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‘Luckie’ Buchan'

Andrew Innes d. 1846 The most devoted and the longest lived of the sect founded by Elspeth Simpson, ‘Luckie’ Buchan'. Native of Muthill, mason to trade and such a zealous member of the Relief Church that he walked to Glasgow to attend the Sacrament. There he met Mrs Buchan, who on Glasgow Green expounded to him the prophetic revelation by which she was the woman in Revelation 12. She had great power of attraction for young people and soon Andrew left home to join the new sect at Irvine. When Mrs Buchan was badly hurt by the mob he took her in his cart to his parents’ home in Perthshire to recover, and as a result several Muthill families became Buchanites. Although he was not an educated man, nor a clever one, it is to him we look for what little we know about the community. Undoubtedly part of their bad reputation comes from a self-righteous letter written by Robert Burns who knew them at Irvine and from rumours circulated by local ministers. Today their sharing society might be looked on more kindly. Innes became ‘Friend Mother’s’ devoted helper and when they reached Closeburn he was sent hack to Irvine to bring Jean Gardner, whose family had joined the sect. She had lingered behind, perhaps because she was in love with Burns, some critics believe that she, and not Jean Armour, was the ‘BonnieJean’ of his poem. Innes himself was in love with her sister Katie Gardner but one of the Buchanite tenets was no marriage, no begetting of children as the end of things was imminent. Katie became pregnant and Friend Mother’s wrath was great against them both. Andrew was at first excluded but later he and Katie were allowed to return on condition that they must never show any affection to the child who would be reared by the community; nor must they ever acknowledge each other as man and wife. The child was weak-minded and, perhaps fortunately, died. Andrew and Katie kept their promise. On Mrs Buchan’s death it was he who hid her body for over half a century, moving it as they moved. She had claimed that she would rise again after 50 years and on 29 March 1841 he was seen to be constantly watching the skies, taking warm blankets up to the closet where, his friends knew, the corpse was hidden. At nightfall he was a hopeless, broken man. Old Katie, who had long since ceased to believe, was the only other left. They still kept the promise of non-marriage and treated each other as strangers although each spoke and acted kindly to the other. Her last words when, two years later she was dying, were ‘Oh be carefu’ o’ Andrew, he sits wi’ his feet on the ribs o’ the grate, which has fashed me muckle . . . his legs micht be roasted afore he could shift his chair.’ As he had requested, the mummified body of ‘Luckie’ Buchan was buried below his own at the back of the house in Crocketford. If Andrew had not chanced to meet Mrs Buchan in the Saltmarket of Glasgow he might have remained in his native village, to marry and beget a family and to die a respected elder of the Relief Church.