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06 May 2016

The Buckolls of Portslade, Hove & Brighton

Judy Middleton 2001 (revised 2016)

copyright © J.Middleton
The Buckoll tombstones in the churchyard of St Nicolas Church Portslade

This unusual surname belonged to family members living in Preston, Hove, Portslade and Brighton. It seems they were resident for a considerable time because their name occurs in official records from the 16th century to the 19th century.

Court Rolls of Preston – There is a mention of John Buckholte living at Hove in 1562 and in 1563 Robert Buckholte was elected constable. The family owned a garden and half-a-virgate of land in Preston.

Hove Buckolls

copyright © J.Middleton
St Andrews Old Church, Hove.

John Buckoll buried January 1550
James Buckoll buried 9 December 1592
Bridget Buckoll buried 21 April 1617
Richard Buckoll married Sarah Wood 28 October 1622
Humphrey Buckoll buried 1 September 1623
Elizabeth, wife of John Buckoll buried 5 June 1629
Ann, daughter of Stephen Buckoll, born 11 June, baptised 25 June 1629
Amy, daughter of James Buckoll, baptised 2 March 1594
Jabez, son of Robert Buckoll (who was churchwarden about this time) baptised 30 January 1619
Jonas, son of John Buckoll, baptised 3 December 1626

In the Subsidy Roll of 1621 James Buckoll of Hove was recorded; he was one of only four people who were liable to pay tax.

Portslade Buckolls

copyright © J.Middleton
St Nicolas Church Portslade.

In 1718 John Buckoll, son of John Buckoll, was apprenticed to Peter Marchant of Lewes, peruke maker, for seven years. It was a long apprenticeship and so some skill must have been involved. A peruke was another name for a wig, which gentlemen habitually wore at that time. When Godfrey Kneller painted a portrait of George I (1714-1727) he was wearing a most extravagant wig of brown curls that descended below his shoulders.

On 23 October 1708 a deed was drawn up between John Buckoll of Portslade, tailor, and John Roper of Portslade, wheelwright because of an impending wedding. John Buckoll wished to marry Mary Daniel of Lewes, spinster, who was the sister-in-law of John Roper, and daughter of the late Adam Daniel of Brighton, blacksmith. In this deed Buckoll handed over to Roper a cottage and adjoining garden in the main street of Portslade. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell exactly where this cottage was situated because the names High Street and South Street did not come into use until quite late in the 19th century. The property had been leased from Elizabeth Westbrook, Lady of Portslade Manor at a rent of one shilling. However, there was a heriot of 6/8d; a heriot was the equivalent of death duty.

copyright © J.Middleton
Portslade Old Village

It is interesting to note that John Roper also took apprentices to learn the trade of wheelwright. In 1711 one apprentice was John Ashwell, son of the late Isaac Ashwell of Newmarket, and his apprenticeship was for three years at a cost of £5. His second apprentice was William Davy, son of John Davy of Clayton, husbandman, and his apprenticeship cost £7 for seven years. 

In 1721 John Buckoll made a haystack in Portslade near the west part of Mr Kempe’s barn on common land by permission of the Lord and Lady of the Manor but it had to be removed by 25 March.

On 25 March 1725 John Stone of Slaugham was apprenticed to John Buckoll of Portslade, tailor, for seven years at a cost of £10. (Incidentally, the appearance of 25 March in these two records is of interest because it was also Lady Day, the festival of the Annunciation, and a Quarter Day in legal terms).

On 30 November 1740 John Buckoll, tailor, died aged 67. In his will he left £10 a year to his wife Mary on condition that the house, stable, outhouses and garden went to their son Thomas after she had had the use of them. He gave money to his other sons John and Stephen. John Buckoll was buried close to the south side of St Nicolas Church, Portslade and his beautiful tombstone with its excellent lettering is one of the finest to be seen in the churchyard.

On 16 March 1744 Thomas Buckoll died aged 38 and was buried next to his father. Both tombstones are in an excellent stated of preservation due in part of the shelter from the elements provided by the adjacent porch.

Not quite so fortunate was another stone to a Buckoll who died on 1 June 1789. The stone broke in half and the late John Greenfield restored it and it was placed near the tower.

copyright © J.Middleton
The Buckoll tombstones in the churchyard of St Nicolas Church Portslade

The tombstones indicate a family of some wealth. However, it seems one branch of the Buckoll family must have fallen on hard times because widow Buckoll had nobody to support her and was reduced to asking the Portslade Overseers of the Poor for assistance. The Account Book records that on 8 May 1771 eleven shillings was paid for half-a-hundred of faggots for Dame Buckoll. Such help was only available for local residents. She survived a few more winters and it was recorded that Elizabeth Buckoll, widow, was buried at Portslade on 26 February 1775.

Brighton Buckolls

It is difficult to ascertain exactly what kind of business James Buckoll was in at the start of his business life. Was he perhaps a stationer and also acted as a place where information might be obtained? In the Sussex Weekly Advertiser (28 January 1771) the London Union Society placed a notice in which it said abstracts could be obtained from Mr Buckoll of Brighton. It seems he must have taken other partners into his business because in the same newspaper on 23 April 1787 there was a notice stating the White Horse Inn, Rottingdean, was to be let and details could be obtained from Messrs Grover, Killick and Buckoll.

A 1906 illustration of Shoreham Harbour
from the Brighton Season Magazine
The names Grover and Killick are significant because Buckoll was later associated with them in a coal merchant and brewing enterprise.

In an official document of 1789 James Buckoll of Brighton was described as a coal merchant. Perhaps his coal was imported through Shoreham Harbour rather than being landed on the shingle beach at Brighton. At any rate his name is to be found on a petition relating to New Shoreham Harbour and dated 19 January 1789 where as well as being a coal merchant he was also described as an owner, which must mean he was a ship-owner too. In 1760 a new cut was made to improve access to Shoreham Harbour. This was necessary because by the 1750s the drift of shingle had driven the mouth of the River Adur as far as The Wish, which is where Aldrington Recreation Ground is today. At first the new cut at Kingston was a great success but not many years passed before shingle became a problem once more and further action needed to be taken.

Later on in 1789 James Buckoll’s business was known as Grover, Killick and Buckoll, coal merchants and brewers. On 27 July 1789 there was a report that a robbery had taken place in the counting house belonging to the firm.

 copyright © J.Middleton
The brewery was behind the buildings on the left in West Street

The brewery was situated off the west side of West Street near the sea end and had been founded in 1769. In 1789 Philip Vallance married Maria Fayres-Killick, which is how the Vallances became associated with the brewery. Buckoll decided to leave. Mary Grover, Robert Killick and James Buckoll put a legal notice in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser (18 January 1790) stating that the partnership had been dissolved and henceforth the firm would be known as Killick & J., P. & J. Vallance. It was soon simplified to Killick & Vallance and that name lasted until 1797. By the following year the Killick name had disappeared and John, Philip and James Vallance ran the firm. The coal merchant business was also run from West Street.

It may be that James Buckoll had made enough money to be able to retire in comfort. It is a fact that by 17 September 1792 he was described as a Brighton gentleman and his name appeared on a list of Game Duty Certificates. James Buckoll, gentleman, died in 1796.

It is interesting to note that the Vallances also made enough money from their business to rise up the social scale too. The Vallances became gentlefolk and the second largest landowners at Hove, besides residing in Hove Manor and entertaining the Prince Regent, while a younger member of the family built Brooker Hall, now Hove Museum. 

 copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
A 1917 Brighton Season Magazine photograph of Hove Manor 

Stephen Buckoll first appears on the scene in 1788 when his name was on a list of men holding Game Duty Certificates and James Buckoll was also on the list. Was the licence for their personal use or was it another string in the bow of Buckoll businesses? It is interesting to note that in 1794 the names of the same two Buckolls were included in the Game Duty Certificate list and so was John Hicks who ran the Old Ship Hotel and presumably needed such a document for the benefit of his clientele. Stephen Buckoll was still on the Game List in 1796

But Stephen Buckoll started another enterprise and in January 1793 S. Buckoll & Son advertised their boarding school for young gentlemen at 43 West Street, Brighton. In this Stephen Buckoll was something of a pioneer because by the middle of the 19th century Brighton and Hove had become a hot spot for private schools catering for young gentlemen and ladies. The bracing climate had something to do with it plus the needs of parents living in far-flung parts of the British Empire who wanted to send their children home for an education. 

The Buckoll School was no dull house of learning. They put on dramas too and the students were so good that in 1794 someone felt moved to send a letter of appreciation to the newspaper about their theatrical performance.

Perhaps the school was so successful that larger premises were necessary. At any rate, by 1795 the ‘respected academy’ had moved to the upper end of North Street, Brighton. 

It seems Stephen Buckoll also made the transition to the upper classes because a deed of 1801 mentions a Stephen Buckoll of Brighton, gentleman, and his brother Revd James Buckoll of Cirencester.

In Leppard’s Directory 1839-1840 R.D. Buckoll is recorded at 23 West Street, Brighton; he was an accountant, copyist, house and general agent and so he followed in the path of Buckoll multiple enterprises.


Encyclopaedia of Hove & Portslade
Sussex Weekly Advertiser 28 January 1771 / 23 April 1787 / 20 October 1788 / 19 January 1789 / 27 July 1789 / 18 January 1790 / 17 September 1792 / 13 January 1793 / 20 October 1794 / 15 December 1794 / 5 January 1795 / 11 January 1796 / 9 May 1796 / 5 December 1796

Additional research by D. Sharp

Copyright © J.Middleton 2016
page layout by D.Sharp