Chambers Surname Origin
Family Research on the Chambers Surname:
The Chambers name is found in these countries: Scotland, England, Ireland,
and France. The information on this page was complied from many
sources which are listed on the bottom of this page.
Surname Origin Contents:
Chambers is the English form of this surname. Many other variations
of this name took the English form 'Chambers' upon coming to America.
Chambre 'room in a house' or 'reception room in a palace'. Originally
official, identical with Chamberlain. To pay in camera was to pay
into the exchequer of which the camerarius was in charge. The surname
also applies to those employed there. It was later used of a
chamber-attendant, chamberman, chambermaid.
had access to their lord's inner privacy,
and from their intimacy with his monetary affairs occupied a position
at times similar to that of our more collegiate bursar.
There are also many coats of arms on record for the name in England
including the following:
|Ref. 182/18 Chambers (Salop, England) Azure an armed arm enbowed
issuing from the sinister or, holding a rose argent, slipped and
leaved vert. Salop, England was also known as Shropshire and was a
former county in West England on the border of Wales. |
|Ref. 182/23 Chambers (Wiltshire) Sable a cross voided ermine
between four martlets or. Wiltshire or Wilts was a former county in
South England and now is an administrative county in South England
which is approx. equivalent to the former county. |
|Ref. 182/24 Chambers (York) Argent a fesse between thre squirrels
sejant sable. York or Yorkshire was a form county in North England.
|Ref. 182/33 Chambers (Leicester) Ermine a fess chequy or and
gules. Crest - ou of a ducal coronet or three holly leaves vert.
Leicester or Leicestershire was a former county in central England.
Currently is an administrative county in central England.|
The French spelling variations includes:
|la Chambre |
In France first found in Savole.
The Scottish spelling variations include the following:
The correct forms are Chalmer
and Chamber from de la chambre, of the chamber: (1) a chamber
attendant, (2) of the Treasury chamber (camera), and so metronymic for
Chamberlain. The spellings with -s are later. Chalmers is a common Scotch
name that often became Chambers in the United States. Chalmers is more
frequently found in Scotland than its alternative version Chambers.
Chambers was first found
in Denbigh, a former county in North Wales, where they became one of the
many families invited by David, Earl of Huntingdon, to move north into
Scotland to improve the quality of the Scottish court.
Hugh de Camera appears as a
witness to a charter of David I and to charters of Malcolm IV.
Richard de Camera witnessed
two charters of William the Lion.
Radulfus de Camera and his
brother, Herbertus de Camera 'are occasional witness to charters of
William the Lion during the greater part of his reign.
Willmus de Camera was common councilr in Aberdeen, 1399, and Clexander
Chaumir was elected serjeant in
James Chamber and Gilbert
Chawemere, Scotsmen, had safe conducts into England in 1465-6.
Robert Chamer was tenant on
lands of Polkak, 1472.
Thomas was admitted burgess
of Aberdeen, 1521.
The Chambers name is part of
the Scottish Clan 'Cameron'. According to the book, Your Clan Heritage Clan
Cameron Page 32, in the chapter called 'Cameron Associated
Names', reflects the following: Chalmers, Chambers - When these names
have a Cameron origin, it could have begun with a Cameron entering the
French services, who softened his name for French usage to la chambre,
the chamber. 'Chambre' returnees to Scotland further corrupted the
name. Robert de la Chumbre and William de la Chamnbre recorded in
Lanarkshire, 1296. Wilmus de Camera was Aberdeen councillor, 1399.
Robert Chamer, tenant on Pollack lands, 1472. Thomas Charmer,
Aberdeen burgess, 1521. Parcel of land to John Chalmyr, Glasgow,
According to the book 'The Clan Cameron', page 27
reflects a list of names associated with the Clan Cameron - one
of the names listed is Chalmers.
The book titled 'Scottish Surnames', page 43 reflects:
Chalmers - The Scottish version of Chambers, it means a
chamber-attendant or chamberlian. The 'I' indicates that the vowel
which precedes it is long, giving the old pronunciation 'chaumers'.
During the reign of William the Lion it is recorded in the scribal
Latin form of de Camera; when the comes to figure in the Ragman
Roll of 1296 it is often Frendhified as de la Chaumbre. Page
43 also reflects: Chambers - Although not so frequently found
in Scotland as its alternative version, Chalmers, this name has
many distinguished Scot bearers.
The book titled 'Surnames in the United States Census of 1790',
page 114, chapter title , 'VIII. Proportion of Scotch Descent' - Stark
studied Scotch names as Farr had English, and reported upon the
prevalence of the most common. ...More than half of the names in
Stark's list were excluded as not distinctive or as likely to be
confused with similar English or American names. Chalmers, for
example is a common Scotch name but has often become Chambers
in the United States. Page 206 reflects the chapter
'Contribution of Scots to 1790 American': In order, therefore, to
recognize Scotch names despite their Anglicization, we turn to the
distinctive non-English names, fortresses marking the boundaries
broken through by Anglicization. Changes of names did not ordinarily
efface the Scotch pattern, although two instances appear where the
Scotch names Chalmers and Turnbull were replaced by the
English forms Chambers and Trimble. Page 218
reflects: Chalmers - American usage of this name was almost
nil [in the 1790 census]. It appears to have been replaced by
Chambers. Anderson reports Chalmers and Chambers as
There are also many coats of arms on record for the name in Scotland,
including the following samples.
|Ref: B182/41 Chambers (Glenormiston, Peebles, Scotland, 1862)
Arms: Or on a fess way Azure a fleur de lis of the first in chief a
demi lion issuant Sable holding in the dexter paw a sword proper and
in base three roses Gules barbed and seeded Vert. Crest: A falcon
rising belled proper. Motto: facta non verba (deeds not words). |
|Ref: B182/42 Chambers (Glenormiston, Peebles, Scotland, 1862)
Arms: Or on a fess way Azure a fleur de lis of the first in chief a
demi lion issuant Sable holding in the dexter paw a sword proper.
Crest: A falcon rising belled proper. Motto: facta non verba (deeds
More information on the Chalmers surname can be found at
CHALMERS - WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Note: Peebles was a former county located in south east Scotland.
It is now a market town in south east Scotland.
This name first appears in Ireland in the
thirteenth century as de la Chambre, i.e. chamberlain, (the cognate
surname Chamberlain also occurs in thirteenth century Irish records
but is now rare); but it is unlikely that any families called Chambers
today are descended from those early Anglo-Norman settlers. Some, we
know, were immigrants in the seventeenth century, first under the
Plantation of Ulster and later the Cromwellian Settlement. Many
families of the name were established here, however, before that: the
existence of the place name Chamberstown in Co. Meath in the previous
century is proof of that. This was not the Chambers family prominent
in Co. Meath in the eighteenth century, for they had previously long
been large landowners in the New Ross area of Co. Wexford where the
townland of Chambersland perpetuates their name. The name occurs
frequently in the lists of government officials, from 1592 when Thomas
Chambers was housekeeper at Kilmainham and in 1609 when George
Chambers was Chief Chamberlain of the Exchequer, down to quite modern
times. It is less prominent in the political and military sphere: no
Chambers appears in the Jacobite outlawries, but one was in Stanley's
predominantly Irish regiment in 1593 and John Chambers, a Dublin
printer and bookseller, was a member of the Dublin Society of United
Irishmen just two centuries later. The name is now numerous in the
northern counties of Ulster and in Dublin; a century ago there were
many families of Chambers in west Cork; outside those areas the only
county in which it is found in considerable numbers in recent times is
Mayo. There Chambers does not seem to be a synonym of any Gaelic-Irish
name nor is it long enough established to appear for example in
Strafford's Inquisition of Mayo (1635). The ancestor of the Chambers
of Killoyne, Co. Mayo, who obtained a grant of arms in 1724, came from
Coats of arms on record for Chambers in
|Ref. 182/38 Chambers (Killoyne, Co.
Mayo, 1724) Argent on a chevron azure between three cinquefoils gules
a mullet of the field. Crest - a bear passant proper muzzled, collared
and chained or. |
|Ref. 182/36 Chambers (Kilmainham,
Dublin - Thomas Chambers, died 1596) Ermine an eagle displayed with
two necks ermine over all a fess chequy or and azure. (Note there
seems to be error in this description as an ermine eagle on an ermine
background would be invisible). |
|Ref. 182/37 Chambers (William Chambers
1647 descended from Chambers of Norfolk) Azure a dexter naked arm
enbowed couped at the shoulder holding a red rose with stalk and
leaves proper. Crest - A greyhound's head erased argent collared sable
garnished or. Motto - Vivam te laudare (Deus)|
Norman and Cambro-Norman
for Mayo Chambers.
by William D. Chambers
Press of Scott Printing Co.,
Muncie, IN, 1925
Below is the Origin and
History as reflected in this book:
CHAPTER I: ORIGIN
While browsing among some old Virginia
records I found the following clipping: "Virginia genealogists claim
that the name Chambers is a royal name in direct line of descent
from Henry III of England. Ann Chambers Bispham of Mt. Holly, New
Jersey, left notes proving her descent to be of this royal line."
If this is true, it is quite probable that most persons of the
Chambers name did not cross the English Channel with William the
Conqueror, as claimed by some authorities, but that they trailed to
the island after Henry II's marriage to Countess Eleanor of Province
in 1272. [This statement must be false since
died in 1189] History tells us that "relatives of the new queen flocked
into England, expecting and obtaining high offices in Church and State, titles,
and grants of land. The queen's uncle became Archbishop of
Note how well the following statement from
the letter of Charles Edward Stuart Chambers fits into this theory:
"Gillaume (William) de la Chambre signed the regimen roll of Edward
I (son of Henry III) at Berwick on the Tweed in 1296, as Baillee of
Peebles." No doubt Gillaume was related in some way to the king,
and for this reason he was given a position of honor and trust in
his government. Berwick at this time was larger than London, and as
the kind was planning the reorganization of Scotland, it was a
position of high honor. In 1345 the records of Worcester, England,
speak of Robert de la Chambre. The name was found early in this
century in London, Yorkshire, Kent, and even in the Ross-shire
toward the north of Scotland.
In the year 1618, under the "Five Articles
of Perth," King James restored certain rights to the Catholics. For
this reason, many thousands of Protestants took passage for
America. The real contest, however, in this half century was
between the Episcopal Church of England and the growing Presbyterian
Church. This date corresponds closely with the growth of Jamestown
and the landing of the Pilgrims and other non-conformists. George
Chambers of Virginia, and Robert Chambers of Perth Amboy, New
Jersey, came over at that time.
In 1637, Oliver Cromwell and John
planned to leave England for Ireland or America, but their passage
was arrested. Perhaps it would have been better for the Stuart
Royalty to have permitted them to peacefully withdraw from the
island. In 1643, William Chambers, a Scottish Divine, was a leader
in public thought in the Isles. In 1646, Richard Chambers headed a
famous petition to Charles I. In 1650, Humphrey Chambers received
big honors as a Biblical author. In 1652, Peter Chambers wrote a
treatise on treason, and how it should be punished. George
Chambers, in 1655, wrote against judicial astrology.
After the signing of the "Westminster
Confession of Faith" in 1646, there followed in rapid succession the
Cromwellian Civil War, the Restoration of Charles II, the overthrow
of King James II, and the political and religious liberty of the
reign of William, Prince of Orange. This was a half century of
religious controversy. As early as 1670 the Quakers began to spread
throughout Ireland in friendly competition with the Catholics for
supremacy. It was in the next decade that Benjamin Chambers joined
the party of William Penn on his first voyage to America.
William, Prince of Orange, came to the
throne of England in 1689. The Catholics had lost control of the
island, and James II had fled to France for help and protection.
Ireland was made the fighting ground between the Catholics and
Protestants, and William, being an excellent military leader, was
the idol of his men. After his death, there was organized in his
honor a secret society bearing the name of "Orangemen." Ireland was
rent throughout with discord and bloodshed. There were in Ireland
about 800,000 Catholics, 100,000 Anglicans, and 200,000
Non-conformists, including Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists, and
other independents. The Catholics were losing much of the land in
Ulster, Antrim, and Connaught; and even middle and southern Ireland
contained a number of Protestants. Many Scotchmen had entered
Ireland for conscience' sake, but in 1704 Parliament passed the Test
Act, or Holy Communion Act, which made the government Anglican,
rather than Catholic. In 1714, the Schism Act was passed. This act
required that all who taught or in any way conducted religious
services should belong to the Anglican church. The wealthier
Independents, -- Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, et al -- disposed
of their property and immigrated to America, where they hoped to
find religious liberty. Many of the most devout Independents,
however, were forced to abide their time to get passage to America.
But during the third of a century following Queen Ann, thousands of
Non-Conformists, "Orangemen," and even Catholics found refuge in
America from Anglican oppression. It was during this period that
the patriarchs of most of the Chambers families first saw America.
In the pages [in the book which is not on
this site] which follow, if an immigrant is spoken of as Irish, his
ancestors were probably in the mad rush for possessions in Ireland
under Queen Anne, or before her time. The name Chambers per se is
not Irish, and became so only by insulation among those who were
Irish. If he is spoken of as Scotch-Irish, his stay in Ireland was
brief, or he is the son of a Scotch father and Irish mother, or vice
versa, or a descendant of such parents. If he is spoken of as
Scotch, he may have sailed to America from and Irish port, but his
blood was pure Scotch. Many Scotch immigrants left brothers and
sisters in Ireland, whose descendants became Scotch-Irish, or
perhaps, if there long enough, Irish.
Chambers Surname History/Origin on other sites:
The sources of the
family research done on the Chambers name was from the following:
|American Surnames by Elsdon C. Smith, third printing 1997
|Surnames of Ireland, Sixth Edition, by Edward Maclysaght |
|Scottish Surnames by David Dorward, First published 1995, this
Edition 2000 |
|A Dictionary of English Surnames by Oxford University Press,
Last printing 1997 |
|English Surnames Their Sources and Significations by Charles
Wareing Bardsley, M.A. , Hon. Canon of Carlisle, Sixth Edition |
|House of Names Internet site |
|The Surnames of Scotland, Their Origin, Meaning, and History by
George F. Black, Ph. D.|
|Your Clan Heritage Clan Cameron compiled
by Alan McNie, Cascade Publishing Company, Jedburgh, Scotland|
Clan Cameron by Charles Ian Fraser of Reelig, M.A., published by
Johnston & Bacon Stirling
Surnames in the United States Census of 1790, An Analysis of National
Origins of the Population, originally published in 'Annual Report of
the American Historical Association' for the year 1931, Volume I, Pages 103
- 441. Copyright 1969 Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc.
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