anciently BOQUHAN or BUCQUHANE, a surname originally derived from the
district of Buchan, formerly a county of itself, which comprises the
north-eastern part of Aberdeenshire, with part of Banffshire. The name,
like that of Bouchaine in France, Buchianice in Naples, and some others,
seems to have had its origin from Bon or Boi, an old French word now only
found in the Spanish and Portuguese, primarily from the Latin word bos,
an ox, and in reference to the flesh of oxen or cattle, although the
district is now more famed for its corn than its cattle. It is probable
that the names of many similar places in England, as Bukenham or
Buckingham, &c., had the same origin. In another form we have it in
Buccaneers, a Spanish word indicating the kind of food (Bucan,
dried ox flesh) on which these freebooters of the new world almost
exclusively sustained themselves.
The earldom of
BUCHAN, in the Scottish peerage, at present enjoyed by the Erskine family,
but formerly possessed by the Comyns, is one of the most ancient in
The first earl
of Buchan on record was Fergus, who flourished abut the time of William
the Lion. He is supposed to have been one of the seven earls of Scotland,
who, being displeased at Malcolm the Fourths serving under Henry the
Second of England at Toulouse, were disposed to seize his person and eject
him from the throne in the assembly at Perth in 1160. He had no family
name, but as Skene affirms that all the earldoms of Scotland were given by
King Edgar to members of the royal family at that time, it is probable he
was related to the line of Malcolm Canmore. He is mentioned as having made
a grant of a mark of silver annually to the abbacy of Aberbrothwick,
founded by King William.
His only child
Marjory or Margaret, countess of Buchan in her own right, took for her
second husband, in 1210, William Comyn, sheriff of Forfar and justiciary
of Scotland, who became earl of Buchan in right of his wife. He was the
third of the Comyns in Scotland, and had been previously married to a lady
whose name is not known, and by whom he had two sons, of whom Walter, the
second son, was earl of Menteith (which title see). By his second wife,
the countess of Buchan, he had three sons and a daughter, Elizabeth,
married to William earl of Mar. He died in 1233, and was survived by his
Alexander Comyn, second earl of Buchan of this name, acted a prominent
part in the busy reigns of Alexander the Second and Third. In 1244 he was
one of the guarantees of the peace with England, and in 1251 was appointed
justiciary of Scotland, but being one of the Scottish party who were
obnoxious to King Henry the Third, he was removed from that high office
four years afterwards. In 1257, however, he was restored to it, and held
it till his death. He married Elizabeth, second daughter of Roger de
Quinci, earl of Winchester and constable of Scotland, on whose death, in
1264, without male issue, the earl of Buchan obtained, in right of his
wife, a full share of her fathers estates in Galloway and in other
counties; and on the resignation of the office of constable by Margaret
countess of Derby, the elder sister of his wife, in 1270, he became, in
right of the latter, constable of Scotland. He was one of the magnates
Scotiae, who, on 5th February 1284, engaged to maintain the
succession of the princess Margaret of Norway to the crown, on the death
of her grandfather, being the first of thirteen earls present at the
parliament held at Scone on that day. In 1286, on the death of Alexander
the Third, he was chosen one of the six guardians of Scotland. He died in
1289, and was succeeded by his son John, also constable of Scotland.
John, third earl
of Buchan of the Comyn family, adhered to the English interest, and with a
tumultuous band of followers he encountered King Robert the Bruce, 25th
December 1307, but his troops fled at the first onset of Bruces army. In
the following year he assembled a numerous force, but was defeated by
Bruce, with great slaughter, at Inverury, 22d May 1308. Soon afterwards he
retired to England, where he died before 28th April 1313. His
wife, Isabel, the daughter of Duncan, earl of Fife, was the high-spirited
lady who placed the crow n on the head of Robert the Bruce, as referred to
in that article.
Alexander was styled fourth earl of Buchan, and Henry de Beaumont, an
Englishman who married Alexanders eldest daughter, Alice, assumed the
title of fifth earl of Buchan, in right of his wife. He died in 1341.
In 1371 a grant
of this earldom was obtained from Robert the Second by Sir Alexander
Stewart, knight, his fourth son by his first wife, Elizabeth More, long
known, from his savageness, by the name of the Wolf of Badenoch. He had
also the earldom of Ross for life, in right of his wife, Euphame, countess
of Ross, by whom he had no issue, but he left five natural sons,
Alexander, earl of Mar, Sir Andrew, Walter, James and Duncan, from whom
several families of the name of Stewart are descended. Having seized the
bishop of Morays lands he was excommunicated, and in revenge he, in May
and June 1390, burnt the towns of Ferres and Elgin, with the church of St.
Giles, the maison dieu, and the cathedral, and eighteen houses of the
Canons, for which he did penance in the Blackfriars church of Perth,
before the altar, and was obliged to make full satisfaction to the bishop.
He died 24th July 1394.
At his death it
devolved on his brother Robert, duke of Albany, when it was granted to
John Stewart, his eldest son, born in 1380, to whom his father gave the
barony of Coul and ONiel in Aberdeenshire, and who, for his valour, was
surnamed the brave John oCoul. In 1416, he was sent to England to
complete the treaty for the release of James the First, in which he was
unsuccessful. In 1420, he went to France, at the head of seven thousand
Scotch auxiliaries, to support the right of Charles the Seventh to the
French crown against the English. At the battle of Beauge in Anjou, 22d
March 1421, he defeated the English under the duke of Clarence. He was
slain at the battle of Verneuil in Normandy, 17th August 1424.
By his wife Lady Elizabeth Douglas, second daughter of Archibald, fourth
earl of Douglas and duke of Touraine, he left an only daughter, Margaret,
married to George, second Lord Seton, and from them were descended, in a
right line, all the lords of the now extinct house of Seton, earls of
Winton (see WINTON, earl of].
The earldom of
Ross which his father had procured for him fell to the crown on his death,
but the earldom of Buchan devolved on his brother Murdoch, duke of Albany,
at whose execution in 1425, it was forfeited.
In 1466, it was
bestowed on James Stewart, surnamed Hearty James, uterine brother of
King James the Second. He was the second son of Sir James Stewart, the
black knight of Lorn, by Jane, queen of Scotland, the widow of James the
First. In 1471, on the fall of Lord Boyd, he was constituted high
chamberlain of Scotland, and in 1473, he was sent ambassador to France,
when he obtained a safe conduct for passing through England. He died
His son and
grandson both succeeded as earls of Buchan.
John, master of
Buchan, eldest son of the latter, had, by his second wife, Margaret,
daughter of Walter Ogilvie of Boyne, a daughter, Christian Stewart, who
succeeded to the title, and by her marriage in 1469 with Robert Douglas,
second son of Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven, uterine brother of the
regent Moray, he became earl of Buchan, in right of his wife.
They had two
daughters, and a son, James, who became fifth earl of Buchan of this
family. He died 26th August, 1601, aged 21. By his wife,
Margaret, second daughter of Walter, first Lord Ogilvy of Deskford, he had
an only child, Mary Douglas, countess of Buchan, in her own right, by
whose marriage with James Erskine, son of John, seventh earl of Mar, lord
high treasurer of Scotland, and first Lord Cardross [see CARDROSS, lord,]
this earldom passed into the Mar branch of the Erskine family. Of this
first earl of Buchan of the house of Erskine, there is a portrait in
Smiths Iconographia Scotica, of which the following is a cut:
James Erskine earl of Buchan
James Erskine, sixth earl of Buchan, was one of the lords of the
bedchamber to King Charles the first, and resided much in England. He died
in 1640. His eldest son James, seventh earl, married Lady Marjory Ramsay,
eldest daughter of the first earl of Dalhousie, by whom he had four
daughters and one son, William, who succeeded in October 1664 as eighth
earl of Buchan. At the revolution he adhered to the party of King James,
but falling into the hands of King Williams forces, he was committed
prisoner to the castle of Stirling, where he died in 1695, unmarried. At
his death, the succession to the earldom opened to David, fourth lord
Cardross, eldest son of Henry the third lord; and in the parliament of
1698 an act was passed allowing him to be called in the rolls of
parliament as earl of Buchan.
Henry David, the tenth earl, married Agnes, daughter of Sir James Steuart
of Coltness, baronet, and granddaughter of Sir James Steuart, lord
advocate to King William and Queen Anne, popularly called Jamie Sylie; and
by him had with a daughter and a son David, who died young, David Steuart
Erskine, the eleventh earl, and his two celebrated brothers, the Hon.
Henry Erskine, father of the 12th earl, and Thomas, created
Lord Erskine, lord chancellor; notices of whom are subsequently given in
their place, under the head of ERSKINE.
Earl Henry, the father of these three celebrated brothers, was a man of
infinite good nature and polite manners, but ordinary understanding. In
1745, when the young Chevalier arrived in Edinburgh, he had a great desire
to be introduced to him, but not wishing to commit himself by joining the
standard of rebellion, he, along with his brother-in-law, the celebrated
Sir James Steuart of Coltness, requested their friend Lord Elcho, who was
Sir Jamess brother-in-law, and one of the princes firmest adherents, to
take them, as it were, upon compulsion, to the court at Holyroodhouse.
Next day, therefore, according to concert, they were seized at the cross
of Edinburgh by a party under the command of Elcho, and straightway
brought into an ante-chamber of the palace. The prince, however, on the
matter being explained to him, refused to see them, unless as avowed
adherents. Sir James Steuart consented, was introduced, and ruined, while
the earl of Buchan, with a low and sarcastic obeisance to Lord Elcho,
turned upon his heel, and left the palace. He thus saved his estates from
confiscation, but unfortunately, it was only to squander much of their
value in another way. At his death in 1767 he left his children little
better inheritance than their talents, for which they were more indebted
to their mother than to him.
Henry David Erskine, twelfth earl of Buchan of the name, son of the
celebrated Hon. Henry Erskine, by his wife, the daughter of George
Fullerton, Esq. of Broughton Hall, died in 1857. Born in 1783, he was
three times married. His eldest son Henry, Lord Cardross, died in 1837,
leaving a son, born in 1834, and died in 1849. His second son, David
Stuart Erskine, born in 1815, succeeded as 13th earl; married,
with issue. Besides that of Lord Cardross, the earl also holds the
secondary title of Lord Auchterhouse, conferred in 1606.
the principal families of this name are the Buchans of Auchmacoy, in the
parish of Logie-Buchan, Aberdeenshire, who have been proprietors of that
estate, as appears from Robertsons Index of Scarce Charters, since the
year 1318, holding it of the earl of Buchan until the forfeiture of the
Comyns in the reign of King Robert the Bruce. IN 1503, James the Fourth
gave Andrew Buchan of Auchmacoy a new charter, and erected his lands into
a free barony, which has been inherited by his lineal male descendants
ever since. The family of Auchmacoy were remarkable for their steady
loyalty to the Stuarts, and their opposition to the Covenant. Of this
family was the celebrated Major-General Buchan, the last officer who had
the chief command of King Jamess forces in Scotland, after the revolution
of 1688. He was the third son of James Buchan of Auchmacoy, by Margaret,
daughter of Alexander Seton of Pitmedden, and was born about the middle of
the seventeenth century. He entered the army young, and after serving in
subordinate ranks in France and Holland, he was in 1682 appointed by
Charles the Second lieutenant-colonel, and in 1686, by James the Seventh,
colonel of the earl of Mars regiment of foot in Scotland. He received the
thanks of the privy council for various services, and in 1689 was promoted
by King James to the rank of major-general. After the fall of the Viscount
Dundee at Killiecrankie, and the subsequent repulse of his successor,
Colonel Cannan, at Dunkeld, he was appointed by King James, who was then
in Ireland, commander-in-chief of all the Jacobite forces in Scotland. He
took the field in April 1690, and on his arrival from Ireland a meeting of
the chiefs and principal officers was held at Keppoch, to deliberate on
the course which they ought to pursue, when it was unanimously resolved to
continue the war. As, however, the labours of the spring season were not
over, they postponed the muster of the clans till these should be
completed, and in the meantime directed Major-general Buchan to employ the
interval in beating up the enemys quarters, along the borders of the
lowlands, for which purpose a detachment of twelve hundred foot was to be
placed at his disposal. [Balcarres.] It so happened that the
generals brother, Lieutenant-colonel Buchan, had joined the party of the
government, and at this time commanded King Williams forces in the city
and county of Aberdeen, and he was directed by General Mackay to march
upon any point where he could co-operate with Sir Thomas Livingston, who,
at the head of a large force, was acting as a check upon the movements of
the Jacobite forces in the Southern Highlands. At Cromdale, early in the
morning of the first of May (1690), Livingston surprised and defeated
General Buchan and the forces under his command, then reposing in the low
grounds, on the south banks of the Spey, which gave rise to the well-known
song of The Haughs of Cromdale, beginning
As I came in by Auchindown,
A little wee bit frae the town,
When to the Highlands I was bown,
To view the haws oCromdale;
I met a man in tartan trews,
I speerd at him what was the news,
Quo he, the Highland army rues
That eer we came to Cromdale.
We were in bed, Sir, every man,
When the English host upon us came;
A bloody battle then begun,
Upon the haws of Cromdale.
The English horse they were so rude.
They bathed their hoofs in Highland blood,
But our brave clans they boldly stood,
Upon the haws of Cromdale.
But, alas! We could no longer stay,
For oer the hills we came away,
And sore we do lament the day,
And view the haws of Cromdale.
names of Montrose and Cromwell are, in the rest of the song, by an absurd
anachronism, substituted for those of Buchan and Livingstone, while some
of the clans enumerated were not in the skirmish at all. The popular songs
of a country sometimes make sad havoc with fact and even probability, as
history is often made void through traditions.
Buchan afterwards, at the head of a considerable force, being joined by
Farquharson of Inverey with about six hundred of Braemar Highlanders, left
the neighbourhood of Abergeldie, where he had been for some time, and
descended into the low parts of Aberdeenshire, Mearns, and Banff, but were
opposed by the master of Forbes and Colonel Jackson, with eight troops of
cavalry. Buchan, however, purposely magnified the appearance of his
forces, by ranging his foot over a large extent of ground, and
interspersing his baggage and baggage horses among them, which inspired
the Master of Forbes and Jackson with such dread that they considered it
prudent to retire before a foe apparently so formidable. They accordingly
retreated to Aberdeen at full gallop, a distance of twenty miles. Buchan,
who had no immediate design upon Alberdeen, followed them, and was joined
in the pursuit by some of the neighbouring noblemen and gentlemen. The
inhabitants were thrown into a state of the greatest consternation at his
approach, and the necessary means of defence were adopted, but Buchan made
no attempt to enter the town, and marched southward. On the advance,
however, of General Mackay, he crossed the hills to the right, and
proceeded to Iverness, where he expected the earl of Seaforths and other
Highlanders to join him, when he intended to have attacked the town, but
Seaforth was obliged to surrender to the government, and crossing the
river Ness, Buchan retired up along the north side of the Loch. At length,
unable to collect or keep any considerable body of men together, after
wandering through Lochaber, he dismissed the few who still remained with
him, and along with Sir George Barclay, and other officers, took up his
abode with Macdonell of Glengary. After the submission of the Highland
chiefs to the government of King William, Buchan and Cannan, with their
officers, in terms of an agreement with the ruling powers, were
transported to France, to which country they had asked and obtained
permission from King James to retire, as they could no longer be
serviceable to him in Scotland. Although he had failed to retrieve the
fortunes of the fallen monarch, there are letters to him and other
documents in the possession of Mr. Buchan of Auchmacoy, from James
himself, and his queen, their secretary Melfort and others, expressive of
their undiminished confidence in his military skill and attachment to
their cause. On the breaking out of the rebellion in 1715, the marquis of
Huntly wrote a letter to General Buchan, soliciting him to join the forces
of the earl of Mar, and he is supposed, though not in command, to have
been present with the marquis of Huntlys troops at the battle of
Sheriffmuir, on the 13th November 1715, but when the marquis,
to save his life and estates, withdrew from the earl of Mars army, a few
days after, it is doubtful whether the general followed his example, as by
a letter from the countess of Errol, dated 15th May 1721, it
appears that he was still in communication with the exiled family. His
portrait is in the house of Auchmacoy, Aberdeenshire.
family of the name of Buchan possesses the estate of Kelloe in
Berwickshire. The son of George Buchan, Esq. of Kelloe, by the daughter of
Robert Dundas, Esq. of Arniston, viz., Lieutenant-general Sir John Buchan,
who distinguished himself in the Peninsular war, was, for his services,
created a knight commander of the Bath in 1831. Died 1850.
a medical writer of great popularity, was born in 1729, at Ancrum, in
Roxburghshire. His father possessed a small estate, and in addition rented
a farm from the duke of Roxburgh. He was sent to Edinburgh to study
divinity, and spent nine years at the university. At an early period he
exhibited a marked predilection for mathematics, in which he became so
proficient as to be enabled to give private lessons to many of his
fellow-students. He afterwards resolved to follow the medical profession,
in preference to the Church. Before taking his degree, he was induced by a
fellow-student to settle in practice for some time in Yorkshire. He soon
after became physician to the Foundling Hospital at Ackworth, in which
situation he acquired the greater part of that knowledge of the diseases
of children which was afterwards published in his Domestic Medicine, and
in his Advice to Mothers. He returned to Edinburgh to become a Fellow of
the Royal College of Physicians, and soon after married a lady named
Peter. On the Ackworth Foundling Hospital being dissolved, in consequence
of parliament withdrawing its support from it, Dr. Buchan removed to
Sheffield, where he appears to have remained till 1766. He then commenced
practice in Edinburgh. In 1769 he published his celebrated work, Domestic
Medicine; or, the Family Physician; dedicated to Sir John Pringle,
president of the Royal Society. In the composition of it he is said to
have been assisted by Mr. William Smellie. It was published at Edinburgh
at six shillings; and so great was its success, that, in the words of the
author, the first edition of five thousand copies was entirely sold off
in a corner of Britain, before another could be got ready. The second
edition appeared in 1772, and before the authors death nineteen large
editions had been sold. The work was translated into every European
language, and became very popular, not only on the continent, but in
America and the West Indies. From the empress Catherine of Russia the
author received a large medallion of gold, with a complimentary letter.
Many other letters and presents from abroad were also transmitted to him.
Dr. Buchan subsequently removed to London, where for many years he enjoyed
a lucrative practice. In his latter years, he went daily to the Chapter
Coffeehouse, St. Pauls, where patients resorted to him, to whom he gave
advice. Before leaving Edinburgh he delivered several courses of natural
philosophy, illustrated by an excellent apparatus bequeathed to him by his
deceased friend, James Ferguson, the celebrated lecturer. On his removal
to London, he disposed of this collection to Dr. Lettsom. He died February
25, 1805, and was interred in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. He left
a son, also an eminent physician and the author of several medical works.
Dr. Buchans works are:
Domestic Medicine; or a Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases,
by regimen and simple medicines. Lond. 1769. 2d edition, with additions.
Lond. 1772, 8vo.
Cautions concerning Cold Bathing and Drinking Mineral Waters; being an
additional chapter to the 9th edition of his Domestic Medicine.
Lond. 1786, 8vo.
Letters to the Patentee concerning the Medical Properties of fleecy
Hosiery; with Notes and Observations. 3d edit. Lond. 1790, 8vo.
Observations on the Prevention and Cure of the Venereal Disease; intended
to guard the ignorant and unwary against the baneful effects of that
insidious malady, &c. Lond. 1796, 8vo. Several editions.
Observations on the Diet of the Common People; recommending a method of
living less expensive, and more conducive to health, than the present.
Long. 1797, 8vo.
Advice to Mothers on the subject of their own Health, and on the means of
promoting the health, strength, and beauty of their offspring. Lond. 1803,
8vo. 2d edit. Lond. 1811, 8vo.
The works of his son, Alexander P. Buchan, M.D., London, are:
Enchiridion Syphiliticum, or Directions for the Conduct of Venereal
Patients. Lond. 1798, 8vo.
Practical Observations concerning Sea Bathing, with Remarks on the use of
the Warm Bath. Lond. 1804, 8vo.
New edition of Armstrong on Diseases of Children, with notes. Lond. 1808,
Bionomia, or Opinions concerning Life and Health. Lond. 1811, 8vo.
New edition, being the 21st, of Dr. Buchans Domestic Medicine.
Lond. 1813, 8vo.
Account of an appearance off Brighton Cliff, seen in the air by
reflection. Nic. Jour. xiv. 340. 1806.
OR SIMPSON, ELSPETH,
the foundress of a sect. partly enthusiastic millenarians, and partly
harmless fanatics, was born in 1738. She was the daughter of John Simpson,
the keeper of an inn, at Fetney-Can, situated half-way between Banff and
Portsoy; and, in her 22d year, she went to Glasgow, and entered into
service. There she married Robert Buchan, a potter, one of her masters
workmen, in the delft-work, Broomielaw, by whom she had several children.
Although educated an Episcopalian, she adopted, on her marriage, the
principles of her husband, who was a Burgher Seceder. Afterwards, laying
claim to the gift of inspiration, which she supported by asserting that
she had had a vision in the fields, when about six or seven years of
age, and that at the age of thirty-four the power of God wrought so
powerfully upon her senses that she could make no use of food for weeks,
she began, sometime about the year 1779, to promulgate singular doctrines.
Mr. Hugh White, a minister of the gospel, a licentiate of the Church of
Scotland, and recently admitted into connection with the synod of Relief
at Irvine, being called to Glasgow at the April sacrament of 1783, Mrs.
Buchan heard him preach, and being much taken with his discourse, she
wrote several letters to him, and a correspondence ensured, which
terminated, four months afterwards in her visiting him at Irvine. On her
appearance there she was kindly received, and by her artful conversation
soon converted not only Mr. White but his wife to her own peculiar
notions, and through him a few of his hearers, none of whom, however, were
of the wealthy of his flock. The latter portion of his congregation,
disapproving of their ministers conduct, brought him before the
presbytery, who after he had disregarded a suspension, and continued to
preach his new doctrines, were compelled to depose him from the office of
the ministry. He afterwards preached and otherwise laboured to propagate
his fanatical tenets, first in a tent, and subsequently in his own house.
His adherents met during the night, sung hymns, which was a great part of
their worship, and the uninitiated were instructed in the new faith by
their pretended prophetess, who signed her name Elspat Buchan, and,
though illiterate, had some natural ability. She gave herself out to be
the woman spoken of in the 12th chapter of the Revelation, and
Mr. White to be the man-child she had brought forth. This and some other
of her ravings brought upon her and her party the indignation of the
townspeople. They rose, assembled round Mr. Whites house, broke the
windows, and might have proceeded to greater extremities but for the
interposition of the magistrates. After repeated applications to have her
proceeded against as a blasphemer, the magistrates thought it prudent, in
April 1784, to dismiss her and several of her adherents from the town.
They conducted her safely without the bounds of the borough, but at
parting, she and her companions were pelted by the youthful mob who were
following them, with dirt and stones. The first night they stopped in the
neighbourhood of Kilmaurs, and being joined by Mr. White and a few others
in the morning, the whole proceeded till they came to the parish of
Closeburn, Dumfries-=shire, where they took up their abode for a season.
The farm of New Cample in the parish of Closeburn, in the outhouses or
offices of which they took up their abode, (now called Buchan Ha,)
continued to be their residence till 24th December of that
year, when, under a popular belief that Mrs. Buchan was a dealer in
witchcraft, they were assailed by a mob of rustics, but were protected by
the sheriff, and forty-two of the rioters tried before him for the breach
of the peace. The persons who came from Irvine were mostly females, but
among them were a few men of respectable character and easy circumstances,
including a Mr. Hunter, a lawyer and fiscal of that town. They were joined
at New Cample by a lieutenant of marines, by name Charles E. Conyers, who
resigned his commission, and by a few from the counties on the English
border, but their number never amounted to more than fifty. Their
proceedings and the few conversions they made caused a sensation, and they
were beset with letters inquiring into their principles and views. They
could number one countess at least among their correspondents, besides
several clergymen of the church of England; and they began vauntingly to
publish their correspondence. They also issued from the press two parts of
a work called The Divine Dictionary, containing their notions and
revelations, each accompanied with the following blasphemous attestation:
The truths contained in this publication, the writer received from the
Spirit of God in that woman, predicted in Rev. xii. 1. though they are not
written in the same simplicity as delivered by a babe in the love of
God, HUGH WHITE. Revised and approven of by ELSPAT SIMPSON.
Nothing could be more injurious to their cause than to write such a book.
So little reason was mixed with their madness, that it is difficult
at times in its pages to comprehend their meaning or to correctly grasp at
their belief. It showed them to be illiterate, visionary, and rhapsodical.
Their main doctrine was that a coming of Christ in person, or what is
called the millennium, was just at hand; on which occurring, they
would be taken up to meet h im in the air, transformed into his likeness,
and would reign with him for a thousand years. They believed that none of
them were to taste of death; that the approach of the Saviour would be
hastened by their assuming the position of waiters or expectants, and in
particular by their living like the angels in heaven. They emaciated their
bodies by fasting. They renounced all earthly connections. Such of them as
were in the relation of husband and wife ceased to know each other as
such. They asserted that sin no longer existed in their heart, that
there was impropriety in praying for the pardon of sin, that the soul
had no existence separate from the body, that at conversion a spiritual
life was infused, which consisted in rejoicing in God, singing hymns, and
waiting in ecstacy for the appearing of their Redeemer. Mrs. Buchan was
not only the high priestess but the treasurer of the party. She kept the
common stock of the brethren and sisters, for they had all things in
common. All the funds they brought with them, and they were considerable,
she contrived to get into her hands. She dealt out their food to them
and that in small portions; she led their hymns; she poured out her
rhapsodies over the Bible; she asserted herself to be not only the women
mentioned in the Apocalypse, but the mother of Christ, who had been
wandering in the world ever since his days, and that she would never die.
Although she had a husband and son left behind in Glasgow, and two
daughters who were of the party and living before her eyes, she asserted,
and got her followers to believe her, that every thing was false about her
parentage, marriage, or motherhood. Notwithstanding these absurd views,
the Buchanites were temperate, civil, and peaceful in a remarkable degree.
The young women particularly excited much commiseration. When the trial of
the rioters came on, they would not prosecute, nor scarcely bear witness
in reference to the injuries they had received, until the one first called
had been imprisoned for suppressing the truth.
After the trial they saw they could only be in safety by having a little
spot of ground they could call their own. Accordingly they removed to the
neighbouring county of Galloway, and possessed a farm called Auchencairn,
near the village called the Nine-mile Tollbar. Here they remained until
the death of the prophetess. Various defections, however, took place. The
young women were induced to marry in the neighbourhood, or otherwise
returned into society. The former was even the case with Mrs. Buchans
daughters. A few continued, however, until she died in May 1791.
her death-bed, this wretched imposter called her followers together, and
endeavoured to cheer their drooping spirits by asserting that though she
new appeared to die, they need not be discouraged, for in a short time she
would return and conduct them to the New Jerusalem. After her death, her
credulous disciples would neither dress her corpse nor bury her, until
compelled by the authorities. The last survivor of the sect, whose name
was Andrew Innes, died in 1848. He had kept the skeleton of Mrs. Buchan
bedside him, always expecting that she would come alive again as she had
foretold, and carry all her followers to heaven. The Buchanites were
remarkably peaceable and industrious, and excelled in the manufacture of
spinning wheels, formerly to be found in every cottage, but now superseded
by the spinning-jennies of the great steam factories. Struthers
History of the Relief Church.