Chambers


Select Chambers Surname Genealogy

Chambers is an occupational name for an officer charged with the management of his lord's private living quarters.  The root is the Old French chambre, meaning "chamber" or "room."  The name is synonymous in origin with Chamberlain which later became a title of high rank.  Chalmers is the spelling variant in Scotland.

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Select Chambers Ancestry

England.  The first recorded spelling of Chambers as a surname was Nicholas de Chambres in the Derbyshire rolls of 1219.  Robert de la Chamber held lands in Worcester in 1345.  The name appeared as Atte Chamber and Chamber in Essex records of the early 1400's.  Chambers of Tanworth in Warwickshire date from 1461.

But the larger number of Chambers were to be found futher north, in Norfolk, Leicester, Shropshire and York. The Chambers family of Pitton in Shropshire contributed settlers in county Wicklow in Ireland in the 1600's. Another Chambers family built Honing Hall in Norfolk in 1748.  And there was a Chambers family of clergymen in Derby in the 18th century.  The Rev. Ben Swift Chambers came from Shepley near Huddersfield in Yorkshire.  The 19th century surname distribution showed sizeable numbers in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.

Scotland.   Chambers and Chalmers are Scottish surnames.  It was said that the first Chambers in Scotland were those that had moved to Scotland from north Wales in medieval times at the invitation of the Earl of Huntingdon.  William de la Chaumbre signed the Ragman Roll of 1296 at Berwick as baillie for Peebles. The Chalmers of Gadgirth were an old Ayrshire family. 

The Scottish border town of Peebles was a place for Chambers.  There is a Bible, dated 1664, signed in the name of James Chambers of Peebles.  Two famous Chambers brothers, William and Robert, were born there. They moved to Edinburgh after their father James, a draper, had gone bankrupt.  They went on to found the W&R Chambers publishing house in 1819 and became influential Scottish publishers and writers.

Ireland
.  Some Chambers crossed over to Ireland after the English and Scottish settlements of the 17th century.  Hence most Chambers were to be found in Ulster. 

One Chambers family had been large landowners in the New Ross area of Wexford and then established themselves in the 18th century in Meath. The Chambers of Killoyne in county Mayo came originally from Hertfordshire.   The name often appeared in lists of government officials, from 1592 when Thomas Chambers was housekeeper at Kilmainham and 1609 when George Chambers was Chief Chamberlain of the Exchequer. There were also a number of Chambers families in west Cork in the 19th century.

AmericaChambers in America may be of English, Scottish or Irish origin. 

There were English Chambers recorded in the Jamestown colony in Virginia, George Chambers in 1619 and James, Thomas and John Chambers in 1625. 

In 1635 came Robert Chambers, a Presbyterian escaping religious persecution in Scotland.  He settled in Perth Amboy, New Jersey but then returned to Scotland.   However, some of his sons later made the journey, John - after a harrowing voyage - returning to Perth Amboy and Peter settling in Virginia.

"Peter Chambers emigrated to Virginia about 1710.  At that time, under his direction, a large Scotch colony was being formed on the upper Rappahannock.  For a number of years Peter would acquaint himself with the arrival of immigrant ships and, if there were any Scotch on board, he would persuade them to unite with the Rappahannock settlement.  Even as late as 1723, he was interested in building up the Virginia settlement."

David Chambers, who had come to America via Ireland in 1743, settled in this Scottish colony.  Then, due to Indian troubles, he moved with his family to Rockbridge county in the mountains.   His descendants migrated in the early 1800's to Kentucky and then to southern Indiana.  These various Scottish Chambers accounts were recorded in William D. Chambers' 1925 book Trails of the Centuries.

John Chambers was a Quaker preacher from Dublin who was known to William Penn and invited to America. He arrived in 1697 and settled along the Delaware, later moving to Trenton, New Jersey.  John Chambers, Governor of Iowa, was a descendant.  Meanwhile Judge John Chambers from Ulster was an important figure in colonial New York, being instrumental in the creation of the city's first official park in 1733.  Chambers Street in Manhattan was named after him. 


A Chambers family from Ireland arrived in Pittsburgh in the 1820ís.  These Chambers became glassmakers, one of the largest in America at the time.  Anthony Chambers from Wexford in Ireland came to New Orleans in Louisiana in the 1840's.  His son Joseph fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War, his grandson Henry was a noted educator and historian of the state, known principally for his 1925 work, History of Louisiana: State and People.

Canada.  
Some of the Chambers from New Jersey were Loyalist and they removed themselves to Canada in 1787.  Their lineage was traced in Queen Perry's 1983 book The History of the Chambers Family of Niagara Falls.  Robert Chambers brought his family by sea from county Tyrone in Ireland in 1819.  They were early settlers in Norwich, Ontario. 
 
Australia and New Zealand. 
Three Chambers brothers - James, John, and Benjamin - were early settlers in South Australia, arriving there as farm laborers on assisted passage in 1837.  James was probably first in Adelaide to open a livery stable, to take mail contracts, and to run passenger services.  His nickname "Greenhide" matched his tough resilience, although not his unostentatious benevolence.  He later found copper ore on his grazing lands, but was sold short by his partner.  Margaret Kerr's 1980 book Colonial Dynasty: The Chambers Family of South Australia covered the family's history. 

After emigrating from Norfolk, William Chambers and his two sons established a vineyard in Rutherglen, Victoria in 1858.  Stephen Chambers is the sixth generation of the family to manage the business.  Another vineyard - this time in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand - was begun by Joseph Chambers in 1892.  But, after experiencing hard times, his family sold out in 1917.  

Select Chambers Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Chambers Names


William and Robert Chambers, brothers from Peebles in Scotland, were influential 19th century Scottish writers and publishers.  They published Chambers's Encyclopaedia in 1859. 
E.K. Chambers was an early 20th century English literary critic and Shakespearean scholar.
Paul Chambers was a jazz bass player, best known for his work with Miles Davis.
George Chambers was Trinidad's Prime Minister from 1981 to 1986.

Select Chambers Today
  • 42,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 29,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List


Ainsworth 
Chambers Hammond 
Middleton  
Stevenson 
Andrews Chandler Hayes Morrison Stone
Arnold Cole Hodgson Norman Sutton
Atkinson Cummings Howe North Tate
Barclay Cunningham Hunt O'Leary Thorpe
Barry Dickinson Innes O'Reilly Townsend
Beattie Dillon Irvine Oliver Underwood
Beck Dodd Jeffries Payne Unsworth
Bentley Doherty Jennings Penn Vance
Bernstein Duncan Kemp Pennington Venables
Bird East Kerr Pettigrew Walton
Boone Edgar Knight Phelan Watkins
Brady Emerson Lawrence Quigley Waugh
Branson Everett Leary Quirk West
Brooks Faulkner Levine Regan Whelan
Buck Fettiplace Levy Reilly Whitney
Burke Ford Lloyd Rhodes Wolfe
Bush Goldberg McIntosh Sharp Woodward
Carr Goodman McLaren Sheehan Yates
Carson Gordon McMillan Sinclair York

For other surnames check the select surname list where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 500 common and notable surnames in the English-speaking world.