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December 20, 2012 / Joanne Yeck

How Buckingham Got Its Name

Duke of Buckingham

George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham

(Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1625)

Thomas Baldwin’s Gazetteer of the United States (1854) goes on to state that the county was “Organized in 1761, and named from Buckingham, a county of England.”

Indeed, Buckinghamshire in England might have been the inspiration for the county’s name; however, there are other possibilities. There might have been a connection to the Buck River or nearby Buck Mountain. It might have honored George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham. Whatever the origin, for more than thirty years prior to the county’s establishment, the area had been referred to as Buckingham. The earliest known reference appears on a land patent dated September 27, 1729, in which Henry Cary, Gentleman, was granted “3942 acres at a place called Buckingham.” Signed by Governor William Gooch, the patent describes the tract as “the west side and on the branches of Buck River, alias Willis’s Creek,” located in the western part of what was then an enormous Goochland County.

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