BUCHANAN, Claudius

BUCHANAN, Claudius. Cambuslang near Glasgow 12.3.1766 — Broxbourne, Hertford­shire 9.2.1815. Rev. British (Scottish) Missionary in India. Son of Alexander B., a schoolmaster, and his wife Janet Somers. Studies at Glasgow 1782-84 and 1786 and, after several years’ interval spent in London, from 1791 at Cambridge (B.A. 1795), ordained 1796. D.D. In 1797-1808 in India working for Church Missionary Society, from 1799 as chaplain to the E.I.C. and Vice-Provost of Fort William College in Calcutta. At College he also taught Greek, Latin and English classics. In 1806-07 travelled in South India and Sri Lanka, i.al. visiting Thomas Christians in Kerala. Returned in 1808 to England, he lived in Yorkshire, then in Hertfordshire, editing the Syriac New Testament, which was left incomplete. Hon. D.D. of Glasgow, Aberdeen, St. Andrews, Dublin and Cambridge universities. Twice married, first 1799 with Mary Whish (d. 1805), finally widower, two daughters with the first wife.

Buchanan was a friend of Carey and much interested in missionary work and Bible translation. He is mainly remembered in the history of Christian mission in India, but he also had a notorious role in showing Hinduism as a “bloody, violent, superstitious and backward religious system” unsing the cult of Jagannāth (for him “Juggernaut”) as “proof”. He knew Hindustani and Persian.

Publications: Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India; both as a Means of Perpetuating the Christian Religion among our own Countrymen; and as a Foundation for the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives. 96 p. Cambridge 1805; Colonial Ecclesiastical Establishment. 199 p. L. 1813.

Christian Researches in Asia. 260 p. Cambridge 1811 (on his travels).

A few religious books.

Sources: A.J.A[rbuthnot], D.N.B. 7, 1886, 182-184; Buckland, Dictionary; W.R. Shenk, Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. N.Y. 1998, 98f. (with portrait); Wikipedia (the same portrait); *Hugh Pearson, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Claudius Buchanan, D.D. 1-2. Oxford 1817.

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