Friday, 30 November 2012

Rev Malcolm Buchannan (1880-1954)

Malcolm Buchannan was one of Whitby's characters. 

An energetic High Church Anglican priest, his obituary from 9 July 1954 gives a full story of his remarkable life.  I am not sure where, in his far-flung ministry, this photograph was taken – possibly the Transvaal.

Rev Malcolm Buchannan
Rev M Buchannan's Notable Life

By the death of the Rev Malcolm Buchannan, which occurred on Sunday night at his home, St Hilda's Terrace, Whitby, the town lost a man who defied ill-health to continue his vocation almost to the end. 

A native of Whitby, Father Buchannan was educated at Hallgate's School at Whitby, and subsequently attended Durham School and Durham University, where he gained prominence as an oarsman, rowing in representative events for the Varsity. 

He was a son of Mr Charles Buchannan, and a grandson of Mr George Weatherill, the famous artist, and he felt the call to the work of the Church, and as a priest of the Church of England did an outstanding service to his fellow men, not only in England, but in Canada, South Africa and Trinidad.

A man of great personal charm, Father Buchannan's chief characteristic was his sincerity.  He was ordained curate in 1903 at Durham and his first appointment was as a curate at St Mark's, South Shields, where he remained for three years, being priested in 1904. 

From St Mark's he moved to St John's, Darlington, and then he felt the call to the mission field, and joined the Prairie Brotherhood in Canada, and did considerable pioneering work.  His diligence won him a great reputation, and for three years he worked incessantly in the Canadian hinterland, before returning once more to England and being appointed curate at St Oswald's, Durham. 

Subsequently he became curate of St Wilfrid's, South Kilvington, and he was at St Saviour's, Heckmondwike, from 1913 to 1915.  From here he joined the Forces, and served abroad.  His health led to him returning to parochial duties and from 1916 and 1919 he was vicar of Battyeford.

For three years he was principal of St Paul's College, a religious community at Burgh, Lincolnshire, and then he returned to Canada, for which country he had a deep affection. 

Instead of working on the Prairie, however, he remained in Alberta, being rector of St Faith's Church, Edmonton, and again he had a notable ministry.  It was obvious however that his health would not stand the extremes of the Canadian climate, and in 1925 he came back to England, and for four years he was vicar of Stainton-in-Cleveland. 

Towards the end of 1929 Father Buchannan achieved the distinction of returning to the church of his boyhood as priest in charge. 

The Rev C H Hart had relinquished the post at St Ninian's, Whitby, and Father Buchannan readily stepped into the breach to continue the teaching Father Hart had undertaken for twenty seven years.  In his own town, and among his own folk, Father Buchannan worked with that sincerity and directness which had so much appeal, and for five years he was a well loved parish priest. 

Unfortunately, his health, never robust, again caused anxiety and he had to relinquish his work at St Ninian's and spent some time recuperating. 

Once he was fit he felt the urge to continue working, and he readily agreed to go to South Africa to become priest in charge at Irene, Transvaal, where, as in all the spheres where he laboured, he won the affection of the people with whom he came in contact. 

The outbreak of the last war resulted in him returning to England, and he was chaplain to the Sisters of the House of Mercy, Horbury, for three years, and was vicar of Kirkthorpe, near Wakefield.

Eventually his health broke down and in 1948 he returned to Whitby to retire, but his work for the Church was never dormant, and in addition to giving invaluable assistance to St Ninian's Church, he undertook parochial duties in the difficult days of the shortage of priests in the town and district, and impressed all by his great devotion to duty. 

A lover of children, and a man of high ideals, Father Buchannan was held in the highest regard by all those who knew him, and particularly by those who had him as a parish priest. 

He was a man who never spared himself in the carrying out of his ministry, and who overcame a natural tendency to shyness and won a host of friends.  He was not an easy conversationalist, but he could be a charming host, and it would be difficult to find a man who was so concerned for the well being of his fellows. 

Almost to the end of his life he maintained the full participation of his priestly calling, and it was a great joy to him when he was well enough to celebrate at Holy Communion at St Ninian's on Easter Day.  Soon afterwards he was overcome by serious illness, which culminated in his death. 

A man of simple faith, Father Buchannan lived what he preached, and he will be very much missed in Church circles in Whitby and by those of other denominations who knew him intimately, and were proud to call him friend.

The body was received into St Ninian's Church on Tuesday evening, and Vespers of the Dead were sung, with Mr H Hollings at the organ.  There was a Mass on Wednesday, followed by the funeral service, at which the Rev E F Hardman, priest in charge, officiated, and the lesson from Corinthians, always read with great fervour by Father Buchannan, was read by the Rev Norman A Vesey, rector of Whitby.  The Rev Noel Hopkins, of Wakefield Cathedral, offered prayer, and the Rev D J Hill, vicar of Lythe, was in the choir.  There was a representative congregation, and following the service interment took place at Sleights Churchyard, where Father Buchannan's forebears are interred.  Messrs Pinder Bros were the undertakers.

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