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The Buchannan Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: CLARIOR HINC HONOS (Hence the brighter honour)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Buchannan. According to your family’s legend, your ancestors can be traced back to Anselan O’Kyan or Ó Catháin, an Irish noble who is believed to have settled in Alba (Scotland) in the late eleventh century. It is said that he was granted land in the Lennox region by King Malcolm III. During the early thirteenth century, another Anselan served as the Seneschal to the Earl of Lennox and acquired the island of Clareinch on Loch Lomond. This Anselan’s successor, Gilbert, was the first to be known as ‘Buchannan’. The name Buchannan may derive from the Gaelic term “Macachanonaich,” which could suggest clerical origins as it means ‘son of the canon.’ However, there is no definitive evidence supporting this theory.

Your family, the Buchannans, were loyal supporters of Robert the Bruce during the War of Independence. Sir Alexander Buchanan, a prominent member of your family, joined other Scottish nobles and fought for the French against Henry V of England. He participated in the Battle of Beauge in Normandy in 1421, where it is believed that he killed the Duke of Clarence and claimed his coronet as a trophy. This event is depicted in the clan crest, with a cap held aloft. The shield in the clan crest resembles the Royal Arms of Scotland and symbolizes the marriage of Sir Walter Buchanan to the only daughter of Murdoch, Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland. Murdoch was executed by his cousin, James I, in 1425, and the Buchannans were the closest relatives to this disinherited branch of the royal family.

The Buchannans of that Ilk, the main branch of the clan, died out in 1681. It wasn’t until 2018, after an extensive genealogical search, that a new chief was appointed. Descended from the chiefly family were the Buchannans of Arnprior, who held lands in Perthshire around Kippen. One of the Lairds of Arnprior fought against the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 and lost his life alongside many other Scots. Another cadet branch of the clan were the Buchannans of Drumikill. Among their notable members was George Buchannan (1506-1582), a scholar and poet. He served as a tutor to Mary, Queen of Scots, and later to James VI, contributing significantly to the king’s academic development. Buchannan’s literary works advocated rebellion against tyrannical rulers and had a profound influence during the seventeenth century.

There were other cadet branches of the clan, including those of Blairlusk, Carbeth, Ardoch, and their descendants such as the Gray Buchanans of Scotstown, the Buchanans of Auchmar, Spittal, Bliarvockie, the Carrick-Buchanans of Drumpellier, and the Buchanans of Drummikill, Drumhead, and Auchintorlie. In 1725, the Clan Buchanan Society was established, making it the oldest established Clan Society in the world. This society continues to preserve and celebrate the rich heritage of your family name.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: CLARIOR HINC HONOS (Hence the brighter honour)

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