The petition to be Chief of Clan Buchanan

John Michael Bailie-Hamilton Buchanan was declaired the chief of the Clan Buchanan by the Lord Lyon as an act of law.

His petition followed an exhaustive review by the aclaimed genealogist Hugh Peskett

Coat of Arms of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.

The Chief was inaugurated on 8th of October. Letter Patent presented by The Right Honourable The Lord Lyon King of Arms, Dr Joseph Morrow and Sir Crispen Agnew. 

His appointment was ratified by the attendance of many members of Clan Buchanan.

Image credits to Stewart Attwood, Ian Georgeson, Connor Buchanan and John Buchanan

In 2018 Lord Lyon King of Arms recognised John Michael Bailie-Hamilton Buchanan as new chief of the Clan Buchanan.

A petition to claim the chiefship of Clan Buchanan was lodged with the Court of the Lord Lyon in December 2016 and in August 2018 Lord Lyon allowed the petition thus recognizing John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan of that Ilk and Arnprior, as the Chief of the Name and Arms of Buchanan. After a gap of 337 years, the clan now has a recognized chief.

The Lord Lyon was satisfied that the petitioner:

  • is the senior representative of the cadet branch of the chiefly line known as Buchanan of Leny, and that the remaining cadet branches of the chiefly line; namely Buchanan of Auchmar and Buchanan of Spittall, are extinct in law and in fact. (Descendants of Thomas Buchanan of Gartencaber were excluded from consideration because the C15th documents that purport to link him to the chiefly line were demonstrated to be forgeries.

  • has association with the chiefly lands of Strathyre and that these were conferred on him in an unbroken chain of inheritance. In circumstances like this, the “Jeffery” Principle can be applied (see right).

The Court of Lord Lyon:

The approach I am adopting in this Petition follows the commonsense view that there is no fixed or uniform practice on the matter before me. In the words of Lord Jeffery in the case of Cuninghame v Cunyngham, (1849) 11 D 1139.

The Jeffery principle:

“In my opinion the common-sense rule is, that the chief armorial dignities should follow the more substantial rights and dignities of the family. If the heir male succeeds to the title and estates, I think it reasonable that he should succeed to the armorial bearings of the head of house.”

The chiefdom of clan Buchanan was last held by John Buchanan of that Ilk who passed without heir in 1681.
“Given the lack of a chief I am not surprised that some clansmen have been looking to find a chief through an election or elsehow. However the rules of Scottish heraldry are quite clear that genealogy takes precedence and a Derbfine (election) can only be held as a matter of last resort. To anyone who may be disappointed not to have had an election I can only say that I hope that I will become the chief you would have wanted to vote for”.
The Buchanan