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Buchanan Clan Badge

Buchanan Clan Badge

War Cry: Clar Innis (our island in Loch Lomond)
Mottoes:  Clarior Hinc Honos (Henceforth the honor grows ever brighter)
                 Audaces Juvo (I help the brave)
CBSI Motto: Collegite Fragmenta Ne Pereant (Gather the pieces lest they be lost)
District: Stirling - eastward from the shores of Loch Lomond
Plant badge:  Bilberry or Oak

CBSI official tartan:  Modern Buchanan

A Short History of the name 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 as Anselan O'Kyan, a nobleman from Ulster at the dawn of the eleventh century.

As the story is told, 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 Ydna 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.

So it is likely that the origins of the Clan are Celtic and lie in the ancient kingdoms of Dal Raida and Scotia.

Our forebears were on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond and in modern Stirlingshire beginning in 1016. 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 Gilbert de Buchanan, 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 Buchananne. 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 Bruce, and was, as a result, rewarded again with honors and lands. Robert the Bruce, after his defeat at Dalree by the Macdougals, 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.

A significant honor was achieved when Sir Alexander Buchanan fought alongside the French in the One Hundred Years War against the English.  In the year 1421 a force of Scots led by John Stewart, 2nd Earl of Buchan met an English force led by King Henry V's brother, Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence in the French town of Bauge. During the battle Sir Alexander Buchanan met the Duke of Clarence on a bridge and struck him a fatal blow with his mace.  Having dispatched the Duke, Buchanan seized the Duke's jeweled gold coronet, placed it on the tip of his lance and raising it aloft rallying the Scottish troops and inflicting significant casualties upon the English.  The English troops retreated, giving the victory to the Scots with very few Scottish casualties.

 As a reward the Buchanans were granted a crest which contained a right hand holding aloft the coronet of a duke wreathed by two laurel branches. This has since become our Buchanan Clan Badge and is able to be worn by all clan members. *See above.
Note: In some historical accounts Sir Alexander is referred to as Sir Alexander Macausland of Lennox but it is believed it is the same person.

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 favorably. This time the strategy was unsuccessful. He proposed to marry the daughter of Sir John Colchoun 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.


In September 2018 John Michael Buchanan was confirmed by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, head of the Lyon Court in Scotland as 23rd Chief of the Name and Arms of Buchanan. He is the first Chief of the Clan in 337 years.


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 favor 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 several sources:
The official William of Auchmar (1723)
The Alan McNie (1988)
The Geo. Eyre-Todd (1923)
John Ouderkirk, Jr.
Ross Buchanan
David Byrne