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                                            The Buckland Family of Staplehurst

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The Buckland family are found in the earliest parish records in Staplehurst. The family name is also present in Benenden, Biddenden, Cranbrook, Goudhurst, Headcorn, Maidstone and Yalding in small numbers. The name is of Saxon origin. Bocland was a form of land tenure, which made the land divisible by will and might be shared in equal portions among the children. There is a record of Allen de Bocland being granted an estate by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the time of King John in the vicinity of Maidstone which later became known as Buckland estate. Then, of course, there is the parish of Buckland in Kent.

I have a great interest in this family as they were owners of my house in the 1600’s.

John Buckland (died about 1505)
The only reference we have to John is a copy of his will proved in 1505 (reference: CKS John Bukland PRC17/9/33). The will is very difficult to read but there is reference to his wife Joane, son John and daughter Alice.

Stephen Buckland (d. 1567)
When Stephen was buried 20 April 1567 at All Saints Church in Staplehurst, it was entered  as ‘There was buryed steven Buckland an oulde blyndeman’. Sometimes his name is recorded as Stephen and others Steven. We know for certain that he had a wife Agnes who was also buried in Staplehurst on 08 September 1545 as the registers state she was the wife of Steven. There was also a daughter Jone or Joan buried 20 July 1542 and a daughter Alice buried in 1555.

It is probable that Stephen was related to John Bukland of Staplehurst who left a will in 1505. The will states his wife was Joane and he had a son John and a daughter Alice but there is no mention of Stephen.

On the List of Communicants, submitted to the Archbishop by the parish of Staplehurst in 1563, it shows each household in Staplehurst including all people who take communion or in other words all those 14 years and older. Stephen is shown as living with his some John and his wife Margaret.


What is certain is that by the time the records began in Staplehurst, we have two Buckland young men, believed to be brothers. There are no baptismal records for them as at this time they were born just a few years prior to the earliest parish registers.  We can be fairly  in stating that Stephen was John’s father and almost certainly the father of Richard. There is no evidence that Stephen married again after the death of Agnes.

One Margaret Buckland was buried on the 22 January 1558/59 but we have no information on how she was related to Stephen. She may well have been another daughter.

We would then surmise that Stephen and Agnes had the following children.

 Richard Buckland c1530 - 1612
Richard Buckland is thought to be the son of Stephen and Agnes, but there is no proof.  Richard was born about 1530 to 1535. There is a record of Richard’s marriage to Eleanor Viney on the 21st  November 1570 in Staplehurst which is recorded as ‘There was maryed Rychard Buckland & Ellynor Vynye yonge folke’. ‘Elenore Veni’ was baptised on the 18 April 1543, the daughter of Christopher (Xpofer) Viney and would, therefore, have been 27.

On the List of Communicants, submitted to the Archbishop by the parish of Staplehurst in 1563, it shows each household in Staplehurst including all people who take communion, or in other words, all those 14 years and older. In Christopher Viney’s household, we find his wife Agnes, son John, daughter Eleanor and four men who are presumably employees or servants on the farm. One of these men is Richard Buckland who goes on to marry his boss’s daughter.

Eleanor’s father, Christopher Viney, left a will dated 23 April 1577 in which he leaves ‘to my daughter Eleanor, the wife of Richard Buckland, £10’ and to his grandchildren, Elizabeth Buckland and Agnes Buckland, ‘children of my daughter’ two pounds and ten shillings each to be paid two years after his death. Christopher was a yeoman and obviously a wealthy man, he left land and tenements to his sons in Goudhurst, Staplehurst, Headcorn, Frittenden and Marden.


Richard and Eleanor had 3 children baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst.

The Quarter Session records for 1601 show that Richard Buckland senior, of Staplehurst was the constable for the Hundred of Marden. Sir Thomas Fludd, one of the justices of the peace, on the 7th January, 1600/01, issued a warrant to Richard Buckland, senior, of Staplehurst, constable of the hundred of Marden to produce William Baker, senior, and William Baker, junior, before him to find sureties to keep the peace, at the request of John Ferrell, which warrant was delivered to Richard Buckland on the 8th January 1600/01. At this time the constable was elected from people living within the hundred. We know Richard was a resident of Staplehurst and now we can quantify this as living within Staplehurst north of the church; south of the church in within Cranbrook Hundred.

Richard’s wife, Eleanor died in 1609 and was buried in the parish church on the 10 November 1609. Almost a year later on the 05 November 1610, Richard married again to Elizabeth Butcher. I have not found baptism for Elizabeth but she was considerably younger than Richard as he makes allowance in his will two years later in case she is pregnant. The will was disputed by Richard's son-in-law John Huggin and the witness statements make it clear she was born about 1574. Her brother was noted as from Headcorn and she may have originated from there.

Richard was buried in Staplehurst on the 28 March 1612. The entry records ‘Buried Richard Buckland an olde man’. He leaves a will (reference PROB 11/120) with a probate date of 05 November 1612. It is interesting to note that the will was written on the 20 November 1610, a few days after he was married for the second time. Richard’s will was contested and there are records at Canterbury (CLL x.11.12.117) about the disputed will which consist of evidence given about the signing of the will. The documents give a marvellous incite into village life.
The will defines him as a yeoman, or other words, a farmer owning his own land but it does not mention any property but deals with money, goods, cattle and chattels only.

Richard’s will takes the usual form of that period in commending his soul to God and asking to be buried in the churchyard of Staplehurst. He leaves twenty shillings to the poor of the parish. He leaves four pounds (or maybe it is fourteen, it is difficult to read the writing) each to his kin John Symith of Biddenden and to his cousin James Buckland of Headcorn.

To his son-in- law, John Huggins, and his daughter, Elizabeth, he leaves forty shillings and asks that Elizabeth be content with this amount as she had her share when she married. From this we can assume she had a significant marriage settlement.

He then makes allowance for the possibility of his new wife being pregnant and says if it is a son, then he is to have £55 when twenty one years old while if a daughter, then she should have £6 when she is eighteen or when she marries.

The residue of his goods, cattle, and chattels go to his wife, Elizabeth who is also the executrix of the will.

George Butcher, ‘my loving friend’ (who was brother to Elizabeth) was made an overseer of the will and also a witness.

John Buckland c1535 - 1595
John Buckland is the son of Stephen and Agnes Buckland. John was probably born about 1535, prior to the earliest parish records.
John Buckland married Margaret Holland on the 07 October 1560 in All Saints Church Staplehurst.


John and Margaret had six children baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst.

John and his wife are found on the List of Communicants of 1563. His children are not shown as they are less than 14 years of age. John’s father Stephen Buckland is living with John and his wife.

John Buckland was buried at All Saints Church, Staplehurst on the 21 May 1595. The entry says ‘ The XXj day was buryed John Buclande howseollder’.  We thus know that John Buckland was a householder and almost certainly a farmer as there are references to the sale of cattle (see below). What we cannot be certain of is what house this was.

A copy of the administrative accounts prepared after the death of John (reference: PRC 2/8/348) show his widow Margaret as administrator. It identifies that there had been an inventory taken which showed John Buckland left goods and chattels (but excluding property) worth £64/10/0 which is equivalent to approximately £8500 in 2005 money. He appears to have left debts and expenses of £25/5/0 which were paid by his wife, the administrator. Each of his surviving 5 children was then given £4 11s and presumably the remainder went to his widow.

I have found a couple of references to John in various other documents which include:
    Catherine Pickerden left a will in 1565 in which she refers to the ‘cow bought off Buckland’.
    In 1575, John Buckland is a witness to the will of John Mason.
    Again in another will dated 1577, John Turner makes a bequest of ‘a cow bought of Buckland’.
A will has not been found for John and it is assumed he died intestate necessitating the above administration.

I have not found a burial for Margaret, the widow of John. We know she was still alive in 1614 as she was living with her son Richard who made provision for her in his will. She is referred to as Margaret Mayo as she married Thomas Mayo 11 September 1598 in Marden.

Richard Buckland 1562 - 1614
Richard was baptised at All Saints Church, Staplehurst on the 08 February 1561/62. The entry reads ‘There was baptised Richard the sone of John Buckland’.
Richard married Mary Newman on the 30 August 1591. The entry reads ‘The XXX day was maryed Rychard bucland & marye nueman yonge folkes’.  Mary was the daughter of Mathew Newman and Kathryn Dorley and was baptised in Staplehurst on 28 October 1563.


Richard and Mary had four children baptised at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst.

Richard was buried in the Staplehurst parish church on the 01 November 1614. He was described as a householder. Again, we cannot be sure what house this was.

We are fortunate to have a copy of Richards will written on the 28 October 1613. In this he describes himself as a Husbandman which is generally loosely defined as a tenant farmer. The parish register records him as a householder on his burial.

He leaves ten shillings to the poor of Staplehurst after bequeathing his soul onto God. He asks to be buried in the churchyard at Staplehurst.

He leaves his sons Richard and John £35 each when they reach 22 years of age. His daughter Margaret is to receive £15 on the day she marries while Mary is to receive £20 pounds on the day she marries.

His mother, Margaret Mayo, is obviously living with his family at the time of his death as he request that she remain dwelling in his house and leaves her an allowance. Note that Margaret has married Thomas Mayo in Marden on 11 September 1598. After all legacies and debts are paid, the residue of his estate goes to his wife Mary. He makes allowance for the possibility she may remarry and ask that the money is put in trust for his children and that she quits the house.

There is an inventory of the moveable goods taken at the time of Richard’s death (reference PRC10 40/54). It is a detailed account of all the items in his house.

Mary, the widow of Richard, remarried to Peter Bridgland. There is a marriage licence dated 07 February 1614/15 which indicates they married at Saint Paul’s in Canterbury. Peter was noted as a husbandman and Mary as a widow. By the time her son John Buckland married in 1640, both his parents were said to be dead.

James Buckland b1567
James Buckland was baptised in Staplehurst on 09 March 1566/67, the son of John Buckland and Margaret Holland.

James had an illegitimate son, Robert, baptised on the 14 January 1592/93. The entry reads ‘ The XIIIj day was baptised Roberd ye sonne of Anys whybroocke & as ye mother say ye sonne of Jamys buckland base borne.’
James and Ann were married a few weeks later on the 20 February 1592/93. We can only speculate that it was a ‘shot gun’ marriage. James and Ann settled in Headcorn around 1594 where they raised a family.

James is left money by the will of Richard Buckland (who died in 1612) who refers to him as ‘cousin’ but James appears to be Richard’s nephew.

James and Ann had the following known children.

 We have no further details for this family.

John Buckland 1604 - 1664
John Buckland was baptised at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst on the 15 January 1603/04. His parents were Richard Buckland and Mary Newman.
John Buckland married Sarah Gull. There is a marriage license dated 27 February 1639/40 which permits the couple to marry at Linton. John was said to be about 30 years old and his parents were said to be dead. John was already said to be a clothier. Sarah was a virgin (maiden) of about 26 years of age, the daughter of Sarah Gull who consented to the marriage.


John and Sarah had 3 children known children.

It needs to be noted here that the registers for the period between 1643 and 1654 are ‘irregular and defective’ due to the political and religious upheavals of the time.  The registers show Hannah Buckland buried on the 01 February 1654/55 ‘Hannah the wife of John Buckland clothier’ however we know that John was married to Sarah. It is not impossible that John had a second wife that we are unaware of but it is probably more likely that the clerk entered the wrong name.

John was obviously a respected man in the village, in 1638, at only 34 years of age, he was chosen as a church warden. He was a clothier by trade and is likely to have worked with his brother Richard as there is a reference to a bond being held by ‘Solomon Ware, a miller of Cranbrook, who was owed £51 10s on bond by the Buckland brothers, clothiers of Staplehurst’ (reference: Archeologia Cantiana, Vol. CXXIII). By the time of his death in 1664, he was a wealthy man leaving an inventory of £1114 which was a considerable sum in those days. Several references to John refer to him as an example of the wealthier clothiers.

Also to balance this, we need to note that the cloth industry in the Weald was dieing out by this date; the country had just undergone major civil unrest and social upheaval. It is probable that John was in debt and that part of the large inventory of cloth was unsold due to the poor market. Unfortunately, we have not found accounts which might have helped to establish his real financial position.

John was buried 06 September 1664.  The parish register simply state ‘Buried John Buckland clothier’. His will is dated the 2nd of September 1664. It is signed by John (and sealed) with what looks like a shaky hand. Witnesses were John Love and Edward Usbourne both leading citizens of Staplehurst.

The will is comparatively short. He asks for a Christian burial at the discretion of his executor. He is obviously concerned about his debts and ask that his woodlands in Staplehurst and all of his moveable goods and chattels (excepting his black colt) to be sold to pay his debts. He appoints his son-in-law Francis Cornwill as his executor and request he organise the sale as quickly as possible.
Any residue money from the sale is to be shared equally between Francis Cornwill and John’s son John Buckland with the exception of his black colt which is to go to John.
The will identifies the property John owns as Fuller House from the description. It is not named, and, in any event, would not have been called Fuller House at this time.
He then states that he gives to his son John ‘my messuage & tenement barne & buildings orchard garden & close with the cornor field next the pinnock & the field next to the cornor field’. The other parcels of land belonging to the messuage including ‘the harp field the little pit field and the long strake’ he gives to his daughter Sarah Cornwill. From this reference, we can identify the property to be what is now known as Fullers House although the name was not then applicable and the house was probably known simply as John Buckland’s. From references in the Poor Rate Assessments, when compared to other assessments, we know that the property was of considerable value; certainly within the 10% highest valued properties in the parish. How much land was included is not certain but a guess would estimate it at around 50 acres. This estimate is based on the land associated with the house at the time of the Tithe Map as well as it was a common size of early farmsteads in the Weald according to Robert Furley.
In the 1640 subsidies, taxes paid to the crown, John is listed as paying the subsidy in Staplehurst Parish, Cranbrook Hundred (reference: National Archives E179/128/638). This confirms the property was in the southern part of Staplehurst, south of the church.

When did John Buckland acquire Fullers House?
In truth, we do not know. We do know that he extended the property extensively. We also know that John’s father, Richard Buckland owned property when he died and also John’s grandfather, John Buckland, is also noted as a householder when he died in 1595. In Richard Buckland’s will dated 1614, it is noted that his mother Margaret is living in the family home and allowance is made for her to continue doing so. It would not be unreasonable to theorise that the house Richard Buckland lived in was the same family home as which his father before him had owned.
Richard Buckland left his sons £35 a piece. All his children are minors and he leaves his estate to his wife with the condition that if she remarries that the money is put in trust and that she quits the house. It is, therefore, clear the house is to go to his children.  It has been said that Richard’s only 2 sons, Richard and John, worked together as clothiers based on accounts left by Solomon Ware in 1662. This is the only reference to John’s brother as an adult; there is no evidence of what became of him.
In conclusion, without further proof, we do not know when Fuller House was acquired by the Buckland family, but it does seem a strong possibility that the house was in the ownership of the Buckland family since before the death of John Buckland in 1595. If it should ever be possible to prove this, then we might be able to assume that the house was built for the Buckland family. There is also some evidence that there was a building on the site earlier. This comes purely from evidence of old foundations in the garden which are widespread and probably represent several earlier houses or outbuildings.

How did John Buckland Die?
John Buckland was buried 06 September 1664 in the Staplehurst parish churchyard. The simple record states ‘Buried John Buckland clothier’. John would have been 60 years old, which is a good age for that period. As an elderly resident, he would have been susceptible to any contagious disease that was epidemic. While we have no real evidence to give a cause of death there are some interesting clues.
First the population of Staplehurst in 1565 is estimated at 750 based a census of communicants. By 1664, Kent was just beginning to recover from the Civil War and the cloth industry which had sustained Staplehurst was collapsing. There is a rule of thumb method of calculating populations, which says to take the total of ten 10 years baptisms, then average it and multiply by thirty. This gives us a total of 588 around 1670. Another method is to take the number of households and multiply by 5. With this method and using Poor Rate Assessments to establish number of households in 1664, we get a figure of 600.
From 1620 to 1637, there was an average death rate of 27 people a year in Staplehurst. 1638 to 1642 show a period of unusually high mortality with an average of 45 people a year. Then we have the civil war and records are non-existent. The period between 1654 and 1659 shows the deaths drop back to a more normal level of 26 per year. 1663 shows 9 deaths (there are no records for 1660 to 1662) and 1664 jumps to 50 deaths. This represents 8.5% of the total population and is more than double the normal average for Staplehurst. We can safely assume there was an epidemic that year. We also know that 1664/65 was a year when the plague swept through Kent and it is likely that at least some of these deaths are caused by the plague, and this may include John Buckland. It may also explain why the house stood empty for several years after his death, as he would have died in the house.

With the death of John Buckland in 1664, followed by the death of his only son John in 1684 who appears not to have married, the Buckland name dies out in Staplehurst.