Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Buchanan, David (1595?-1652?)
BUCHANAN, DAVID (1595?–1652?), Scotch writer, was, Sibbald says, descended from the same family as the famous George Buchanan. This statement is confirmed by William Buchanan of Auchmar (Historical and Genealogical Essay upon the Family and Surname of Buchanan, 1723), who asserts that David was the second son of William Buchanan, son of the first Buchanan of Amprior, who was second cousin to George Buchanan. A David Buchanan was admitted to St. Leonard's College at St. Andrews in 1610 (Irving, preface to Davidis Buchanani de Scriptoribus Scotis). He appears to have resided some time in France, for in 1636 he published at Paris a work of about seven hundred pages, entitled 'Historia Humanæ Animæ.' In 1638 he followed this up with 'L'Histoire de la Conscience, par David Buchanan,' which was probably printed also at Paris, though the place of publication is not mentioned. Between 1638 and 1644 he appears to have returned to his native land, and in 1644 issued an edition of John Knox's 'Historie of the Reformation in Scotland,' to which he prefixed a life of the author and a preface. in both the 'Historie' and the 'Life' he took unusual liberties, and interpolated in the former a great deal of original matter, apparently with the view of adapting it to the times. The preface, which professes to be a sketch of the previous history, is historically worthless. In 1645 a second edition was published at Edinburgh. In the same year he published at London 'Truth its Manifest; or a short and true Relation of divers main passages of things in some whereof the Scots are particularly concerned.' This work was an account of the conduct of the Scotch nation during the civil war. It provoked considerable ire in England, was voted by both houses of parliament false and scandalous, and ordered to be burnt by the hangman. A scurrilous refutation appeared entitled 'Manifest Truths, or an Inversion of Truths Manifest,' London, 1646. Buchanan's pamphlet, according to Baillie's letters (to William Spang, 24 April 1646), was really a collection of authentic state papers edited by him, with an introduction and a preface. Parliament, not being able to deny the authenticity of the papers, attacked the introduction, and declared the editor to be an incendiary. The next notice of him is to be found in the 'Scottish Historical Library,' London, 1702. Here Bishop Nicolson mentions that a great deal of the work in the 'Atlas of Scotland,' published in 1655, was really done by Buchanan, and that he died before he had finished all he had projected. Nicolson also says that he wrote 'several short discourses concerning the antiquities and chorography of Scot land, which in bundles of loose papers, Latin and English, are still in safe custody;' and that these 'discover their author's skill in the Hebrew and Celtic languages.' Perhaps these are what Buchanan of Auchmar refers to when he says that David wrote a large ' Etymologicon ' of all the shires, cities, rivers, and mountains in Scotland, from which Sir Bobert Sibliahl quotes some passages in his 'History of the Shires of Stirling and Fife.' Sibbald also states, in the 'Memoirs of the College of Physicians,' that he received the greatest assistance from some manuscripts of Mr. David Buchanan, who has written on the learned men of Scotland in excellent Latin. Here he probably refers to the manuscript entitled ‘De Scriptoribus Scotis,’ preserved in the university library at Edinburgh, and attributed to David Buchanan, which was for the first time edited by Dr. David Irving, and printed for the Bannatyne Club in 1837. In the appendix to this work there is inserted the last testament of a David Buchanan. Among the ‘Miscellanies’ of the Bannatyne Club (vol. ii.) is to be found a Latin ‘Urbis Edinburgi Descriptio per Davidem Buchananum,’ dated circa 1648. The date of his death can be more nearly fixed than that of his birth, for it appears to lie between 1652 and 1653. Most of the authorities agree in assigning the first year; but in a note to the ‘Descriptio Edinburgi’ it is stated that according to the registers of wills he must have died in 1653.
[Anderson's Scottish Nation (articles ‘Buchanan,’ ‘David Buchanan,’ ‘Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch’); Bannatyne Club Publications, notes and prefaces (Descriptio Urbis Edinburgi; De Scriptoribus Scotis); Scottish Historical Library; William Buchanan's Essay on the Family and Surname of Buchanan; Baillie's Letters.]