Chandler Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Chandler Meaning
Chandler is an occupational name for a maker or seller of candles,
derived from the Old French chandelier.
It was first recorded as a surname, Matthew le Candeler, in the latter
half of the 13th century.
Candle and Chandler, it is thought, reflect different pronunciations
within the French that came to England – the hard “c” in candle
reflecting the northern French spoken by the Normans and the soft “ch”
in chandler reflecting more standard central French perhaps employed by
scribes. Candles were of vital importance in the medieval world in an age
without electricity.  They were made either of wax for churches or
of tallow for general use.  The Tallow Chandlers had formed
guild in London by 1300.
Chandler Resources on

Chandler Ancestry

Some Chandlers descend from the one of more le Chaundelers who came to England
around the year 1200.  But most are descendants of people who
gained their surname because they were candle makers.

This French-originating name only really spread to southern

and mainly to London and the southeast with a cluster further west in

Chandlers in Bishop Stortford in Hertfordshire have been traced back to
1521.  Walter
was a wealthy textile merchant in
Winchester in the early 1500’s.  His grandson George came to
London in the 1590’s as a draper.  Thomas Chandler was born in
Oare, Wiltshire in 1570.

were landowners at Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.  The
name Nathaniel Chandler featured
prominently. Nathaniel Chandler was
organist at Tewkesbury Abbey in the early 1800’s and a later Nathaniel
was mayor of the town from 1849 to 1852.
There was also a long line of Chandlers from the village of
near Stroud.

America.  At the age of 10
John Chandler
sailed from England on the Hercules
and landed in 1610 at what
became known as Jamestown.  He was later described as “an ancient
planter,” one who had arrived in the colony before 1616.  There
are now thousands of people who trace their ancestry back to that John
Chandler, mainly in the South.

New England.
Early settlers in New England were:

  • Edmund Chandler, a member of the Pilgrim congregation who had
    migrated from Leiden in Holland to Duxbury, Massachusetts in 1633 a few
    years after the main group
  • and William and Annis Chandler from Hertfordshire who settled in
    Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1637.

Thomas Chandler came from Roxbury and was one of the first settlers
of Bedford, New Hampshire in the 1740’s (a room from his house has been
preserved at the Winterthur museum in Delaware).  Two of
his sons, John and Thomas, were politicians in Massachusetts and New
Hampshire respectively; a grandson Zachariah became the four-time
Senator for Michigan between 1857 and 1879.

John Chandler meanwhile was an early settler in Concord, New
Hampshire.  William Chandler, born there in 1835, was a Senator
for New Hampshire and US Secretary of the Navy.

Heading West. Harry
was born in Landaff, New Hampshire in 1864.
headed west to California while still a young lad.  There he
prospered as a real estate speculator in Los Angeles and was
an early driving force of the city.  In 1917 he took over the
reins of the Los Angeles Times,
soon transforming it into the leading newspaper in the West.  Son
Norman and grandson Otis continued at the helm until 1980.  The
family story was recounted in Dennis McDougall’s 2001 book Otis Chandler and the Rise and Fall of the
LA Times Dynasty.

  Colonel Joshua Chandler had been
a member of the
Connecticut legislature and a relatively wealthy man before joining the
Loyalist ranks and departing for Nova Scotia in 1783.  His
grandson Edward was a New Brunswick politician considered one of the
fathers of Canadian federation.

An earlier arrival from England had been Kenelm Chandler from a
well-to-do family in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.  He came to
Quebec as a
soldier in 1764 and settled as part of the early English landowning
class there.


Select Chandler Miscellany

Tallow Chandlers.  Candles in
medieval times were made either of wax for churches or of tallow for
use.  Tallow was obtained from suet, the
solid fat of animals such as sheep and cows, and was also used in
making soap
and lubricants.

The tallow chandlers,
like many other tradesmen, formed their own guild in London.  It was established in or around 1300.  Its corporate Coat of Arms was formally
granted in 1456.

chandlers also dealt in vinegar, salt, sauces and oils.
Later, the term ‘chandler’ was used for corn
chandlers, and for ships’ chandlers who sold most of the fittings and
for boats, as well as the candles.  In
the 18th and 19th centuries, the term ‘chandler’ was often used simply
to mean
a grocer. 

The Chandler Name in England.  The Chandler name only really spread to southern England – and mainly to London and the southeast with a
further west in Gloucestershire.

Chandlers in the 1891 Census Numbers (000’s)  Percent
London   2.4 23
SE England   2.6   25
Gloucestershire   0.7    6
Elsewhere   4.7   46
Total  10.4  100

Walter Chandler of Winchester.  Walter Chandler
was made a freeman of Winchester in 1506.
A mercer with some interest in wool, he was to figure more
in the civic affairs of Winchester than his father had done.  Although Parliamentary returns for Winchester
have been lost, other evidence suggests that he had been elected a
member there
in 1539, 1542, and 1545.

owed something to the support of Stephen Gardiner, the bishop of
Winchester at
that time.  Chandler prospered
sufficiently to be able to acquire a number of properties in and around
Winchester.  These included Abbot’s
Barton which he purchased in 1540 and it became his seat.

was described by one contemporary as a
“very crafty fellow.”  In his dealings
with Thomas Wriothesley on the Abbot’s Barton estate, he was examined
by the
Privy Council for slanderous remarks and was ordered to apologize to
Wriothesley in Council.

died in 1546
and his probate inventory gave indication of his wealth and status: a
guarded with velvet; a doublet of velvet with satin sleeves and another
satin with velvet sleeves; a scarlet gown faced with foins; an old blue
faced with foins and furred with coney; a gown of crimson lined with
say; a
black gown welted with tawny velvet and faced with satin; an old blue
furred with fox; and a pair of new hose.

John Chandler of Jamestown, Virginia.  The earliest
known Chandler to settle in America was immigrant John Chandler.  He had traveled with some thirty other
aboard the Hercules, the smallest of
three ships in the expedition led by Sir Thomas West of Hampshire, Lord
Delaware.  They landed at Jamestown on
Sunday, June 10, 1610.

Fragmentary land
records in Elizabeth City county suggest that John’s elder son, John
II, was
his son and heir.  However, this male
line ended with John IV in 1728.

Chandler descent goes via the younger son Robert.  They
number in their thousands in the United
States, perhaps a majority of them still residing in the South and
Southwest of
the country.

Colonel Joshua Chandler’s Sad End.  Colonel Joshua Chandler had been a member of the Connecticut legislature and a relatively wealthy man before joining the Loyalist ranks and departing
for Nova
Scotia in 1783.  His New Haven property
was confiscated and it was said that he was driven into exile and died
a broken

In fact he died four years later in 1787 when
his ship went down on its way to St. Johns, New Brunswick.
W.C Milner in his History of Sackville recounted
that his son William, hoping to secure the
vessel, fastened a rope around his body
and jumped overboard to swim to land.
But he was immediately crushed between the vessel and rocks and

“That night Colonel Chandler,
his daughter Elizabeth, and others on the vessel got ashore.  But they were miles from any dwelling and the
weather was severe.  It was said that he
urged his daughter to leave him and make her way to some house.  But she refused to do so.
He then climbed a high point of the rocks for
a look-out.  From that point, being so
benumbed with cold, he fell and soon died. The others, after wandering
about in
the woods, also perished.  Their bodies
were found and carried to St. John and buried in the old burying

One of Joshua Chandler’s sons, Samuel, took
an active part in the public life of Nova Scotia.  And
two of his daughters married into
influential New Brunswick families.

Harry Chandler’s Family and Early Life.  Harry Chandler,
born in Landaff, New Hampshire in 1864, could trace his line back to
and Annis Chandler, immigrants to Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1637.

Many generations later, Ezra Chandler moved
his family northwards to what were then the wilderness areas of Vermont
and New
Hampshire.  They came to Landaff, New
Hampshire soon after it was first settled and chose a farm about a
mile out of
town.  Ezra was the first bricklayer in
Landaff.  He died there in 1842 and was
buried at the Landaff cemetery at the top of the hill.

Harry and his family moved from Landaff to
Lisbon, a larger town nearby, probably so that Harry could attend the
school there.  Harry later enrolled at
Dartmouth College.

after his arrival at Dartmouth a classmate dared him to dive
into a vat of starch that had frozen over in the first cold snap of the
season.  Harry took the dare and soon was in bed with a high fever
and a
hacking cough.  This was followed by a hemorrhage of the lungs and
withdrawal from college.  Told by his
doctor that only the warm and healthy climate of southern California
would save
him, he set off on the train for the long trip across the country.  Arriving
tired, dirty, and almost penniless,
he spent his first night in California in a cheap hotel and,
hesitatingly, set
off the next morning to try to decide what course of action he should
follow.  Suddenly
he stopped and stared
unbelievingly into the display window of a photographer’s shop.  Staring back at him was his own portrait as a
child.  As a small child,
Chandler was
so perfect in his features that he was often photographed as the ideal
of an
American boy.  The sight wrought a
transformation.  It appeared an omen of

So Harry stayed and
prospered.  He started his newspaper
career as a clerk in the circulation department of the Los
Angeles Times
in 1885 at the age of twenty one.



Chandler Names

  • Harry Chandler was one
    of the main developers of Los Angeles in the first half of
    the 20th century.
  • Happy Chandler was the Kentucky politician who became baseball’s commissioner in 1945.
  • Raymond Chandler was an
    American writer best known for his private detective Philip Marlowe.
  • Gene Chandler, known as “The Duke of Earl,” was
    an American R&B singer of the 1960’s.

Select Chandler Numbers Today

  • 18,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Gloucestershire)
  • 28,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Chandler and Like Surnames   

The various medieval trades and occupations were a source of surnames as John the baker would over time would become known as John Baker.  Some skilled craftsmen – such as chandlers, fletchers and turners – were able to form guilds, protective organizations, and style themselves Worshipful Companies.  These are some of the occupational surnames that you can check out.




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