Buckler, Benjamin (DNB00)
|←Buckle, Henry Thomas||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07
BUCKLER, BENJAMIN (1718–1780), antiquary, son of Thomas Buckler of Warminster, Wiltshire, was born at Warminster, Wiltshire, in 1718, and matriculated on 15 Feb. 1732 as a member of Oriel College, Oxford, where he took the degrees of B.A. in 1736 and M.A. in 1739. In the latter year he was elected a fellow of All Souls, and became B.D. in 1755 and D.D. in 1759. In 1755 he was appointed to the vicarage of Cumnor, near Oxford, and he also held the small rectory of Frilsham in Berkshire. As an industrious student of the past history of his university, he was with peculiar appropriateness elected as keeper of its archives in 1777. He died at Cumnor on 24 Dec. 1780, and was buried there. Blackstone was elected a fellow of All Souls' College in 1743, and to Buckler, as his attached friend and his successor in the bursarship in 1752, he addressed a description of the mode of keeping the college accounts. In a book in the possession of the warden of All Souls there is written against Buckler's name the character, ‘Integer, doctus, sale Attico abundans.’ A portrait of him, usually assigned to Gainsborough, hangs in the warden's dining-room.
The members of All Souls' College have for many years celebrated a mallard by an annual gaudy on 14 Jan. Its origin is lost in the mist of ages, but the tradition generally accepted refers it to an overgrown mallard found in a drain when the foundations of the college were laid. Several passages relating to this entertainment, and some speculations as to its meaning, will be found in an appendix to Professor Montagu Burrows's ‘Worthies of All Souls College,’ pp. 429–37. The Rev. John Pointer having, in his account of the antiquities of Oxford (1749), degraded this illustrious bird to the level of a common goose, the spirit of the fellows of All Souls was roused, and Buckler brought out anonymously ‘A Complete Vindication of the Mallard of All Souls College,’ which was published in 1750, and republished in 1751. This provoked an ironical prospectus, usually attributed to Edward Rowe Mores, announcing as ‘Preparing for the press … A Complete History of the Mallardians … in three parts,’ 1752, and in the same year there was printed ‘The Swopping-Song of the Mallardians, an ode as it is to be performed on Tuesday the 14th of January,’ the original of which is among the Tanner MSS. at the Bodleian Library. A satirical tract by Buckler, entitled ‘A proper Explanation of the Oxford Almanack for the present year, 1755,’ alludes to the celebrated election for the county of Oxford in that year. The Oxford proctors for 1756, of whom Buckler was one, claimed the right of appointing a delegate of the press without consulting the vice-chancellor. That dignitary, Dr. Huddesford, thereupon issued a pamphlet of ‘Observations relating to the Delegates of the Press, with an account of their succession from their original appointment,’ 1756, and was promptly met by the proctor with ‘A Reply to Dr. Huddesford's Observations.’ The interest of these pamphlets has now passed away, but Buckler's labours as a genealogist have been more lasting. He assisted his friend Blackstone in his ‘Essay on Collateral Sanguinity,’ relating to the fellowships at All Souls, and in 1765 passed through the press, but without his name, his ‘Stemmata Chicheleana,’ containing the genealogies of the families entitled to its fellowships through descent from Archbishop Chichele. When the college acquired some of the manuscripts of John Anstis, on the sale of his library, Buckler compiled a supplement to this work (1775). He was one of the candidates for the task of completing the history of Northamptonshire by John Bridges, but he withdrew from the competition, and the duty fell to Rev. Peter Whalley. A single sermon (‘The Alliance of Religion and Learning considered,’ 1759) is his sole publication as a divine. For the ‘Bibliotheca Topographica Brit.,’ vol. iv. No. xvi. 12–25, he wrote a short history of his parish of Cumnor.[Gent. Mag. 1791, p. 1129, 1792, p. 224; Burrows's All Souls, 12, 400–36; Rawlinson MSS. fol. 16, 328; Gough's British Topog. (1780), ii. 137, 153–4; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 107, iii. 427, 679, 684, v. 404, vi. 401, viii. 253; Illustr. of Lit. iii. 528–35.]