Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Buchanan, William

BUCHANAN, WILLIAM (1781–1863), Scotch advocate, born in 1781 at Montrose, was the son of David Buchanan, printer and publisher (1745–1812) [q. v.], and brother of David Buchanan, editor of the ‘Edinburgh Courant’ (1779–1848) [q. v.], and of George Buchanan, civil engineer (1790?–1852) [q. v.] He was educated at Edinburgh University; he studied law and was called to the bar in 1806. At the outset of his career he showed a strong leaning to whig principles but he never made politics a profession, and devoted himself simply to the bar. In 1813 he published ‘Reports of certain Remarkable Cases in the Court of Session and Trials in the High Court of Justiciary.’ These reports are marked by purity of diction and methodical arrangement. In 1856 he was appointed queen's advocate and solicitor of teinds, or tithes, on the death of Sir William Hamilton. He was now the oldest member of the Scottish bar, and peculiarly fitted for his office by his antiquarian bent. He published in November 1862 a ‘Treatise on the Law of Scotland on the subject of Teinds,’ immediately recognised by the whole profession as the standard authority on the subject. Towards the end of his career his infirmity compelled him to withdraw in a great measure from active work. In the autumn of 1863 his health began to give way, and he expired after a lingering illness on 18 Dec.

For the last forty years of his life he was one of the elders of the Glasite church. He married Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. James Gregory, minister of the parish of Banchory, by whom he had numerous children.

[Gent. Mag. new ser. 1864, xvi. 392; Edinburgh Courant; Buchanan's Remarkable Cases in the Court of Session; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

B. C. S.