Select Chambers Surname Genealogy

Here are some Chambers stories and accounts over the years:

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 harness 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 the 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 asserts 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 luster all that while.” 

James Chalmer of Gadgirth was an active supporter of John Knox and entertained him at the family seat of 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. 

American 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 Chambre 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.” 

Robert 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 Connexion 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 a lasting mark on the world of football. 

Soon 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
Great Britain

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 found work.  He enlisted in the War of 1812 and distinguished himself in the Battle of the Thames.  General Harrison’s report stated: 

"John Chambers, one of those who followed Major Payne in his dashing pursuit against General Proctor at the 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 refuge 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 the 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 own. 

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, twenty-three 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 manufacturer in the world.

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