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Eric Trudgill    -    6 April 2015

The pioneer gypsiologists around the turn of the twentieth century thought Old Joe Buckley, father of the famous Elijah and Joiner, was himself the son of a Perun Buckley. I’ve found no support for this in the records (I don’t count as support the fact that Joiner had a grandson called Perun). As always we need to look beyond the gypsiologists, and I believe geography, as so often, is a good place to start. Joe’s other well known sons, Hiram and Samuel, were born in Essex; Joe was “a traveller of Barking, Essex” when christening Elijah in 1799, and christened an Elizabeth in Barking in 1803; Joiner was “a gypsy of Barking, Essex” when christening Gonation in 1839; and Joe’s descendants were found predominantly in the nineteenth century in Essex. So Essex, and especially Barking, is the first place to look when trying to trace Joe back. A glance at the Barking records quickly establishes that a Joseph Buckley was baptised there in 1770 son of Dennis and Pleasant, which looks promising. However, further examination of the Barking records shows that the Joseph christened there had three siblings (Susan, Mary and Sidney) christened there in 1767, 1773 and 1779, that a Dennis Buckley was buried there in 1785 (and another Dennis Buckley in 1830). It’s true a Gypsy woman called Pleasant Buckley was buried in Kedington, Suffolk in 1789 some forty miles away, who might have been Joseph’s mother, and it’s true a later Dennis Buckley, husband of Margaret, was described as a sojourner when christening a Thomas in Newton in the Isle, Cambs in 1834, but in general these Barking Buckleys don’t look much like Gypsies, let alone Gypsies likely to produce high profile family members like Elijah, Joiner and the rest. If we want a father for Joe who was incontestably a Gypsy and incontestably a high profile Gypsy, we ought to widen our search. An obvious candidate here is the Shadrach Buckley, husband of an Elizabeth, who christened at least five children in Essex around the time Joe was born: Charles in Gt Warley in 1761, Salavino in Dagenham in 1770, Ann in Barking in 1772, Margaret in Romford in 1774, and James in Dagenham again in 1778. We have here a baptism in Barking, and four more nearby (Gt Warley is about eight miles from Barking with Romford and Dagenham on a fairly straight line between them). More importantly we have with Salavino’s baptism confirmation that Shadrach was a Gypsy (he was recorded on that occasion as a tinker, but given no ethnic indicators at the other baptisms). And, better still, we have in Salovino’s unusual forename confirmation that Shadrach was a Gypsy of some distinction. Shadrach Buckley seems to have named him after the Salavino Boswell christened in Asheldam, Essex in 1756, who I argued last month was a close relative of Shadrach Boswell, and Shadrach’s wife, it was revealed at the baptism of a son in 1792, was at birth a Cinderella Buckley. I find it hard to believe Shadrach Buckley wasn’t Cinderella Buckley’s brother, and, if this was so, their family, embracing striking, unusual forenames like Shadrach and Cinderella, and embracing inter-marriage with an old Romany family like Shadrach Boswell’s, was surely the right kind of family to delight in forenames like Elijah, Lavithan, Lazarus, Hiram, Britannia, Joiner, Justinia, Gonation and Santalina, and in inter-marriages with old Romany families (including Shadrach Boswell’s), like the East Anglian Smiths, Lees, Chilcotts and Grays. Having said that of course, I have to recognize that we have the 1770 baptism of Dennis and Pleasant’s son, a Joseph Buckley of Barking, Essex, and we have as yet no proof Shadrach and Elizabeth Buckley ever had a Joseph. It’s best, while looking for it, to keep an open mind.

Copyright © 2015 Eric Trudgill