The Buchanan name is taken from the lands the clan inhabited in Stirlingshire. Originally, the clan was named MacAuslan and the first of the chiefs to style their name as Buchanan was Gillebrid who was seneschal (or a steward of the household) to the Earl of Lennox.
Contrary to the actions of most chiefs of the time, Maurice Buchanan refused to sign the Ragman Rolls and pledge allegiance to Edward I of England. The chief believed in the freedom of Scotland and supported the efforts of Robert the Bruce even welcoming the king into Buchanan lands after defeating at Dalrigh in 1306.
Not much is known of the clan between the years of the First War of Independence and 1421 but it is assumed the clan fought at Bannockburn against the English.
Sir Alexander Buchanan led a force of his clansmen in support of France at the Battle of Baugé (1421). This group was part of a larger force of 7,000 men sent in service of the Auld Alliance. After a resounding victory at Baugé, Buchanan lost his life at the Battle of Verneuil (1424) along with thousands of other Scottish and French soldiers.
The 15th chief of clan Buchanan gained more lands by the way of a laird of the clan Menzies. This laird was growing older and had no heirs to inherit his lands at Arnpryor. A neighbour of the laird, Forrester of Cardin, had threatened to take the lands by force if they were not signed over to him. The laird Menzies went to Buchanan for protection and in return offered the lands to his heirs. Buchanan accepted the offer and when the time came the lands passed to his second son John, creating the cadet line Buchanan of Arnpryor.
An amusing story about a laird of the Buchanans of Arnpryor caught the attention of famed writer Sir Walter Scott. The story goes that King James V was hosting a feast at Stirling Castle and had sent for more venison. The deer were caught and taken past the gates of Arnpryor where the laird Buchanan insisted he should have them for his own feast which was also in progress. The forester explained that the deer was for the king, to which Buchanan replied that if James was the King of Scotland when he was the King of Kippen (the district where his lands lay). To those who knew him, King James sometimes went by the name of the Guidman of Ballingeich and upon hearing the news of his venison, he rode to Arnpryor. He asked the guard to tell Buchanan that the Guidman of Ballingeich had come to feast with the King of Kippen. Buchanan apologised profusely for what he had said, yet the king only laughed and joined the laird’s feast enjoying the venison he had sent for. From this point forward, Buchanan would be known as the King of Kippen.
One of the most notable members of the clan is George Buchanan. Raised along with 7 siblings by his mother Agnes Heriot, George would be sent to the University of Paris by his uncle who was also named George (founder of George Heriot’s school in Edinburgh). Buchanan would leave Paris due to illness and later continued his studies at St.Andrews where he graduated in 1525. He continued to have success in academia tutoring members of the royal family and lecturing in Paris, Bordeaux and later Coimbra, Portugal. One of his most famous students in Bordeaux was Michel de Montaigne the celebrated writer and Buchanan himself would come to be known as the greatest Latin scholar of his time.
In 1682, the last chief of the clan, John Buchanan, passed. Upon his death, the Buchanan lands were sold off to the 3rd Marquess of Montrose. To this day no new chief has been recognised by the Court of Lord Lyon despite various claims throughout the years.
The former clan seat, the Buchanan Auld House, is now a ruin found in the grounds of Buchanan Castle Golf Club. It forms part of a courtyard attached to the clubhouse and is a shadow of its former self.