1785. At the university of Glasgow he specially distinguished himself in the philosophy classes. After completing his divinity course, he was in 1812 licensed as a preacher of the church of Scotland by the presbytery of Haddington, and in 1813 was presented to the parish of Peebles. In 1824 he was appointed assistant and successor to Professor Jardine in the chair of logic in Glasgow University, and becoming sole professor in 1827, he held the office till 1864, when he retired to Ardfillayne, Dunoon. He died on 2 March 1873. He was the author of ‘Fragments of the Table Round,’ 1860; ‘Vow of Glentreuil, and other Poems,’ 1862; ‘Wallace, a Tragedy,’ 1856; and ‘Tragic Dramas from Scottish History,’ 1868, containing ‘The British Brothers,’ a tragic drama, ‘Gaston Phœbus,’ a tragic drama, ‘Edinburga,’ a tragic drama, and the tragedies of ‘Wallace’ and ‘King James the First.’ He also published anonymously, in 1868, ‘Canute's Birthday in Ireland, a Drama in Five Acts.’ His tragedy ‘Wallace’ was performed twice for a charitable object at the Prince's Theatre, Glasgow, in March 1862, the principal characters being personated by students of the divinity and art classes. Though averse to independent and original speculations, he had a thorough mastery of the Scottish philosophy, and his highly cultivated taste was manifested not only in his verse, but in the correct and chaste style of his lectures. In commemoration of his services while occupant of the logic chair for forty years, the Buchanan prizes were instituted in 1866, consisting of the interest of 314l. for students of the logic, moral philosophy, and English literature classes. By his will he bequeathed 10,000l. for the founding of Buchanan bursaries in connection with the arts classes of the university.
[Hew Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scot. i. 237; Glasgow Herald, 3 March 1873; Ralston Inglis's Dramatic Writers of Scotland, pp. 24, 25, 128; Glasgow University Calendar.]
BUCHANAN, ROBERT, D.D. (1802–1875), church leader and theological writer, was born in 1802 at St. Ninnian's, near Stirling, and educated at the university of Glasgow. He was licensed as a probationer by the presbytery of Dunblane, ordained in 1826 minister of Gargunnock, and translated thence in 1829 to Salton in East Lothian, the parish of which Dr. Gilbert Burnet had been minister. In 1833, on a vacancy occurring in Tron parish, Glasgow (where Dr. Chalmers had begun his Glasgow ministry), Buchanan was called to fill the charge. He proved an ernest and like-minded minister, but owing to the calls of public business, in which be became involved at an early period, some of his most important plans for the good of the parish had to be postponed. Later in life, when the disruption of 1843 had brought rest from public controversy, he carried most successfully into effect a project for a territorial church and schools in connection with the Free church, in the district of 'The Wynda,' probably the most degraded portion of the city of Glasgow. The ideas of Dr. Chalmers as to home mission work were there carried out with remarkable success. By-and-bye, a portion of the 'Wynda' congregation proceeded to form a new church; and, by a widely extended system of ecclesiastical colonisation, many of the most needy districts were supplied with churches and ministers, and with bands of energetic and earnest spiritual labourers.
The conflict between the church and the civil courts of Scotland began to get very serious about the year 1838. A decision in the ' Auchterarder case ' having been given, in which the civil courts claimed a jurisdiction to which the evangelical majority in the church could not agree, a celebrated Independence resolution was moved by Dr. Buchanan, and carried in the general assembly of 1838, in which the position was defined which the church proposed to occupy in the conflict with the civil courts, which continued for the next five years. The resolution declared the readiness of the church to defer to the civil courts in all civil matters, but its firm determination in the strength of God to maintain the jurisdiction in spiritual things which had been conferred on it by its great Head. From this time Dr. Buchanan came to stand in the front rank of his party, and till his death, thirty-seven years afterwards, he was one of the guiding spirits of the movement. In counsel, in debate, as a deputy to London, on the platform and from the press, he maintained the principles which he bad announced, end strove to get them acknowledged. On 18 May 1843, when the disruption took place, he was one of the speakers on the platform at Canonmills who, standing round Dr. Chalmers, encouraged the Free church to grapple with the difficulties of her position, and to proceed energetically with the work of reconstruction.
The thirty-two years that followed were crowded with important services rendered by Buchanan to his church. Pre-eminent among these were: 1. His presiding over the sustentation fund committee from 1847 to 1875. 2. His 'History of the Ten Years' Conflict,' an elaborate work in 2 vols. 8vo.