Select 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 a guild in London by 1300.

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England.  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 England - and mainly to London and the southeast with a cluster further west in Gloucestershire. 

Chandlers in Bishop Stortford in Hertfordshire have been traced back to 1521.  Walter Chandler 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. 

Chandlers were landowners at Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.  The name Nathaniel Chandler featured prominently. Nathaniel Chandler was organist at Tewkesbury Abbey in the early 1800ís and a later Nathaniel Chandler was mayor of the town from 1849 to 1852.  There was also a long line of Chandlers from the village of Painswick 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 Chandler was born in Landaff, New Hampshire in 1864.  He 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

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

Select 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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