Same Name Confusion: William Buckley Jr. of Loudoun, Virginia

Subtitle: Dead Men Weren’t Tithable

            A good friend believes that “same name confusion” is the most common error in family history research. She is probably right, although careless errors — e.g., failure to note that a child was born when its purported mother was four years old — surely rank a close second. “Same name confusion” occurs, for example, when a man named George Washington, born in 1799, is identified in a tree as the first President of the United States. That also counts as a careless error.

            A frequent candidate for the “same name” error is William Buckley Jr. of Loudoun County, Virginia. He was a son of William Buckley Sr.[1] His wife was Amy MNU Buckley.[2] William Jr. had several brothers, including one named John and another named Joshua.[3] The only conclusively proved child of William Buckley Jr. and Amy is a son, Elijah, named in his grandfather’s will.[4] William Jr. also had daughters named Frances, Sarah, and Ann, who are established (IMO) by a convincing web of circumstantial evidence.[5] The daughters married Claiborne Martin, Gibson Martin, and Elijah Moseley, respectively.[6]

            Same-name-wise, William Jr. is confused with a William Buckley who died in 1776 while in military service during the Revolutionary War. The vast majority of online trees about this family identify William Jr., father of Elijah, husband of Amy, and son of William Sr., as the soldier who died in 1776. I did a search at Ancestry on William Jr. (also using father William Sr., wife Amy, son Elijah, mother Elizabeth, and death = 1776 as search terms). That search produced seven-hundred seventy-one trees identifying William Jr. as the soldier who died in 1776. There were only fourteen trees showing William Jr.’s death as 1780 (correct) or 1779 (close).

            Numbers, however, aren’t evidence, much less proof. All those trees prove is how easy it is to copy someone else’s tree without confirming research. In fact, it simply cannot be the case that William Jr. (husband of Amy, father of Elijah, and son of William Sr.) was the same man as the soldier who died in 1776. With apologies to my 5th cousin L. E., this is not a theory, it is an in-dis-effing-putable fact. Pardonnez mon français, s’il vous plait.

            If you accept original military and abstracted tax records as direct and weighty documentary evidence, that’s the unavoidable conclusion. Let’s consider the evidence …

            First, check out the military muster roll for Capt. Thomas Berry’s Company of the 8th Virginia Regiment at this link. The roll has a list of privates, including #17 Abram Buckley, appointed 22 Feb 1776, and #18 William Buckley (no “Junior” included), also appointed 22 Feb 1776. The muster roll states that William Buckley died on 16 Sept 1776. 

            Second, please see Loudoun County tax list abstracts by Ruth and Sam Sparacio.[7] Here’s a quick summary of tithables (i.e., taxable persons) from relevant years:

1773 — Samuel Love’s list included William Buckley Sr., who was listed with Joshua Buckley and Ben for a total of 3 taxables. I made a note of this because we know from Wm. Sr.’s will that Joshua was a son of his. The enslaved man Ben is important because he continues to be taxed with William Sr. in subsequent tax lists … so we can be confident that some stray William Buckley hasn’t snuck into the Loudoun lists. There was a separate listing in 1773 for “William Bukley,” who may or may not be William Jr.

1777 — the tax list of Samuel Love included William Buckley Sr. with Joshua, William Jr., and slave Ben — a total of 4 tithes. Dead men weren’t tithable,[8] so William Buckley Sr.’s son William Jr. was still alive in 1777. If you are descended from the soldier named William Buckley who died in 1776, then you can write off William Sr. as an ancestor and Amy MNU Buckley as an ancestress. This might cause 771 Ancestry tree owners some distress. Or perhaps not. I wonder how many claims of descent from William Sr. and Jr. the D.A.R. has accepted?

1779 — William Buckley Sr. was listed with Jas or Jos Gold (I don’t know him) and slave Ben for 3 tithables. William Buckley Jr. was listed with slave Suck (usually Suckie, a nickname for Susannah) for 2 tithables. Joshua Buckley was listed with slave Amey for 2 tithables.

1780 — George Summer’s list included both Joshua Buckley (slave Tom, 2 tithables) and William Buckley Jr. (1 tithable). William Jr. was therefore still alive when the 1780 tax list was made. William Buckley Sr. was still on Love’s list. He was taxed on himself, a man named Halbert, and enslaved man Ben, for 3 tithables.[9]

            Finally, there is an entry in the Loudoun County order book that establishes that William Jr. died between the time the 1780 tax list was made and the end of 1780. The order book for 11 December 1780 says, “[O]n the motion of Amy Buckley who made oath according to the Law & together with John Buckley and Joshua Buckley her securities …bond of 10,000 pounds … letters on the estate of Wm Buckley Junr dec.d.”[10]

            For icing on the cake, the 8th Virginia Regiment didn’t recruit in Loudoun County. It recruited in a half-dozen other Virginia counties.[11]

            If you can figure out a reasonable way to explain away these facts, I will give you a lifetime free subscription to this blog. Emphasis on reasonable.

            Considering the evidence, Pvt William Buckley of the 8th Virginia Regiment, who died in Sept 1776, was not the same man as the William Buckley Jr. who died in 1780. The tax lists conclusively prove (IMO) that William Buckley Sr.’s son William Jr. was alive through the time the tax list was taken in 1780, but he had died by December 1780 when his widow Amy applied for letters of administration on his estate.

            And that’s it for now. Some other ancestors are calling my name.

            See you on down the road.

            Robin

[1] Loudoun Co., VA Will Book D: 36, will of William Buckley of Loudoun Co. dated 12 Jul 1786, proved 8 Jun 1789. Sons John, Joshua, and Samuel Buckley and daughters Elizabeth Harris, Sarah Harris, Catherine Harris, Rosanna Halbert. Grandson Elijah Buckley, son of William Buckley, dec’d.

[2] Loudoun County Order Book G: 313, LDS Film #32,349, order dated 11 Dec 1780: “[O]n the motion of Amy Buckley who made oath according to the Law & together with John Buckley and Joshua Buckley her securities … bond of 10,000 pounds … letters on the estate of Wm Buckley Junr dec.d.” There is reportedly a record ordering Amy Buckley Huff and her husband James Huff to appear to administer on the estate of Elijah Buckley. I haven’t been able to find either the record itself or a citation.

[3] See Note 1.

[4] Id.

[5] There is a 5-part series on the Buckleys and Martins on this blog. Displaying an utter lack of imagination, I designated them Part 1 ,  Part 2,  Part 3,  Part 4,  and Part 5.

[6] Id.

[7] The Sparacios abstracted so many Virginia records they founded their own publishing company (“The Antient Press”). They don’t exactly abstract, they copy deeds and other records verbatim. See Tithables Loudoun County, Virginia 1775 – 1781 (McLean, VA: The Antient Press, 1992); Ruth & Sam Sparacio, Tithables Loudoun County, Virginia 1770 – 1774 (McLean, VA: The Antient Press, 1992).

[8] A deceased person’s estate (land and taxable personal property) was taxable. The deceased person was not himself tithable (or taxable).

[9] William Sr.’s daughter Rosannah married a man named Halbert. See Note 1.

[10] Loudoun Co., VA Order Book G: 313, LDS Film #32,349, order of 11 Dec 1780. The 10,000 pounds refers to lbs of tobacco, not pounds sterling). Some people might rationalize that probate of the estate of person who died in September 1776 might be delayed until December 1780. If you can produce an example of such a lengthy delay, I will eat both my hat and my laptop. As a practical matter, family,  heirs, or creditors typically filed for probate within a very short time after death in order to care for assets (crops to be harvested, e.g.) and assure prompt and orderly disposition of the.

[11]  https://revolutionarywar.us/continental-army/virginia/.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.