The story of a clan which started due to a clerical error and produced one of the greatest Scotsmen in history.
The surname in Gaelic means “the son of the canon” coming from Mac a’Chanonaich which may well have originated at some time due to an ecclesiastical indiscretion. In fact a churchman Absalom son of Macbethe was granted the island of Clarinch in Loch Lomond by the Earl of Lennox in 1225. Consequently this became a gathering place for the Clan and in the surrounding area of Stirling in the 13th-17th century.
Another meaning for Buchanan “the seat of the Canon” comes from Gaelic Both-chanin” only came about in the 15th century. The family expanded into Dumbartonshire and Perthshire through time. Happening due to their allegiance to the earls of Lennox. The family became mercenaries fighting in many wars that were happening in Europe from the 15th-18th century.
The most famous Buchanan of the Renaissance was George Buchanan (1506-1582) Born Killearn, Stirlingshire; studied at Paris and St Andrews, prosecuted as a heretic and escaped to England; went to France and Portugal where he was imprisoned by the Inquisition for a year and a half; in Paris 1551-61; principal of St Leonard’s college St Andrews; preceptor to James VI; famed for his Latin poems and dramas; as a pamphleteer against Queen Mary (Whom he hated) and as Author of a “History of Scotland” used merely to promote his own ideas.
In the 18th century Andrew Buchanan became rich as a Tobacco Lord and became very important in Glasgow. Because of this he was able to assist needy Highlanders but was set up in the first place to help his fellow Buchanan’s. By 1923 James Buchanan started to export Black&White whiskey and on his death left a fortune of in excess of £7 million.