Buckingham, Pennsylvania

How did Buckingham, Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about the naming of Buckingham, Pennsylvania, the people who settled it, and the industry rising within it.

Small town in central Buckingham Township, at the intersection of Old York Road (Route 155), Durham Road (Route 152) and Doylestown Road (Route 202). Its location at the junction of three great highways has always conferred distinction upon the place. It game into much prominence during the Revolution, when it was known as Bogarts Tavern. This tavern was established June i 1, 1752, when Henry Jamison, who had just purchased the Samuel Blaker house and plantation at the cross roads, was granted a tavern license by the County Court. After the death of Jamison, June 29, 1767, his widow, Mary Jamison, became the popular hostess. In 1772 she married John Bogart, a son of Guysbert Bogart, who had come from the Dutch colony on the Raritan River in 1740 to Solebury, where he purchased a large tract of land along the Buckingham line. The license was issued to John Bogart from 1773 to 1777 and it then became known as Bogarts Tavern. The Bucks County Committee of Safety, which was organized at Newtown July 9, 1774, held its first meeting after organization at this tavern July 21, 1775, and afterwards met there and at Newtown, as convenience or necessity required. General Nathaniel Greene, who commanded the left wing of General Washington’s army at the Battle of Trenton, made Bogarts Tavern his headquarters for some time in the winter of 1776, and General Washington was in occasional consultation with him there. It was from this tavern that General Greene on December 10, 1776, wrote the order to General Ewing at Sherrerds Ferry (in Tinicum Township) to send “sixteen Durham boats and flats down to McConkeys Ferry.” The original of this order came into the possession of the late Colonel Henry D. Paxson, at whose suggestion the old Bogart Tavern now bears the name General Greene Inn. In the early part of last century, at the time the county seat was moved from Newtown to Doylestown, Buckingham was known as Vanhorns Tavern and is so named in the report of the State Commissioners appointed to select the site for the new county capital, bearing date of May 12, 1810. It bore that name until the tavern came into the possession of its most noted and popular host, Colonel Elisha Wilkinson, and during his incumbency the village was generally known as Wilkinsons Tavern. He was a son of Colonel John Wilkinson, a man of much prominence in Colonial and Revolutionary affairs. Ogden D. Wilkinson, in his genealogy of The Wilkinsons, has a pleasing biographical note on Colonel Elisha Wilkinson. “Of the children of Colonel John Wilkinson,” he says, “Elisha was the most prominent, He was a man of very fine appearance. During the War of 1812 he was quartermaster of the Second Division, First Brigade, Bucks County Militia, of which Captain Samuel Smith, his brother-in-law, was Brigadier General. Colonel Wilkinson was afterwards promoted to Assistant Quartermaster General, Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia. He was stationed for a time at Marcus Hook. He was Sheriff of the county and was widely known. He was a great sportsman and is said to have done more to improve horse flesh in Bucks County than any man who ever lived there. The life at the homestead at Wrightstown was quiet for a man of his inclinations. Being fond of society, hunting, keeping and driving fine stock, it is quite natural that he should seek a place of more prominence. He was married when he was nineteen years of age, and asked the Court to appoint Elias Dungan his guardian. For a time he lived in Newtown and then in Doylestown Township, but finally purchased the old tavern property at the intersection of the Durham Road, April 1, 1814, and seventeen acres adjoining, and taking up his residence there, he entertained many distinguished people. Fox hunts, gunning, and an occasional horse race, seem to have been favorite sports. Many very interesting stories are now told of Colonel Wilkinson’s associates, the Colonel’s genial manners, true hospitality and popularity. His cousin, Judge Ross, Judge Cadwallader, and many other prominent men of the time were his associates, and it is said, spent every Sunday with him. .. . He moved to Philadelphia and died very suddenly at his residence on Chestnut Street, March 15, 1846, in his seventy-second year, and was buried with his family in Wrightstown burial grounds.” While thus assigning names of taverns or inns to this town, it must be borne in mind that place names in past days had a peculiar habit of alternation, and also that places named for their inns at the same time in numerous instances bore a different name. Therefore it is with but little surprise that, upon looking over an old time-stained map of “The Province of New Jersey, Divided into East and West, commonly called The Jerseys,” drawn in 1769 from surveys made to settle the dividing line between the provinces of New York and New Jersey and engraved and published by William Faden, Charing Cross, London, December 1, 1777, we find this little town marked with the same name it bears today, Buckingham. Seneca W. Ely, native of Bucks County. who became editor of the Cincinnati Commercial and whose personal recollections of Buckingham went back to 1818, once related that, as a boy, he often heard of the village ironically called “Snaptown,” from the fact that one of its well-known characters was “a surly and snappish individual.” With the departure of Colonel Wilkinson as the tavern landlord, the village was known as Centreville, from its central location in the township, a name it bore until May 12, 1872, when a post office was established there under the name of Buckingham, Jacob S. Michener becoming the first postmaster. Although there was no post office at Buckingham before 1872, there was a Buckingham post office in Buckingham Township many years before that date. So far as can be ascertained it was housed in the stone building on the northeast corner of the cross roads at Holicong, formerly Greenville. It was this office to which for a long period mail was addressed to people residing within a wide scope of country in Buckingham and Solebury Townships, including the present village of Buckingham. John H. Ruckman has in his possession a letter addressed to Jonathan W. Ingham “near Buckingham Post-Office, Pa. pr Mail (cost 10¢) from Lancaster.” The letter is dated March 8, 1809, and Ingham lived at Aquetong Spring, Solebury Township. Letters received from 1826 to 1843 by various members of the Ruckman family, whose homestead was at Ruckmanville, Solebury Township, are all directed “Buckingham P. A.” A list of unclaimed letters at Buckingham post office is published in Doylestown newspapers dated January 21, 1828, and signed “N. Ashby, P. M.” Four of the unclaimed letters were for Colonel Elisha Wilkinson. Buckingham is a pleasant residential town, picturesquely situated, with an Episcopal Church, some quaint old houses and a few business places, but no large industrial plants.

Source: MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.

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