Buchanan Sisters

The Buchanan Sisters Mausoleum was restored as part of a fund raising project by The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis.  For more information please visit the Buchanan Sisters Appeal page.

This monument is in memory of Margaret, Jane and Elizabeth Buchanan otherwise known as the Misses Buchanan of Bellfield Estate near Kilmarnock, They have the distinction of having the only pre-paid mausoleum in the Necropolis at a cost of £85.  Their father was George Buchanan of Woodlands who was born on the 20th May 1755 in Killearn and was one of seven brothers and three sisters. George established himself as merchant in Glasgow and he and his brothers were involved in the cotton spinning trade. He married Jean Miller, who brought with her the estate of Woodlands, at that time some distance to the west of Glasgow.

As the city grew Woodlands eventually became absorbed within the city of Glasgow and was deemed to be unsuitable as a residence. George Buchanan bought Bellfield Estate, near Kilmarnock from Mr James Fairlie of Holmes and it is here that the three Misses Buchanan lived and died.

George Buchanan and his wife had three sons and three daughters, none of whom ever married. The three sons all predeceased the daughters and their shares and personal wealth obviously increased the wealth of the daughters.

In 1861, the sisters jointly executed a will and their legacy was known as The Buchanan Bequest. Although subject to amendment by the last survivor, Elizabeth (the sisters died in eldest first and so on), it remained substantially as agreed upon.

Margaret, the eldest sister, died aged 71 on the 13th February 1864 of a heart attack.  Jane, died aged 71 on 17th December 1867 from influenza and Elizabeth died aged 72 on 23rd April 1875 of Febricula, a form of very high fever with a body temperatures of 104.5 – she had the fever for 10 days.

The Provost and Magistrates of Kilmarnock and the Ministers of Kilmarnock and Riccarton were appointed as Trustees of the Buchanan Bequest which included the following:

£10,000 was left to the Merchants House on the condition that the tomb of the family in the Glasgow Necropolis be maintained in proper order and repair during all time coming.

£4,200 was to be used as a bursary for the use of two students who intend to become Ministers of the Church of Scotland.

£30,000 to be held by the trustees of the estate and accumulated for ten years, the object of which was to found as hospital for the maintenance of indigent and infirm burgesses of Glasgow of 60 years of age and more (preference if the name was Buchanan),The trustees were to purchase two acres of ground within eight miles of Glasgow and erect a hospital , after ten years the hospital and the funds accumulated were to be handed over to the Lord Provost and Magistrates of Glasgow.  Bellfield House was to be turned, in part, into a library and the remaining portion of Bellfield to be used as an asylum for the poor people of sixty years of age and upward from the parishes of Kilmarnock and Riccarton. This facility was also to serve young people permanently injured by accident.

£5 was to be paid yearly to the Ragged School of Kilmarnock.

£3 to the Fever Hospital and the Infirmary of Kilmarnock.

£130 for a missionary was also to be appointed by the parish minister and £10 yearly for him to buy flannel clothing for the poor.

At the end of numerous other acts of kindness the remaining funds were split between Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Glasgow Asylum for the Blind.

In total £86,200 was bequeathed, which did not include all the yearly small donations, which equates to £4,092,776 in 2007 terms.

The House did not last for long as an Asylum, but it continued to be used by the community from the late 1960s to early 1970s as a occasion for weddings and such like. Unfortunately the house no longer exists, but the walled garden area of the estate is now a bowling club and the remainder of the estate is now housing.

The Dick Institute, in Kilmarnock, is in possession of the important part of the library of the Buchanan Bequest which contains over a 100 titles dating from 1759 to 1856, the portraits of two of the ladies of are also held there.

An obituary appeared in the Glasgow Herald on Friday, May 7, 1875.
Click to download the Obituary.
This material within the PDF was researched and kindly sent to us by Morag Fyfe of the West of Scotland Family History Society.


Credits : Images reproduced by the kind permission of East Ayrshire Arts & Museums.


The Dick Institute, Kilmarnock

Future Museum South West Scotland

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