Will of Anthony BUCKNER

Written 4 March 1780, Halifax County, Virginia. See Halifax Co. Willbook 1, pg. 312. Probated by the court of Halifax County on 18 May 1780.

I have attempted to represent the text accurately, though it was not possible to use the obsolete "long-s" characters found in the manuscript. The copy I transcribed preserves these and certain visible erasures which I may one day incorporate when the required browser capability is available.

In general, the text is clear and very legible.

Anthony Buckner is a well-known mystery in Buckner genealogy. His family is fairly well documented in the parish registers of St. Paul's Parish in Stafford County, VA, at least by the standards of 18th century records. This documents the birth of his and Amy's daughter Parthenia (14 Oct 1758), the marriage of "Anthony Buckner Thomas" to Amy Powell (20 Apr 1755), and the birth of "Anthony Buckner son of Jane Kelley alias Thomas" (30 Apr 1731) (All from St. Paul's Parish Register: Stafford-King George Counties, Virginia, 1715-1798, J.B.C. Nicklin, ed., Clearfield Press (date uncertain) - unattributed copies of the same transcriptions have also been published elsewhere).

The usual interpretation of this is that Anthony was the illegitimate son of Jane Kelly and an unknown Buckner. I would go a little further and surmise that Jane Kelly was the widow of Wilford Kelley, who died 24 Aug 1728 (ibid.). Wilford and Jane Kelly had a son Thomas born in 1728 and a daughter Sarah in 1721, and I would also surmise that Jane's maiden name was Thomas. It's not impossible that she was the same Jane Kelly who married Henry Smith on 24 Sep 1733 either, though this connection seems more tenuous.

On the Buckner side, there were numerous Buckners in the parish, and the conventional register transcription records the deaths of two different Anthony Buckners on 21 Mar 1733/4 and 1 Dec 1734. This double death record has led some to suspect errors in the transcription, though in any case there was an Anthony Buckner there in the parish who could reasonably be the father of the present Anthony Buckner. Because an Anthony Buckner is said to have witnessed the estate of John Bulling on Apr 27, 1734 (though I cannot confirm this from the original), the latter death date is probably that of the adult Anthony Buckner, and I have a vague suspicion that the earlier death date was for his son if it is correct. The relationships of these Buckners to the 17th century immigrant brothers John and Phillip Buckner is unclear, though as the earliest Buckner recorded in the register is Robert Buckner (d. 25 Oct 1718) it is natural to suppose that at least some of them descended from Phillip, who named sons Robert and Andrew in his will. Beyond that point, there are several theories, but solid data is lacking. An important question is whether the Robert Buckner who died in 1718 was Robert, Phillip's son, or perhaps Robert's son or even a nephew or cousin. There seems to be a more or less continuous string of records of Robert Buckners from around 1710 up into the late 1720s, but it turns out that the later ones belong to a wholly different Robert Buckner ("of Gloucester County"), who now appears to be a hitherto undocumented son of Thomas Buckner of Gloucester. Thus Robert, Phillip's son, is probably the one who died in 1718 and can be ruled out as Anthony Buckner Thomas's father. Another possibility is that some or all these Buckners in the parish register were children of Anthony Buckner, a contemporary of Robert's who lived in Stafford Co. as late as 1708 and was married to an Ellis. This Anthony may have been the son of the elder Anthony Buckner, who apparently died around 1689 and was probably an immigrant brother of John and Phillip Buckner. However, one other thing we should take into account is that Wilford Kelley's land was located near the Upper Machodoc Creek (now in King George Co.) which is very close to where Phillip lived and on the other side of the county from where Anthony's land was (on the Aquia Creek). William Buckner's land was also in this area, and by 1731 it had descended to his younger son John, who died in 1748 without (known) issue. The list of known male Buckners that would likely have been living in that area thus includes John (son of William, son of John the immigrant), Peyton (probably a son of Robert, but this is uncertain), Anthony Jr. (d. 1734), and another John Buckner who died in 1752. This last John had a sister named Sarah who married Thomas Price. After John's only child Susan (or Susannah) died in 1755, his land was inherited by his sister, so it is clear that Sarah (Buckner) Price was the only legitimate descendant of their father who was alive in 1756. This means that Peyton and John (d. 1752) could not be brothers, as Peyton's children were then still alive. Some evidence suggests that Peyton and John were coheirs of Phillip's 90-odd acre property on Gambo Creek (near Upper Machodoc), which would seem to imply that one was the son of Robert and one was the son of Andrew, though it is not clear which was which. The occurrence of the name "Anthony" is clearly an important clue though. Peyton had a son named Anthony as well, to complicate things. Thus we really have 4 decent possibilities for Anthony Buckner Thomas' father. Anthony Jr. is attractive simply because of the names, plus the likelihood that he had no other offspring, which could explain the apparent legitimization of Anthony Buckner Thomas (and his wealth), but any of the other three John, Peyton, or John is attractive based on the geographic proximity to Wilford Kelley's land.

In Halifax county, Anthony Buckner and/or Thomas is also known from a Feb 1769 court record there in which he was assigned to road service as a corvee, under the name "Anthony Buckner" (the "Thomas" part seems to have disappeared after he left Stafford County).(Halifax Co. VA Plea Book 6, p. 273) [LDS Microfilm 31921, Item 1])

An interesting thing to note is that Anthony was, to judge from his estate, quite successful as a planter. If I might suggest a scenario, it seems to me that Anthony Buckner/Thomas may have ended up being the only surviving son of Anthony Buckner, legitimate or otherwise, and perhaps his father decided to pass on his estate to his bastard, lacking any other close heirs. We should keep in mind though that there were two other Buckners of the same generation from the same area, Peyton and Anthony (later of Wood Co. VA), and the question of the parentage of all three is very open. At any rate, land doesn't appear out of thin air, so it seems likely that Anthony Buckner/Thomas came into a reasonable inheritance at some point in his life.

Several Prince William Co. VA records seem to refer to him as well, particularly one in 1765 where "Anthony Buckner Kelley" and his wife Amy sold 300 acres to Francis Jackson for 25 pounds. The deed indicates that it was part of a parcel of 590 acres they bought from Mason and Mary Bennett in 1760. Deeds from 1766 and 1767 refer to his property line. It is worth noting that Anthony Buckner the immigrant (d.ca. 1689) in 1672 received a 2506 acre patent in Stafford County, which he still owned as of 1689 just before his death, so if Anthony Buckner/Thomas/Kelley had inherited that patrilineally from Anthony Jr. and Anthony Sr., then he may have sold that or some portion of it to buy the 590 acres in PWCo. Unfortunately, Stafford Co. records are quite fragmentary from that period, so there are no records known which indicate when and by whom the ~500 acre Stafford plot was disposed of.

Two Halifax deeds from 15 June 1769 and 19 April 1770 also refer to Anthony Buckner's property (Marian Dodson Chiarito, Halifax County, Virginia Deed Book 7 (1767-(1770), p. 365 & 504). Thus they seem to have moved to Halifax in the late 1760s.

A last curious Prince William Co. record indicates that a deed was proved on 1 Mar 1784 by Anthony Buckner. As Anthony Buckner/Thomas/Kelley was dead by then, this probably either was Anthony Buckner later of Wood Co. VA or Anthony Buckner Jr. I don't think Anthony Buckner Jr. was of age by this time, so most likely the former.

In 1782, his widow Amy (Powell) Buckner was enumerated in the Virginia census in Halifax with 10 "white" individuals and 3 "black" individuals. She appears consistently in Halifax tax records at least to 1810. There is a similar 1785 entry for "Avery Backner" (according to the transcription) with 10 "white souls", which is probably her. A 1789 Halifax personal property tax list has "Amey Bucknal" (p.3, taken on July 6th) with herself as the only "white above 21" with 2 whites between 16 and 21 and 8 blacks over 21. In the same tax list, a Thomas Buckner is also listed as a "white above 21" living in the household of George Carrington (p. 6). The long-lived Amey Buckner appears again in page 3 of the 1798 Halifax personal property tax list (2 whites over 16 and 3 blacks), as does Thomas (2 whites over 16 and 2 blacks), as does an "Ellett" Buckner (p.2, with 1 white over 16, perhaps one of the many Aylett Buckners). "Anthoney Buckner", almost certainly the son in the will, appears in 1800 in nearby Pittsylvania Co. as the only white over 16 in the household.

Thomas and "Ellett" Buckner, probably originally "Aylett," do not appear to be Anthony's sons, but it seems possible that they're related somehow. Thomas first appears in Halifax tax lists in 1785 and had at least two sons, of whom Ellett was certainly one. Ellett Buckner of Pittsylvania was also acquitted of a burglary charge brought by Virginia in 1826. They seem to have been neighbors of Bartlett Estes in the Coles Ferry area (north Halifax); in the 1798 Halifax marriage of William Mullins and Frankey Estes, dau. of Bartlett, "Aylett Buckner" was a surety and Thomas Buckner a witness, which would seem to confirm that "Ellet" was one of the many, many Aylett Buckners wandering around Virginia at the time. A Thomas Buckner also witnessed Bartlett Estes's 1803 Halifax will. Thomas Buckner in nearby Rockingham Co. NC in the 1800 census was too young to have been Thomas in the early Halifax tax lists, but it seems likely that they were father and son. A third Buckner in probably the same generation was Phillip Buckner who married Parthena Gresham in Halifax in 1805. Given the sons' names Aylett and Phillip, it seems fairly certain that this elder Thomas Buckner is one of the younger sons of Phillip Buckner and Jane Aylett of Louisa Co. VA.

There were also four Buckners (John A., Frances, Judith, and Elizabeth) who lived in Caswell Co. NC, which borders on Halifax and Rockingham, and were born in Virginia around 1800-1810; they could be descendants of one of these two families.

Date of will: 4 March 1780

Probate: 18 May 1780

People named in the will:

In the Name of God Amen I Anthony Buckner of Antrim Parish Halifax County being sick of Body but of perfect sence and Memory and knowing it is Appointed for all once to die I hereby Recommend my soul to almighty god trusting the mercy of my ever blessed Saviour Jesus Christ to Receive it again in the last day in a joyful Resurrection. My body I desire may be Buried in a Christian manner and for as what worldly estate it has pleased god to bless me with after all my funeral Expenses and just Debts are paid I order and dispose of in the following Ma^nner. Item I give and Bequeath to my Daughter Linney a Negro Boy Named Isac to her and her heirs and for wanting of such heir to Return to my Estate and to be Equally Divided amongst the Survivours of them. Item I give and ~ Bequeath to my daughter Winney Edmonds twenty pounds of Geese Feathers. Item The Remainder part of my Estate with my Land I Lend to my Beloved wife Amey during her Natural Life or Widow hood and then to be Equally devided amonge the rest of my Children Barthenas Dullender Ricy Anthony Lizze William John and Elishas to them and their Heirs and for want of such heir to the Equally divided Amongst the Survivours of them. Item and Lastly I appoint my Beloved wife Amey my Executrix and John Brown and John Light jr my Executors to this my last will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this fourth day of March 1780

Signed Sealed and Delivered

Anthony Buckners {LS}

in Presence of
Christopher his+mark Robinson William Gates
John Phelps

The estate was appraised (pg. 332) at a value of £ 12944.11. The implements mentioned suggest that his business was a small cotton plantation. One appraisal entry says:

"3 Negroes viz. one Winet ['w'?] 2 childrun"

The significance of "Winet" is unfamilar to me, though I've seen another transcription that reads it as "wench". Amy Buckner's 1784 personal property tax list entry serendipitously gives their names as Nan, Isaac, and Hannah - two of them being under 16.

Notes to the Text

  1. The caret-mark with the 'n' is a spelling correction in the MS.
  2. The significance of the wavy line in the MS is unclear, if it has any significance.
  3. The spelling of "Barthenas" is clear and unmistakable. However, I have found no other mention of "Barthenas" and do not even know the sex of this child. There much evidence that they had a daughter "Parthenia," but it's difficult to reconcile this with the forms of the final and initial letters. If the will was initially dictated or dictated from an original, this may be attributable to an error on the part of a clerk who was not familiar the name. While 'B' for 'P' is a relatively unlikely misreading, the phonetic similarity of the two consonants could lead to a mistake during dictation. However, "Barthena" and slight variants are known in other families, with roughly a 9/100,000 incidence in the 1850 U.S. Census. "Parthena" and variants appeared at 33/100,000 in the same census. Parthenia died May 1 1827 in Pittsylvania Co., VA, apparently unmarried, and her will was executed by Elisha Buckner, probably her brother.
  4. Dullender (also "Dulley"), a daughter, married William WALDEN on 16 Jan. 1794 in Halifax.
  5. "Ricy" or Rice BUCKNER (some researchers call him "James Rice Buckner" but the source for this extra name is not obvious) apparently died in Maury Co., Tennessee between 1840 and 1850 at an advanced age. Elisha apparently migrated with him and apparently died in the mid 1840s. They are both known to have left descendants.
  6. In the MS, the initial capital letter has an upper loop that starts considerably below the apparent normal position for the 'L' making it strongly resemble an 'S', but other evidence suggests that it probably was intended to be an 'L' and not an 'S' as originally read.
  7. "The" here was probably mistakenly written for "be".
  8. {LS} is a representation of an outline figure containing the letters "LS" in imitation of a seal after the common convention of the time. "LS" stands for locus sigilli, Latin for "the place of the seal."