1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buchan, Elspeth

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BUCHAN, ELSPETH (1738-1791), founder of a Scottish religious sect known as the Buchanites, was the daughter of John Simpson, proprietor of an inn near Banff. Having quarrelled with her husband, Robert Buchan, a potter of Greenock, she settled with her children in Glasgow, where she was deeply impressed by a sermon preached by Hugh White, minister of the Relief church at Irvine. She persuaded White and others that she was a saint with a special mission, that in fact she was the woman, and White the man-child, described in Revelation xii. White was condemned by the presbytery, and the sect, which ultimately numbered forty-six adherents, was expelled by the magistrates in 1784 and settled in a farm, consisting of one room and a loft, known as New Cample in Dumfriesshire. Mrs Buchan claimed prophetic inspiration and pretended to confer the Holy Ghost upon her followers by breathing upon them; they believed that the millennium was near, and that they would not die, but be translated. It appears that they had community of wives and lived on funds provided by the richer members. Robert Burns, the poet, in a letter dated August 1784, describes the sect as idle and immoral. In 1785 White and Mrs Buchan published a Divine Dictionary, but the sect broke up on the death of its founder in spite of White's attempts to prove that she was only in a trance. Even White was eventually undeceived. Andrew Innes, the last survivor, died in 1848.

See J. Train, The Buchanites from First to Last (Edinburgh, 1846).