Chambers Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Chambers Meaning
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.


Select Chambers Miscellany

Chambers in Early Essex Records.  The name Chambers, or variations thereof, appeared
in early records of East Colne manor rolls in Essex between 1379 and
1457.  It was first shown as John atte
Chamber or Chambre and
later became John de Chambre or John Chamber.

The following was an entry recorded in 1402:

“At this court the jury present that one cart
with iron hooped wheels from the stock of this manor with a complete
price 20s came into the hands of Robert Boleyne and one tumbrill
without a
harness to the same from the stock of this manor is in the hands of
John Atte
Chambre.  It
is presented to the same
said John that he should make free the same said tumbrill to return to
bailiff of this manor against the next upon pain of 40d and one knife
and one
sheath from the stock of this manor came into the hands of William
Breton clerk
and one vat price 10s from the stock of this manor came into the hands
of the
said John Atte Chambre.”

The Chalmers of Gadgirth in Ayrshire.  The Chalmers of Gadgirth were apparently
seated in Ayrshire from early times.  The early
spelling was Camera or de Camera and it started to appear in the 12th
century.  Robert the Bruce gave
Reginald Chalmer a
charter for Gadgirth in the 1320’s.  Alexander
Nisbet in his 1816 book System of Heraldry
gave the following account of the family:

“The antiquity of the house of Galdgirth is further fortified and
established by the
writ under the great seal of Scotland in the year 1609 where the crown
that Chalmer of Galdgirth had before that time possessed the barony of
Galdgirth for upwards of 500 years and had lived in Ayrshire with great
all that while.”

Chalmer of Gadgirth was
an active supporter of John Knox and entertained him at the family seat
Gadgirth in the 1550’s.  But perhaps the
most famous Chalmers was the Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers, first moderator
of the
Free Church of Scotland in the early 19th century.  He
was descended from John Chalmers of
Pitmedden, a branch believed to be connected to the Gadgirth family.  Another branch of this family was in Aberdeen.

descendants were
to be found in the state of Mississippi: Senator Joseph William
Chalmers and
General James Ronald Chalmers.

Chambers in Peebles.  Charles Chambers
was born in 1860 and became the head of the Chambers Journal House in
1888.  He had the following to say about
his Peebles
family in a letter written in 1900:

“The first record of my own family is
contained in our family Bible, now in my possession.
This book contains the autograph of James
Chambers, 1664, from whom I am the 8th in descent; also many later
autographs.  James Chambers claimed descent from Gillaume de la
who signed the Regimen Roll or Bond of Allegiance to Edward I at
Berwick in
1296, as Baillee of Peebles.

My family
belonged to Peebles until Robert and William came to Edinburgh and
founded the
firm of W. & R. Chambers publishers in 1820, of which I am now the
head.  They founded the Chambers Journal in 1832.

I may mention that the name never was
Chalmers, but always Chambers, a totally different name.”

and William Chambers had been
born into a relatively prosperous, mill-owning family in Peebles.  Their father had extended credit to French
prisoners garrisoned at Peebles during the Napoleonic Wars.   When
the French did not repay these credits,
the Chambers family was ruined and they departed Peebles in 1813
for  Edinburgh.

The Rev. Ben Swift Chambers – Founding Father of Merseyside Football.  Most fans of Everton and Liverpool won’t have heard
of the Rev. Ben Swift Chambers.  But
without him their clubs might never have been formed.
Painstaking research has established that it
was this modest clergyman from West Yorkshire who set the ball rolling
and led
to the creation of these two top football sides on Merseyside.

Chambers was born in 1845 in a weaver’s
cottage in Stocksmoor near Huddersfield.
Before he was five, his family had moved to Shepley where both
of his
parents taught in the village school.
There the young man began his lifelong association with the New
branch of the Methodist church.

In 1877
he was appointed circuit superintendent and minister of St Domingo
Chapel in
the Everton district of Liverpool.  He
was to spend nine years at St Domingo’s and his work there was to leave
lasting mark on the world of football.

after arriving, he persuaded members of the Young Men’s Bible Class to
set up a
cricket club.  Later they took up
football as a way of keeping fit during the winter.
Soon they were the best football team in
Stanley Park and they began to attract players from other churches.  Within a year the membership of the team was
no longer wholly representative of the St Domingo chapel and it was
decided to
rename the football team Everton after the district in which they lived.

Everton were champions of the First Division
in 1891.  A turbulent period followed
that season and ended with the creation of Liverpool as a football club.

The Rev. Chambers’ role might have been
forgotten but for a series of oil paintings, entitled The
Founding Fathers of Merseyside Football
commissioned by Dr.
David France, where he featured prominently.

Chambers in America.  Chambers in
America may be of English, Irish or
Scottish origin, many Scottish Chalmers becoming Chambers in
America.  The following is a record of their names and numbers
arriving in America.

Place of Origin Chambers Chalmers Total
England   531    99   630
Ireland   538    30   568
Scotland   119 308 427
Great Britain   141    40   181
Elsewhere      9     5    14

John Chambers of Kentucky and Iowa.  John Chambers
left his home in New Jersey at the tender age of fourteen, setting off
down the
Ohio river from Fort Henry to a place near Maysville, Kentucky where he
work.  He enlisted in the War of 1812 and
distinguished himself in the Battle of the Thames.
General Harrison’s report stated:

Chambers, one of those who
followed Major Payne in his dashing pursuit against General Proctor at
battle of the Thames, was mounted on a splendid charger.  The
pursuit was
so hot that General Proctor was forced to abandon his carriage and take
in a swamp, leaving all his baggage and his papers, public and private,
in the
hands of the victors.”

In 1827 Chambers was elected to Congress.  In
1841 he received the appointment by President Harrison as Governor of
territory of Iowa, which he held for four years.  It was while
acting as
the Governor of Iowa that he was much sought after throughout the
northwest as
an Indian Commissioner.  He returned to
Kentucky in 1845 and died there in 1852.

Chambers Glassmakers in Pittsburgh.  The Chambers
family, originally from Ireland, became quite prominent and wealthy in
Pittsburgh through the glass and later natural gas
industries.  They
had probably emigrated to Pittsburgh in the 1820’s.
Alexander and David Chambers were
glassmakers, in business at first with John Agnew and later on their

By the time of the Civil War Western
Pennsylvania had become the center of the nation’s glass industry. Pittsburgh’s glass trade was a seven million
dollar business in 1869 with twenty bottle and vial factories,
window glass factories, twenty-two flint glass factories and a number
of glass
factories devoted exclusively to the production of chimneys.

And the Chambers glass company, A and DH
Chambers Co, was at that time said to be the largest window glass
in the world.



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 Numbers 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)


Select Chambers and Like Surnames

These were status positions within the feudal position of that time – usually positions serving noble families, lords of the manor, or in the church.  Here are some of these status position surnames that you can check out.





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