Buckner Wills

Wills are one of the most useful types of genealogical records, especially before the mid 19th century when detailed censuses became common in the English-speaking world. Unfortunately, they're also some of the hardest to get ahold of because they are big, complicated, and usually handwritten. Most wills are held in local jurisdictions, either in the original or more likely in the form of a will book copy. I've been transcribing some, and I've put copies of the transcriptions on this site. The original images are often copyrighted, either by the Crown for UK wills or by whoever took the original image (often the LDS), so I can't put those up in most cases. The status of the transcription is a little murky. Generally, copyright protects the expression of data but not the data themselves, so I'm working under the theory that I'm extracting data, and there is quite a bit of expertise that goes into trancribing these, especially the oldest ones. You have to deal not only with the handwriting but also the archaic spelling and grammar, the cultural context , and typically small doses of Latin. Early wills were probated by church courts, so the probate notation at the end (usually beginning with "Probatum fuit") was often in Latin up into the 18th century. There's not usually anything interesting in that section except for the date of probate, but every once in a while there will be some clue about the executors.

In some cases, abstracts of these wills were already available, but in my experience, it's almost always worth it to get the entire will. A general abstracter just doesn't know what the important stuff is - the 4th godson who got 3 shillings for a pair of funeral gloves might just be the crucial link that cracks the case.

It's often been said that English wills from the early modern period survive for about 1 out of 10 decedents. My rough stats show that an average will mentions 14 people (from 5 up into the 20s) with around 8 surnames, aside from the testator's. This implies that the majority of people alive in an area that has good will coverage are mentioned at least once in someone's will. Unfortunately, very few probate corpora have been fully indexed, so they can be very difficult to find. Most indices really only cover testators. Generally, if someone is listed as a witness (3 per will), you can't figure out much about them but heirs and legatees often have a decent amount of identifying information. After you eliminate the witnesses, that means there are still about 10 people and 5 surnames in the will that can tell you something useful about their relationship to the testator, so you can figure the non-testator index would probably have about 5 times as many hits on a particular surname, which means there's a lot of critical information still sitting around in probate records that nobody knows about.

If you're just looking to see some of the interesting ones, I'd recommend Thomas BUCKNER, D.D. (1644), Rychard BUCKNER (1548), Walter BUCKNER (1579), and Leonard BUCKNOR (1671) as four of the better examples.

Will transcriptions and administrations on this site:

(Note: Administrations rarely contain any significant information so I just abstract them.)

Related Will Abstracts

Brief abstracts are also now available for some wills that are of interest but not Buckner wills per se, including:

The Will that Got Away:

There are several potentially important wills and administrations that, to my knowledge, no one has ever gotten a copy of, and if you were looking to do some research, I'd recommend trying to get some of these. They may have nothing, but it's always hard to tell until you see them.

Canterbury Administrations at the UK PRO:

Note: being in Kent, I suspect that those administrations are for the name Buckmer instead of Buckner, since most Buckmers of the time lived in Kent.

Sussex Wills and Admins. at the West Sussex Record Office

Berkshire Admins.

Will links: