Scottish clan finds its chief – after a 337-year wait
Decades of research by genealogist rewarded as millionaire landowner becomes The Buchanan
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