Clan Buchanan Society International

Williamsburg , Virginia

The Clan Buchanan Society International, Inc. (CBSI)

The CBSI was formed in 1970 as the Clan Buchanan Society in America.  It was founded at the Grandfather Mountain Games in North Carolina.  The name was later changed to the Clan Buchanan Society International Inc., to reflect our society's expanded purpose and membership.

The Buchanan at the New Hampshire Highland Games 2019, by Regan Byrne

The society is currently divided into fifteen regions with many members active throughout the United States and the world.  The wonderful thing about the CBSI is that any person who is of Buchanan descent or one of the Septs can join and celebrate their Scottish heritage with many links to Buchanan activities, genealogists, etc.  We also accept people who know they are of Scottish descent but are not sure what their clan or history might be!

Why choose to be a member?
*  First and foremost is pride in being Scottish,
*  Second is a wonderful magazine that comes out several times a year to keep you up on what’s going on in Buchanan land,
*  Third is the access to help you in doing genealogy if that is your hobby,
*  Fourth, is the comradeship that you have with your fellow clanmates.
Many people have watched the movie Brave Heart and have wondered if they are Scottish?
Our society promotes Scottish heritage and activities. Scotland and its people have given the world a lot of things to make modern civilization go.

Clan Buchanan members from the USA, Australia, South Africa, and all four countries of the United Kingdom, pose before making their way up to the 2017 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle.  Clan Buchanan was the honoured Clan for the event.

“ In 2017 the organizers of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo invited all Scottish Clans to come and participate in the event under the banner “ A splash of tartan.”

Clan Buchanan answered to call via CBSI and on the evening of the 21'st of August, 47 clan members from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, the USA and all corners of the UK assembled in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. Along with Clans MacGregor and Hannay, we marched under military command through the castle grounds and across the drawbridge onto the esplanade where the crowd of 8000 spectators roared their approval. In unison, we gave the battle cry  “Clar Innes” before taking our place on the red carpet to receive the traditional Gaelic toast.

George McAusland, acting as honorary Clan Buchanan Chief, taking the Gaelic Chiefs toast, with the Chiefs from Clan MacGregor and Clan Hannay on the night at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, 2017. 

If Your Name is Here... You are a Buchanan
Bohannon, Calman, Colman, Cormack, Cousland, Dewar, Dove, Dow, Gibb, Gibbon, Gibson, Gilbert, Gilbertson, Harper, Harperson, Leavy, Lennie, Lenny, MacAldonich, MacAlman, MacAslan, MacAslin, MacAuselan, MacAuslan, MacAusland, MacAuslane, MacAlman, MacAlmont, MacAmmond, MacAsland, MacChruiter, MacCalman, MacColman, MacCormack, MacCubbin, MacCubbing, MacCubin, MacGeorge, MacGibbon, MacGreuisich, MacGubbin, MacInally, MacIndeor, MacIndoe, MacKinlay, MacKinley, MacMaster, MacMaurice, MacMurchie, MacMurchy, MacNeur, MacNuir, MacNuyer, MacQuattie, MacWattie, MacWhirter, Masters, Masterson, MacCaslin, Morrice, Morris, Morrison*, Murchie, Murchison, Richardson, Risk, Rush, Rusk, Ruskin, Spittal, Spittel, Walter, Walters, Wason, Waters, Watson, Watt, Watters, Weir, Yuill, Yool, Yule, Zuill.

*Refers to Morrison of Perthshire only. All other Morrisons should see Clan Morrison.

A Short History of Clan Buchanan
By John Ouderkirk, Jr. (edited by David Byrne & Kevin "Buck" Buchanan)

The name of Clan Buchanan is almost alone among those of Highland families because it derived from the lands upon which the Clan settled, and not from a personal ancestor. Clan mythology names the founder of the family was Anselan O'Kyan, a nobleman from Ulster at the dawn of the eleventh century.

O'Kyan began his military career in Ireland by leading a raid on the Danish general Turgesius at Limerick. At the time, Canute the Dane ruled in England, and in parts of Ireland. On the occasion of Canute's birthday, Turgesuis ordered the whole contingent of Danish officers in Ireland to report to Limerick for a celebration. The Irish king, upon learning this, dispatched a detail to Limerick. The Irish force killed the Danish officers once they became drunk at the celebration, and delivered Limerick to the Irish king. Canute then sent a strong force to Ireland with the intent to punish the Irish who were involved in the incident.
O'Kyan, the leader of the attack, fled to Scotland in 1016, during the reign of King Malcolm II. O'Kyan served Malcolm in the wars against the Norsemen and was rewarded for his service with lands that extended along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and east toward Stirling.

Modern Y-DNA research, however, has not supported this story. In fact, DNA research shows that the origins of the clan go much farther back in Scotland itself. There is a strong DNA link to the Clan MacGregor which seems to indicate a common ancestor

For the next two and one-half centuries, the family name used by Chiefs of the Clan was Macauselan. It was not until 1240, when Gillebrid, who was seneschal to the Earl of Lennox, began to use the name Buchannan, in reference to the name of a territory acquired by the family which was called Buchannane. As late as 1370, the charter to the land was granted to Sir Maurice Macauselan, laird of Buchanan. It was Maurice's grandson who would finally adopt the surname Buchanan.

Sir Maurice adhered firmly with the Bruces, and was, as a result, rewarded again with honours and lands. Robert the Bruce, after his defeat at Dalree by the Macdougall's, took refuge at Buchanan House and was subsequently transported to a place of safety. There is a cave near the shore of Loch Lomond, in Buchanan parish, named King's Cave and it is said that King Robert overnighted in that cave during his journey to Buchanan. Robert II referred to the Laird of Buchanan as our cousin, a phrase used towards men of rank.

This honour was supplemented by the Dauphin of France. Sir Alexander Buchanan, along with the Earl of Buchan, fought with the French in their war against the English in 1420. Buchanan met and killed the English Duke of Clarence during the battle of Bauge. Having dispatched the Duke, Buchanan seized the Duke's jewelled coronet, placed it on the tip of his spear, and rallied the Scottish troops with a token that the English general was dead. Upon seeing the Duke's coronet, the English troops retreated, giving the victory to the Scots with very few Scottish casualties.
As a reward, the Dauphin granted Buchanan a crest which contained a right hand holding aloft the coronet of a duke wreathed by two laurel branches.

A Buchanan during the reign of King James V, one John Buchanan of Arnprior, became known as the King of Kippen.  At the time, James V was residing at Stirling and his carriers were frequently moving goods along the road that passed by Arnprior's house. On one occasion, Buchanan of Arnpryor asked a royal carrier to leave some goods at his house, which Buchanan said he would pay for. The carrier refused to say that the goods he carried were for the King. Finally, Buchanan compelled the carrier to leave the goods, stating that if James is the King of Scotland then I am the King of Kippen.

The carrier dutifully reported the incident and James went to Arnprior to pay Buchanan a visit. When James arrived, Buchanan was at dinner and the porter at the door, who was armed with a battle-axe, refused James' entrance until dinner was finished. James instructed the porter to tell Buchanan that the Good-man of Ballengeich desired to speak with the King of Kippen.

A very humble Buchanan rushed to the gate, welcomed the King and entertained him sumptuously. After this awkward beginning, James and Buchanan became friends. James allowed Buchanan to take whatever provision he required from the royal carriers and entertained Buchanan at Stirling on many occasions. During John Buchanan of Arnpryor's lifetime, he was thereafter referred to as the King of Kippen.

By the time of Sir John Buchanan, the twentieth laird in 1618, the family fortunes were in decline. Although it would take two more generations, Sir John's extensive travels and uncontrolled spending eventually bankrupted the Clan.
The third John Buchanan, the twenty-second laird, was reluctant at first to take the Chieftain's seat, due to the immense debt against the family holdings. He eventually did become Chief. After his first wife died, he attempted to improve the family finances as many of his predecessors had; by marrying favourably. This time the strategy was unsuccessful. He proposed to marry the daughter of Sir John Colquhoun of Luss, but she married someone else before the marriage to Buchanan could be arranged.

John Buchanan did remarry, but not to a woman of nobility. Buchanan and a friend by the name of Major George Grant formed a project to sell the Clan's Highland lands to the Marquis of Montrose to settle the Clan's outstanding debts and preserve the lower barony. Due to the immensity of the debt, this was not enough.

After six hundred and sixty-five years of uninterrupted lineage and twenty-two successive lairds, John Buchanan died in 1682. The house of Buchanan was no more.
Buchanan House, the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan, was then occupied as the seat of the Montrose family until it was destroyed by fire in 1870. There have been attempts over the years to re-establish a Clan Chief, but in every case so far the lineage for such claims has been ruled to be extinguished for lack of documented heirs. In any event, there are no Buchanan lands left on which to sit as the Chief.

Although Clan Buchanan and its successors commercial, political and philanthropic contributions are renowned (i.e., the Buchanan Society in Glasgow), one Buchanan's influence on Scottish history deserves mention.

George Buchanan was born in 1506. He was sent to study in Paris, and then later went to St. Andrews to study logic under John Major (Mair). He was a zealous advocate of the writings of John Knox and wrote many articles and stories (mostly in Latin) of his own while in France.
When Mary Queen of Scots returned from France to Scotland after the death of her husband, she brought Buchanan with her as her assistant in classical studies. Buchanan wrote many criticisms about the church and satires about priestcraft. This lost him the favour of Mary, but nevertheless, he was later called to tutor the young King James VI of Scotland. It is said, that because of Buchanan's teachings when Elizabeth ordered Mary's death James did nothing to intervene.

On this side of the Atlantic, James Buchanan was born in 1791 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was a son of Scots-Irish immigrants who would go on to become the fifteenth President of the United States. His term, which just pre-dated the Civil War, was one of the most difficult and turbulent in American history.

This history is derived from three sources:
William Buchanan of Auchmar, Historical and genealogical essay upon the family and surname of Buchanan (1723)
Alan McNie, Your Clan Heritage: Clan Buchanan (1988)
George Eyre-Todd, The Highland Clans of Scotland; Their History and Traditions (1923)
and from the Clan Buchanan Y-DNA project.

Clan Buchanan Y-DNA Project
The Buchanan DNA project is hosted at Family Tree DNA

Buchanan Heraldry
Clan Buchanan Society International, Inc.

This is a very informal discussion of the progression of the Arms of Buchanan Chiefs.

The earliest references to Arms for the Buchanan's consisted of three boars heads. A boars head often indicated hospitality, I assume in the form of a roasted boar (head and all) on the table. These early references are reflected by the three boar's heads on the Shield of the Clan Buchanan Society International, Inc. as is displayed on the home page of this website.

The Arms changed around 1420 to that of the Rampant Lion or Royal Standard. This was as a result of the marriage of Sir Walter Buchanan (12th Buchanan) to Isobel Stewart, 
daughter of Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland. When Murdoch was executed by James I, the Buchanan's lost their closest claim to the throne of Scotland and in acknowledgment of that loss changed the colour of the lion to black.

Soon thereafter, the exploits of Sir Alexander Buchanan (Walter's brother) earned for the Buchanan's the Clan Badge or Crest we display to this day. Sir Alexander was in France with a corps of Scottish soldiers to aid the French King Charles in a war against the English King Henry IV. At the Battle of Baugé in 1421, Alexander drove his lance through the left eye and skull of the Duke of Clarence who also happened to be Henry's son and heir. Alexander then lifted the Duke's crown or jewelled encrusted cap above his head in victory and signalled the defeat of the English. The upraised hand holding aloft a ducal cap in victory is worn with pride by Buchanan's around the world.

There are some who believe that the French King was so grateful to Alexander that he granted the Buchanans the use of the double tressure flory counterflory around the Black Ram ant Lion resulting in an Arms that is identical to the Royal Standard of Scotland with the exception that instead of red on gold it is black on gold. Claude Buchanan (CBSI Herald at Arms Emeritus) has pointed out, however, that it wasn't for another 200 years - the 1600's - that the double tressure flory counterflory first appears in a Buchanan Coat of Arms. It would seem odd that the Buchanan's would wait that long to display such an honour, casting serious doubt on that myth.

The final touch may have been added to the Arms in 1681 when the last Chieftain of the Clan, John Buchanan died without successors and the Buchanan estates had to be sold to satisfy his debts. The Black Rampant Lion now is seen shedding tears lamenting the loss of the Chieftain and lands.

For a very comprehensive history of the Heraldry of the Buchanan's go to Claude Buchanan's incredible website: Heraldry of the Clan Buchanan

Early Buchanan Heraldry
Early Buchanan seals may have appeared similar to this Boars Head Seal:

The earliest appearance of the Lion in the Buchanan Arms (above) was after the marriage of Walter Buchanan to Isobel Stewart a member of the Scottish Royal Family. Originally it was probably red. This was changed to black after 1425 to mourn the death of Isobel's father, Duke of Albany. With his death, the Buchanan's one claim to the throne of Scotland was lost.   Silver tears have later been added to some representations of the Black Lion, referring to the sadness of Clan Buchanan at not having a Clan Chief since 1680.

The Crest Badge

The Crest Badge of the Buchanans: a ducal cap raised in victory celebrates Sir Alexander Buchanan's victory over the Duke of Clarence (King's son ) at the Battle of Bauge in France; also known and still celebrated in France as "The Day the Scots Saved France".

Buchanan Mottoes
Clarior Hinc Honos = "Henceforth forward the honour shall grow ever brighter" or "Brighter Hence the Honour"

Another well-known motto of the Buchanans is:
Audaces Juvo = I Help the Brave

The Chief's Banner

The double tressure flory and counter flory were added to the Arms in the 1600's probably by John Buchanan of that Ilk. There are some who believe it was awarded by King Charles of France after Sir Alexander's heroic deeds at the Battle of Bauge (the day the Scots saved France), but this is most likely a myt

The complete Heraldic Achievement (Coat of Arms) of John Buchanan of that Ilk.  John was the last Laird of the Clan Buchanan and died in 1681.  This rendering beautifully incorporates all the elements of the Buchanan Arms, Badge/Crest, and Motto.  It was John Buchanan who probably added the double tressure flory counter-flory to a Buchanan Coat of Arms for the first time.
(Courtesy Claude Buchanan)

Clan Symbols
Clan Plant:  Bilberry

Buchanan Tartans
There are a number of Buchanan tartans of different shades, including those illustrated below, most commonly associated with Clan Buchanan; Weathered (Vegetable Dye), Hunting, Ancient and Modern.

Buchanan Hunting Ancient

Buchanan Old Sett Ancient

Buchanan Old Sett Weathered

Tartans of the Septs of Clan Buchanan

Watson Ancient

Weir Ancient

Weir Modern

MacKinlay Ancient

MacKinlay Modern


The Chief of the Names and Arms of Buchanan
John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan of that Ilk
and Arnprior
Chief of the Name and Arms of Buchanan

In August 2018 Michael Buchanan was confirmed by Lord Lyon, King of Arms, head of the Lyon Court in Scotland as 20th Chief of the Name and Arms of Buchanan. He is the first Chief of the Clan in 337 years.

The Buchanan, John Michael Buchanan of that Ilk and Arnprior, was born on 14 September 1958. He is the son of John Neil Buchanan Baillie-Hamilton of Arnprior and Hon. Caroline Barbara Barrie. Michael married The Lady Buchanan, Paula Frances Hickman M.D., daughter of John Hickman, on 22 October 1994. He graduated from Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, with a Master of Arts (M.A.) Michael is the manager of Cambusmore Estate in the Southern Highlands near Callander. He has four children including heir apparent, Angus John Buchanan younger of that Ilk, Bruce, Lucy, and Rory.

The Chief's Standard