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Part II: Where do Bucklins come from?

Like all families’ stories, ours depends in part on oral tradition. William=s sixth-great-grandson, George Brayton Bucklin, born in 1853, came to Minnesota by a wagon train when he was a child, accompanying his father, Albigence Bucklin. George told a story passed down to him through the decades. The story is one that other branches of the Bucklin family have passed to their children.

George told his children, Ethel, Marie, and Leonard, who were born between 1891 and 1903, that they were descended from William Bucklin, who had come from Wey in England where he was a shipbuilder. He added that “Wey [sic] was a shipbuilding center at the time. It was at the mouth of the Wey river.” And according to George’s pre-1930 handwritten notes, a plot of Bucklin graves in the churchyard at Wey “included a large central shaft among the Bucklin family graves.” Wey isn’t a known place name now, so most researchers today assume that “Wey” was a mistaken or shortened form of Weymouth, England.

However, the Mrs. and Major Clary, owners (post WWII to 2004) of the Manor House at Buckland-Ripers, England, next to the town of Radipole, are immersed in the history of the area. They insist that the present town of Radipole was once called Wey. Radipole is next to the present town of Weymouth, and in Roman times, the tidal basin of the river Wey furnished a harbor there.

For several centuries thereafter, until the river filled and the river mouth and harbor moved southward, Radipole was at the mouth of the river Wey, and could have been known as Wey – and could have been a place where ships were built. Roman galleys sailed up the River Wey as far as Radipole where they could be beached and cargo unloaded for transport to the Roman Town of Durnovaria (Dorchester). With the Roman capture of Maiden Castle having taken place in AD43 the estuary of the River Wey came into regular use as a port from about this date or just after, as the settlement at Durnovaria developed. Towns called Upwey and Broadwey appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Radipole is about 1 mile across the fields from Buckland Ripers. Radipole is north of present day Weymouth, which is the Wey river mouth area now. Radipole has a substantial house which was the house of Andrew Buckler in the 1500’s. This house, known as the “Causeway House”, is at a bridge over the Wey, at what would in previous centuries been a causeway leading from the tidal basin, a logical place for a shipwright to live. The Causeway House is associated with the “Buckler” name. The present lady of the manor at Buckland-Ripers, adjacent to Radipole, insists that Bucklin and Buckler are easy early variations of “Buckland”; and she insists the oral tradition of William Bucklin being a shipwright out of Wey is again consistent with facts now known.

The Causeway House is noted in the registers of St. Annes church as having several persons “out of the house of Andrew Buckler…dying of ye plage” in 1563. The family of the Causeway House was substantial, and one Buckler was a Privy Counselor at the court of Elizabeth I, with the right to the title “Sir” and a coat of arms. None of the other Buckler lines, including the one living in the Causeway house, except that line of the Privy Counselor, had any title, “even that of Gentleman” according to the College of Arms.

Our oral tradition that William Bucklin was a shipwright out of Wey, who came to the New World with the Winthrop colonials, is consistent with facts now known. Although the ships of the 1630 Winthrop fleet sailed from London, rather than Weymouth, people in the Weymouth area of England responded to the powerful influence of nearby of the Winthrop movement and religious imperatives.

And the Dorset supporters of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were such that there were two great groups of immigrants from the Weymouth and Dorchester area in the settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is in the area of the towns of Weymouth and Dorchester of the Massachusetts Bay Colony that William first lived in New England.

Another note to support William’s having come from Wey is in the makeup of the others who settled in Hingham in 1630. They included Thomas Holbrock, son of Sir Thomas, a knight, born 1601 in Broadwey, Dorset, England. And William Sprague was sent specifically to help with the surveying and decisions on the place the Winthrop fleet would land and set up the colony. Sprague came from Upwey, Dorset, (with his brothers Ralph and Richard in 1628) to Salem. And the Spragues apparently moved from Hingham to the Pawtucket area at about the same time as William Bucklin.

So it seems more likely than not that William came from the area of Weymouth, Dorset County, England.