Biography of Sir George Buchanan (1854-1924)
George William Buchanan was the fifth son of Sir Andrew Buchanan, diplomat, of Craigend Castle, Stirlingshire, and was born in Copenhagen.
He followed his father into the diplomatic service in 1876 and initially served as an attaché under him in Vienna. In 1878 he moved to Rome, and the following year to Tokyo. Between 1882 and 1893 George worked in Vienna, Bern and at the Foreign Office in London. He was chargé d'affaires at Darmstadt from 1893, and between 1900 and 1910 served in Rome, Berlin, Sofia, and The Hague. He was knighted in 1909.
In 1910 George Buchanan was appointed as ambassador to Russia. In 1916 he was granted the freedom of the city of Moscow. He remained in Russia throughout the war and the revolution of March 1917, tried to use his closeness to Tsar Nicholas II to persuade him to make concessions, and made many warnings about the dangers ahead.
During the war, his wife Lady Georgina took over the organization of a hospital for wounded Russian soldiers in St Petersburg, supported by gifts of money and supplies from England, where sympathy was raised by the reports of the hardships in Russia. Her daughter Meriel Buchanan worked as a nurse in the hospital.
Sir George and his family left Russia in January 1918 soon after the Bolsheviks took power. Sir George was sent to Rome as ambassador in 1919, and retired in 1921.
He married in 1885 Lady Georgina Meriel Bathurst (d 1922), daughter of Allan Alexander, 6th Earl Bathurst, and had one daughter:
- A series of letters from George Buchanan to his father Sir Andrew Buchanan during his posting to Tokyo, 1880-1882, is part of the Buchanan Collection held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham (reference: Bu 60/1-20). Another series contains miscellaneous letters, photographs and newspaper cuttings relating to Sir George Buchanan during his time as Ambassador in St Petersburg, 1914-1918 (reference: Bu B 7/1-28)
- Leeds University Library Special Collections holds letters to Sir Edmund Gosse, 1919-1921 from George Buchanan; and a series of letters written by Georgina Buchanan to her mother Lady Bathurst, 1911-1921
- Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives holds correspondence with Lord Hardinge, 1907-1920
- The House of Lords Record Office: The Parliamentary Archives holds letters to David Lloyd George, 1915-1917
- Newcastle upon Tyne University: The Robinson Library holds correspondence with Walter Runciman, 1911-1916
- The National Archives holds letters to Sir William White, 1880-1891
Published Works by or about Sir George Buchanan
- Zara Steiner, ‘Buchanan, Sir George William (1854–1924)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [available online to subscribers, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32150]
- George Buchanan, My mission to Russia, and other diplomatic memories, 2 vols. (London: Cassell, 1923)
- Meriel Buchanan, Ambassador's daughter (London: Cassell, 1958)