Cos. Tyrone, Donegal, Londonderry & Fermanagh Ireland Genealogy Research

Official Website of the Mailing List

James Buchanan, Born Ramelton, Co. Donegal 1791; died Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1868

Courtesy Monreagh Heritage Centre
Compiled by
Jim McKane, Ontario, Canada


James Buchanan


15th President of the USA

James Buchanan Snr. Was born in Ramelton 1761 and left for America in 1783, sailing from Derry to Philadelphia on the ship “Providence.” He settled in York County and met his future wife Elizabeth Speer and once said “My Ulster blood is a priceless heritage and I can never be too grateful to my grandparents from whom I derived it.” His son James was born on 23rd April 1791 near Mercersburg in Pennsylvania and studied law and admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1812. He became active in the Federalist Party which was the predecessor of the Democratic Party. He served two terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 1820 he was elected to the US Congress and served five terms from 1821 to 1831. In 1824 after the demise of the Federalist Party he joined the emerging Democratic Party and played a prominent part in Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign in 1828. He spent some time as US minister to St. Petersburg and on his way home in October 1833 he visited Ramelton. Buchanan was elected to the US Senate from Pennsylvania and served from 1834 to 1845. President James K Polk appointed him as secretary of state, which Buchanan served from 1845 to 1849 while President Franklin Pierce appointed him as minister to Great Britain in 1853 when he won the favour and friendship of Queen Victoria. On his return from Britain he became President and entered the White House after forty years in public service, became President in 1856 until March 1861. President Abraham Lincoln was his successor. He then retired completely from public life. He was the second of America’s three “first generation” Presidents who were all Ulster-Scots. In 1868 he wrote “My father, James Buchanan, came to this country in the year 1783. He was born in the County Donegal, was brought up by his grandmother Russell at a place called Ramelton or Rachmelton. I am quite confident that none of his family except himself immigrated to the United States. My father had a brother called John of whom he spoke with much affection; but he died in Ireland.” James Buchanan died at home at Wheatland Estate near Lancaster on 1st June 1868 and was buried at Woodward Hill Cemetery in Lancaster with 20,000 attending his funeral.