Buckner Clay is in fact one of the younger members of the distinguished Clay family of Kentucky, and the early associations of his life and the beginning of his career as a lawyer were in old Bourbon County.
He was born near Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky, December 31, 1877, son of Col. Ezekiel and Mary (Woodford) Clay. He is a descendant of John Clay, who came to America from England in the first years of the Virginia colony.
Col. Ezekiel F. Clay, father of Buckner Clay, was a son of Brutus J. and Amelia Clay, and was born in Bourbon County, December 1, 1840. He left college to enter the Confederate army, became a colonel of cavalry, and was a gallant officer until taken prisoner in the spring of 1864. After the war he settled on his estate, known as Runnymede, in Bourbon County, a place he made celebrated as the home of some of the finest Kentucky thoroughbreds. Col. Ezekiel Clay married in 1866 Mary L. Woodford, a daughter of John T. and Elizabeth (Buckner) Woodford, representing another noted family of Kentuckians. The fourth of their six children is Buckner Clay.
Buckner Clay graduated from Kentucky University A. B. with the class of 1897, and received his degree in law from the University of Virginia in 1900. He was admitted to the bar at Paris, Kentucky, but in June, 1903, came to Charleston, where for a number of years he has been the junior member of the law firm of Price, Smith, Spilman & Clay.