John Buchan

John Buchan (1811-83) was the Peebles agent of Commercial Bank of Scotland, 1867-83.

Background and early life

John Buchan was born in 1811 in Perthshire, the son of John Buchan, a local grocer, and his wife Catherine Stewart. He was educated in Stirling, where he served as a law apprentice.


In 1835 John Buchan moved to Peebles, where he took a position in the town clerk’s office. He held this position until 1840. At about that time – and while continuing his legal career – he was appointed accountant at Peebles branch of City of Glasgow Bank. In 1850 he was appointed a procurator for Peebleshire and a certified legal practitioner, prosecuting legal cases in the area on behalf of the Crown.

In 1867 Commercial Bank of Scotland decided to open a branch in Peebles, and appointed John Buchan to act as its agent there. The bank paid his salary, an allowance for a clerk's salary and rent for branch premises. In return, Buchan was personally liable for a proportion of any bad debts or other losses made at the branch. Commercial Bank of Scotland’s Peebles branch, located in the High Street, opened on 2 April 1867.

By 1876 Buchan’s second son William had joined him in his legal practice, which became known as J & W Buchan. He also became joint agent of the bank branch.

John Buchan continued as joint agent for Commercial Bank of Scotland in Peebles until his death in 1883.

Family life

In 1844 John Buchan married Violet Henderson, the daughter of a local farmer. They had six children together: John, William, Alexander Stewart, Jane Catherine, Katharine Anne Stewart and Thomas Henderson. Violet died on 6 April 1876.

John and Violet had many grandchildren, one of whom – the son of their eldest son the Reverend John Buchan – was the noted author John Buchan, most famous for his adventure story The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915).


John Buchan died on 24 September 1883, aged 72. He was succeeded as bank agent by his second son, William, and later by his grandson (brother of The Thirty-Nine Steps' author) James Walter Buchan.

Related publications

  • Our bank: The story of the Commercial Bank of Scotland Ltd, 1810-1946 (2nd edition. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1946)
  • J L Anderson, The story of the Commercial Bank of Scotland Ltd during its hundred years from 1810 to 1910 (Edinburgh: Frank & Edward Murray, 1910)