Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Chambers Name
Chambers Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This is a locational or habitational name meaning “of the Chamber”, denoting a person from a place so called, although one author, Charles Wareing Bardlsley, in his book A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, claims he cannot identify any places so named, which makes this origin theory somewhat suspect and dubious. It may have the same origins of as the surname Chamberlain, which arose from the exchequer room (bank or royal/national treasury) in which the revenue was paid. To pay in cameram was to pay into the exchequer, and the camerarius, or chamberlain, was in charge of this process. Another source, Dictionary of American Family Names published in 2013, asserts this is an occupational name denoting a person who was employed in the private living quarters of his master (ex. Lord, Baron, Duke), as opposed to the halls of the public manor where most of the other common members of the manor lived, deriving from the Middle English word chaumbre meaning chamber or room, which in term derives from the Latin word camera. Such servants were held in high regard and often enjoyed special privileges relative to their peers in medieval times and the Middles Ages throughout Christendom, Europe, and the Holy Roman Empire. It is likely this is a French name (Chambre) which came to England during the Norman Conquest of 1066 AD, where the spelling was slightly corrupted to Chamber or Chambers. One of the earliest coat of arms borne by this family had a silver (argent) shield with a black (sable) chevron, surmounted of another chevron ermine, between three chambers placed transverse of the escutcheon of the second, fired proper. The family became prominent in Denbighshire, Wales, where they owned lands at Llewenne, which the Earl of Lincoln granted to John de Chambre, a noble companion of William the Conqueror who accompanied him into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066 AD. In France, the name was first established in Savoy in the Rhode-Alpes region of the Alps, where the family held land and titles in medieval times or the early Middle Ages. In Ireland, the name is typically found in Mayor and Ulster. It first appeared in Ireland during the 1200s AD in the form de la Chambre. Edward MacLysaght’s 1964 book, Supplement to Irish Families, states the following in regard to this surname: “…but it is unlikely that any families called Chambers today are descended from those early Anglo-Norman settlers. Some, we know, were immigrants in the seventeenth century, first under the Plantation of Ulster and later the Cromwellian Settlement. Many families of the name were established here, however, before that: the existence of the place name Chamberstown in county Meath in the previous century is proof of that. This was not the Chambers family prominent in county Meath in the eighteenth century, for they had previously long been large landowners in the New Ross area of Co. Wexford where the townland of Chambersland perpetuates their name. The name occurs frequently in the lists of government officials, from 1592 when Thomas Chambers was housekeeper at Kilmainham and 1609 when George Chambers was Chief Chamberlain of the Exchequer, down to quite modern times”.
Some spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Chamber, Chambre, Chalmers, Chambres, Chamberlain, Schambers, Chamberas, Chaimbers, Chamberss, Chamberis, and 30 others.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Chambers ranks 305th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following five states: Georgia, Delaware, Tennessee, Alabama, and Oregon. The surname Chambers frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (207th), Scotland (448th), Wales (377th), Ireland (542nd) and Northern Ireland (163rd). In England, it ranks highest in counties Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Huntingdonshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in East Lothian. In Wales, it ranks highest in Anglesey. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Mayo. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Down. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (478th), New Zealand (326th), Australia (366th), and South Africa (1,741st).
Early Bearers of the Surname
A one Nicholas de Chambres was documented in the Curia Regis Rolls of Derbshire in 1219 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists two bearers of this surname: Walter de la Chaumbre (Lincolnshire) and Henry de la Chambre (Licolnshire). Kirby’s Quest records one Richard atte Chambre in county Somerset around 1328 AD. Griffin del Chambre, scutifer of Princess Isabel is documented in the Houseghold Book of Queen Isabelle in 1385 AD. The Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379 AD lists four bearers of this last name: Willelmus del Chaumbir, Robertus del Chaumbire, Johannes del Chaumbir, and Alicia Chaumbir. The Close Rolls of 1383 AD list John of Cuambre and the Close Rolls of 1351 AD list one Gilbert de la Chaumbre.
Chambers Family Tree & Chambers Genealogy
A branch of the Chambers family tree became prominent land owners in west Wales who were involved with local politics and became involved in sports administration. The lineage or ancestry traces back to William Chambers who was born in London, England in 1773. He was the son of Abraham of Totteridge. He moved into the Stepney mansion, Llanelly House in Carmarthenshire, Wales. He had a son named William Jr. A later descendant of this line was John Graham Chambers who was born in Llanelly House.
Another branch of the family tree traces back to Jan Chambers who was born in 1670. He was a member of the New Netherland Community. He married Cornelia Van Aken and fathered the following children with her: Andries, Margriet, Elizabeth, Marinus, Sarah (Kermer), Eduard, and Samuel. His son Marinus was born in Rochester, New York before June 1701. He married twice: Zusanna Kittle and Dina de Lange, and had the following issue: Hannaken, Cornelia, John, Ysaak, Cornelis, Susanna, and Jacobus. His son John was born in Ulster, New York in 1728. He married Catherine Depue and he had the following issue with her: Margrita, Cornelius, and Elizabeth (LaBar). His daughter Elizabeth was born in Marbletown, NY in 1757. She married Daniel Labar Jr. and had a son with him named Daniel Edwin LaBar who was born in Smithfield, Pennsylvania in 1789 and passed away in Wisconsin in 1839.
Walter de La Chambre (or Chambers) was born in Scotland in 1273 AD. His descendant (grandson? Or great grandson?) Griffin del Chambre (or Chambers) was born in Scotland around 1357. His descendant was Henry Chambers who was born in Chellington, Bedfordshire in 1535. His son Robert Chambers was born in Bedfordshire around 1556. He had the following issue: William, Robert, John, Vincent, Richard, and Joan. His son William was born in Bedfordshire, England in 14604. He married Helen Finden and had a son with her named Robert. Robert was born in Stirlingshire, Scotland in 1622. He married Marioun Cloggie and had the following children with her: Peter, Benjamin, John Sr., and Alexander. His son John Chambers Sr. was born in Lanark, Scotland in 1645, and he went to colonial America, New Jersey. He had a son named John Jr. John Jr. was born in Lanark, Scotland and went to New Jersey with her father. He married Margaret Hall and had a son with her named James. This James Chambers was born in New Jersey in 1681 and he married Phebe Smith, with whom he had a son named Ahijah who was born in Byram, New Jersey in 1735. He married Elizabeth Doty and fathered the following issue with her: Ahiijah, Daniel, James, Elizabeth, Jonathon, and Isaac.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions five bearers of this last name: John Chambers, of Trenton, New Jersey, born in 1677, left Scotland during the latter part of the 17th century and settled in county Antrim, Ireland, and then later in Trenton, New Jersey, in colonial America. He had a son named Alexander, a man who was a Commissary of State Troops during the American Revolution.
James Chambers came to Virginia aboard the Dutie in 1621.
James Chambers was recorded as living in Virginia (at the Eastern Shore) in February 1623. He came in 1622 aboard the Bona Nova at the age of 21.
Thomas Chambers, age 24, came to Virginia aboard the Southampton in 1623.
Alice Chambers, a maid servant, came to Virginia aboard the Southampton in 1623.
Jane Chambers, age 23, came to Virginia aboard the Bonaventure in January 1634.
Elizabeth Chambers, age 20, came to Barbados aboard the Alexander in May 1635.
Joshua Chambers, age 17, came to Virginia aboard the David in 1635.
Robert Chambers, age 13, came to New England aboard the Hopewell in September 1635.
Christopher Chambers, age 24, came to Virginia aboard the Constance in October 1635.
John Chambers came to Virginia aboard the Friendshipe of London in March 1636.
Henry Chambers, age 25 perhaps, a convicted rebel from Monmouth’s Rebellion of 1685, came to the New World.
Other early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include Jane Chambers (Virginia 1714), Joseph Chambers (Georgia 1733), Patrick Chambers (Philadelphia 1746), and Lillias Chambers (South Carolina 1722).
In Canada, one of the first settlers with this last name was John Chambers, who in 1676, settled in Savage, Newfoundland. A one Henry Chambers came to Nova Scotia in 1749. In Australia, one of the first bearers of this surname was Hugh Chamber, a harness maker by trade, came to New South Wales around 1829. In 1837, a family of this name came to Holdfast Bay, including Catherine Priscilla, Benjamin, and Emily Chambers. In 1863, a family of this name came to the city of Auckland New Zealand aboard the Ida Zeigler, including William, John, Mary, Mary Ann, and Sarah Jean Chambers.
Early Americans Bearing the Chambers Family Crest
Crozier’s General Armory (1904) contains one entry for this name: Robert Chambers of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, 1685, from Stirling, Scotland bore the following arms: Sable, a cross couped ermine, between four martlets rising or. Crest: On a ducal coronet or, a demi-eagle displayed gules, wings or. Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907) and Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) do not contain an entry for this name.
I have identified six Chambers family mottoes:
1) Vivam te laudare Deus (I live to praise God)
2) Facta non verba (Deeds not words) or (Actions speak louder than words)
3) Avancez! (Advance!) (of Scotland)
4) Lux mihi laurus (The laurel is my light)
5) Non praeda, sed Victoria (Not plunder, but victory)
6) Spero dum spiro (I hope while I have life)
We have 35 coats of arms for the Chambers surname depicted here. These 35 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Chambers Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Chambers Family Crest) include:
1) George Chambers of Longford, county Gloucester, a servant to Thomas, Lord Windsor
2) John Chambers of Gaddesby, county Lincolnshire, confirmed 3 March 1581-2 by Cooke.
There are hundreds of notable people with the Chambers surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Ephraim Chambers (1680-1740) who was a British writer and encyclopaedist who was born in Kendal, Westmorland, 2) George Michael Chambers (1928-1997) who was the second Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, 3) Julius LaVonne Chambers (1936-2013) who was an American lawyer, civil rights leader and educator (1936) who was born in Mount Gilead, North Carolina, 4) Kasey Chambers (1976) is an Australian county singer songwriter born in Mount Gambier, South Australia, 5) Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) who was a Scottish Baptist and teacher in the Holiness movement, best known for his devotional called My Utmost for His Highest, 6) Sir Stanley Paul Chambers (1904-1981) who was a British civil servant, Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries, and industrialist who was born in London and attended the London School of Economics, 7) Shirley Chambers (1913-2011) who was a famous American film actress in the 1930s who was born in Seattle, Washington, 8) Whittaker Chambers (1901-1961), or Jay Vivian Chambers, was an American editor who denounced his Communist party spying and became an intellectual leader of the American Conservative movement in the 1950s, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 9) Wheaton Chambers (1887-1958) who was an American actor during the 30s, 40s, and 50s, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known for roles in movies such as Red Ryder and The Flying Serpent, and 10) John McKinley Chambers who created the S programming language and also worked on the R programming language.
Chambers Coat of Arms Meaning
Three of the main symbols depicted in the Chambers Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Chambers Family Crest by those unfamiliar with heraldry and genealogy) are the chamber piece, cinquefoil, and martlet, each which has its own unique meaning.
Given the martial nature of the origins of Heraldry, in the identification of knights and men-at-arms it can come as no surprise that medieval weaponry of all types are frequently to be found in a coat of arms. The cannon is depicted as we might expect, if mounted the carriage may be a different color. We need look no further than the military connection for any meaning in this device. Chamber piece is simply an alternative name for the barrel of a cannon.
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur. The cinquefoil is also of this type, being drawn, at least a little, realistically and often to very pleasing effect. It is shown as five-petalled flower, each petal quite rounded but with a distinct tip. It is sometimes pierced with a hole in the center and usually appears on its own, without any leaves. It has no fixed color but can appear in any of the available heraldic tinctures. It represents or signifies joy and hope. In early heraldry, they represents different colors according to the tinctures (colors) they were stylized in.
The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equaled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. Over time the image has become quite stylized, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travelers”. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet. It represents promptness and people who live by merit and virtue as opposed to being born rich or inheriting money. There is an argument over what type of bird the martlet really is. In England, it is supposed to represent a swallow, whereas in Germany, it is said to represent a lark.