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.

Chambers Resources on

Chambers Ancestry

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
  Chambers of Tanworth in Warwickshire date
from 1461.

But the larger number of Chambers were to be found further 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
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
and writers.

.  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.
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
may be of English, Scottish or Irish origin.

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

Scottish.  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.”

Irish.  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
, 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.

Chambers family from Ireland arrived in Pittsburgh in the 1820’s.  These
Chambers became glassmakers
, one of the largest in America at
time.  Anthony Chambers from Wexford in
Ireland came to New Orleans in Louisiana in the 1840’s. 
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

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.  

Chambers Miscellany

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

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
was an early 20th century English literary critic and
Shakespearean scholar.
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)
  • 35,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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