« Buchanan, George Buchanites Buchel, Anna von »


BUCHANITES: The followers of Elspat (or Elspeth) Simpson, wife of Robert Buchan, a journeyman potter at Greenock, Scotland. She was born at Fatmacken, between Banff and Portsoy, 1738 was brought up in the Scottish Episcopal Church; while a servant at Greenock she married and followed her husband into the Burgher Succession Church. In 1781 she separated from him and removed with her children to Glasgow. In 1783 she joined the Dowhill Relief church at Irvine, whose pastor was the Rev. Hugh White. She had already adopted fantastic views as to religion and claimed to be a teacher sent from heaven. She got a hearing, her chief converts being Mr. White, who proclaimed that she was the woman spoken of in Rev. iii. 1 sqq. and that he was the man-child she had brought forth. The Relief presbytery deposed Mr. White from the ministry, and when converts to Mrs. Buchan's pretensions began to gather, the parish authorities in May, 1784, compelled the whole band to leave. They settled on a farm at New Cample, near Closeburn, Dumfriesshire, and there the sect grew to about fifty members, some of whom were superior persons. Mrs. Buchan was called "spiritual mother" by her followers, and professed to be able to impart the Holy Spirit by breathing on the candidate; also to be a prophetess, and as such foretold that neither she nor her followers would ever die but would meet the Lord in the air in the advent which she taught was at hand, basing her teaching on I Thess. iv. 17. The usual charge of sexual immorality was brought against the sect, the most distinguished witness being the poet Robert Burns, who is said to have had a lady-love in the sect (see his letter to John Burness, dated August, 1784). His song "As I was a walking" was set to an air which was a favorite with the Buchanites. In May, 1791, Mrs. Buchan died. This, being in direct contradiction to her teaching, had a disastrous effect on her sect which then began to disintegrate, but the last adherent of it did not pass away till 1848.

Bibliography: Joseph Train, The Buchanites from First to Last, Edinburgh, 1846; Eight Letters between the People called Buchanites and a Teacher (J. Purves); Three of which are written by Mr. White, and one by Mrs. Buchan, together with two Letters from Mrs. Buchan and one from Mr. White to a Clergyman in England, ib. 1785.

« Buchanan, George Buchanites Buchel, Anna von »
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