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The Scottish Nation

BUCHAN, (additional to earlier article). The Buchans of Letham, East Lothian, were cadets of the Buchans of Auchmacoy, Aberdeenshire. From the former were descended the Buchans of Kelloe, Berwickshire. George Buchan of Kelloe, born in 1775, whose mother was a daughter of President Dundas, sailed from England for India in May 1792, in the Winterton East Indiaman, commanded by Captain Dundas of Dundas, and, in August of the same year, he was shipwrecked on the coast of Madagascar. During his residence of twenty years in India, he was exposed to dangers in many varied shaped, and in a small work, entitled ‘Practical Illustrations of a Particular Providence,’ he details his wonderful preservation in a second shipwreck, and his escape from being murdered by the Malays in another vessel, in which he had made every effort to be conveyed in a lucrative situation at Malacca, but was prevented from reaching the ship when waiting off Madras. In India he rose to high office, and was appointed secretary to the government at Madras. Circumstances requiring his return home, he was, about 1809, most anxious to revisit his native land. He had taken passage in a favourite ship, the Lady Jane Dundas, but political events at the time forced him to remain in India. The Lady Jane Dundas was lost at sea, and, about a month after the fleet, of which it formed a part, had sailed, Mr. Buchan took his departure in a fast-sailing packet, reaching England in safety at the same period as the shattered remains of the fleet in which he should have sailed arrived, and without encountering any storms. Subsequently his life was chiefly spent on his estate in Berwickshire, actively engaged in public business, for which he had a natural aptitude, and taking a prominent part in the management of county affairs. About twenty years before his death he accidentally fell into an ice-pit, and the severe dislocation which he then sustained occasioned lameness for life. For many years he took a considerable part in the deliberations of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, particularly in the non-intrusion discussions, previous to the disruption in 1843. After that event he joined the Free church. He died 3d January 1856. His brother, lieutenant-general Sir John Buchan, served in the Peninsular war, and was a major-general in the Portuguese army.

BUCHAN, PETER, an industrious collector of the elder ballads of the north of Scotland, was born in Peterhead in 1790. ON his father’s side he could trace his descent from a General Buchan, “who had at one time large possessions, and kept a good castle, modishly called a house, at Rathay, parish of Cimond. He was a scion of the Cumyns, earls of Buchan.” In his youth he obtained a midshipman’s commission, but had to relinquish his desire for a seafaring life, his parents having refused to furnish him with an outfit.

In 1814, he published a small volume of poems and songs. He now conceived the design of setting up a printing establishment at Peterhead, at that time without one. He had married against his father’s consent, and from him never received any assistance in any of his plans; but having made a copperplate-press from an engraving which he had seen in a book, he showed it to an influential friend, who strongly advised him to prosecute his design. Accordingly, in 1816, he went to Edinburgh, “with a pocket full of flattering introductory letters, and an almost empty purse.” He got introduced to the earl of Buchan, who recommended him to various friends, and amongst others, to a Dr. Charles Wingate, a medical gentleman of Stirling. To that town he proceeded with the view of learning “the mysteries of printing,” and after no more than ten days’ attendance in a printing office there, he composed and printed a song as a specimen of his proficiency, with which he returned to Edinburgh. From one of the earl’s friends he now received about £50 sterling, with which he purchased types, &c., and commenced business in Peterhead, on the 24th of March the same year.

In 1819, he constructed a new printing press, “wood, iron, and brass,” with which he printed one of his most popular works, ‘The annals of Peterhead,’ a thin 12mo volume, illustrated with half-a-dozen copperplates of his own engraving. The press was wrought with the feet instead of the hands, and took impressions from stone, copper, and wood, as well as from types, and would have answered equally well for printing on cloth. He also invented an index for keeping an account of the number of sheets printed in any given time. A patent press-maker in Edinburgh, he tells us, once wrote to him to send him one, and held out a great reward. He acknowledged its receipt and utility; then went to America, and with him his machine and golden hopes.

Mr. Buchan’s next literary production was ‘An Historical Account of the ancient and noble family of Keith, Earls Marischal of Scotland, with the attainted noblemen, &c.’ This work brought him considerable reputation as well as remuneration.

After this, Mr. Buchan filled for a time a situation in London, on a salary of £150 a-year, but was obliged to leave it on account of bad health. After his return to Peterhead, he published in 1824, a treatise, dedicated to his son, in which he endeavoured to prove that brutes are possessed of souls and are immortal!

In 1828, he published in two volumes 8vo, a work entitled ‘Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, hitherto unpublished, with Explanatory Notes.’ This work, unlike his former productions, was printed and published at Edinburgh, and at once made his name known. Sir Walter Scott, in his introduction to the ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,’ has borne ample testimony to the value of Mr. Buchan’s collection. The work was most favourably received; the whole edition having been sold in the course of a few months. By it he added upwards of forth to our stock of recovered songs, while more perfect versions were given of nearly an equal number which had been previously printed. Amongst these may be mentioned the beautiful ballad of ‘Burd Helen.’

He was now brought into correspondence with Sir Walter Scott, and others of high literary standing, and was frequently a guest at Abbotsford. The Scottish society of Antiquaries elected him a corresponding member, as did also the Northern Institution for the promotion of science and literature. He was also honoured with diplomas of membership from some of the leading literary societies of England.

In 1834, he published ‘The Peterhead Smugglers,’ a melodrama of no great merit. The best and most original part of this publication was the introductory dedication, which contained a bitter philippic against lawyers, by whom he seems to have been constantly persecuted. With it, he advertised, “as preparing for publication,” a new collection of ballads, to be entitled ‘North Countrie Minstrelsy, Ancient and Modern, with Notes.’ The work was never published, but the manuscript volumes found their way into the archives of the Percy Society, London, through Mr. Jerdan of the Literary Gazette, and in 1845, unknown to the author, selections from them formed one of the miscellaneous issues of the Society, entitled ‘Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, edited by James Henry Dixon.’ These, however, are only different versions of previously known ballads.

Mr. Buchan afterwards purchased a small property near Dennyloanhead, Stirlingshire, which he called Buchanstone, intending there to spend the remainder of his days in retirement and ease; but in this he was disappointed. The superior of the land claimed the minerals on his estate, and a long and harassing lawsuit was the consequence. In 1852, he sold the property, and proceeded to a son in Ireland, and resided for some time at Strandhill House, county of Leitrim. In the early part of 1854, he repaired to London, with the view of effecting arrangements for the publication of another volume of ‘Ancient Scottish Ballads,’ but was there seized with illness, and after a few hours suffering, died, 19th September the same year. His remains were interred in the beautiful cemetery of Norwood, near London. In private life, he was remarkably modest, and of singularly unassuming manners. His eldest son, Charles Forbes Buchan, D.D., was, in 1840, inducted minister of Fordoun, Kincardineshire.

Mr. Buchan’s works are:

The Recreation of Leisure Hours, being Songs and Verses in the Scottish dialect. Peterhead, 1814.
Annals of Peterhead, now extremely scarce. Peterhead, 1819, 12mo.
An Historical Account of the ancient and noble family of Keith, Earls Marischal of Scotland, with the attainted noblemen, &c. Peterhead.
Treatise proving that Brutes have Souls and are Immortal. Peterhead, 1824.
Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, hitherto unpublished, with Explanatory Notes. Edinburgh, 1828, 2 vols. 8vo.
The Peterhead Smugglers of the last century; or William and Annie, an original melodrama, in three acts. – Also, Poems and Songs, with Biographical Notices. Edinburgh, 1834, 8vo.
The Eglinton Tournament, and Gentlemen Unmasked. Glasgow, 1839. This work was afterwards republished under the title of Britain’s Boast, her Glory and her shame; or a Mirror for all Ranks, in which are distinctly seen the origin and history of kings, noblemen, gentlemen, clergymen, men of learning and genius, lawyers, physicians, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, soldiers, sailors, &c., with the true characteristics of each. The necessity and advantages of education, commerce, and trade. – Also an account of the chivalry of the Ancients, the Eglinton Tournament, and Gentlemen Unmasked, In a conversation between the shades of a king and his preceptor, a knight, in the Elysian fields. Glasgow, 1840, royal 18mo.
The Parallel; or Principles of the British Constitution Exemplified. For the benefit of every legislator and British subject, whether Tory, Whig, or radical. – Also an defence of Church Establishments, Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus Act, Articles of the Scottish Union, and Act for securing the Protestant and Presbyterian Religion, &c. London, 1835.
Man, -- Body and Soul, -- as he was, as he is, and as he shall be. 1849.
Mr. Buchan also published various other works of a minor character, illustrative of the literary antiquities of Scotland, as ‘Gleanings of Scarce Old Ballads;’ ‘The Wanderings of Prince Charles Stuart and Miss Flora Macdonald,’ from a manuscript of the period, with several Jacobite Poems, Sermons, Songs, and Sketches. He also supplied George Chalmers, Esq., with much useful information for his Caledonia.
Two unpublished volumes of his Ballad Collections were left in the possession of Dr. Charles Mackay of London.

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