This is a collection of the Buckner sources I have found from before 1500 AD (formerly before 1400 AD, but I've found enough later info to expand it). Identifying these surnames (Bokenor', Bockenore,Bokenore, Bukenore, Bukinor) as early instances of the Buckner surname is based on both the similarity to the modern name and the proximity of the locations associated with the 13th and 14th century records, South Leigh & Stanton-Harcourt in Oxfordshire, to Eynsham and Cumnor, where the earliest known 16th century Buckners lived. In fact, in the 1546 will of Henry Buckner of Eynsham, the testator mentions land holdings in the parish of Stanton-Harcourt. Cumnor and Eynsham are both only a few miles from Stanton-Harcourt and South Leigh, so the geographic continuity of the name is virtually certain. Many of the 1320s records show that the Bokenores were clients of the Harcourts (after whom Stanton Harcourt is so named), particularly John de Harcourt (presumably Sir John de Harcourt 1274 - 1330).
Important features to note are:
(1) The "de" prefix with Henry and Margery de Bokenor. This indicates for one that Henry probably had higher social status than Adam or Richard, but it's also a very likely indicator that this is a proper toponymic surname - it's derived from a place. Occupational surnames typically have the "le" and the other type of toponymic surnames, the ones derived from geographical features, have this "atte" prefix (=at). "Bockenore" was therefore an as-yet unidentified place, though I'm now reasonably confident that it was close to South Leigh along the Limb Brook (called Bugganbrok in Middle English). As can be seen in the references below, these prefixes were going out of style by the latter half of the 14th century.
(2) the short-o to short-u shift. You can also see this in the name "William Bok"="William Buck". This is a well known phonetic or arguably orthographic process, and it's entirely expected. The time series here is almost perfect, with the division between the older and newer forms falling somewhere around 1324.
(3) The medial 'e' between the /k/ and the /n/. I've long suspected this unstressed medial vowel had once occurred there, and this supports that idea. The historical references appear to show this medial vowel starting to drop in the mid-1400s, though it crops up irregularly for the next century.
(4) The "-or[e]" ending. This is very important for figuring out the origin of the name. If we look at all the words corresponding to modern "-er" endings in the 1320 and 1325 patent rolls, we see "taillour" "Tornour" (Turner) and "Sawyere" (Sawyer). The only other "-ore" name is "More". Clearly, this vowel in "-ore" was being pronounced as something other than the agentive "-er" suffix. The minimal stress in this word was going to the medial vowel. It was only after the loss of the medial that the minimal stress went to the last syllable and gave us the modern "-er". This is the last of the major phonetic changes. It doesn't completely take hold until the 1600s and even then the Bucknor spelling variant persists to the current day. As I've noted elsewhere in my discussions of the name's origin, this "-ore" suffix is a fairly common one in Old English placenames, which supports the idea that it's originally a toponymic.
From an index of Oxfordshire deeds:
Bokenor' (Margery of). South Leigh lands of, mentioned (1316), 714. Bockenore (Thomas). South Leigh witness (1262), 713.
(Saxon Oxfordshire. Charters and ancient highways G. B. Grundy, ed., Oxfordshire Record Society. Oxfordshire Record Society series. vol.15, p. 24.)
Documents 713 and 714 are from a collection of South Leigh and Stanton Harcourt (Ox.) deeds (they're only a few miles apart).
From the Hundred Rolls of 1279 for the manor of North Leigh there is a rather long entry dealing with the duties and obligations of one Augustine Bokenore, a villein holding half a yardland (about 15 acres) in the manor.
(John Hunt, "A History of North Leigh: The Tenants and the Manor," http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/congorat/norlye/Northleigh3.pdf, Accessed 4-26-2011.)
From the Patent Rolls of Edward II (my boldfacing):
June 7 1320
Commission of oyer and terminer to Robert de Maddyngle, John Abel, Dunton. Adam le (sic) Herewynton, and Nicholas Rodlond on complaint by Aymer de Valencia, earl of Pembroke, that James du Boys of Stanlak,and Nicholas his brother, Adam le Parker and John his son, Robert Guldelok and Adam his son, Nicholas atte Mulle, Richard Agneys, Andrew Tynch, Thomas atte Bereuwemulle, Andrew atte Halle, John Dunsey, Thomas Thynch, Adam le White, John Vyncent, Richard le White, Roger Stonhard, Thomas Stonhard, William Redy, John sou of Andrew Redwy, William Bok, Thomas Deyne, John le White, ' pestour,' and John his son, Thomas Houdan, Walter Houdan, William le Walkere, Thomas Colynes, John Bradewell, Thomas le Taillour, John le Lavender, William le Fiz, William Wykyng, Nicholas le Clerk, Walter Benford, John le Sawyere, John le Taillour of la More, Thomas Deyne, ' taillour,' John Deyne, Roger le Tornour of Stanlak, Nicholas le Sawyere of Stanlak, John le (sic) Harecourt, Henry Broun of Staunton Harecourt, Roger Harecourt, Richard Bockenore, Henry de Bockenore, John Kyng,-John le Taillour of Soutleye, Thomas Haukynes, Richard le Fiz, John le Webbe, John le Fiz, Henry le Smyth, John Gayler, Richard Gayler, Adam Bockenore, Richard Grigory, Thomas Brok, Richard son of John de Harecourt, Thomas de Carsewell, and John his brother, Richard Spilleby, Richard le Smyth, Henry Broun, Henry Streysel, William Houwat, John Houwat, Thomas Houwat, John Folye, William son of Alice Newynes, Richard Norreys, William Smart, and Thomas le Taillour of Staunton, with others, took and carried away his goods at Stanlak and Wytleneye, co. Oxford, and assaulted John Hokenon, Robert Bagg', Walter Frere, Adam atte More, Robert le Palmere, Hugh Folk, and Roger Bacount, his servants. By p.s.
(Great Britain. Public Record Office,Calendar of the patent rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Henry IV. A.D. 1399-(1413) Issues 1317-1321 of Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, Mackie, 1903, p.486.) Available on line
"his less fortunate colleague, Johannes de Harecourt, being within the grasp of the Sheriff, was constrained to give good bail for his due appearance in Parliament, in the persons of John Bokenore and John Bovetown." (Francis Palgrave, Truths and fictions of the Middle Ages; the merchant and the friar (1837), originally from Parliamentary Writs, vol. ii. Div. II., p. 273, No. 47.)
From the Patent Rolls of Edward II (my boldfacing):
Feb 10, 1325
Commission of oyer and terminer to William de Gosefeld, William de Westminster Willaim de Sharshill and John de Trillowe on complaint by Master Nicholas de Stokton, parson of the church of Staunton Harecourt, that John de Harecourt, Richard de Dadisleye, John de Northlegh, chaplain, William Huwet, Thomas Reynaud, Henry Aylloun, John Lerion, John Stokeman of Suthlegh, Richard Perers, John le Sawyere, William Brid, John le Blak, Roger le Clerc of Suthlegh, Thomas Gilbert of Staunton, Henry de Bukenore of Legh, Henry le Wys, Henry Budde, Henry atte Hulle, John Pol of Staunton and others broke his close and houses at Staunton Harecourt, co. Oxford, drove away five horses, 12 oxen, 6 cows, 100 sheep, 100 lambs and 80 swine, carried away his timber and goods, besieged his dwelling place of the said church, prevented his men from leaving the said dwelling place to collect tithes of sheaves and other corn within his parish and elsewhere, and assaulted them, whereby a great part of the said tithes and corn perished, and a great part, for want of guard, was carried away. By K.
(Great Britain. Public Record Office, Calendar of the Patent rolls preserved in the Public record office, Issues 1324-1327, Eyre and Spottiswoode., 1904, p. 136.) Available on line
Ada de bokenore iij.s. vj d
Adam de Bokenore, 3 shillings, 6 pence (one of his neighbors has the curious name "Sciencia ate Watere", "Science Attwater").
This is particularly interesting, as Bramley is close to Puttenham, where in the late 1500s we find a family whose name is alternately given as Buckner or Buckmer, so this Adam de Bokenore is quite possibly a forebear of that line. If this is true, it might indicate that this is a very early offshoot of the Oxfordshire de Bokenores and that the Buckmer form is a variant of later origin.
Surrey Record Society, eds., Surrey taxation returns: fifteenths and tenths. Part A - the 1332 Assessment Surrey Record Society Series No. 18, London: Roworth, 1922, p. 22 (MS p. 8).
There's also a Warwickshire deed ca. 1386 or 1396 (my boldfacing):
"A. 4524. Demise by John Bukinor and Agnes his wife, one of the daughters and heiresses of Hugh Braundeston, to her sister the lady Rose, late the wife of Richard de Mountfort, for her life, of a moiety of a dovecot at Lapworth: also demise by Rose to John and Agnes, for their lives, of the moiety of a field in Lapworth, and another field in the parish of Beudese[rt] called 'Bromyhul.' 9 Richard II. Much injured."
This name is also transcribed in related records as "Bukmor" though, so it's unclear whether it's an early form of Buckner or Buckmer/Buckmore.
('Deeds: A.4501 - A.4600', A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds: Volume 3 (1900), pp. 74-85. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=64324 Date accessed: 22 August 2009.)
A somewhat more secure reference involving two apparent instances of the name from 10 Oct. 1418 occurs in a post-mortem inquisition of the property of Edward Duke of York, naming "John Bukiniour, chaplain" and "Walter Bukinour" as free tenants of the manor of Solihull in Warwick. - J. L. Kirby, 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry V, Entries 452-499', in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Volume 20, Henry V (London, 1995), pp. 138-158. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol20/pp138-158 [accessed 17 March 2017]. It's worth noting that there are Buckners in Warwickshire in the 17th century too, when records start to become common, so the 17th century families might belong to this line.
The most certain 15th century reference is to a "William Bukkenore," a husbandman of Sutton (less than a mile from Stanton Harcourt), who was a codefendant in a lawsuit in Oxfordshire in 1430. In this case, the location makes it quite certain that he's a link between the 14th century and 16th century Oxfordshire Buckners. (AALT, Henry VI, 1430: CP40no677, image 1550 d.)
A likely 15th century reference is a "Geoffrey Buccnor" listed as a man-at-arms on the muster roll of the Domfront garrison serving under Lord Scales in 1441 near the end of the Hundred Years War. (See Medieval Soldier, source British Library Additional Charters 6948).
Another possible 15th century reference is a deed from Essex dated 24 Mar Henry VI (1455/6). "C. 3395. Demise by Petronilla, wife of John Bodyvall of Inworth, late the wife of John Hokley of the same, smith, to Robert Buknar, chaplain, rector of Inworth church, of land with the houses thereon in Inworth, between pasture called 'le Moore,' and the high road from Wytham to Colchester, and abutting on the lane from Estyrford to Saltcote; which she with others (named) lately had of the demise of Richard Pratt of Feryng and others, by grant dated Wednesday after Palm Sunday, 24 March, 34 Henry VI. 5 February, 7 Henry VII. Fragment of seal." - 'Deeds: C.3301 - C.3400', in A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds: Volume 3, ed. H C Maxwell Lyte (London, 1900), pp. 351-362. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/ancient-deeds/vol3/pp351-362 [accessed 17 March 2017].