According to legend, the ancient family of Buchanan are descended from an Irish noble, Anselan O’Kyan, who is said to have settled in modern-day Scotland in the 11th century.
Granted land in Lennox by Malcolm III, Anselan’s ancestors would slowly gain the respect of the Scottish nobility and would be granted further lands by the King in 1225 – when they were given the island of Clareinch, on Loch Lomond.
It is here that the council of Buchanan is said to have met to decide to change the family surname to the iconic ‘Buchanan’ and they would then go on to fight on the side of Robert the Bruce during the Scottish Wars of Independence, continuing their growth to become one of the country’s strongest families.
Continuing their strong links to battle, the clan chief, Sir Alexander Buchanan, would then leave Scotland to fight alongside the French at the Battle of Beauge in Normandy in 1421. It is here that the clan are said to have gained part of their crest as Sir Alexander killed the Duke of Clarence and bore off his coronet as a trophy – giving licence for the family to use a ducal cap held aloft on their heraldry.
This line of the Buchanan family would survive until the 17th century – when it would finally become extinct. However, this would not be the end of the family, as another branch, the Buchanans of Arnprior, would survive in Perthshire. Controversially, the head of the Buchanans of Arnprior is said to have confiscated a delivery of venison as it was transported to Stirling Castle to be eaten by King James. Reportedly, he stated that if James was King in Scotland, he was King in Drymen (the location of the clan’s seat). Hearing of this, the King would arrive at Drymen, scaring the Buchanan’sof Arnprior so much that they would be forced to win the King over with a lavish dinner, such was their fright.
Lacking a chief, the Buchanans would then become the first clan to establish a society in 1725. Founded by a group of businessmen, it was originally set up with the aim of helping less fortunate clan members with education and apprenticeships. The society also owns a number of important clan buildings and lands.
The clan finally ended a 337-year wait without a chief in 2018 when the Lord Lyon gave John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan the title. Therefore, the current clan seat is his home at Cambusmore in Stirling.