Buck Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Buck Meaning
The Buck surname is both English and German in origin.
The English Buck may derive from the Old English bucca, a male goat, or from bucc, a male deer.  The name
here would have begun as a nickname – for someone with a possible
to the animal in terms of strength, speed or sturdiness.  The Buck
could also be topographical, deriving from the Old English boc, a beech
tree, and referring to someone living by a prominent beech
The German Bock, which often came to America as Buck, had a similar
derivation, from the Old German boc
meaning a male goat.  It would also have begun life as a
nickname.  In early Dutch and Belgian annals the name could also
be Bouc or Bouck, in early French le Buc or de Buc.
Buck Resources on

Buck Ancestry

Walter le Buc
was said to have come to England from Flanders in the
early 13th century as a mercenary to help King John in his battles with
the barons.  He settled in Yorkshire at what became known as

John Bucke of this family from Harthill supported Richard III at the
battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 and subsequently lost his
head.   Sir George Buck became well-known as an author and
antiquarian, his works including a life of Richard III.  However,
his end too was unfortunate.  He fell from favor, was overwhelmed
by debt, and died insane.  But Bucks of this family by this
time were established at Hamby Grange near Leverton in Lincolnshire
where they were to remain until the late 18th century.

Other early Bucks were:

  • John Buck
    who was rector at Benston in Norfolk in
    1457 (his descendants were to be found in Norwich)
  • James Buck who was vicar at Stradbrook in Suffolk in 1649
  • and Matthew Buck, lord of the manor of Winterbourne in
    Gloucestershire around that time.

The Buck brothers, Samuel and Nathaniel, were engravers and printmakers
from Yorkshire who roamed the country in the 1730’s and 1740’s selling
what were known as Buck’s antiquities.  One family history starts
in the 1770’s with Samuel Buck of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire.

The Buck name in the 19th century was primarily to be found in East
Anglia, extending northward into Yorkshire and southward to London.

English Bucks came first, then German.

English.  The
first Buck in America was the Rev. Richard Buck from Wymondham in
Norfolk who served as the minister of Jamestown from 1610 until his
death in 1624.  Buck was a close friend of English planter John
Rolfe and he officiated at the wedding of Rolfe and Pocahontas, the
daughter of the Powhatan chief, in 1614.  Buck was later
acknowledged as
one of the “ancient planters” and given a land grant.

Another Buck family in Virginia began with Thomas Buck who came to York
county around 1635.   The Bucks were a prominent and well-to-do
plantation family
in early Virginia.  They were active
in the
local economy, politics and religion of the Shenandoah valley during
the 1700’s and 1800’s.

Early Buck settlers in New England were:

  • William Buck, a plowwright from Buckinghamshire who travelled
    with his son Roger on the Increase
    in 1635 and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Isaac Buck who was transported to Boston on the Amitia in the same year for
    refusing to take the oath of conformity.  He gained renown as an
    Indian fighter when he saved Stockbridge mill from the Indians in
    1676.  Daniel Buck moved north to Vermont in 1785 and both he and
    his son Daniel represented Vermont in the US Congress.
  • and Emanuel Buck
    who came from Norfolk in the 1640’s and settled
    in Wethersfield, Connecticut.  One branch led through Samuel Buck
    of Portland, Connecticut; another through Captain James Buck of
    Litchfield, Connecticut.

However, Bucks
in America
are more likely to be of German than of
English origin.

Frederick Buck arrived in Pennsylvania from the upper Rhone valley in
Germany in 1743.  His son Philip Buck joined the British
during the Revolutionary War.  After the defeat his family made
the long trek
to Canada with other Empire Loyalists.

Johann Jacob Buck, however, did fight on the American side in the
War.  He had arrived from Wurttemburg on the Neptune in 1751 and settled in
Buffalo township, Pennsylvania.  So too did the sons of Johannes
who had arrived on the Two
in 1747 and came to Lancaster county,
Pennsylvania.  Nicholas Buck arrived from Lorraine in 1752 and
settled in his Buckhill home in Springfield, Bucks county.
William Buck published An Account of
the Buck Family of Bucks County
in 1893.

Ludwig Buck was a German from Friedenstal in south Russia who came to
America in the 1890’s and ended up in Streeter, North Dakota.

Canada.  The Loyalist
Phillip Buck and his family made their home at Trafalgar township in
Halton county, Ontario.  His descendants held a reunion at the
family Omagh home there in 1922.  The home of Dr. Anson Buck,
grandson of Philip, is still standing although it is now Anson‘s restaurant.  Meanwhile
descendants of Adam Buck moved back across the border to St. Louis in
the 1880’s.

Another Buck Loyalist who departed for Canada was Samuel Buck from
Litchfield county, Connecticut.  His lands had been plundered
after he joined the British cause.  In 1788 he departed with his
family for Quebec.  He died there soon afterwards in a militia
skirmish.  His family resettled in South Mountain, forty miles
south of Ottawa.

Australia.  Two Buck
brothers from Norfolk, Richard and William, came to Australia in 1849
and settled there, Richard in Western Australia and William in South
Australia.  Richard joined exploration parties in search of
an inland sea in Western Australia.


Select Buck Miscellany

Walter le Buc and His Descendants.  Walter le Buc arrived in England from Flanders in the early 13th century as a
mercenary to help King John in his battles with the barons.  He was said to have been present
at Runnymede at the signing of Magna Carta.  As
a reward for his services and as an inducement
for him to stay in England, John gave Walter large tracts of land in
and Lincolnshire.  Walter made his home
at Bucktown in Yorkshire.  Later le Bucs
were donors and patrons of the nearby convent and priory at Bridlington.

By 1273 his descendants were numerous and
included, according to a list compiled at that time: Roger and Henry le
Buc in
Yorkshire; John le Buc in Suffolk; Arnicia de Buc and others in
Huntingtonshire; Hugh le Buc and others in Wiltshire; Castro le Buc in
Buckinghamshire; and Edric le Buc in Norfolk.

Zechariah Buck of Norwich.  John Buck
settled at Benston, Norfolk around 1453 and became rector of the church
four years later. One of his sons was
assistant vicar at nearby Hawgley and a later John Buck was master of
the free
school in Norwich in 1547.

century descendant was Zechariah Buck, the well-known organist and
choir master at Norwich
Cathedral.  He began his lifetime of service at the age of 21 in
1819.  It was said that Dr. Buck’s talent
for training boys’ voices was simply outstanding.  Jenny Lind,
visiting Norwich in 1847, said she “had never heard children sing so

had his strong likes and dislikes.  Annoyed that a family by the
name of Waters invariably arrived late, He arranged that they were met
on one occasion by the choir singing: “Save me, O God, for the waters
are come in.”

He continued in his position until 1877 when he was in his 79th year.

Bucks in America.  Bucks in America are more likely
to be of German than of English origin.

Bucks in America by Country of
 Numbers  Percent
Germany 731 67%
England   217   20%
Ireland   138   13%

Thomas Buck of Bel Air in Happy Creek.  In 1735
Charles Buck moved westward into the Shenandoah valley which his son
later called “this wild and savage country.”  He
prospered there and became a large
landowner near what is now Front Royal, Virginia.  He
was a keen sportsman and his jockey
Dick was said to have been the first slave carried across the Blue
Ridge mountains.

His son Thomas was one of
the original trustees of the town of
Front Royal and a leading citizen for many years.  In
1797 he built his home Bel Air in Happy
Creek nearby, a building which still stands.

A letter written in 1918 from Lucy Rebecca Buck noted:

two wings of the house were erected
several years before the main brick one was made and I have heard our
old aunt
Calmes, who died in her ninety second year, say that as a little girl
she had
played in the space between the wings.  The brass knocker on the
front door –
one of my earliest recollections of the house – bears the inscription
Buck, 1800.'”

Lucy was born in Bel
Air and some say her ghost still haunts it.
Her brother Irving had been forced to sell the house.

Johannes Buck in Pennsylvania.  Johannes Buck
and his wife Elizabeth were among the Mennonites who left the
Palatinate in
Germany for religious freedom in America in the early 18th century.  Leaving Rotterdam they arrived in
Philadelphia on October 13, 1747 on The
Two Brothers,
swearing allegiance to the English King on the same
day.  They eventually settled in what was
called Londonderry township in Lancaster county.  Early
spellings of their name in America were
Bock and Bok.

Johannes bought land and
farmed.  He lived through the
Revolutionary War, but died soon after.
Three of his sons – Johannes, Christian and Frederick – fought
different capacities in that war.  Christian
served in the Lancaster militia and he and his wife Catherine raised
children.  Edith Fisher’s 1958 book Johannes Buck: 1747-1790 covered the
lineage of the family through this second son Christian.

Philip Buck, Empire Loyalist.  The story
of Philip Buck is an example of what Loyalists suffered, endured and overcame
and their fortitude as founders of Canada.
It was written by a descendant Grace Austin, American born, who
to stumble on this Loyalist fact while researching her American

In 1776 Philip Buck
had joined Butler’s Rangers as a private.
During the war he was captured and held prisoner in Philadelphia.  He lost everything he had – land, house,
barn, livestock, furniture, utensils etc – all of which was taken by
the rebels
or plundered by Indians.

The families of
these imprisoned men were destitute and in desperate straits.  The wives decided to take their children and
refuge in Canada hoping, that by some miracle, they could get here.  Their escape to Canada was a true tragedy.

The party consisted of five wives and 31
children and only one pair of shoes among them.
It was winter-time and they were completely destitute.  At one place they would have perished, but
for the kindness of some Indians.  After
weeks on the road, the commander of the British forces heard of their
plight and sent soldiers and Indian guides to take charge of them.  After they reached Canada, Margaret Buck gave
birth to her seventh child.

The Government of Canada
assumed responsibility for the refugees until, by an exchange of
some of the soldiers were once more united with their families.  In
1778 Buck was
exchanged as a prisoner to New York and came thence to Niagara and his
family.  Because of his loyalty, the
Crown granted Buck land on the Niagara peninsula in Bertie township.

Reader Feedback – Bucks in Vermont.  Looking to confirm the given name of Mr. Buck who was the father of Robert Buck, born in 1804 in Vermont. His wife was Hannah Craw from Connecticut.  I need to find a marriage record or other documentation to prove marriage and birth.

Patti Waitman (pattitwirler@comcast.net)



Select Buck Names

  • Walter le Buc was the Flemish founder of the Yorkshire and
    Lincolnshire Buck family.
  • Frank Buck was an American big
    game hunter who became a movie actor in the 1930’s and 40’s.
  • Pearl Buck was the American
    novelist based in China who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938.

Select Buck Numbers Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Worcestershire)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Buck and Like Surnames 

The first wave of German immigration into America came in the early 1700’s from the Rhine Palatine and Switzerland.  They were fleeing religious persecution at home.  Most ended up in Pennsylvania, bringing their Mennonite church with them.  Some went to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.  Their Germanic names often changed under English rule to English-style names.  Thus Fischer became Fisher, Schneider Snyder, Hubner Hoover and so forth.

The reasons for immigration were different in the 19th century – in search of a better life, sometimes to avoid the draft.  They came from all German states and went not just to Pennsylvania but all over as the middle and west of the country was opening up.  And they brought German skills with them, notably beer-making.

Here are some of the notable German surnames in America that you can check out.



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