Select Chapman Miscellany



Here are some Chapman stories and accounts over the years:

Chapman and Whitby


As early as 1216 the name appeared in Whitby on the Yorkshire coastline, being recorded in the rolls of Whitby abbey.   Roger and John Chapman lived there in 1381 and there are monuments to the Chapman family in St. Mary's church.  Montgomery Seaver's Chapman Family History, published in 1929, provided a detailed record of the Chapmans of Whitby Strand. 


The Chapman Family Bible

In the Annals of Newbury, John Abney Chapman described an ancient family Bible.  The Bible, a King James or authorized version, was printed in 1613 or only two years after the first edition, by the same printer of the original edition, Robert Barker of London.  In it are written these words: "Thomas Anderson, owner of this booke, 1664."

Further family records written in this Bible give a record up to 1840.  Through it we can trace the family line to Sarah Jackson who became the wife of Giles Chapman.

This Chapman family Bible is now over three hundred and sixty years old.  From Newbury in New England, the Bible travelled with Lewis and Rhoda Chapman to Indiana, and with their descendants through Illinois to Missouri.  When located in 1973, it was in Pueblo, Colorado.     


William and Mary Chapman from Hawnby

Don Chapman made the following comments in his speech about his forebears during the re-dedication of the William Chapman monument at Point de Bute in New Brunswick in August 2000.

"In the spring of 1774 when the sea voyage actually took place, William, a yeoman farmer, was 44 years old, his wife Mary 41.  They had been married almost twenty years.  One presumes that they had lived in the same location, certainly in the same rural community of Hawnby, for all the years of their married life.

But they lived in turbulent times.  Religious adherence then was central to our ancestors' lives.  Not long before their migration they had decided to take a new and unconventional religious path.  The Chapman family had taken up with the dissenting Wesleys in the cause of the new Methodism.  It was a popular movement but also involved the new adherents in some level of persecution and, no doubt, in periods of private questioning as well.  The existing Church would not allow the Wesleys to preach in their buildings.  So meetings would take place in the open.  Speakers and listeners were often pelted with stones.

And there were dangers in their journey.  Nathaniel Smith, one of the 180 fellow travellers on the Albion, wrote in a letter to a relative that, prior to embarking, the ship's captain had indicated that his most optimistic estimate was that only one third of the passengers would likely survive the journey. Fortunately this prediction proved wide of the mark.

William and Mary were accompanied to this land of new opportunity by one of William's older brothers Lancelot and his wife Frances and by six of their nine children.


In the face of circumstances, these ancestors of ours were either very sturdy folk or cne can presume that the social and economic prospects in England then must have been very difficult indeed." 


Chapman's Mill

Chapman's Mill had been built in 1742 by Jonathan and Nathaniel Chapman.  Enlarged in 1758, the mill became a prosperous gristmill that fostered the development of the Shenandoah valley as a wheat and corn producing region for the next one hundred years.  Due to the mill's location between the valley and the city of Alexandria, corn and wheat could be transported efficiently by wagon, ground into cornmeal and wheat, and then shipped from Alexandria to the ever-expanding markets of Europe and South America.  

The prosperity of the mill was enhanced when, in 1852, the Manassas Gap Railroad was completed, passing beside the mill and reducing the travel time to Alexandria.  In 1858, the Chapmans enlarged the mill again, raising it to a total of seven stories and making it a model of agricultural technology.  During the Civil War, the Confederates turned the mill into a meat-curing warehouse and distribution center.  On leaving after the first battle of Manassas, they burnt the meat and the mill to keep them from the advancing troops. 


Chapmans in Pennsylvania


Chapmans in Wrightstown

Wrightstown's first settler was John Chapman who arrived with his family in 1684 and settled on land which was part of the original William Penn grant.   According to legend they first lived in a cave or "sod hut."  Although this dwelling no longer exists, there are several houses in the township which were the homes of second and third generation Chapmans.

Chapmans in Chapman

The borough of Chapman, located on the west branch of the Monacacy creek in Northampton County, derives its name from William Chapman.  William was raised in Cornwall and, from the age of seven, worked in the slate quarries where his father had worked.   He then found employment in Wales for seven years and this allowed him to accumulate some savings, enough to buy him a passage. 

In 1842, he set sail for America on the Hindoo.  He arrived first in Easton, Pennsylvania and then settled in Northampton County where he started the Chapman Slate Company.  He married Emily Cary and they had seven daughters and four sons.  His company prospered and he became a stalwart of the community.


A Chapman Death in Hunter Valley

Mathew Chapman had gone out to Australia in the 1830's and was an early settler in Hunter Valley.  He worked hard there to establish a horse stud there on his Grange estate.

In 1844, while on the way home from a stock sale in Dungog, he was killed at "an awkward creek, cradled with solid rocks, slanting and edged like a mass of flag stones blown up by gunpowder."  The following account of his death appeared in the Maitland Mercury of August 1844.

"A most melancholy accident took place at Dungog on Saturday evening last, at the close of our half yearly sale.  Mathew Chapman, Esq. of the Grange, well known in this part for his hospitality, was on his way home from the sale accompanied by Mr. Wilkinson.  They had only proceeded about two miles when, on coming to Stoney Creek which is one entire flag or rock, Mr. Chapman's horse cantered down.  On reaching the bottom the girth broke and Mr. Chapman fell off on the left side, head foremost.  Mr. W. endeavored to raise him up but could not. 

He returned to the township for medical aid.  Dr. McKinley hastened to the spot but on his arrival found that Mr. Chapman was insensible.  He had him removed back to the Dungog Inn where every attention was paid to him.  But it was of no avail.  At half past seven the next morning he expired."

At the time of his death Mathew Chapman was said to be the largest proprietor of horse stock in the area and the best judge as well.


Thomas Chapman and Sarah Lawrence

Sarah Lawrence was a beautiful young woman when she arrived in Ireland in 1879 to be the governess to Thomas Chapman's four daughters.  Chapman was the grandson of a baronet and scion of seven generations of colonial English landlords.  He was also, when Sarah arrived from England to join his household as governess, an unhappy man, trapped in a marriage to a woman he had long ceased to care about.

Falling in love with Sarah, a girl very ambitious to better her circumstances, he had a serious choice to make when she became pregnant.  In those days it was a rare and unthinkable move for a gentleman to foresake his caste for a liaison with a servant.  But when Chapman asked his wife for a divorce and she refused, he did just that, eloping with Sarah to England, landing first in Wales in 1887 where T.E. Lawrence, their second son, was born one year later.

An astonishing name change defined his parents' new life abroad.  He was known by Sarah's assumed maiden name.  But they would henceforth live as Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Chapman.  Together for 34 years until Thomas's death in 1919, they kept their secret inviolate; while the consequences within were particularly lethal.  Their second son, T.E. or Ned, would change his own natal surname a couple of times before he died in a mototcycle accident at 47.  



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