Early English mentions of the name “Bucklin” and its variants

In old Anglo-Saxon England, if someone owned land as “Bocland,” he was of some importance locally, and when surnames were adopted, it would not be unusual for “Bocland” to be used. Importantly, if land was “bocland,” it had been granted by the King by deed or charger. Moreover, of the three variations by which land could be held by a non-noble in Old England, bocland was the only one which allowed the person to will the land to whosoever they wanted, and the owner had a number of other legal protections of his ownership. See, The Old English Manor: A Study in English Economic History, by Charles McLean Andrews, a p. 92 et seq., and Disputes about Bocland: the forum for adjudication, by A.G. Kennedy, a pl 1 et seq.

Written words suffered from idiosyncratic spelling choices of individual authors, some of whom varied spellings between works. This is not surprising, because in England before 1700, written documents were not commonly used, and dictionaries were unknown. When names had to be written, they were written as they were pronounced locally, and often as they were pronounced quickly.

There are several variations, before 1700, in English history of the name “Bucklin”. Before that time, a word’s spelling heavily reflected the phonetics of the writer’s regional dialect versus the phonetics of the speakers regional dialect. That is why, for example, the same family might be referred to in documents or by local residents as either “Bucklin” or “Buckler” or still other variances.

Another problem was that the Anglo-Saxon of southern England was replaced by the Normanic French language by the Norman invaders of 1100. The Anglo-Saxon word for “book land” (meaning land which was held by the owner because of a written deed or writing of some sort), had to be translated from the Saxon runic alphabet (also known as futhorc or fuþorc) to the Latin alphabet. Old English words were spelled in runes,  more or less, as they were pronounced. Often, the Latin alphabet fell short of being able to adequately represent Anglo-Saxon phonetics and runes. Spellings, therefore, can be thought of as best-attempt approximations of how the language actually sounded.

Furthermore, The “boc” in “bocland” was pronounced in Anglo-Saxon as we would pronounce book, cook, look, etc. with a long [uː]. The accent on the first syllable added to the force of the long [u:} in that syllable, meant the send syllable of Buckland was not heard well. Thus the name “Bocland” was fractionated into a number of variations as it developed until the 18th century.  Bucklin and Buckler and Buckland are all Old English (Latin) spelling and pronunciation variations of the Anglo Saxon (runic) “Bocland.” Even today Bucklin and Buckler and Buckland have almost the same Soundex* code for the pronunciation of each of those names.

Indeed, most Bucklins still in the 21st century find persons thinking on an oral introduction that their name is “Buckland”, which is a modern American pronunciation of “Bucklin”.

As we said, in the 17th century, written variations for what today we know as “Bucklin” can include “Buckland”, “Buckler”, “Bucklen”, “Bucklyn”, “Bochland”, and “Bucklens”. A good example is found in the note in 1680 in the Rehoboth Town records, which uses both “Bucklen” and “Bucklens” in the same sentence, written by a person who today would probably write the name as “Bucklin”.

“October ye 22d 1680 Land was laid out to William Bucklen, and a Comitte was Impowered by the Town to agree with Bucklens Respectting a highway to the Sal water for the Cattle to go to Drink.” [copied from Proprietors of Rehoboth–Meetings, at Taunton.].

Indeed, most Bucklins today still find persons spelling their name, after an oral introduction, as “Buckland”, which is a modern American pronunciation of “Bucklin.”

This page is not intended to discuss details of the variations of the family name “Bucklin” in America. However, it might be noted that in the first century or so after the American Revolution, one finds families named “Bucklin” whose children felt it necessary to correct the name to “Bucklyn”.

This page is not intended to form historical evidence of any connection between those mentioned names and the William Bucklin who arrived in New England in the 1600’s. (That will be done elsewhere on this site.) This page only is a collection of notes regarding the early English variations of the Bucklin name, for those with a curiosity about such mentions.

“THE MAGNA CHARTA SURTIES, 1215 ,” by Frederick Lewis Weis, Th.D, and Arthur Adams, PhD, 159, page 107, line 159, mentions that a MAUDE DE MANDEVILLE, married as her second husband, HUGH DE BOCHLANDE of Buckland who was living in 1176. The reason for the mention of Maude de Mandeville is that her grandson William de Lanville was one of the Surities for the performance of the Magna Charta.

* Soundex is a hashing system for English words. From an English word, you generate a letter and three numbers. that roughly describe how an given word sounds. Similar sounding words will have similar codes. It might be used, for example, by 411 (phone information), to look up other spellings of a last name. It was used by the United States Census Bureau to find similar names in census records. Bucklin has Soundex code B245 and Buckler has Soundex code B246.