Chandler Surname Genealogy

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.

Chandler Miscellany

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

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 Chandlers 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)



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