The Buckner Page

This page was primarily intended to deal with Buckner genealogy, though it strays a bit into famous Buckners and assorted Buckner-alia (or, as one of my friends commented, "the Buckner mystique"). Its purpose is mainly to collect and disseminate genealogical information collected by the numerous genealogists working on the various Buckner families, and I mean "Buckner families" in the most general way. It has, however, fallen behind the times considerably as web design has advanced since its 1995 inception.

Any contributions would be welcome. I can provide some storage space, though not a lot. I try to stick with older records which will be of more general interest.

Genealogical Data

The Main Buckner Lines

In America, the vast majority of Buckners can trace their ancestry to one or more Buckners (the number is an uncertain and contentious issue) who immigrated from England in the 1600s. Some of these are the family treated rather imperfectly by Crozier's Buckners of Virginia. The semi-famous Kentucky family (Aylette Buckner and the Simon Bolivar Buckners) comes from this line. Contrary to the conventional wisdom though, I think that there were really two separate groups of immigrants to Virginia in the 17th century, though they were distantly related. The better-known group, consisting of at least two (John and Phillip) and probably four brothers or close cousins (Anthony and Andrew), settled mainly around the Rappahannock River and coastal Virginia-I call them the Rappahannock Buckners. The second branch, the James River Buckners was established by only one known immigrant, William Buckner, who settled on the upper James River in Virginia. In addition, there was a New England immigrant, Charles Buckner, who probably arrived in the 1650s (about the same time as the earliest Rapphannock immigrant John Buckner and the James River immigrant William Buckner), but it is not clear if he has any living descendants.

There were at least three other colonial-era Buckner immigrations to the Americas though, surprisingly with two from Ireland. I call one Irish line (my own) the McBuckners due to the odd habit the second generation (and occasionally third) had of sometimes prepending a "Mc" to the name. Generally, very little is known of the progenitor line in Ireland, though I have lately had some success in establishing that all of the known Irish Buckners (who tended to prefer the spelling "Bucknor") up to 1700 were descended from the Buckners of Berkshire, England. After 1700, the evidence in Ireland becomes rather thin however. I have a tree for the McBuckners on Ancestry.com. The second line seems to have been established in South Carolina by a Thomas Buckner in the mid 1700s, but I don't know as much about them personally. A third line was established in New York just before the American Revolution by William Bucknor, who was said to have come from the West Indies and married Elizabeth Goelet.

The latter Irish line may have had and certainly the New York line did have connections to the West Indies, and indeed there are now substantial numbers of Bucknors in Jamaica particularly. This Jamaican line was probably founded by a John Bucknor in the late 1600s. Like the 17th century Irish Bucknors, the Jamaica branch preferred the "or" spelling, a feature which persists even today. The Jamaican Bucknors in turn seem to have given rise to some West African families, perhaps the descendants of Jamaican Maroons who were documented among a large population removed to Sierre Leone in 1800.

Broadly speaking, in the American Upper South, the McBuckners tended to follow northern Appalachian migration patterns while the Rappahannock Virginia Buckners tended to be more "Old South" type families, which certainly comes out in their respective Civil War leanings. The James River Virginia Buckners seem to have spread mainly into and from southern Appalachia. After 1850 though, American migration patterns became much more fluid, so the geographic distributions are no longer very distinct.

In addition, numerous, though generally fairly late instances are known of Germans with the name Buchner (less often Büchner) arriving in the US and changing their names to Buckner, whether by intention or accident. I don't have cute names for any of these lines yet. A very early example went Loyalist during the Revolution and many of them fled to Canada afterward, though these Canadian Loyalist families tended to settle on a "Boughner" spelling.

In England, the Buckner name is still found, though it is much rarer there than in America. A page on this site shows the earliest evidence of Buckners that I can find in England, which, combined with modern geographic distribution data, clearly indicates that the name originated in southeastern Oxfordshire, near the border with Berkshire. Up to the 1700s, it is likely that all Buckners in England originated from that line. According to orthodox Buckner genealogies a second English line was founded by a Westphalian immigrant named Richard Buckner (b.ca. 1695) in Chichester, England. This line was particularly wealthy and well connected at one time (including Admiral Charles Buckner), and consequently much ink has been shed over it. I call these the Chichester Buckners. I'm skeptical of the Westphalia immigration story since there were other Buckners in West Sussex before that, but I've been in touch with a modern descendant who thinks it's for real, and their family tradition backs it up. If you've seen a "Buckner coat of arms," it's probably theirs. I have a tree for the early members of this family on Ancestry.com too.

  1. Buckner Wills My consolidated will page with transcriptions and links.
  2. The 17th Century American Buckner Sourcebook A text file with a referenced list and short abstracts of all (to me) known mentions of any Buckner (currently around 90) in America between 1600 and 1699.
  3. Buckner markers in the Bethel Cem., Carter Co., KY, USA. (McBuckners)
  4. Buckners and Buchners in the index of a 1% sample of the 1880 US census.
  5. Distribution of the surname Buckner in the US by Hamrick Software
  6. Family Group Sheets for some descendants of Patrick (Mack) BUCKNER (TN-VA-TN-KY-VA, c. 1790 - aft. 1872) (McBuckners)
  7. Some ROOTS-L Buckner Articles Queries and information.
  8. Abstract of some United States military pension and bounty land warrant records for Patrick (Mc) Buckner,b c. 1789. (McBuckners)
  9. The Descent of Simon B. Buckner IV, including some of the major VA line. (Virginia line)
  10. The 1888 Biography of Harrison Buckner (b. 1845, Carter Co., KY. Article from History of Sebastian Co., Arkansas) (McBuckners)
  11. Buckners in Berkshire and Oxford (England) (Berkshire Buckners)
  12. On-line and updated version of an article on Patrick [Mc]Buckner (TN-VA-TN-KY-VA, c. 1790 - 1873) which I wrote for the Buckner Newsletter. (McBuckners)
  13. Biography of Capt. Thomas Bucknor (ca 1627-ca. 1716) One of the more interesting characters in Buckner history, and probably an ancestor to more than you might think (Berks-Irish line)
  14. A New Proposal for the Ancestry of Thomas Buckner, mercer of London (1562-aft. 1633) A new analysis of the ancestry of the elusive Thomas Buckner, one of the first Englishmen in America (Berks line).
  15. Buckner immigrations to America The five immigrants I knew about (just haven't added new ones).
  16. Some Spotsylvania Co., VA importations - 1769 May record the arrival of Patrick Buckner to America, although the name may really be Patrick Buckney.
  17. Some things from the Tennessee Genweb
  18. Descendants of Henry Buckner, b. 1744, VA or PA, USA. NC families.
  19. Buckner Family Homepage Some Texas Buckners.

Queries

Queries See Buckner queries left by other people.

The query system itself has been gone for many a year.

Mailing Lists, Periodicals, and On-line Groups

The Name

Origin

The most basic and most often debated question about the origin of the name is whether the name was originally English or originally German. The answer is pretty simple - both. It is indeed found in England back to the very earliest history of surnames in the 13th century, and in my opinion, the vast majority of Buckners in the world derive from this English origin.

However, there are German-derived Buckners. The problem with the German derivation is that the German name spelled "Buckner" is so rare that it couldn't possibly account for all or even a significant number of the Buckners in England and America. There are two other similar German names though, Buchner and Büchner, which are much more common, about as common in Germany as Field or Archer is in the English speaking world. If you don't speak German, you might be thinking "well, those are all basically the same name." Problem is, they're not. I'm a Buckner who has lived in Germany, and trust me, to any German native speaker they're as different as "math" and "mess" (which sound virtually identical to many Germans) are to us English speakers. At this link, you'll find a sound file where I pronounce "Buchner", "Büchner", and "Buckner" with my best attempt at a typical 18th century German accent (the uvular [r] hadn't really penetrated Germany yet by that time).

What generally happened with German Buckners is that the name got misspelled or even entirely changed when the immigrants settled in English-speaking areas. My sense is that almost every instance was going from Buchner to Buckner; Büchner tended to get mangled to something else, "Beechner" or some such. Even when you see a record that says "Johann Buckner" arrived on a ship from Germany, you really don't know that Johann himself spelled it like that. It's pretty likely that he went on his way to Pennsylvania and called himself Buchner for the rest of his life, regardless of how the master of the ship he arrived on garbled the name. There's even a well known example of a German family of American Loyalists who were probably Buchners originally but alternated between Buckner and Boughner. After the Revolution, many of them fled to Canada where most of them finally settled on Boughner.

As for the English name, establishing where it comes from in England is pretty easy. Both historical documents and the statistics for the modern distribution of the name in England converge to the idea that it originated in Oxfordshire close to the traditional border with Berkshire (pre-1974).

1881 Buckner relative frequency in the UK from CASA

Figuring out what it originally meant is harder. The earliest occurrences from the 1200s and 1300s have several typical features: they often have the prefix "de" (e.g. "de Bukenore"), end in "-ore" (not "-er", which seems to have developed in the mid 1500s), and had a middle unstressed syllable which probably disappeared in the 1400s, though there are no examples known yet for that period. The original pronunciation was probably something like "duh BUCKenOR".

Names with this "de" prefix were almost always place names. The original idea with them is that the place was where the person was from. Adam de Leigh was from Leigh, John de Stanton was from Stanton, and so on. At some point in the late 1200s or 1300s, these started to become fixed with the family, so that you would be called Hugh de Watley if your father had been a de Watley, even if you yourself were born, grew up, and lived somewhere totally different. The exact date of this transition is fuzzy and was probably different in different places for different people, but at any rate, we know for sure from this prefix that Bukenore was a place. What we don't know is where this place was exactly. The very first known Bukenores in 1262 and 1316 lived in the village of South Leigh, so the name was probably well on its way to being hereditary already. In fact no de Buckenore has yet been found living in a place called Buckenore - most of them seem to have lived in or around South Leigh and Leigh (Oxfordshire). I still haven't been able to find a place with that name in any record in England, so its identity is still a bit of a mystery. The best clue I have so far is that a small creek off the Thames in that area was called "Bugganbroc" ("Buckenbrook" more or less) in Medieval times (now called Limb Brook - see G.B. Grundy, Saxon Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire Record Society (Series) v. 15, 1993, p.34). The suffix "-ore" was common in early English place names, and it usually indicated a rise or a river bank, so possibly "Buccanore" (to use the Old English rather than the Middle English spelling) was a small settlement or homestead on a bank or rise above this brook, a mere ten miles from the village of Cumnor which is familiar to many Buckner genealogists as the home of most of the known 16th century Buckners.

Spelling

As I have remarked elsewhere, "Buckner" is not a particularly difficult name to spell. The only persistent variations I've seen are "Bucknor", which can be found even today (and perhaps is the older form, see the origin discussion), and "Bucknour", which can sometimes be found in England in older records. "Bucknor" is only about 1/100 as common as "Buckner" in the US, but in Canada it constitutes 15-20% of occurrences of the name. In the UK, "Bucknor" likewise seems to account for around 20% of Buckner/Bucknors, and it is by far the dominant form in the West Indies and West Africa.

The most common spelling variations in my experience though arise from misreadings. Since many people aren't familiar with the name, when they can't make it out clearly in old manuscripts they often guess at things like "Backner" and "Buckney". Of course, "Backner" and "Buckney", are so rare in the United States that they don't occur in either my 1850 surname survey of 200,000 names or the U.S. Census 1990 survey. This puts their frequency in the one-in-a-million range at most, a thousand times or more rarer than "Buckner." (In fact, using US phone book data I was able to confirm this estimate of the frequency of "Buckney" - 11 listings in the US - compared to "Buckner" with about 11,000. "Backner" weighs in with 53 listings.) Therefore, oftentimes when you see either of these in American records, consider the possibility it's "Buckner" (or something else) misread. To complicate things, "Buchner" is also a common misreading of "Buckner", but it's also a real and relatively common German surname, so it's often hard to tell whether a name was really "Buchner" or just misread.

Frequency

A quick phone book check of various countries will reveal that the name in the "Buckner" spelling is at least represented if not well represented in the population centers of most English-speaking countries, including Canada, the U.S., England, Jamaica, and Australia, but is quite rare if present at all in German-speaking ones. A check of the '92-'93 Berlin white pages revealed only two instances, whereas Toronto, London, New York, and Melbourne all at least doubled that figure. Buchners and Buechners were both numerous in Berlin.

In the United States, the surname Buckner was reported to be the 1225th most common surname in a 1964 analysis of Social Security data. A total of 22,825 people were estimated to bear the name at that time [Smith, p.316]. A more recent 1990 study by the Census Bureau places it at 991st, with 88,799 names, or 0.012% of the population. I can't really account for the apparent Buckner population burst of the last 25 years, but it may be due to a biasing of that particular 1990 study towards ethnic minorities. Since the surname has historically been most strongly concentrated in the U.S. South, it seems to enjoy a considerably higher frequency among the descendants of freed slaves, and this results in an exaggerated frequency estimate from samples which are strongly biased towards the African-American ethnic group. Other evidence from telephone listings suggests the number is probably nearer to 30,000. We can also note that in the IPUMS 1% samples of the 1850 and 1880 censuses, there were just 2 Buckners in around 200,000 individuals (~0.001%) and 46 Buckners in around 502,000 individuals (~0.0092%), respectively. The frequency increase between 1850 and 1880 is probably partly the result of the emancipation of the slaves and subsequent adoption of the surname in the 1860s. The extremely small sample size for 1850 results in a large sampling error as well.

From an online phone directory for the UK, I have estimated Buckner/Bucknor to have roughly a frequency there of about 1/110,000 (0.00091%), which equates to a total population of around 550. The CASA surname profiler agrees and even provides a distribution map. The fact that Buckner is far more common in the US arises mostly from a form of the "founder" effect which is observed in population genetics. Basically, because the name was established in America in the early to middle part of the 17th century when the total population was quite small, it got a sort of head start over many other names which were introduced later. "Buckney" for instance has virtually the same frequency in the US and UK, suggesting that it was introduced to America much later in history.

In Germany, the excellent Geogen system by Christoph Stoepel reveals that the modern frequency of "Buckner" in Germany is even lower, less than 1 in a million.

Important Buckner Sources

The Buckners of Virginia
Edited by William A. Crozier from material gathered by William Dickinson Buckner and others (1907). Probably the most comprehensive Buckner genealogy. It covers an extensive group of families in Virginia, the one that produced the prominent Kentucky family to which Simon Bolivar BUCKNER, Governor of KY and Confederate general belonged. LDS MF #1,012,639. Doubts about its accuracy have been raised especially for the early American colonial period, and many of its conclusions about the pre-Colonial English lineage are almost comical. I often tell people to ignore everything before around page 16 - it's almost all wrong up to that point and a couple of things in that section are very likely to be intentional forgeries that were sold to W.D. Buckner by some unscrupulous charlatan as "research." I've written a series of corrections and comments that address some of the major issues. A PDF of the original is now available on Google Books!
Buckner Family
By H. Anjou. An extensive history and genealogy (77 pages) of Buckners from Plantagenet England to a 20th century individual, with an opening onomastic treatment. After the immigration of the family, it covers much the same material as Crozier. The only published form I've seen is on LDS microfilm, #980,083. Date unknown. Reliability highly questionable. Anjou and Crozier contain some parallel content, though it's unclear to me which one is derivative from the other.

Note: "H. Anjou" seems to be in fact Gustav Anjou, a genealogist whose works are now widely considered to be of dubious accuracy, if not fraudulent. While this book does show some things that are considered to be typical of Gustav Anjou's works, such as its rather ambitious forays into medieval England, it generally does not make overly unsubstantiated claims about relationships between the earlier individuals and the later individuals, in my opinion. However, I only looked closely at the name history and medieval sections, so I do not know how accurate the later sections (where it overlaps with Crozier to a large degree) are. Crozier is known to have significant flaws in the trans-Atlantic area too, so both should be taken with a grain of salt, as they say. If it were my family tree - and it isn't - I would not accept anything in either Crozier or Anjou without corroboration from primary sources, though they can still be useful.

Simon Bolivar Buckner: Borderland Knight
Arndt M. Stickles, (1940). Biography of Simon Bolivar Buckner. Contains some genealogical information, though the General himself didn't have much time for all that nonsense, so it's slim pickings in that respect. It also relies a lot on Crozier for anything but the immediate family.
Reminiscences of the Buckner Family
Priscilla Aylette Buckner Reardon,(1901). Collection of anecdotal material on the 19th century Buckners of Western Kentucky, the family to which S.B. Buckner (Confederate General and later Governor of Kentucky) belonged. Extensive and often entertaining first hand accounts. It's only partly genealogical, but the genealogical parts are better than many "professional" works of its time, and it's really just an amazing piece of American history (albeit a little "unreconstructed" in places). Available on line at the Internet Archive. That particular copy digitized on the Internet Archives seems to have belonged to William Buckner McGroarty, a widely published genealogist of the early 20th century, so it has the added bonus of his notes scribbled all over it.
A Royal Descent with Other Pedigrees and Memorials
Tomasin Elizabeth Sharpe, (1875). T.E. Sharpe's family history, which contains a small (and surprisingly accurate) section on the Buckners of Chichester, England. Used as a source by both Anjou and Crozier. Also now available on Google books.
A Slave, Ambassador, and City Doctor
Interview by Lauana Creel, (1936). A lengthy and rich interview with George Washington Buckner, former slave of Stanton Buckner (son of William Buckner, a founder of Greensburg, KY), who through amazing persistence and tremendous ability made himself a successful career in medicine and was named US minister to Liberia in the Wilson administration. Part of the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938.
Diary of Captain Philip Buckner
Diary of Philip Buckner, William Buckner McGroarty ed. (1926). A generally entertaining diary of Philip Buckner's journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans in 1801. The William and Mary Quarterly, Second Series, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Jul., 1926), pp. 173-207 (Available on JSTOR if you have a subscription - I might be able to come up with a copy if you ask.)
Buckner Descendant Generations
By Jim White, (2007). A very expensive self-published book which has been described to me as "an expensive doorstop" by one dissatisfied customer, it attempts to be a complete document of all Buckners up into the 19th century. Not surprisingly, it fails completely, and the author seems to have resorted to inventing fake sources outright in order to get as far as it does. It's not that there's just an isolated mistake here and there - there are dozens if not hundreds of completely fake records in it. I'm not going to speculate publicly on the author's motives for doing this, but you can conclude what you will from the $100+ price tag. What's worse, many of the fake data have been copied into the IGI and many innocent researchers have incorporated them into their family trees in the past few years. It has a few will transcriptions that are hard to find, but other than that it's completely valueless, and the regular occurrence of forged records makes it a net negative due to the time you'll waste trying to confirm its bogus claims. There is one odd characteristic that you'll commonly see in that tainted data, the location Garswood, Lancashire. If you ever see that attached to a Buckner in a database, you can be pretty sure that it (A) ultimately derived from this book and (B) is fake. I've spent a lot of time looking through real Lancashire records, and if there ever were any Buckners in Garswood, they must have gone through a lot of trouble to avoid having any one make records of them.
Cousins by the Dozens The Story of John Buckner "The Immigrant and his Atecedents - Siblings and Descendants
Mary G. Wright, 1994. I don't have a copy of this (yet), but it seems to be fairly influential. I do know that it seems to be the original source for two very bizarre ideas that I see frequently, one that the Buckners of Berkshire were from "Cunmore", apparently a strange reinterpretation of "Cumnor", and the second that Thomas Buckner the Mercer (m. Elizabeth Crackplace) was born in 1590. 1590 was actually their marriage date. At any rate, it doesn't sound promising.
Wills
Wills are an excellent source for family history and history in general. See the will page on this site for transcriptions of and links to over 30 original wills.
U.S. Census
The backbone of American genealogy back to 1790. See their web page.
Genealogy Home Page
The Genealogy Home Page

Famous and/or Infamous Buckners


Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr. (1823-1914)

The Confederate general who surrendered Fort Donnelson to General Ulysses S. Grant, he went on to become Governor of Kentucky and famously mediated the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can now actually see his grave on the web, courtesy of Find A Grave.

See Also: a wikipedia article


Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. (1886-1945)

Following a military career as had his father, he rose to the rank of general in World War II and was killed at the battle of Okinawa. I'm told there is a plaque to his memory at the State (or really Commonwealth) Capitol of Kentucky in Frankfort.

See Also: a wikipedia article


Bill Buckner (1949-)

Long-time major league baseball player for the Boston Red Sox.

See Also: a wikipedia article


Milton Buckner (1915-1977)

Jazz pianist and organist.

See Also: a French wikipedia article, from which I extract:

With George Shearing, he was one of the creators of the "block chords" or "locked hands" technique for the piano. Legend has it that Milt Buckner developed the technique because his hands were too small.


Richard Buckner

Contemporary folk musician.

See Also: VH1 Article


Admiral Charles Buckner (1735-1811)

Royal (UK) Navy officer who ultimately rose to the rank of Admiral of the Red (highest rank in the RN). Notably appears in Robert Louis Stevenson's Memoir of Feeming Jenkin and was the Admiralty's man on the scene during the 1797 Mutiny at the Nore.

See the UK National Portrait Gallery for a pic. Charles Buckner is also the progenitor of all known Chichester Buckners after the 2nd generation.


Richard Buckner (1812-1885)

19th century portrait painter. I've recently confirmed that he was the grandson of Vice-Admiral Buckner, and thus a member of the Chichester line.


Jerry Buckner

Contemporary musician. Jerry Buckner is probably best known as the coauthor of and performer on the 1982 novelty hit "Pac-Man Fever".

See also: Buckner & Garcia.Com.

See also: Buckner & Garcia Wikipedia article.


Mary M. Buckner

American science fiction writer. Winner of 2005 Phillip K. Dick award for best SF novel of the year.

See also: Wikipedia article.

See also: Official Web Site.


Assorted Buckner Web Pages

People

Bill Buckner's Mud Wrestling and Pyromania Page!
Simon B. Buckner's Page (Yeah, they're related.)
Joe Buckner's Page
Kathy Buckner of the Learning Technology Dissemination Initiative in Edinburgh.
Dr. Dorothy Buckner California dermatologist.
Constable Larry Buckner's Home Page

Places

Buckner, Missouri

As an interesting bit of trivia, several notable US cities were founded or cofounded by Buckners, including:

References

1.
American Surnames, Elsdon C. Smith, Philadelphia: Chilton (1969).
2.
Historical Outlines of English Sounds and Inflections, S. Moore & A.H. Marckwardt, Ann Arbor: Wahr Publishing (1990).
3.
Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, Great Britain, Public Record Office, Vaduz: Kraus Reprint.


The Author

I'm Ben Buckner. If you have comments about this page or have something to be added, you can contact me at my Spambot-proof mail link (won't work if you're paranoid enough to have turned off your JavaScript.)