BUCHANAN, John (1761-1839), of Ardoch and Balloch Castle, Dunbarton.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



19 Feb. 1821 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 8 Jan. 1761, 1st s. of Thomas Buchanan, merchant, of Glasgow and Ardoch and 1st w. Margaret, da. of Moses Buchanan. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1773. m. 1 Nov. 1785, Elizabeth, da. of John Parkes, manufacturer, of Warwick and Netherton, Worcs., 1s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.) suc. fa. 1789. d. 26 June 1839.

Offices Held

Bailie, Glasgow 1793, treas. 1799.


Buchanan’s father, the only son of an eminent Glasgow lawyer, was in business in the city as a hat maker, and was described the year before his death as ‘a very independent man’ who had recently bought a vote for Dunbartonshire. Of his half-brothers from his father’s second and third marriages, James (1766-1855) was founder of the family of Gray Buchanan of Eastfield, and William (1777-1864) achieved some success in London as an art critic and picture dealer.1 After studying at Glasgow University Buchanan joined his father in the family business and evidently spent some time in England. At the time of his marriage to the daughter of a Warwick worsted manufacturer in 1785 he was said to be ‘of Stockport’, but his connection with that town has not been traced. In 1792 he was served heir to his father in the Ardoch property, which had been in the family since 1693, and he subsequently purchased the estate of Balloch and built a mansion there. He initially carried on the Glasgow business after his father’s death, in partnership with his half-brother James (who married his wife’s sister in 1798), but the extent and duration of his active involvement is not clear. The firm, now established in premises in St. Andrew’s Square, was listed in Glasgow directories as early as 1809 as James Buchanan and Company, and continued to be so described until the early 1830s, when it disappeared.2 Buchanan canvassed Dunbartonshire on a vacancy late in 1820. Lord Melville, the Liverpool ministry’s Scottish manager, would have preferred another man, as part of a scheme to safeguard the government’s interest in Stirlingshire, where a by-election was also imminent. However, Buchanan proved too strong to be deflected, and despite being challenged by a former Member he carried the election by six votes.3

He was a fairly regular attender, who gave general but silent support to government. Although he voted for repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., he rallied to ministers when they threatened resignation on the issue, 3 Apr. 1821. He divided against the disfranchisement of ordnance officials, 12 Apr., parliamentary reform, 9, 10 May, and the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May. He voted against the omission of arrears from the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June 1821. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He presented petitions for relaxation of the distillery laws, 29 Apr., 21 May.4 He voted against relieving Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822. He divided against further tax reductions, 3 Mar., repeal of the tax on small houses, 10 Mar., and inquiry into the currency, 12 June 1823. He voted against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., reform in Scotland, 2 June, and inquiry into delays in chancery, 5 June 1823. His name appears in none of the surviving division lists of the 1824 session, but he presented petitions against the hemp duty, 29 Mar., and for repeal of the tax on notaries, 1 Apr., and the abolition of colonial slavery, 5 Apr.5 He was granted three weeks’ leave owing to family illness, 17 Feb., but returned to vote for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb. 1825. He divided against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. He was in the minority in favour of the Leith docks bill, 20 May, and voted for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 6 June 1825. It was said of him at this time that he ‘attended frequently and uniformly voted with government’.6

Buchanan retired at the dissolution in 1826. He disposed of Balloch in 1830 and bought a property at Boturich.7 He died in June 1839. He was succeeded by his only son John (1799-1875), who was involved in the Glasgow mercantile house of Buchanan and Company and had some connection with the Ship Bank in Glassford Street.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Glasgow Recs. vii. 161; viii. 54, 215; Pol. State of Scotland 1788, p. 95.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1785), ii. 918; J. Irving, Bk. of Dumbartonshire, ii. 216; Glasgow Recs. viii. 378, 384, 532, 656; ix. 166, 693; xi. 127.
  • 3. NAS GD51/1/198/8/8; 198/26/51; Inverary Castle mss (History of Parliament Aspinall transcripts), Lord J. Campbell to R. Campbell, 24, 30 Dec. 1830.
  • 4. The Times, 30 Apr., 22 May 1822.
  • 5. Ibid. 30 Mar., 2, 6 Apr. 1824.
  • 6. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 453.
  • 7. Irving, ii. 232.