Aristocrat, 60, becomes the first chief of Scottish clan for 337 years

Millionaire aristocrat and Oxford graduate, 60, becomes the first chief of Scottish Buchanan clan for 337 years after its last died without a male heir in 1681

  • John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan will now be known as ‘The Buchanan’
  • Father of four is the manager of the Cambusmore Estate near Callander, Stirling
  • Clan’s history dates back to 1010AD and it is one of the oldest in Scotland 

A millionaire aristocrat and Oxford graduate has been announced as the chief of a Scottish clan for the first time in nearly 350 years.

The Clan Buchanan has been without a leader since the last chief John Buchanan died without a male heir in 1681, but its history dates back to 1010AD.

Now one of his ancestors, aristocrat John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan, has been announced as the new chief after an investigation which lasted more than a decade. 

He will now be known as ‘The Buchanan’.

Married to Lady Paula Buchanan, the father of four, 60, is the manager of the Cambusmore Estate near Callander, Stirling.

John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan, 60, has become the first chief of a Scottish clan for 337 years 


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Married to Lady Paula Buchanan, the father of four is the manager of the Cambusmore Estate near Callander, Stirling. Pictured: Mr Buchanan, his wife, and their son Bruce

He petitioned the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court which regulates Scottish heraldry, to assume the chiefship.

It came about after a quest by genealogist Hugh Peskett to find the rightful chief after his clanswoman grandmother set him the task 50 years ago.

The dedicated historian researched lineage dating back to 1370 in a bid to find the rightful holder of the title.

The Buchanan said: ‘I am honoured and proud that my claim to the chiefship of Clan Buchanan has been upheld by Lord Lyon.

‘There has not been a chief for a very long time – over 337 years – but there is a thriving community of Buchanan clansmen, clanswomen and septs around the world.

‘I look forward to meeting members of the clan, committing myself to clan matters in Scotland and attending some of the popular clan functions that take place overseas.

‘My family has been acknowledged as leaders of one of the principal clan septs, the Buchanans of Leny and Arnprior, for many years but we have also believed that we had a good case for the overall chiefship.

The Clan Buchanan has been without a leader since the last chief John Buchanan died without a male heir in 1681, but its history dates back to 1010AD. He will now be known as ‘The Buchanan’

He petitioned the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court which regulates Scottish heraldry, to assume the chiefship

‘It has been a long journey to prove our lineage.’ 

Mr Peskett said his grandmother would be proud of his achievement.

What is the Clan Buchanan? 

Clan Buchanan mythology claims that the clan was founded by Anselan O’Kyan, a nobleman who served under Canute the Dane and King Malcolm II. The latter king gave him lands stretching from eastern shore of Loch Lomond and east toward Stirling. The clan didn’t get its name until 1240 when Gilbert de Buchanan started to use the name because of new lands he had acquired from another family called Buchananne.

The Buchanan Society was formed in 1725 with the aim of supporting poorer members of the clan and to help them with education through grants.

One notable member of the Buchanan was James Buchanan who went on to become the fifteenth president of the U.S. 

Clan Buchanan’s mottos are Clarior Hinc Honos (Henceforth the honor grows ever brighter), and Audaces Juvo (I help the brave). 

Source: The Clan Buchanan and The Buchanan Society 

He 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.

‘Tracing hundreds of years of lineage and unpacking the secrets of the past is no mean feat.

‘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 Clan Buchanan is one of the oldest in Scotland.

It has millions of members across Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica among many other countries.

Members are represented by the world’s oldest clan society, the Buchanan Society, which was established in 1725 to support members of the clan in times of hardship.

The worldwide Clan Buchanan Society International flies a banner at Highland games around the world which features a lion with tears of sorrow to represent the sadness of clansmen without a chief.

A ceremony will be held in the new year to mark the historic moment. 

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