Media: Slideshow

William Buckland, Indentured Craftsman

William Buckland

William Buckland, an architect and a builder who originally came to Virginia as an indentured servant, holds a drafting pen in this portrait by Charles Willson Peale. On the table in front of Buckland is an architectural sketch of his final commission, the Hammond-Harwood House, in Annapolis, Maryland. (The monumental colonnaded building in the background of the painting bears no resemblance to the Annapolis house.) Peale began this portrait in 1774, but Buckland died before it was finished. At the behest of Buckland's daughter, Peale completed the painting fifteen years later. This portrait is part of the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery.

Original Author: Charles Willson Peale

Created: 1774, reworked 1789

Medium: Oil on canvas

Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

Indenture Contract

In this indenture contract, dated August 4, 1755, the English carpenter and joiner William Buckland promises four years of service to Thomson Mason "in the Plantation of Virginia beyond the Seas." Mason hired Buckland on behalf of his brother, George Mason, who sought a skilled craftsman to help him design the interior woodwork in Gunston Hall, his plantation home in Fairfax County. The contract promised the twenty-two-year-old Buckland paid passage to Virginia, twenty pounds sterling per year, and room and board in exchange for four years of service, after which he would gain his freedom.

Original Author: William Buckland

Created: August 4, 1755

Medium: Handwritten document

Courtesy of Gunston Hall

Recommendation for William Buckland

Handwritten on the reverse side of the official form setting out the terms of William Buckland's indenture is the excellent recommendation he earned from George Mason after completing four years of service to him. It reads:

The within named William Buckland came into Virginia with my brother Thomson Mason, who engaged him in London, & had a very good Character of him there; during the time he lived with me he had the entire Direction of the Carpenter's & Joiner's work of a large House, & having behaved very faithfully in my service, I can with great Justice recommend him, to any Gentleman that may have occasion [to] employ him, as an honest sober diligent man, & I think a complete Master of the Carpenter's & Joiner's Business both in Theory & practice.

Original Author: George Mason

Created: November 8, 1759

Medium: Handwritten manuscript

Courtesy of Gunston Hall

Buckland and Sears Chair

This mid-eighteenth-century chair is attributed to William Buckland and William Bernard Sears, two skilled craftsmen who had been imported from England as indentured servants to create the intricate carvings for which George Mason’s home, Gunston Hall, is famous. This is the only documented chair created by the pair and it is believed to be their first collaboration. This was one of a set of chairs used in the mansion's Chinese Room. Buckland designed the carvings in the house, and Sears generally did the actual woodwork.

Original Author: William Buckland and William Bernard Sears

Created: Mid-eighteenth century

Medium: Wooden chair

Courtesy of Gunston Hall

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  • William Buckland

    William Buckland, an architect and a builder who originally came to Virginia as an indentured servant, holds a drafting pen in this portrait by Charles Willson Peale. On the table in front of Buckland is an architectural sketch of his final commission, the Hammond-Harwood House, in Annapolis, Maryland. (The monumental colonnaded building in the background of the painting bears no resemblance to the Annapolis house.) Peale began this portrait in 1774, but Buckland died before it was finished. At the behest of Buckland's daughter, Peale completed the painting fifteen years later. This portrait is part of the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery.

    Original Author: Charles Willson Peale

    Created: 1774, reworked 1789

    Medium: Oil on canvas

    Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

  • Indenture Contract

    In this indenture contract, dated August 4, 1755, the English carpenter and joiner William Buckland promises four years of service to Thomson Mason "in the Plantation of Virginia beyond the Seas." Mason hired Buckland on behalf of his brother, George Mason, who sought a skilled craftsman to help him design the interior woodwork in Gunston Hall, his plantation home in Fairfax County. The contract promised the twenty-two-year-old Buckland paid passage to Virginia, twenty pounds sterling per year, and room and board in exchange for four years of service, after which he would gain his freedom.

    Original Author: William Buckland

    Created: August 4, 1755

    Medium: Handwritten document

    Courtesy of Gunston Hall

  • Recommendation for William Buckland

    Handwritten on the reverse side of the official form setting out the terms of William Buckland's indenture is the excellent recommendation he earned from George Mason after completing four years of service to him. It reads:

    The within named William Buckland came into Virginia with my brother Thomson Mason, who engaged him in London, & had a very good Character of him there; during the time he lived with me he had the entire Direction of the Carpenter's & Joiner's work of a large House, & having behaved very faithfully in my service, I can with great Justice recommend him, to any Gentleman that may have occasion [to] employ him, as an honest sober diligent man, & I think a complete Master of the Carpenter's & Joiner's Business both in Theory & practice.

    Original Author: George Mason

    Created: November 8, 1759

    Medium: Handwritten manuscript

    Courtesy of Gunston Hall

  • Buckland and Sears Chair

    This mid-eighteenth-century chair is attributed to William Buckland and William Bernard Sears, two skilled craftsmen who had been imported from England as indentured servants to create the intricate carvings for which George Mason’s home, Gunston Hall, is famous. This is the only documented chair created by the pair and it is believed to be their first collaboration. This was one of a set of chairs used in the mansion's Chinese Room. Buckland designed the carvings in the house, and Sears generally did the actual woodwork.

    Original Author: William Buckland and William Bernard Sears

    Created: Mid-eighteenth century

    Medium: Wooden chair

    Courtesy of Gunston Hall