National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

John Buchan (1875-1940)

John Buchan (1875-1940)

Author, publisher and Governor-General of Canada

John Buchan, first Baron Tweedsmuir, was the author of various adventure and historical novels the most famous being 'The Thirty-Nine Steps'. It was made into a film in 1935 by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Robert Donat as Richard Hannay. John Buchan also held several senior positions in the diplomatic service, including Assistant Secretary to Lord Milner in South Africa (1901-1903) and that of Governor General of Canada (1935-1940). He died in Canada on 11 February 1940.

Birth in 1875

John Buchan was born on 26 August 1875, the son of John Buchan and Helen Masterton. His entry in the statutory register of births for Perth gives his father's profession as Free Church minister.

Birth entry for John Buchan

Birth entry for John Buchan in the statutory register of births for Perth (30 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1875/387/604

1881 and 1891 censuses

In 1881, John Buchan, aged 5, was living with his family at the Free Church Manse, Smeaton Road, Dysart. The census record shows that his father was the minister at Pathhead, that his mother was born in Broughton and that his sister and brother were born in Pathhead. The household includes one servant.

1881 census entry for John Buchan

Household of John Buchan in the 1881 census of Dysart (18 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1881/426/8, page 6

In 1891 John Buchan, aged 16 and a scholar, was living with his family in Queen Mary Avenue, Cathcart, Glasgow. The census record gives the wrong place of birth - Pathhead rather than Perth - and shows that his father was the minister at John Knox Free Church.

1891 census entry for John Buchan

Household of John Buchan in the 1891 census of Cathcart (22 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1891/560/13, page 43

By the time of the 1901 census he had moved to Oxford to continue his studies.