Scot­tish clan finds its chief – af­ter a 337-year wait

Decades of re­search by ge­neal­o­gist re­warded as mil­lion­aire landowner be­comes The Buchanan

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Francesca Mar­shall

FOR cen­turies, mil­lions of men and women around the world have waited pa­tiently for the right­ful chief of their an­cient Scot­tish clan to be found.

But for 337 years no one was able to ver­ify a claim to the ti­tle.

That was un­til a ge­neal­o­gist promised his grand­mother he would solve the mys­tery be­fore he died.

Now a mil­lion­aire landowner has been an­nounced as the chief of Clan Buchanan, which has been with­out a head since 1681 af­ter the 15th chief, John Buchanan, died, leav­ing no male heir or ar­range­ments for his ti­tle to be passed on.

Now John Michael Bail­lie-hamil­ton Buchanan, 60, who owns Cam­bus­more Es­tate near Cal­lan­der, has been ac­cepted as head of the clan, thanks to the work of ge­neal­o­gist Hugh Pes­kett.

The 85-year-old, who made his name when he tried to trace Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan’s Ir­ish an­ces­try in the Eight­ies, be­came a ge­neal­o­gist 50 years ago af­ter his grand­mother, who was a Buchanan clanswoman her- self, urged him to find the right­ful chief.

Decades of ge­nealog­i­cal work has al­lowed Mr Bail­lie-hamil­ton Buchanan, now known as The Buchanan, to ver­ify the claim of chief.

The Buchanan has be­lieved for most of his life that he was the right­ful chief, as a de­scen­dant of Fran­cis Buchanan of Arn­prior, who was ex­e­cuted for high trea­son for his role in the 1745 Ja­co­bite up­ris­ing and named by Sir Wal­ter Scott as the true Buchanan leader.

The Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court which reg­u­lates Scot­tish her­aldry, has now for­mally up­held his bid to be­come chief. “We first ap­proached the Lyon Court in­for­mally over 20 years ago and it has taken decades of ge­nealog­i­cal re­search to back up our claim,” said The Buchanan.

“I am hon­oured and proud that my claim to the chief­ship of Clan Buchanan has been up­held by Lord Lyon. “Hugh Pes­kett has tracked down more than 12 chiefs and this is cer­tainly very spe­cial for him be­cause of his own fam­ily links.” The Buchanan first dis­cov­ered that he could be chief af­ter he was told of his fam­ily links by his fa­ther. While he had never made a claim for the ti­tle, The Buchanan de­cided he wanted to in­ves­ti­gate.

‘This is a day many of us be­lieved would never hap­pen in our life­time, so it is a time to cel­e­brate for our mem­bers’

With the claim now up­held, Mr Pes­kett said: “As a clans­man of the Clan Buchanan, it was ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nat­ing to delve into the his­tory and an­ces­try of one of the old­est clans in Scot­land. My re­search took decades to com­pile and un­equiv­o­cally con­firms the chief­ship claim.

“This is a his­toric mo­ment for Clan Buchanan and I am truly privileged to have played my part. I be­lieve my grand­mother would be in­cred­i­bly proud of what we have achieved.”

The fa­mous ge­neal­o­gist has traced many a right­ful heir to Scot­tish clans. In 2003 a Lon­don banker ousted a farmer from his role as clan chief to the Oliphant fam­ily, thanks to the work of Mr Pes­kett.

David Byrne, pres­i­dent of Clan Buchanan So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional, said: “This is a day many of us be­lieved would never hap­pen in our life­time, so it is a time to cel­e­brate for our mem­bers.

“It has al­ways been the goal of our So­ci­ety since 1970 to keep the tra­di­tions of our clan alive in hope that one day a chief would be named. To­day we can proudly share that mis­sion with The Buchanan for the first time in 337 years.”

Clan Buchanan can be traced back to AD 1010 in Scot­land and now has mil­lions of mem­bers across Europe, North Amer­ica, Africa and Aus­tralia.

Ge­orge Lauder Mcaus­land, com­mis­sioner for Scot­land and the UK of the Clan Buchanan In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety, added: “Clan Buchanan has mem­bers world­wide and hav­ing a chief for the first time in over 300 years will be an ex­cit­ing time and a great op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote our great Clan to even greater heights.”

John Michael Bail­lie-hamil­ton Buchanan, above, says he is “hon­oured and proud” that his claim to the chief­ship of Clan Buchanan has been up­held. Left, a ro­man­tic de­pic­tion of an an­cient clan chief

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