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BUCHAN, 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 Scotland.

      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 Fourth’s 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 countess.

      Their son, 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 father’s 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 Bruce’s 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.

      John’s brother Alexander was styled fourth earl of Buchan, and Henry de Beaumont, an Englishman who married Alexander’s 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 Moray’s 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 Blackfriar’s 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 O’Niel in Aberdeenshire, and who, for his valour, was surnamed “the brave John o’Coul.” 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 before 1500.

      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 Smith’s Iconographia Scotica, of which the following is a cut:

portrait of James Erskine earl of Buchan
portrait of 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 William’s 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 James’s brother-in-law, and one of the prince’s 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.


      Of 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 Robertson’s 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 James’s 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 Mar’s 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 enemy’s 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 general’s brother, Lieutenant-colonel Buchan, had joined the party of the government, and at this time commanded King William’s 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 o’Cromdale;
                        I met a man in tartan trews,
                        I speer’d at him what was the news,
                        Quo’ he, the Highland army rues
                              That e’er 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 o’er the hills we came away,
                        And sore we do lament the day,
                              And view the haws of Cromdale.”

The 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 Seaforth’s 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 Huntly’s 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 Mar’s 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.

      A 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.

BUCHAN, WILLIAM, M.D., 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 author’s 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. Paul’s, 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. Buchan’s 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, 8vo.

      Bionomia, or Opinions concerning Life and Health. Lond. 1811, 8vo.

      New edition, being the 21st, of Dr. Buchan’s Domestic Medicine. Lond. 1813, 8vo.

      Account of an appearance off Brighton Cliff, seen in the air by reflection. Nic. Jour. xiv. 340. 1806.

BUCHAN, 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 master’s 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 minister’s 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. White’s 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. Buchan’s daughters. A few continued, however, until she died in May 1791.

      On 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.

The name Buchan in the Dictionary of National Biography

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