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Chambers Surname Origin

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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.

Chambers Surname Origin Contents:

bulletChambers - English Origin
bulletChambers - French Origin
bulletChambers - Scottish Origin
bulletChambers - Ireland Origin
bulletChambers History:  TRAILS OF THE CENTURIES
bulletSources
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.
 
Chamberlaynes and Chambers 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.

Old English online records:

bullet Records of an English Village 1375-1854
bullet John atte Chamber
bullet Rich atte Chamber
bullet Edm Alleyn Chalmers
bullet Jn Chamberlayn
bulletLondon Roll 1413-1437:  Reflects Richard Chamberlayn, William Chambre, and William and John Chaumbre, Chaumber.
 
There are also many coats of arms on record for the name in England including the following:
bulletRef. 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.
bulletRef. 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.
bulletRef. 182/24 Chambers (York) Argent a fesse between thre squirrels sejant sable.  York or Yorkshire was a form county in North England.
bulletRef. 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:
bulletChambre
bulletla Chambre
bulletChambres
bulletla Chambres

 In France first found in Savole. 

The Scottish spelling variations include the following:

bullet

Chambers

bullet

Chalmers

bullet

Chamer

bullet

Chalmairs

bullet

Challmers

 

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 ChambersChambers 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 1475.

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, 1555.

 

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 synonymous.

There are also many coats of arms on record for the name in Scotland, including the following samples.

bulletRef: 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).
bulletRef: 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 not words).
 

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 Hertfordshire, England.
 

Coats of arms on record for Chambers in Ireland include:

bulletRef. 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.
bulletRef. 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).
bulletRef. 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)
 

Also see Norman and Cambro-Norman for Mayo Chambers.

 

Chambers History:  TRAILS OF THE CENTURIES 

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 Henry II 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 Canterbury."

 

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.

 

HISTORICAL SETTING

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 Hampden 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. 

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Sources

Chambers Surname History/Origin on other sites:

bullet The Chambers Family on Solihull-Online
bullet House of Names
 

The sources of the family research done on the Chambers name was from the following:

bulletAmerican Surnames by Elsdon C. Smith, third printing 1997
bulletSurnames of Ireland, Sixth Edition, by Edward Maclysaght
bulletScottish Surnames by David Dorward, First published 1995, this Edition 2000
bulletA Dictionary of English Surnames by Oxford University Press, Last printing 1997
bulletEnglish Surnames Their Sources and Significations by Charles Wareing Bardsley, M.A. , Hon. Canon of Carlisle, Sixth Edition
bulletHouse of Names Internet site
bulletThe Surnames of Scotland, Their Origin, Meaning, and History by George F. Black, Ph. D.
bulletYour Clan Heritage Clan Cameron compiled by Alan McNie, Cascade Publishing Company, Jedburgh, Scotland
bullet

The Clan Cameron by Charles Ian Fraser of Reelig, M.A., published by Johnston & Bacon Stirling

bullet

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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