From the district of the name in Stirlingshire. The original name of the Buchanans was MACAUSLAN, Buchanan of Aucmar (in 1723) says the original patronymic was retained by the eldest cadet when disused by the rest of the clan, but in the old genealogical tree of the Buchanans, of date 1602, the first Buchanan mentioned is " Sir Valtir vat conquest pairt of te landis frae ye Mauslanis" (Strahendrick, p.284). ('Conquest' is an old Scots law term meaning the acquisition of real property in other ways than by inheritance.)

Dominus Absolone de Buckkan witnessed a charter by Malcolm, earl of Lennox to Sir Robert Herthford, precentor of Glasgow, a.1224 (RMP., p.217). Alan de Buchanan was one of the witnesses to a charter of lands of Gartechonerane to Malcolm Macedolf c. 1270 (Levenax, p.84). Malcolm de Bougheannan who rendered homage, 1296 (Bain, II, p.205)is probably Malcolm Macabsolon, one of the witnesses to a charter by Earl Malcolm to Sir John of Luss, 1316. Walter de Buchanan had a grant of Auchmarr in 1373 (Levenax, p.59). Maurice Buchanan, who acted as treasurer to Princess Margaret, wife of the Dauphin of France (afterwards Louis XI) is reputed to have been the author of the Book of Pluscarden.

George Buchanan (1506-82) was a Latin Scholar of European fame, and James Buchanan (1791-1868), fifteenth president of the United States was of Scottish ancestry. Amongst the Pensylvania Germans, Buchanan is used as an Englishing of Buchenhain.

Balquhannan 1566, Balquhannen 1553, Bochannane 1627, Boquhannan and Buchcquhannan 1536, Boquhenan 1621, Boquhennane 1622, Bowhanan and Bowhannan 1562, Buchquhannane 1526, Buchquannan 1525, Buchunnuch 1662, Bucquannane 1622, Bucquahannane 1492, Buhannane 1588, Buquhannan 1512, Buquhannane 1611.

For an alternative source of the name :

Entry in History of Scotland


Buchanan, a surname belonging to a numerous clan in Stirlingshire, and the country on the north side of Loch Lomond. The reputed founder of the Buchanans was Anselan, son of O'Kyan, king of Ulster in Ireland, who is said to have been compelled to leave his native country, by the incursions of the Danes, and take refuge in Scotland. He landed, with some attendants, on the northern coast of Argyleshire, near the Lennox, about the year 1016, and having, according to the family tradition, in all such cases made and provided, lent his assistance to King Malcolm the Second in repelling his old enemies the Danes, on two different occasions of their arrival in Scotland, he received from that king for his services, a grant of land in the north of Scotland. The improbable character of this genealogy is manifested by its farther stating that the aforesaid Anselan married the heiress of the lands of Buchanan, a lady named Dennistoun; for the Dennistouns, deriving their name from lands given to a family of the name of Danziel, who came into Scotland with Alan the father of the founder of the abbey of Paisley, and the first dapifer, seneschal, or steward of Scotland, no heiress of that name could have been in Scotland until long after the period here referred to. It is more probable that a portion of what afterwards became the estate of Buchanan formed apart of some royal grant as being connected with the estates of the earls of Lennox, whom Skene and Napier have established to have been remotely connected with the royal family of the Canmore line, and to have been in the first instance administrators, on the part of the crown, of the lands which were afterwards bestowed upon them.

The name of Buchanan is territorial, and is now that of a parish in Stirlingshire, which was anciently called Incheaileoch, ('old woman's island,') from an island of that name in Loch Lomond, on which in earlier ages there was a nunnery, and latterly the parish church for a century after the Reformation. In 1621 a detached part of the parish of Luss, which comprehends the lands of the family of Buchanan, was included in this parish, when the chapel of Buchanan was used for the only place of worship, and gave the name to the whole parish.

We have not a doubt that the name Buchanan has the same origin as the word BUCHAN, being its diminutive of Buchanino or Buquhanino, the little Buquhan or cattle-growing district.

Eminent Families

Anselan (in the family genealogies styled the third of that name) the seventh laird of Buchanan, and the sixth in descent from the above-named Irish prince, but not unlikely to be the first of the name, which is Norman French, is dignified in the same records with the magniloquent appellation of seneschal or chamberlain to Malcolm the first earl of Levenax (as Lennox was then called). He and two of his sons, Gilbert and Methlen, are witnesses to a charter granted by the same earl to Gilmore son of Maoldonicli, of the lands of Luss, in the reign of King Alexander the Second, a nobleman of no great influence or power, descended from administrators of one of the abthaneships of Dull, or royal lands reverting to the crown by demise of younger branches, in which charter they are more correctly designed the earl's clients or vassals. In 1225, this Anselan obtained from the same earl a charter of a email island in Lochiomond called Clareinch, witnesses Dougal, Gilebrist, and Amalyn, the earl's three brothers, the name of which island afterwards became the rallying cry of the Buchanans. The same Anselan is also mentioned as a witness in a charter granted by the earl of Lennox of the lands of Dalmanoch in mortification to the old church of Kilpatrick, by the designation of Absalon de Buchanan, Absalon being the same as Anselan. He had three sons, viz. Mothlen, ancestor of the MacMillans; Colman, ancestor of the MacColmans; and his successor Gilbert.

His eldest son, Gilbert, or Gillebrid, appears to have home the surname of Buchanan There is a charter of confirmation of that of Clareincli, and some other lands of Buchanan, granted in favour of this Gilbert by King Alexander the Second in the seventeenth year of his reign, and of our Lord 1231. The same Gilbert is also witness to a charter, by Malcolm earl of Lennox, to the abbot and monks of Paisley, dated at Renfrew in 1274. (Chartularly of Dumbartonshire.) continued....

Entry in Scottish Surnames by Donald Whyte


BUCHANAN Clarinch, an island in Loch Lomond, opposite Balmaha, was granted in 1225 by the Early of Lennox, to Absolon or Anselan, son of MacBeth. He took his name from lands on the shore supposed to mean in Gaelic, 'house of the canon'. He may have belonged to one of the old families of the Celtic Church. 'Clarinch' became the war cry of the Buchanans. Tradition tells us that the chief's surname was originally McAuselan, a name retained by a collateral line. Those of the 'stem' family adopted a territorial designation: Mac-a Chanonaich, in Gaelic.

In 1282, the Earl of Lennox granted a charter to Maurice de Bouchannane, confirming him in his lands and giving him the right to hold courts. The Buchanan chiefs held the lands for another 400 years. Maurice, son of Maurice, had a chatter of the carucate of land called Bouchannane, with the land of Sallachy, by Donald, 6th Earl of Lennox, confirmed under the Great Seal in 1371. His descendant, Sir Alexander; went to France with the Earl of Buchan to assist against the English, and was killed at Verneuil in 1421. He was succeeded by his brother; Walter of Buchanan. A younger brother; John, was ancestor of Henry Buchanan of Leny, from whose daughter descended the Buchanans of Lany and Bardowie. Walter married Isobel, daughter of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, and had two sons: Walter; his heir, and Thomas, progenitor of the Buchanans of Drumakill, from whom descended George Buchanan, 1506-82, the great Latinist. Walter's eldest son, Patrick was killed at Flodden in 1513, and his eldest son George succeeded to Buchanan. From his younger son Walter; descended the Buchanans of Spittal. George was sheriff of Dunbartonshire, and fought at Pinkie in 1547. His son John died before him, and was succeeded by his son Sir George Buchanan, from whose half-brother; William came the Auchmar family. Sir George's grandson, also Sir George, was involved in the Civil War; and died a prisoner of Cromwell in 1651. John Buchanan, the last laird, sold his ancestral estate in 1682 to the Marquess of Montrose.

From the Spittal and Lany lines of the family descended Dr Francis Hamilton Buchanan, who established his claim to the chiefship in 1826, but his grandson John died in 1919, without issue. A branch of the Buchanans of Lany held the estates of Ardinconnal and Auchintorlie, in Dunbartonshire, and four brothers - George, merchant in Glasgow; Andrew of Drumpelier; Neil of Hillington, and Archibald of Auchintorlie - were the promoters of the Buchanan Society in 1725: the oldest organisation of its kind. From Archibald descended Sir Andrew Buchanan, created a Baronet of the UK, in 1878. The 5th Baronet of Dunburgh is Sir Andrew George Buchanan, Lord Lt. of Nottinghamshire since 1991. The Leith (-Buchanan) baronets (created UK, 1763), descend from Alexander Leith, of Aberdeen. The additional surname of Buchanan was added by Sir Alexander Leith, 3rd Baronet, who married in 1832, Jemima, daughter of Hector MacDonald Buchanan of Ross.

Dugald Buchanan, 1716~8, son of a Strathyre miller and farmer; became a teacher at Kinloch Rannoch, and wrote Gaelic poetry of high quality. James Buchanan, 1791-1868, 15th President of the USA, was son of James Buchanan, who emigrated from Donegal, Ireland, to Pennsylvania, and is said to have been a descendant of Thomas Buchanan, an Ulster-Scot.

Tom Paterson - Last updated 25 Jan 2019