Thornton Buckner

Thornton Buckner
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Fauquier County
In office
October 10, 1814 – December 6, 1818
Serving with Thomas Marshall, Aldridge James
Preceded byThomas Hunton
Succeeded byJohn P. Smith
In office
December 2, 1811 – May 16, 1813
Serving with Alexander Scott
Preceded byThomas Hunton
Succeeded byThomas Hunton
In office
December 5, 1808 – December 2, 1810
Serving with John Edmonds, William Clarkson
Preceded byWilliam H. Macon
Succeeded byAugustine Jennings
Personal details
Fauquier County, Virginia
Taylor County, Kentucky
Spouse(s)Sally Stanton,
Matilda Buckner
RelationsRichard A. Buckner(brother)
Parent(s)Aylett Buckner, Judith Thornton
Occupationplanter, politician, militia officer

Thornton Buckner (born circa 1778-1854) was a Virginia planter, military officer and politician in Fauquier County, Virginia, which he represented in the Virginia House of Delegates for many terms before moving westward across the Appalachian Mountains to Kentucky, where he lived in Green County, and died in Taylor County decades after its creation from Green County.

Early and family life

Thornton Bucker was the firstborn son born to the former Judith Thornton and her planter husband Aylette Buckner.[1][2] The Buckner family had immigrated to the Virginia colony more than a century earlier, with attorney John Buckner (d. 1695) patenting considerable acreage in Gloucester County beginning in 1667 and points westward after the creation of Rappahannock Count (from which Essex County, Caroline County, Spotsylvania County and Prince William County would be formed in his children's lifetimes). The immigrant John Buckner served as the Gloucester county clerk for many years, and voters elected him as one of the two burgesses representing them part-time in the colonial capitol (Williamsburg) in 1682 and possibly in 1692 as well. Four of his sons would represent various counties early in the 18th century: John Buckner Jr. and later his brothers Robert and Richard represented Gloucester County, and William Buckner represented York County, Virginia. After following his father's example and serving as Essex County clerk for decades, Richard also became one of the first burgesses representing newly formed Caroline County before his death.[3] This man's father, Aylett Buckner, was the firstborn son of the firstborn of burgess Richard's four sons, Major Richard Buckner, who married Elizabeth Aylett.[4]

Aylette Buckner continued the family's westward move to developing Fauquier County, and as the 19th century began moved to Green County, Kentucky, where he died in 1811. He became a local Fauquier County justice of the peace by 1777,[5] In 1778 he took the oath required to become Major of the Fauquier militia battalion.[6] The elder Buckner served in the Virginia Line of the Continental Army (under Col. Armistead Churchill, until forced to resign because of ill health in 1781).[7][8] After the conflict, despite a kerfuffle concerning the slow building of the county courthouse (the contractor for whom Buckner and two others stood surety was replaced), Aylett Buckner was elected the county Sheriff in 1793, but replaced in 1795.[9] He was still alive in 1802, and possibly on the verge of moving westward into Kentucky with some sons and other relatives, when he made a gift of slaves to John T. Taylor, probably a dowry for his daughter's husband.[10] The 1787 Virginia tax census shows Aylette Buckner owned 11 adult slaves and 17 younger slaves as well as five horses and ten cattle in the county that year, and mentions young Thornton.[11] The family may have included four sons and four daughter. Perhaps the most distinguished was Richard Aylett Buckner (1763 or circa 1780 -1847) who moved to Green County, Kentucky (where their father may have received land grants based on his military service) and there became a legislator, judge and U.S. Congressman. Their sister Catherine Taliaferro Buckner Taylor likewise moved to Greensburg, (the seat of Green County, Kentucky) with her husband and family. In 1797, Thornton Buckner married Sally Stanton in Fauquier County, Virginia.[12] He married Matilda Buckner in Green County, Kentucky in 1806.[13]


Continuing his father's military tradition, Buckner became a captain in the Fauquier County Virginia militia in 1794, a year after he served as a deputy sheriff for the county. He was promoted to Major in the Fauquier County militia in 1798.[14] By the time the Virginia militia was called into service in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812, Thornton Buckner held the rank of colonel, and was discharged in Richmond in 1814.[15]

For most of his adult life, Buckner farmed using enslaved labor. In the 1810 census, he owned 11 slaves,[16] and 20 slaves in the 1820 census.[17] In 1811, he was the first son mentioned in his father's probated will, although the document distributed Fauquier County land to his brother Richard adjacent to land Aylett Buckner had sold before he left, and another sister was given an enslaved woman.[18]

Fauquier County voters elected Buckner as one of their delegates (part-time) to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1808, and with two one-year lapses continued to re-elect him annually for a decade.[19]

Thornton Buckner visited his father, siblings and other relatives in Kentucky, then moved his family across the Appalachian Mountains to Green County, Kentucky by 1830, in which census his household included eleven free white people and seventeen slaves.[20] A decade later the number of free white people in the Buckner household had decreased to seven through death or marriage, but the number of enslaved people had increased to nineteen.[21] By 1850, the Buckner family resided in Taylor County, which had been created from Green County. This more detailed census noted Buckner's occupation as a farmer, estimated his real estate as worth $13,500 and gave ages for him, his 60 year old wife and their adult daughters Matilda and Ellen and 23 year old son Charles.[22] By that year, the number of enslaved people in the household had increased to more than 30, ranging from 63, 55 and 42 year old Black men and 57 and 55 year old Black women to Black boys of 7 and 3 years old and a three month old infant as well as a Mulatto seven year old boy, a seven year old Black girl, four five year old, four three year old, one two year old, two year old girls and an eight month baby girl.[23]

Death and legacy

Buckner died in Taylor County, Kentucky in 1854.


  1. ^ Though most family histories lack his birth date, following the lead of a much-criticized one by William Crozier Armstrong, the estimate in one accords with his first marriage date, although slightly earlier than the estimate in the final census in his lifetime (in 1850) as 69 years old.
  2. ^ In 1787, his father paid taxes for him, indicating he was above 16 years old and under 21, per Fauquier County Personal Property taxes 1787Pers A page 7 of 29 in Binns CD compilation
  3. ^ Crozier pp. 34-35
  4. ^ Crozier pp. 25-27
  5. ^ Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Virginia Court Records: Fauquier County, Virginia Minute Book 1775-1779 (1996: McLean, Virginia The Antient Press) pp.50, 56-57
  6. ^ Sparacio p.68
  7. ^ T. Triplett Russell and John K. Gott, Fauquier County In the Revolution (Warrenton: Fauquier County American Bicentennial Commission 1976 pp. 248, 259, 395, 496
  8. ^ Crozier p. 35
  9. ^ Fauquier County, Virginia: 1759-1959 (Fauquier County Bicentennial Commission 1959) p. 75 (although oddly the list of Revolutionary war soldiers at p. 309 lists Thornton Buckner but not his father)
  10. ^ Crozier p. 35
  11. ^ Netti Schreiner-Yantis and Florene Speakman Love, The 1787 Census of Virginia (Springfield: Genealogical Books in Print 1987) Vol.1 p. 277.
  12. ^ index entry on
  13. ^ Kentucky, U.S. Compiled Marriages 1802-1850 on
  14. ^ John P. Alcock, Fauquier Families 1759-1799: Comprehensive indexed abstracts (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Company 1994) p. 50
  15. ^ U.S. Army Register of Enlistments 1798-1914 entry 7700, available on
  16. ^ 1810 U.S.Federal Census for Fauquier County, Virginia p. 25 of 86
  17. ^ 1820 U.S.Federal Census for Fauquier County, Virginia p. 5 of 79
  18. ^ Aylett Buckner will dated 1809 filed in Green County,, Kentucky in 1811, available on familysearch
  19. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard, The Virginia General Assembly 1619-1978 (Richmond: Virginia State Library 1978) pp. 252, 256, 265, 269, 277, 281, 285, 289
  20. ^ 1830 U.S. Federal Census for Green County, Kentucky p. 37 of 94 on, noting p. 29 of the same census included a "Therubeden Buckner" whose 8 person household did not include slaves
  21. ^ 1840 U.S. Federal Census for Green County, Kentucky p. 23 of 60 on
  22. ^ 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Division 2, Taylor County, Kentucky, family 305 on pp. 44-45 of 45
  23. ^ 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule, Division 2, Taylor County, Kentucky, p.9 of 9