Select Buchanan Miscellany

Here are some Buchanan stories and accounts over the years:

Buchanan Clan Origins

William Buchanan of Auchmar in his 1728 An Historical and Genealogical Essay upon the Family and Surname of Buchanan gave the following account of the origins of the Buchanan clan.

“The Clan Buchanan, though located in the Highlands of Scotland, derives its origin from the O’Kanes of county Derry in Ireland.  The story is briefly thus.

Asian Buidhe O'Kane was one of the Irish youths who, dressed in the habit of ladies, had attended the celebrated banquet given by Turgesius, the Danish general, to his officers; and who, with concealed daggers under their dresses, dispatched their brutal enemies while they imagined they had in prospect only scenes of drunken licentiousness.

When the Danes recovered from the surprise into which they had been thrown by the slaughter of their leaders, they inflicted terrible revenge upon the native Irish.  Asian O'Kane with a small band of attendants passed over to the north of Argyllshire near the Lennox where he settled.  Soon afterwards they distinguished himself in the service of the Scottish monarch in two battles against the Danes of England.

Extensive lands were consequently assigned to Asian and his followers, who during two centuries afterwards were called McAuslan, this having been the original designation of the clan Buchanan.  The name of Buchanan appears in the first instance to have been territorial – buth chanain - and it was not until the 13th century that it was assumed as a surname.  A portion of the clan, however, still retained their ancient family name of McAuslan.”

How true the scenes described in Ireland is unclear.  They may have been made up.  However, it is believed that the first McAuslan did cross from Ireland to Scotland in the year 1016.

John Buchanan, The King of Kippen

John Buchanan, the second son of Walter Buchanan the 14th of Buchanan, became proprietor of Arnprior and afterwards the noted "King of Kippen,” a phrase which originated in a whimsical episode between himself and James V.  This story was recounted as follows by Sir Walter Scott:

“When James V travelled in disguise he used a name which was known only to some of his principal nobility and attendants.  He was called the Goodman (the tenant, that is) of Ballengiech, a steep pass which leads down behind Stirling Castle.

Once upon a time when he was feasting in Stirling, the King sent for some venison from the neighboring hills.  The deer were killed and put on horse’s backs, to be transported to Stirling.  Unluckily they had to pass the castle gates of Arnpryor belonging to a chief of the Buchanans who had a considerable number of guests with him. 

The chief, seeing so much fat venison passing his very door, seized on it; and to the expostulations of the keepers, who told him it belonged to King James, he answered insolently that if James was King in Scotland, he, Buchanan, was King in Kippen.

On hearing what had happened, the King got on horseback and rode instantly from Stirling to Buchanan's house, where he found a strong fierce looking Highlander with an axe on his shoulder standing sentinel at the door. This grim warder refused the King admittance, saying that the Laird of Arnpryor was at dinner and would not be disturbed. 

‘Yet go up to the company my good friend,’ said the King, ‘and tell him that the Goodman of Ballengiech is come to feast with the King of Kippen.’ 

The porter went grumbling into the house and told his master that there was a fellow with a red beard who called himself the Goodman of Ballengiech at the gate.  He said he was come to dine with the King of Kippen.

As soon as Buchanan heard these words, he knew that the King was there in person and hastened down to kneel at James's feet and to ask forgiveness for his insolent behaviour.  But the King, who only meant to give him a fright, forgave him freely and going into the castle feasted on his own venison which Buchanan had intercepted.  Buchanan of Arnpryor was ever afterwards called the King of Kippen."

The Buchanan Society

The Buchanan Society is a charitable organisation that was established in 1725 in Glasgow for the needy of the Buchanan clan.The founders of the society were the four sons of Glasgow merchant and whisky distiller George Buchanan, each an important merchant in his own right: 

  • George Buchanan of Moss and Auchentoshan (maltman and Glasgow treasurer)  
  • Andrew Buchanan of Dumpellier (tobacco lord and Glasgow provost)  
  • Archibald Buchanan of Silverbanks and Auchentortie (tobacco lord)  
  • and Neil Buchanan of Hillington (tobacco lord and Glasgow MP).
Later, from all corners of the globe, contemporary clan folk and friends of the clan of all professions and occupations have supported this charity.

The society is funded by an entry fee paid by each member of the society, gifts and interest from investments.  Its original charter specified charity to those of the name Buchanan and recognised septs by assisting boys to trades and those of promising genius at their studies to university.  Except that girls are now eligible for assistance, the goals have remained largely unchanged.

The society has held many clan heirlooms.  The society also owns the Buchanan Monument in Killeam and the Loch Lomond island of Clairinch

The Andrew Buchanan Family Passage from Ireland to Canada

It was the time of the Great Family in Ireland and Andrew Buchanan decided to leave home with his family in county Tyrone for new hopes in the New World.  Andrew and his wife had seven sons – William, Charles, Andrew, Richard, James, John, and Samuel – and a daughter Jane.  They sold their belongings in Ireland in 1847 and bought passage to Canada.

The ship had been at sea for about ten days when it was so badly damaged in a storm that it had to return for repairs.  On the second attempt the Atlantic was crossed successfully, but at a great cost.  An outbreak of immigrant fever (typhus) took the lives of about 20 people on board and the ship was quarantined in Kingston, Ontario.  Some of the Buchanan family got very ill when they disembarked.  The father Andrew died there, and also William’s first child, a young daughter.  They were buried in the pioneer cemetery in Kingston.

The remainder of the family traveled to Esqueising where they worked during the harvest season.  The men then went further, mainly on foot, first to Stratford and then to an area of crown land for new settlement.  There they started clearing land and building log shanties and dugouts.  A descendant remarked:

“How they ever grew enough to eat in the first few years has always puzzled me.  That part of the country was a dense forest of huge trees.”

In 1851 their area was surveyed and named Elma township in Perth county.

James Buchanan, The Gay US President

While his biographers have maintained that Buchanan was asexual or celibate, more recent commentators have put forward arguments that he was homosexual.

A source of this interest has been Buchanan's close and intimate relationship with William Rufus King, the Alabama senator who became Vice President under Franklin Pierce.  The two men lived together in a Washington boarding house for 10 years from 1834 until King's departure for France in 1844.

King referred to the relationship as a "communion" and the two attended social functions together.  Contemporaries noted the closeness.   Andrew Jackson called them "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy," the former being a 19th-century euphemism for an effeminate man.  Buchanan adopted King's mannerisms and his romanticized view of southern culture.

In 1844, after King had left for France, Buchanan wrote to Cornelia Roosevelt:

"I am now 'solitary and alone,' having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them.  I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and I should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection."

There is little correspondence between the two men for historians to pour over, as the men's nieces largely destroyed it.

Pat Buchanan's Ancestry

Pat Buchanan had a great grandfather who fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War.  This is why he is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and an admirer of Robert E. Lee. 

Pat Buchanan was born in Pennsylvania, but has southern roots.  Of his southern ancestry, Buchanan has written: 

“I have family roots in the South, in Mississippi.  When the Civil War came, Cyrus Baldwin enlisted and did not survive Vicksburg.  William Buchanan of Okolona, who would marry Baldwin’s daughter, fought at Atlanta and was captured by General Sherman.  William Baldwin Buchanan was the name given to my father and by him to my late brother. 

As a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I have been to their gatherings.  I spoke at their 2001 convention in Lafayette, Louisiana. The Military Order of the Stars and Bars presented me with a battle flag and a wooden canteen like the ones my ancestors carried."

Return to Top of Page
Return to Buchanan Main Page