main line. Nisbet in his Heraldry indicated a different destination. It was not till a hundred years later, however, that an authoritative claim was made. In that printed claim it was declared that the Auchmar branch of the family had become extinct, and that the chiefship had therefore fallen to the next nearest cadet branch, that of Buchanan of Spital or Easter Catter, the old estate of the Knights Templar in Drymen parish. This family had also come to possess the lands of an earlier cadet branch, that of Leny. Thomas Buchanan, tenth laird of Spital, had married, first, Katherine, ultimate heiress of Henry Buchanan of Leny, and secondly, Elizabeth, heiress of John Hamilton of Bardowie. His son, Colonel John Buchanan of Leny and Spital had, on inheriting the estate of Bardowie, assumed the name of Hamilton. In 1818 he was succeeded by his brother, Francis Buchanan, M.D., an author and man of science, who is said to have known more about India and its civil and natural history than any European of his time, and who also assumed the name Hamilton. On 9th July 1828, Dr. Buchanan was served heir male to his great-gt-gt-gt-gt-gt-gt-grandfather, Walter Buchanan of Spital, and established his claim, the Arnpryor branch being extinct, as Chief of the Clan Buchanan. The individual through whom he counted descent was Walter, third son of Walter, the fifteenth Chief of Buchanan, who became laird of the property of Spital in 1519, as well as from John, third son of the twelfth Chief, already mentioned. According to the tradition of the Leny family, it long held possession of these lands by the preservation of a small sword with which its ancestor first acquired them. Whoever had the custody of this weapon and a tooth of St. Fillan was presumed to have a right to the estate. The sword was abstracted from Leny in 1745.

The Buchanans of Leny have had an even more turbulent history than the direct line of their original house on Loch Lomondside. One incident of that history is recorded on a tombstone still to be seen in the little kirkyard of Balquhidder, near Strathyre, in what was at one time the MacLaurin country. At a certain Fair in the Leny territory, it is said, a MacLaurin "innocent" suffered the indignity of being struck across the face with the tail of a new-caught salmon. The "innocent" could do little to avenge the insult, but with a loose tongue he declared that his assailant dared not try the same trick at the next fair in the MacLaurin country at Balquhidder. The episode was promptly forgotten by the "innocent", but Balquhidder Fair had scarcely begun when a band of Buchanans was seen coming, fully armed, up the road from Strathyre. Forthwith the Fiery Cross was sent round, the MacLaurins mustered, and a battle took place at Auchinleskine, The MacLaurins were getting the worst of it when their Chief saw his son cut down. Claymore in hand, he shouted his battle-cry, his clan were filled with the" miri-cath", or madness of battle, and attacked so furiously that all the invading Buchanans were slain. The last two, who tried to escape by swimming the Balvaig, were shot with arrows, and the spot is still pointed out as the Linn-nan-Seichachan the "pool of flight".

The Buchanans of Loch Lomondside were not however, without their feuds and tragedies. Walter, the first Laird of Spital, had an illegitimate brother, known as Mad Robert of Ardwill. This individual got his sobriquet from a curious incident. He had undertaken, under a heavy penalty, to secure a certain malefactor for the Laird. The malefactor died, and Robert's surety was called upon to pay up. Mad Robert, however, dug up the corpse, carried it to the court, and duly claimed to have performed his undertaking,

Of the various septs of the Clan, MacAuslans, MacCalmans and others, many interesting stories might be told. Chief of these septs probably are the MacMillans, descended, it is believed, from Methlan, a brother of Gillebrid de Buchanan, the first of the surname, in the time of King Alexander II. The MacMillans originally lived around Loch Tay, with Lawers on the north shore for their chief seat. From that region, however, they were driven out by the Chalmerses in the reign of David II. The MacMillan Chief of that time had ten sons, who settled in various parts of the country. The Chief was MacMillan of Knapdale in Argyllshire, who, it is said, had a charter from the Lord of the Isles engraved on the top of a rock; and at the chapel of Kilmory, which was built by the family, is still to be seen the finely carved MacMillan's Cross. For the slaughter of an overbearing incomer, Marallach Mor, a son of MaaMillan of Knapdale, had to leave the country, and settled beside Loch Arkaig in Lochaber, where, under the name of MacGille Veol, he and his descendants performed many doughty deeds as supporters of Lochiel. They could raise no fewer than a hundred fighting men to support that Chief's cause, and proved themselves ever ready to take part in the most desperate enterprises. The MacMillans are said to have lost their Knapdale estate by taking part with their superior, Macfronald of the Isles, in the cause of the rebel Earl of Douglas against King James II in 1455.

The MacCalmans derive their descent from a brother of Gillebrid and Methlan, who settled on Loch Etive side in the time of Alexander III, and there is evidence that John Ruskin, the famous writer, was one of the race.

Another interesting branch of the Clan is that of Buchanan of Drumakil, now represented by Sir Alexander Leith Buchanan of The Ross on Loch Lomondside. This latter property was acquired in 1624 by Walter Buchanan of Drumakil, uncle or cousin of George Buchanan the historian, and it was within the walls of the mansion that, after the rebellion of 1745, the Marquis of Tullibardine, elder brother of the second Duke of Athol, was taken prisoner. On being seized, he is said to have uttered the prophecy, "There will be Murrays on the Braes of Atholl when there is never a Buchanan at The Ross !" And, sure enough, the male line of the Buchanans of The Ross presently came to an end. The heiress, Jean Buchanan of The Ross, married Hector, son of Colin MacDonald of Boisdale, who reunited by purchase different properties which had been alienated from the family estate. At his seat of Ross Priory, he frequently entertained his brother Clerk of Session, Sir Walter Scott, and the present laird is the grandson of his second daughter.

Among more modern members of the Clan who have attained distinction are Douglas Buchanan, the Gaelic Cowper, who was a catechist at Kinloch Rannoch in 1755; Dr. Claudius Buchanan, who died in 1815, famous among the first of those who induced the British nation to send the blessings of education and religion to our Indian empire; Sir George Buchanan, the famous physician and scientist, whose reports are among the classics of sanitary literature; and Robert Buchanan, the famous poet and novelist of our own time.

Still another chapter of the Clan's history may be said to have been begun by a holder of the name who left his native strath at the end of the seventeenth century. George Buchanan was the younger son of Andrew Buchanan, Laird of Gartacharan, near Drymen. Migrating to Glasgow to push his fortune, he took part with the Covenanters at the battle of Bothwell Bridge, and had a reward set upon his head. After the Revolution, however, he appeared as a prosperous maltster in the town, and was second Deacon-Convener of the Trades' House, in the time of William and Mary, The old maltster had four sons, all of whom played a striking part in the foundation of Glasgow's prosperity. They were George Buchanan of Moss and Auchintoshan, Andrew Buchanan of Drumpellier, Archibald Buchanan of Silverbanks or Auchintorlie, and Neil Buchanan of Hillington. All four brothers became great Glasgow merchants, and built splendid mansions in the city. George was City Treasurer in 1726, Andrew became Dean of Guild and Lord Provost, and in 1725 the four brothers founded the Buchanan Society, now the oldest charitable institution in Glasgow, with the exception of Hutchesons' Hospital. The Society has a handsome income from funds of its own. It has supported many a promising youth of the Buchanan Clan or its septs through college to a useful career in the world, and the amount of solid good that it has done in the couple of centuries since it was founded must remain beyond computation. At the present hour the Society is a large and thriving brotherhood, and its annals, begun by the late Mr. Gray Buchanan, and now on the eve of publication under the editorship of Dr. R.M. Buchanan, are certain to excite wide interest, as they will form the latest chapter in the long history of this ancient Clan.


Colman Donlevy Dove Dowe Dow Gibb Gilbertson Gilson Harper
Harperson Lennie Macaldonich Macandeoir MacAuslan MacCalman MacCalmont MacCammond MacChruiter
MacColman MacCormack Macdonleavy MacGibbon Macgreusich MacIndoer MacGilbert Macinally Macindoe
MacMaster MacMaurice MacMurchie MacMurchy Macnuyer MacWattie MacWhirter Masterson Murchie
Murchison Risk Ruskin Spittal Spittel Watson Watt Yuill

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