William Bucklin, Our Six-hundred Acre Ancestor

By Kristen Ingram, his tenth-great-granddaughter
Edited and endnotes by Leonard Bucklin, his eighth-great-grandson

[Ed. note about this biography and the author: This compelling narrative of William’s life was donated to the Joseph Bucklin Society by professional writer Kristen Ingram, one of William’s tenth-great-granddaughters. Recognized nationally for her professional writing talents, she has written more than twenty books. She says her two favorites are “I’ll Ask My Grandmother: She’s Very Wise” and “Angel in the Senate” (a murder mystery).

We said that Kristen Ingram is a professional writer, and we mean it! Kristen is the author of hundreds of magazine articles, on health, how-to, religion, folklore, medical advances, art, and music. She has written about 25 booklets for the National Research Bureau on health, psychology, food, natural history, and relationships. She also writes write short fiction articles for magazines, and is best known among professional writers for her fiction for computer magazines. She and her husband Ron live at the edge of the woods in Springfield Oregon, with their Shih-Tzu dog and a criminal cat.]

Kristen has provided a Documents Events Report of some of the sources she used from those furnished to her by us for her writing this biography of William’s life.

His first land in the New World was in 1634 on the north side of Weary-All Hill. The ship Elizabeth Dorcas brought his wife, Mary Bosworth, his small son, his wife’s parents, and her brothers.(1) He was born around 1606, christened 23 Nov 1606, and died in 1683, leaving offspring who helped build the new country and defended its independence in the American Revolution.

His name was William and he was forefather of the New England Bucklins whose descendants now live all over this country. All the persons in the United States who have the surname “Bucklin” are almost certainly descendants of William. William’s story is the beginning of a fascinating saga about an interesting family.

Early records in the New World not only sometimes show William’s name as Bucklin, but also sometimes as “Bucklen”, “Buckline”, “Bucknam”, and “Buckland.” The first written record of him in New England is the Hingham record which spells his name as “Wm. Buckland” for his land grant. We have no documents known to have been signed by William Bucklin,(2) but we do know his sons spelled the family name as “Bucklin.

Part I: The Bucklin Beginnings in America

Chapter 1: The Immigration to New England

William Bucklin arrived in Massachusetts from England some time before the autumn of 1635; he was one of many early Americans who appear without clear ancestry–in Massachusetts or Virginia, at about that time, and begin taking part in community life. William’s parents may have been John Buckland and Katherine Kerslake, but their connection to our ancestor isn’t really clear; William was simply the William Bucklin/ Buckland/ Bucklyn/Bucklen found in the records. He may have come to Massachusetts in 1630 as the servant of John Plaistow; if he did, he returned to England for a while.

What we do know for sure that he married Mary Bosworth, and fathered a son, Joseph, in England in 1633. And we’re certain that William was a proprietor of Hingham, Massachusetts, having obtained a land grant at the foot of Weary-All Hill September 2, 1635.

The first author reporting on William Bucklin’s emigration to New England was Charles Edward Banks, who in his books, The Winthrop Fleet of 1630, and Planters of the Commonwealth, records that William came in the Winthrop fleet of 1630. There is no regular passenger list of the passengers in the Winthrop fleet, but William’s name does show up on Winthrop’s journal notes, as a servant of John Plaistow, and that is what Banks uses for his report.

Plaistow was officially “a gentleman” from Essex. Space was limited in the Winthrop fleet ships ,and only persons with the rank of noble or gentleman had space or temporary cabins on the upper deck. Winthrop’s note that William was on board as a “servant” of Plaistow means that William had the privilege denied others of ready and daily access to the upper deck. Since our William Bucklin was a carpenter, he probably accompanied Plaistow as a builder rather than a menial servant.

However, his relationship as a servant of Plaistow got William into trouble. In September, 1631, Plaistow took or stole four baskets of corn belonging to “Chickatabot,” who was a Native American.(3) The Colony’s Court ordered Plaistow degraded from the title of gentleman and shipped back to England, ordered Plaistow to give eight baskets of corn to Chickatabot, and ordered Plaistow to pay a fine of five English pounds to the Colony. Since William and Thomas Andrew were Plaistow’s servants, subject to his orders, they merely were whipped for being accessories. The next ship back to England did not depart until after the spring brought more ships coming to New England. The records show Plaistow was sent back to England by June of 1632, and his land and possessions being sold to settle debts he had owed to others in the Colony..

So if William came to America In 1630 with Plaistow, he must have returned once to England, because William and his wife came to America in 1634, bringing their son Joseph–born in 1633. This has led some researchers to think that two William Bucklins came to Hingham and that our William’s first trip to the New World in 1634 on the ship Elizabeth Dorcas. This theory is dubitable because of the Winthrop note; and of course, if Plaistow was sent back to England in disgrace, his servants would almost certainly have had to accompany him.

William and Mary Bosworth Bucklin came to Massachusetts in 1634, bringing their small son, Joseph, and accompanied by her parents. They made their journey on the ship Elizabeth Dorcas, which had been detained at Gravesend, England from 22 Feb 1634, until early spring, while they certified that all passengers had secured the necessary(4) paper work for immigration.(5) The ship Elizabeth Dorcas left London for New England on 10 Apr 1634 “by John Winthrop” and sailed back and forth regularly between 1634 and 1639, but always from London.

Many of the passengers–and domestic animals–died, and Edward Bosworth’s passing is a particularly sad story. He survived the trip but died in Boston Harbor on arrival. The Bosworth Genealogy states that Edward, being close to death, asked to be carried to the deck, “so that he might see the promised land, and after this, consigned his soul to God, and died.”(6)

The Hingham land records say, “In 1635 Wm. Buckland was given a Town Lot and Our Lot at the foot of Otis Hill.”(7) Otis Hill was better known as “Weary-All Hill” when William obtained it, which tells something about the terrain’s contours.

Hingham’s early history contained some turbulence. The first settlers were a band of single and not entirely savory men, who came Hingham, Norfolk County, England, and settled in what was, until that time, called Bare Cove. They apparently believed they could do better than some Massachusetts settlers who were encumbered with families and religion!

By the time of William’s entry to Hingham, these ruffian settlers drifted away or were banished, to be replaced by a different kind of people. The town site lay on the border between two jurisdictions: the Plymouth Colony with its Mayflower Separatists stood forth on one side, and on the other, the Massachusetts Bay Colony or “Winthrop Puritans,” whose colonists increased in greater number than the Plymouth group’s.

William Bucklin acquired several land parcels in Hingham, Rehoboth, and Attleboro, all towns in Massachusetts. As late as 1650 he still owned land in Hingham, in the Broad Cove area, but he sold his Hingham properties on May 25, 1661.

Continue to Chapter Two

By Leonard Bucklin

1.This is what is recorded by the Bosworth Genealogy. But brother Jonathan was in Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay Colony, the year before.

2. William’s surname at the time of his arrival was commonly “Buckland,” but early records of his children are usually spelled “Bucklin,” especially as written records became more common. Documents we have from the 1500-1700 period are written by persons who wrote the names as they heard them pronounced. Moreover, it is true (but not commonly known) that before dictionaries, it was a mark of education to spell the same word several ways, even in the same letter. It showed that the writer knew that the same sound in English could have several spellings. At any rate, the spelling in New England, for William’s offspring, by the third generation, was firmly “Bucklin”. All the persons in the United States who have the surname “Bucklin” are almost certainly descendants of William.

The name Buckland is relatively common in the Dorset-Devon area of England in 1500-1700. All the records of Bucklands are in this area, and all manors or towns with this name are in this area, with one exception in Lincolnshire.

There were other persons named Buckland (none named Bucklin) not of William’s family, in Massachusetts at the end of the 1600’s .[ See Filby & Meyer, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, (1981), the Guildhall Library, London.]

3. Chickatabot was an Indian on the south shore of Massachusetts Bay. Since the commissioners on Plastowe’s estate, to settle his debts when he departed, were from Dorchester and Roxbury, also on the south shore of Massachusetts Bay, it would seem that Plaistow and his servant William were settlers somewhere on the south shore of Massachusetts Bay.

4. By this time the English government was checking to see that all persons leaving the country were members of the Established Church of England.

5. Charles Edward Banks in his book Planters of the Commonwealth says that Edward Bosworth was from Essex, England; but one researcher has suggested that he was from Coventry, England.

On 7 July 1635, at Plymouth Court, Edward’s sons Jonathan, Nathaniel and Benjamin (together with William Bucklin, were ordered to pay back a loan to one Henry Sewall, who had loaned money to the Bosworth family for the passage to the New World. His children were: Nathaniel Bosworth, Mary Bosworth, Jonathan Bosworth, Benjamin Bosworth. (Mary Bosworth Clarke. Bosworth Genealogy. Cossitype, San Francisco 1926. )

6. According to tradition, at that time Boston had only the house of Rev. Blackstone, it is said, and a palisade, so Bosworth was able to see the countryside.

7. William’s lot at the foot of the hill must have been level. The Hingham railroad depot, built in the 1930s, was built on the site of William’s lot.