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About the study
You can contact Dick Chandler directly at the address below about the ONS, or send a genealogy enquiry using the link on the CFA web site at http://www.ChandlerFamilyAssociation.org/contact.html#genpanel. We may be able to answer your questions directly from our records. For more difficult enquiries we have a volunteer genealogy panel comprising ten panelists and twelve specialist consultants.
You certainly don't have to be a CFA member to make use of this assistance, though everyone with a Chandler interest is very welcome to join. Membership costs just US$20 per year and benefits include three editions of our award-winning 20-page newsletter.
You can join online at http://www.ChandlerFamilyAssociation.org/membership.html and pay safely using PayPal, avoiding the need for a bank draft.
Although its origins are probably the same as Chandler, the surname Candler is phonetically sufficiently distinct to be considered deliberately different, and therefore to be treated as a separate surname rather than a variant of Chandler. The surname Candler is registered separately by another member of the Guild. However, if you suspect that your Candler brick wall may have a Chandler solution, you are very welcome to contact us.
Candles - of vital importance in an age without electricity - were made either of wax (for churches and the wealthy) or tallow (for general use). Tallow is obtained from suet (the solid fat of animals such as sheep and cows), and is also used in making soap and lubricants. The Tallow Chandlers, like many other tradesmen, formed a guild in London in or around 1300 for educational, promotional and charitable purposes. The Tallow 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 supplies for boats, as well as the candles. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term 'chandler' was often used simply to mean a grocer.
Some people born with the Chandler surname may descend from followers of William, Duke of Normandy, who ruled England from 1066 to 1087 - bearing names like Reginald le Chandeler, who appears in a survey of London conducted in 1273. The origin of the name is the same - the French for candle being chandelle.
The Chandler DNA Project (see below) has so far identified 105 genetically distinct lines around the world. It is highly probable that - at least as far back as the 1200s - the ancestors of all these testees lived in England. The term 'England' is used deliberately, in preference to 'Britain' or the 'United Kingdom', because the geographic origin of the surname Chandler is firmly in England. We have been wondering how many genetically distinct lines we will ultimately find. A definitive answer can't be given now, but a general feel can be obtained from the following analysis.
As stated above, some Chandlers - a minority - descend from one or more le Chaundelers who migrated to England from Normandy around the year 1200. Most Chandlers, however, descend from people who gained their surname because they were candle-makers in the period 1350 to 1450 when hereditary surnames became common in England. This adoption of surnames was a slow process, taking around 100 years, spreading from the towns into the countryside, and from the south of England to the north. The types of names favoured for adoption varied from area to area - some regions, especially in the west and north of England, tending to prefer locative names (e.g. Hill, Marsh or the name of the village or town where they lived), others favouring occupational names (e.g. Baker, Butcher, Chandler), others selecting patronymic names (e.g. Johnson, Jackson, Richardson) - and the choices made also varied between social classes.
After the 'Black Death' plague (about 1350), the population of England had shrunk to 2.5 million. The 1881 Census of England (before significant immigration from Britain's colonies) shows that Chandlers were 0.0355% of the population. There seems no good reason why this should not be about the same percentage as in 1350, which would yield 888 Chandlers. Assuming a 50/50 split, 444 of these would be male Chandlers. Assuming that possibly 44 of these descend from a single Norman (or several related ones) named le Chaundeler and his (their) descendants during the 150 years they had been in England, that leaves around 400 males who got their surname from the Chandler trade (in areas where that was the practice). Not every candle-maker in England took the Chandler surname; he might become, say, a Johnson (son of John) if that was the regional or personal preference, even though he made candles. Now, the question would be, in all the households where the main breadwinner was a Chandler by trade and chose to give his family the surname Chandler, how many males, of all ages, would have been in each household? Assuming the range was 2 to 4 Chandler men in each family, we are left with 100 to 200 different genetic lines plus the le Chaundeler line. It would probably be at the lower end of that range. The families acquiring the name were not necessarily the nuclear families we know today. They were more likely to be extended families that included miscellaneous 'family' members who would also pick up the Chandler surname. Some lines may have since become extinct for lack of male offspring.
Analysis of the names in the 14th Century English Poll Tax returns also suggests that the number of genetically distinct Chandler lines, now spread around the world, is closer to 100 than 200.
Historical occurrences of the name
- Edmund Chandler, a member of the Pilgrim congregation, who migrated from Leiden in Holland to the New World a few years after the main group
- William and Annis Chandler of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England who settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1637
- George & Jane Chandler who left Wiltshire, England for the New World in 1686: George died at sea but the family survived and settled in Pennsylvania
- Frederick C Chandler who founded the Chandler Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio in 1913.
Perhaps the most well-known bearer of the name is author Raymond Thornton Chandler, whose detective Philip Marlow has entertained millions of adults, while their children were thrilled by the stories of Uncle Remus and others, written by Joel Chandler Harris; the tales of the Boxcar Children written by Gertrude Chandler Warner; and by the many books for children written by Christine Chaundler. The character Chandler Bing was popular with many viewers of the TV series "Friends". Actor Ira Grossel decided that his career in movies might fare better if he used the name Jeff Chandler. Chandlers controlled the Los Angeles Times for nearly 100 years.
Veterinary surgeon Dr Alexander John Chandler founded the city of Chandler in Arizona. Other places called Chandler exist in Queensland, Australia; Oklahoma and Michigan in the USA; and Quebec, Canada. Astronomer Seth Carlo Chandler Jr discovered the Chandler Wobble, a movement in the earthâs rotational axis which some believe is a factor in global warming. Dr Robert Chandler did great work for the hungry of the world. Murray Chandler is a chess grand master who beat Gary Kasparov twice and never lost or drew against him. There have been a number of well-known Chandlers in the English Church, the US Navy, and in politics. Congressman Ben Chandler represented Central Kentucky, following in the footsteps of his grandfather A.B. "Happy" Chandler. Edward Barron Chandler was a New Brunswick politician and lawyer, and is known as one of the Fathers of Canadian Confederation.
In America there were Chandler automobiles, and in England there are Chandler guitars. USS Chandler was a US Navy destroyer, and Chandler is the name of a suite of computer programs aimed at helping groups of people to work on projects. The Chandeleur islands in the Gulf of Mexico form the easternmost point of the state of Louisiana, and La Chandeleur is a French festival, the equivalent of Candlemas in English-speaking countries.
If you think the Chandler name is limited to planet earth, there is a crater on the moon named Chandler.
Looking to the future, the former Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William and therefore likely to be a future Queen of England, is descended from a long line of Chandlers from Painswick in Gloucestershire, England, which has been a Chandler stronghold for centuries.
Distribution of the name
We are building the CFA Lineages Database (CFALD), which will eventually contain records of all known Chandlers, anywhere, any time. It will identify family relationships - both extended families and genetic families. So far, we have records of around 100,000 people in CFALD. You can read much more about CFALD at http://www.ChandlerFamilyAssociation.org/cfald.html.
As an alternative to the technical DNA discussion on the site above, we are collecting the human stories of the different genetic Chandler families, tracking each from the earliest known ancestor to the later generations who began to spread the Chandler name across the globe. This is a work in progress, but you can read the interesting and varied genetic Chandler family accounts developed and published so far, starting at http://www.ChandlerFamilyAssociation.org/genetic_chandler_families.html.