A Short History of the Clan Buchanan

It is said that, after seven centuries of raiding, the Danes under Swein the Fork Beard took control of most of England and Ireland in 1013 - 1014. His son, Canute, (944 - 1035) was to become King of England. Swein ordered celebrations to be held in Limerick, Western Ireland (now Eire) and instructions were given for one thousand beautiful daughters of the Irish nobility to be present. In their stead the same numbers of Irish youths were dispatched, disguised in women’s habits with long Irish skeans (daggers) below their cloaks.

A massacre of the Danes followed. One of the leaders of these youths was Anselan Buey OKyan or Ocahan (pronounced Okane), son of the King of Ulster, (roughly modern Northern Ireland). In 1016, as a result of this exploit, he fled Ireland and emigrated to Argyll in Western Scotland.

Once in Scotland he assisted King Malcolm II of Scotland (1005 – 1034) in several battles and was rewarded with lands in the Lennox on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond.  Originally known as the MacAusland, the clan took on the place name Buchquhanane in the mid 13th century. The Name BUCHANAN is probably derived from the Gaelic, Buchquhanane, meaning “low ground belonging to the Canon”.

In 1314 the Clan supported King Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in Scotland’s War of Independence against England.  A Charter of 1353 exists which refers to “carucate of land called Buchquhaane”. Help was given to the French King after his defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and it is still claimed that Sir Alexander Buchanan killed the English Duke of Clarence at the Battle of Baugé in 1421. It is because of this act that the Buchanan crest shows a right hand and arm holding aloft a Ducal cap.

The Chief of the Buchanan Clan, and many Clansmen, died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, when King James IV was killed. George Buchanan, the famous Latin scholar, humanist, reformer, and tutor to Mary Queen of Scots was born near Killearn in 1506. The Clan took part in the Battle of Pinkie in 1547 and the Battle of Langside in 1568. James Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States.

The succession from Anselan was uninterrupted to John Buchanan, the 22nd Laird who died in 1681.  Along with his death the Title “of that Ilk” expired and since then the Chiefship has been dormant.

Ten years after the Jacobite Rebellion in 1715 the Buchanan Society was formed and it remains the oldest such society in Scotland. In the United States the Clan Buchanan Society International was formed at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina in 1970.