This is the transcribed will of John Buckner, salter of London, England, 1670 (UK Public Record Office Prob 11/334)

This will was written by John Buckner, salter of London, who was the father of John Buckner Jr. salter of London who married Deborah Ferrers. For many years, John Buckner and Deborah Ferrers have been considered to be the founders of the colonial Buckner family of Virginia. This identification is almost certainly incorrect, but the will is of paramount importance in both disproving this idea and in clarifying the relationships of the Buckners living in 17th century England, a necessary first step in figuring out the identities of various Buckner emigrants which has been woefully neglected by almost every published genealogy on this family. Both John's father, Lawrence Bucknor of Soulbury, and his brother, William Buckner of St Sepulchre, left wills, and the persons and places named in these three wills overlap sufficiently to establish the identity of the testators relative to each other. An earlier transcription of this will has been floating around the internet for a while, but it was incomplete and had a number of errors and omissions. Chiefly, it misread "Nagg's Head Alley" as "Mayes-head Alley" and identified Anne Hodges as John's niece rather than his nurse. This new transcription also includes the Latin probate section, which is notable in that it gives the probate date as "penultimo die mensis Novembris," the second-to-last day of November. Since John wrote the will on the last day of October, he wasn't kidding when he said he was "sicke in body." He must have died in November of 1670, no more than a few weeks after writing the will. Burial records of St. Sepulchre parish in London show that Ann Buckner, wife of John Buckner, was buried on Nov. 3rd, 1670, while John Buckner Sr. was buried on Dec. 2nd, a mere three days after the probate. This also reveals that John Sr.'s wife's name was Ann. Given the timing, he probably wrote the will just after the death of his wife.

Some researchers, most notably J.R. Woodhead in the Rulers of London, have identified the John Buckner who wrote this will with the John Buckner who married Deborah Ferrers in 1661, as both of them were salters (i.e. members of the Salter's Company, a guild holding a monopoly on the salt trade). The Buckner-Ferrers marriage record clearly indicates that John Buckner was born around 1630. If this John Buckner were the same person, he would have been around 40 at the time of his death, but since the will lists 3 grown offspring and 3 grandchildren, it's highly unlikely that the person who wrote this will was only 40 years old. Most guild tradesmen didn't marry until their mid 20s, after completion of their apprenticeship, and even without considering the typical life history of a guild tradesman, it's clear that very few 40 year old men have 3 grandchildren, especially with all three from the same daughter. If we consider that guild membership could be passed to one's son by patrimony, the rather obvious solution here is that John the salter who married Deborah Ferrers was the son John mentioned in the will, not the testator himself.

John Buckner Sr. was most likely born in the early years of the 17th century - in Soulbury, Bucks. as we know from the will, but the exact date has so far eluded me. He did however leave a small trail through 17th century records, from which we know that he was a Common Councilman of London (Woodhead) and a dissenter, specifically a presbyterian (de Krey, p. 412). His commercial activities are less well known, though from the size of his estate we have to assume that he was either reasonably successful or else married well. His brother William indicates that he was an Innholder in his will, though it is not entirely clear which guild he was free of, if not both. John Buckner also was a member of a group who lent £1000 to Charles Leigh of Stoneleigh, son of Sir Thomas Leigh, which was secured by some properties in Cryfeld in 1661. One other record is the indenture of a lease from 1669 for messuages known as the "Horsehead" in St. Sepulchres, which he rented from the Ironmongers' guild (London Metropolitan Archives HB/C/109).

It is likely that he was the same John Buckner who lived in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene on Old Fish Street in the 1630s and 1640s, where children Mary, Rebecca, Francis, and Elizabeth were born. A rent survey of 1638 noted his rent on Carter Lane in that parish to be £60, the highest on the street, which could well have been for an inn (the amount was even fairly high for businesses such as taverns; it would have been a lordly sum for a private residence). The most famous of the Carter Lane inns was the Bell Inn, but as of 1637 there were also the Saracen's Head, the St. Paul's Head, and the Mermaid, which were popular bases for letter and parcel carriers. He seems to have arrived in that parish after the death of his father in 1635, as the first christening there dates from 1636, though it seems unlikely that John's 5 shilling legacy from his father had much of an economic impact. Two earlier known London christenings for John son of John and Anne Buckner in St. Bartholomew the Great in 1625/6 and for John Buckner son of John in St. Benet Paul's Wharf in 1632 may be for his sons. The main argument for these last two is the names John and Anne in the first case and, in the second case, the correspondence of the son's age to the age of John Buckner Jr. This could be a case of name recycling. No record of the daughter Debora's christening has come to light, and if these identifications are correct, it is clear that John did not settle in one area until the mid 1630s.

John Buckner Jr. is more of a mystery. We know from his age at marriage that he must have been born around 1630. Only one known christening record is consistent with this date and a father named John, from 27 Mar 1632 at St. Benet Paul's Wharf in London. The actual birth date was probably in 1631 or 1631/2, since this is just after Lady Day, the civil New Year (March 25th). No wife or children are mentioned in the will, but evidence from later lawsuits suggests that his wife Deborah was then alive while his son John may not have been born yet. The will itself offers a few important clues about his character, particularly the provision that requires him to pay a debt to one clerk Strutt to receive the second half of his £100 legacy. This was not an unheard of sort of provision. It would generally be used to insure that the legatee first used his legacy to retire his debts before squandering it on other things - a typical last-ditch device used by exasperated fathers to impose fiscal responsibility on prodigal sons. It is unknown whether it worked, but we should also note that in his choice of executor, John Sr. passed over his son and heir in favor of his two sons-in-law, a particularly damning vote of no confidence as under normal circumstances the only son of a widower would be expected to succeed directly to the responsibilities of the estate. Another clue appears in the estates devised to John Jr. in "Royden" (probably Reydon) and "Hitchin" in Suffolk. The identification of Hitchin has been somewhat elusive (perhaps Hitcham, Suffolk), but Reydon seems to be fairly clear. We can surmise that if John Jr. was the wastrel he appears to have been, he would have likely exhausted his money and then retired to his Suffolk estates. Searching for records of a John Buckner in late 17th century Suffolk (so far) reveals some intriguing records. First is a Reydon hearth tax roll from 1674 that names "Mr. Buckner" with 3 hearths. A 1695 lawsuit filed by "John Buckner of Roydon, Suff, gent & Jane his wife" reveals that a third John Buckner was the son of John and Deborah Buckner (presumably nee Ferrers), both of whom had died by then (the Reydon estate was known as "the Priory"). The next is a denied appeal of a removal order from Reydon to Ipswich of uncertain date (late 17th century at least) naming John Buckner and his wife Jane (Suffolk Record Office FB94/G4/1). Such removal orders were typically used to remove individuals from parish poor rolls when they were not considered to be the valid responsibility of that parish. Small villages like Reydon had difficulty affording to support indigent residents, so they made active efforts to rid themselves of strangers. The John Buckner who emigrated to Virginia arrived at least as early as 1655 and by the 1680s was serving in the Virginia House of Burgesses, dying around 1695. The last nail in the coffin of this idea though is the nail in the coffin of John Buckner (Jr.)- his estate was administrated in Reydon in 1678 (Suffolk Record Office A6/29/25). In the 1695 lawsuit, it is noted that John Buckner III was the only son and heir after his mother's decease, though it also says that his father had died about "11 or 12" years prior (1683-4) which is a bit of a difference from the 1678 administration. John III also states that his age was about 10 or 11 at the time of his father's decease, so he was born somewhere in the 1669-1674 range. John and Jane Buckner were frequent litigants, and I've transcribed part of another one of their legal actions elsewhere, which reveals Jane's maiden name as Cotterel.

One unexplained and possibly unconnected fact which should be mentioned is that a John Buckner Sr.'s estate in St. Sepulchre was administrated in the London Commissary Court on 8 Oct 1630. I have no idea who that was, and the location could be entirely coincidental, but it's possible that this was some older male relative, an uncle perhaps.

A second potentially related Chancery court case dated 1691 concerned a suit by John Rea and his wife Deborah against a Henry Michell regarding the personal estate of John Buckner. Perhaps these are the Michel family from the will, though they are not consistent with the names of the known Michel children surviving in 1670.

I've tried to preserve the line arrangement so anyone who wants can compare this to the original image. I don't claim perfection, and there are some things that can be interpreted different ways. The notation {ER} and such indicates a superscript abbreviation. These are common in period documents, though sometimes they can be a little idiosyncratic.

Date of will: 31 Oct 1670

Probate: 29 Nov 1670

People named in the will:

In the name of God Amen  
I John Buckner of the parish of St. Sepulchers London Cittizen and
Salter of London being sicke and weake in body but of sound and
perfect memory Doe make this my last will and testament in man
ner and forme following Inprimis I comitt my soule into the hands of
Almighty God my creater in hope of a blessed resurrection through the
merits of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And as for such worldly
goods chattels lands tenements and estate whatsoever with which God has
blessed me I dispose of the same in manner and forme following (that
is to say) Inprimis I give and bequeath unto my sonne, John Buckner
and unto his heirs forever All and singular my lands and tenements
with their appurtences, situate and being in Royden and in Hitchin in the
county of Suffolk or in either of them, together with all houses Barnes
or other aedifices to the same belonging. Item I give unto my said sonne
John Buckner, the sume of one hundred pounds of lawfull money of
England Fifty Pounds whereof shalbe paid unto him att the end of three
months next after my decease, And the other Fifty pounds thereof shall
be paid unto him att the end of three months next, after he, my said son
shall have sufficiently discharged my Executo{r} of our bond which I
entered into with him my said sonne and for his debt^deed unto one
Strutt Clerke for payment of Thirty pounds either by the delivering
up of the said Bond to my said executor Cancelled or by a good and suffi
cient Release of the same bond under the hand and seale of the said
Strutt his executors or administrators. Item I give and bequeath unto
Frances Chew my Goddaughter Fifteen pounds of lawfull money of
England to be paid unto her att the end of Six months next after

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my decease in case she shalbe then living Alsoe I give and bequeath
to Debora Chew sister of the said Frances tenn pounds of like lawfull
money Alsoe to be paid her att the said end of Six months if she shalbe
then living And I give to Debora Chew mother of the said Frances
and Debora Five pounds of like lawful money to be paid her att the
end of six months next after my decease, if she shalbe then living
Item I give to my sister Stephens Five pounds of lawfull English money
to be paid att the end of six months next after my decease if she shalbe
then living Item I give to my sister Ball Five pounds of like money
to be paid her likewise att the end of six months after my decease in
case she shalbe then living. Item I doe give and bequeath unto my
sonne in Lawe Timothy Browne and unto Elizabeth his wife my daughter
my two Streete houses with their appurtences situate upon Snowe
hill without Newgate London For and during the residue and remainder
of the terme of yeares which shalbe to come and unexpired att the tyme
of my decease of the lease and estate I have thereupon Item I give and
bequeath all those my severall tenements situate in Naggs-head Alley,
upon Snowehill aforesaid within the said Alley Together with the wast
ground there being unto the three children of my sonne in Lawe, Henry
Michell which he had by my daughter Debora Michell deceased to the
intent that the same may be for and towards the raising of Porcons
for his said three children and be paid and delivered unto them and devided
between thm equally Together with the Rents and proffitts thereof by my
Executor hereunder named att the severall ages of one and twenty yeares
or days of marriage of the said children (which shall First happen)
And in case any of the said three children shall happen to dy before
they shall attaine unto their said age or else be married Then and in such
Case I give and bequeath the legacie or legacies of the such deceased
unto the survivo{r} or survivo{rs} of them to paid att the tyme of payment
of their said legacie or legacies by unto them given as aforesaid
But in case All the said three children shall happen to dye before they
shall attain unto their said ages of one and twenty or shalbe married
Then I give and bequeath my said Tenements and wast ground and the
Rents and proffitts thereof unto my said sonne in lawe Timothy Browne
and my said daughter Elizabeth his wife their executo{rs} and assignes
For and during all my terme therein Item I give and bequeath unto
my cousin William Sheppard Tenn poundes of lawfull money of England
Item I give and bequeath my landes in Soleberry in the county of Bucks
in the tenure of Thomas Stephens with the Appurtennces unto my
said daughter Elizabeth Browne and her heires forever. Item I give
to the poore of the said parish of St. Sepulchures _ _ _ the sume of
Tenn pounds to be disposed by the Church wardens of the said parish for ye
tyme being Alsoe I give to the poore sicke People of St. Bartholomewes
Hospital (whereof I am a Governe{r}) the sume of Fifty pounds and to the
poore of Soleberry aforesaid (where I was borne) the sume of Five
poundes to be disposed by the Churchwardens thereof for the tyme being
Item I give unto my loveing Freind M{r} Thomas Gouge Twenty Shillings
to buy him a Ring Alsoe I give unto my loveing Freind M{r} Thomas
Hunt the like sume of Twenty Shillings to buy him a Ring Item I doe give
unto my Nurse Anne Hodges the sume of Five pounds Item I doe hereby
order and appoint that the Rent of Twenty pounds per Annum payable
by me for my said messuages or Tenements on Snowehill and in Naggs head

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Alley shalbe paid as followeth (viz) one halfe part thereof by the said
Timothy Browne and Elizabeth his wife And the other halfe part thereof
by the said Henry Michell for and on the part and behalfe of the said
children while and untill they shall attain unto their said age of one and
Twenty yeares or be married which shall ffirst happen And that from
and after the said Age or marriage the said three children shall (accor
ding to their severall interests in the premises) paythe said one halfe
part of the said Twenty per annum equally between them part and
part alike And I doe order and appoint that the sume of one hundred
pounds or soe with more as my executors hereunder named shall
thinke fitt shalbe expended and laid out in and about my decent
Funerall And Finally I give and bequeath All the rest and residue
of my estate both Reall and personal unto my said sonnes in lawes
Timothy Browne and Henry Michell equally between them And I doe
make and ordaine them full executo{rs} of this my last will In witnes
whereof I the said John Buckner the Testato{r} have to this my last
will and testament sett my hand and seale the last day of October in
the yeare of our Lord God one Thousand Six Hundred and Seaventy
John Buckner Signed Sealed and Published on the day of the date
in the presence of Henry Handley Jasper Weare Ezechiell Neate
Joseph Hide Micah Mychell S'cr on Snowewill.

Probabtum Fuit Testamentum suprascriptum apud aedes Exon
scituat' in Le Strand in Com Midd' Coram ven{bli} viro Richardo Lloyd Legum
Dctore Surrogato ven{blis} et egregij viri Domini Leolini Jenkins Militis
Legu etiam Dctoris Cura Prerogativae Canto Mag'ri Custod' hui[?] Comissarij
[?] Constituto Penultimo die Mensis Novembris Anno Domini Mill'imo
Sexcentesimo Septuagesimo [29 Nov 1670] Juramentis[?] Timothii Browne es
Henr'i Michill Ex{ecutorum} in hui[?] Testamento nominat' Quibus
Comissa fuit Administrato omnium et singulorum bon'r Jurium et
[?] Dict Defunct' De bene et fideliter Administrand' eadem Ad
Scta Dei Evengelia Jurato Oxe[?]