In 1782, Hugh White was ordained as minister in the Relief Church. The following year, he invited a Mrs Elspeth Buchan to his home in Seagate. White is reputed to have spent time in America where had had come across the more liberal doctrines of certain religious sects. Mrs Buchan ,who had a history of religious hysteria, left her husband and formed a “mystical” association with the minister whereby he was the “manchild” and she the “Woman” of the Book of Revelations, commissioned to announce the second coming of Christ. Not surprisingly, White was deposed for his heretical views. However, the pair soon had enough followers to hold meetings – first in a tent in White’s Seagate garden, then in the Glasgow Vennel house of Patrick Hunter, a prosperous lawyer and merchant.
Their lifestyle was described in detail by Robert Burns and a modern interpretation would suggest that they had formed a type of commune. They were also witnessed by the young John Galt singing psalms as they went and shouting in the street. Mrs Buchan and her followers were twice driven out of Irvine by mobs, and twice returned, to be formally banished by the Town Council in 1784. They eventually formed a community in Wigtownshire where Mrs Buchan died in 1791. Some of her followers drifted back to Irvine including Mrs Hunter who returned to the fold of the church
The Buchanite Meeting House remains in use as a private residence.