Sunday, January 7, 2007

Reverend Richard Bucke

The Reverend Richard Bucke was the second minister of the Jamestown colony having arrived there in May of 1610 and serving until his death about 1623. He is probably best remembered for performing the ceremony at the wedding of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. Reverend Bucke offered the opening prayers at the general assembly which convened in the church at Jamestown on July 30, 1619. He owned valuable property in and around Jamestown.

The Reverend Richard Bucke is probably not related to my family, the Buck Family of Virginia.

Although some references note that Richard Bucke was a graduate of Oxford, he is probably the Richard Bucke listed in the Alumni Cantabrigienses as being admitted at age eighteen to Caius College on April 26, 1600.

Richard Bucke married at least (and probably) twice. Although the names of his wives are given in a number of documents, it turns out that they are actually unknown.

Richard Bucke had five children: Elizabeth, Mara, Gershon, Benomi and Peleg. Elizabeth was born in England, the others in Virginia.

In June of 1609, Richard and his wife left Plymouth, Devon, England for Virginia on the Sea Venture. Apparently, their daughter, Elizabeth, remained in England. The Sea Venture was the flagship of a supply fleet of seven ships and two pinnaces under command of Admiral Sir George Somers. The fleet encountered a hurricane off the Azores on July 25th which scattered the ships. The Sea Venture was wrecked off the coast of Bermuda on July 28th; the other ships eventually struggled into Jamestown but the Sea Venture was presumed lost. Actually, everyone on board the Sea Venture survived the shipwreck but the bottom of the ship was torn out by a reef. It took nine months to build two pinnaces which they named the “Deliverence” and the “Patience”. Leaving two men behind to keep Bermuda as a new British colonial possession, they sailed for Jamestown in May, 1610. William Shakespeare’s drama, “The Tempest”, is based in part on the events in Bermuda. Possibly because of the connection between “The Tempest” and the voyage, the Reverend Richard Bucke is sometimes described as a close friend of Shakespeare.

About April 5, 1614, the Reverend Richard Bucke officiated at the wedding of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. John Rolfe had been previously married but the name of his first wife is not known. With his first wife, John Rolfe had a daughter, Bermuda, who was born in Bermuda and was christened by the Reverend Richard Bucke on February 21, 1610. Bermuda Rolfe is assumed to have died in Bermuda; her mother is assumed to have died shortly after the two ships reached Jamestown. The Reverend Richard Buck must have been a close friend of John Rolfe. In addition to the shipwreck, the christening of the baby Bermuda and the wedding to Pocahontas, Richard Bucke was a witness to the will of John Rolfe.

Reverend Bucke opened the first general assembly that ever met in Virginia saying that “it would please God to guard and sanctifie all our proceedings to his owne glory and the good of the Plantation.”

Richard Bucke died ca 1623, probably in Jamestown, Virginia. One assumption is that he was killed in the massacre of 1622; however, since he was not listed among the victims, another possibility is that he died later of injuries or complications. Of course, his death may not be related to the massacre in any way.

Apparently, the Bucke children had mental or physical disorders that resulted in their being incapable of managing their own affairs. Consequently, the Bucke land was the focus of several legal battles and is well documented.

In July, 1996, news releases by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) indicated that the graves of the Reverend Richard Bucke, his wife and some of his family had been discovered near land believed to have been owned by him. This news initially created quite a bit of interest but it now appears to have been incorrect. It is more likely that the grave of the Reverend Richard Bucke is in the churchyard of the Jamestown chapel. The churchyard is intact although many gravesites are no longer identifiable. The site being studied is still identified by the APVA as the Reverend Richard Bucke site even though it is unlikely that the Reverend Richard Bucke lived there.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Sir Peter Buck (1550 – 1624)

In the genealogy game, extra points are awarded for links to royalty. For the Buck family of Virginia, one of those hoped-for links is to Sir Peter Buck of Rochester, England.

The Visitation of Kent, 1592, indicates that Peter Buck was "Clarke of the Checks to the Queenes Majesties Navye"; that is, he was in charge of finances for the navy. In some documents, Sir Peter Buck is described as being in charge of the dockyards at Medway.
The Visitation of Kent, 1619, shows that Sir Peter Buck, Knight, was an Alderman for the "Cittie of Rochester"; previously, he had "borne the office of Major". Sir Peter Buck was an important man in and about the Rochester area.

Sir Peter Buck first married Margaret Haviland, probably about 1576; he married Mary Creswell about three years later.

The known ancestor of the Buck family of Virginia is Thomas Buck who left Gravesend, England in 1635. Since Gravesend is near Rochester, it is easy to assume a relationship between Thomas Buck and Sir Peter Buck. Unfortunately, there is no proof that such a relationship exists. On the other hand, both the father and a son of Sir Peter Buck were named Thomas although neither would be the age of the Thomas Buck who left England for Virginia.

Still highly visible and prominent in Rochester is the house of Sir Peter Buck. This house, built for Sir Peter Buck during 1590-91, was owned and expanded through five generations of the Buck family. It was known as the Eastgate House. The noted English novelist, Charles Dickens, used Eastgate House as the model for “Westgate House” in his novel “The Pickwick Papers”. Eastgate House was also used as the “Nun’s House” in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”. Eastgate House served as the Charles Dickens Centre and museum from sometime in the 1980s until 2005.

While in Rochester in 1999, I photographed these plaques and coat-of-arms. The coat-of-arms of Sir Peter Buck is on the left hand side; that of his wife, Mary Creswell, is on the right hand side.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Pocahontas: The Buck Connection

Pocahontas (1595 – 1617) was the famous princess of the Algonquin Nation who supposedly saved the life of Captain John Smith in 1607. In 1614, having been converted to Christianity by the Reverend Alexander Whitaker and given the name Rebecca, Pocahontas married John Rolfe, a prominent Jamestown planter. The Reverend Richard Bucke (1582-1624) was a close friend of John Rolfe and is generally believed to have performed the marriage ceremony of John Rolfe and Pocahontas.

In 1616, John Rolfe and Pocahontas went to England where she was celebrated as an Indian princess. In 1617, Pocahontas became ill, perhaps from pneumonia or even tuberculosis. She died in Gravesend on the River Thames and is buried in St. George’s church. In 1999, during a visit to England, I took this snapshot of her life-size bronze statue at St. George’s Church.

Pocahontas and John Rolfe had one child, Thomas. After being educated in England, Thomas returned to Virginia. The multitude of people claiming to be descendents of Pocahontas are descendents of this Thomas Rolfe. As far as I can tell, the Buck family of Virginia has no early connections to Thomas Rolfe.

By 1619, John Rolfe had returned to Jamestown and married Jane Pierce, daughter of Captain William Pierce. The Buck family of Virginia has connections to the William Pierce family through the Bayly family.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Thomas Buck I (1618 - 1659)

The first member of the BUCK family to come to the New World was the Reverend Richard Bucke who sailed from England on June 2, 1609 for Jamestown on the Seaventure. He was the second minister of the Virginia colony and is probably best known for performing the marriage ceremony of John ROLFE and Pocahontas in 1614. The Rev. Richard Bucke died about 1623 leaving three sons and two daughters. Of his children, only Elizabeth, who married Thomas Crump, had any offspring.

The progenitor of the Buck family of Virginia was Thomas BUCK (1618 - 1659) who left Gravesend, England for Virginia on August 21, 1635 onboard the ship George when he was seventeen years old. Because Gravesend is near Rochester, it is sometimes assumed that Thomas BUCK was related to Sir Peter Buck of Rochester. However, there is no proof of any such relationship.

There is also no known relationship between Thomas Buck and the Rev. Richard Bucke but there are several interesting, if perhaps circumstantial, similarities. They were from the same general area in England and settled into the same area in Virginia. It seems highly likely that Thomas would have known the children of Richard Bucke.

In addition to Thomas, emigration records show that there were six Bucks leaving England in 1635. This hardly seems coincidental. A William Buck and his son Roger went to Massachusetts on the ship INCREASE in that year and it is sometimes assumed that Thomas may have been a member of this family. If so, he must have taken the wrong ship!

In Virginia, Thomas Buck settled into York county. Little is known about him until 1658 when he is mentioned in the York county records of 1658 in a dispute over the time of service for his two indentured servants. Thomas Buck I died when he was 41; his wife is assumed to have died before him. Their two children, Thomas and Dorothy, were named in his will. The will states that Richard Smith and Nicholas Bond were "overseers and guardians of my children" as well as "full and whole Executors of ye estate for my children and I do appoint that my children be brought upp to learning, Read and Wright, and in Ye fear of God" also noted was "My cattle not to be transferred off ye ground". His will includes an inventory of his household goods which includes, among other things, a Bible and 8000 nails.

Dorothy BUCK was probably born about 1647 or later as she was a minor when Thomas I died in 1659. She married a Robert TALLANT but no other details are available about her life.

Thomas BUCK II married Elizabeth Wooding sometime before 1682, probably around 1670 and most likely in York Co., VA. His will, dated May 19, 1729, and probated June 16, 1729 is recorded in York Country general records book No. 16, Part 2, Folio 605. He had six children but there is little information on them except for his son Thomas BUCK III.

First Posting

A new year is a good time to learn something new so I'm starting this blog to learn the fine art of blogging. From time to time I'll post information on my family genealogy -- the Buck Family of Virginia -- as well as what I'm learning about blogging.