A LION rampant will be wiping its tears away, as one of Scotland’s largest and most ancient clans once again has a chief.

It has taken 337 years and the life’s mission of a man famed for his work researching Ronald Reagan’s ancestry, but Clan Buchanan finally has a new leader.

John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan proved his right to the chiefship and has taken “The Buchanan” as his name.

For years the Clan Buchanan Society International flew a banner at Highland games around the world featuring a lion rampant with tears of sorrow to represent the great sadness of clansmen and women without a chief.

Now, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of Lyon Court which regulates Scottish heraldry, has formally upheld a petition for Buchanan, of Cambusmore Estate near Callander, to assume the chiefship.

Genealogist Hugh Peskett, who famously traced President Reagan’s Irish ancestry in the 1980s, went into his field 50 years ago after his Buchanan grandmother urged him to find their rightful chief.

Since then he has researched lineage back to 1370 and established references in more than 300 documents from around the world to verify the claim to the chiefship of Clan Buchanan.

The clan can be traced back to 1010AD and has millions of members, but has been without a leader since the death without male heir of John Buchanan in 1681.

Relishing his new title, The Buchanan said: “My family has been acknowledged as leaders of one of the principal clan septs, the Buchanans of Leny and Arnprior, for many years, but we have also believed that we had a good case for the overall chiefship. It has been a long journey to prove our lineage.

“We first approached the Lyon Court informally over 20 years ago and it has taken decades of genealogical research to back up our claim – I am indebted to Hugh Peskett, my fellow Buchanan clansman, for his meticulous research and enduring tenacity.”

Peskett said it had been fascinating work.

“Tracing hundreds of years of lineage and unpacking the secrets of the past is no mean feat,” he explained.

“This is a historic moment for Clan Buchanan and I am truly privileged to have played my part. I believe my grandmother would be incredibly proud of what we have achieved.”

Clan Buchanan has several million members in countries across the world. Over five million people bear one of the recognised clan names, although not all are clan members.

As well as those with the surname Buchanan, clansmen and women also include those with Scottish roots and surnames such as Bohannon, Coleman, Colman, Cormack, Dewar, Dove, Dow, Gibb, Gibbon, Gibb, Gibson, Gilbert, Gilbertson, Harper, Masters, Masterson, Morris, Morrison (some only), Richardson, Rush, Rusk, Walter, Walters, Wasson, Waters, Watson, Watt, Watters and Weir. These are known as septs.

They are represented by the world’s oldest clan society, the Buchanan Society, which was established in 1725 to support its members, and the worldwide Clan Buchanan Society International.

George Lauder McAusland, commissioner for Scotland and the UK of the Clan Buchanan International Society, said: “Clan Buchanan has members worldwide and having a chief for the first time in over 300 years will be an exciting time and an excellent opportunity to promote our great clan to new heights.”