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About the study

This page will tell you about the free help available to Chandler family history researchers from the Chandler One-Name Study (ONS) and the Chandler Family Association (CFA) Both organizations have been in existence for more than 20 years, and in that time we have helped more than a thousand people with their research. The ONS began with British records, then went international. The CFA began with American records, then went international. Together, their collection of nearly two million records represents the largest repository of specific Chandler-related information in the world. 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 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 and pay safely using PayPal, avoiding the need for a bank draft.

Variant names

A great many possible variations of the Chandler surname have been observed, including Chandelar, Chandeler, Chandeleur, Chandelor, Chander, Chanders, Chandlar, Chandlen, Chandlers, Chandles, Chandless, Chandley, Chandlor, Chandly, Chandor, Chanelar, Chaneler, Chaneley, Channeller, Chanelor, Chanler, Chanley, Chanlor, Channellor, Channiler, Chansler, Chantler, Chantller, Chaundflower (probably a mistranscription/mistranslation of Chaundeleur i.e. Chaundeleur becomes Chaundfleur becomes Chaundflower), Chandeler, Chaundler, Chaundeler, Chaundeleur, Chauntler and Chawner. The Study aims to record all occurrences of these names, because they are frequently interchanged with Chandler, either by accident or intent. 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.

Name origin

Most people born with the surname Chandler in modern times are descended, in the male line, from men in England who worked as a chandler, making and selling candles. Until about 1350, surnames were only used by the wealthy, and were usually inherited by only the eldest son, along with the family property. The poor - most people at that time - had no need for a surname because they had no land to inherit. It was during the years 1350 to 1450 that the use of hereditary surnames became common throughout the English population. This naming - often by trade (e.g. Baker, Smith, Chandler), sometimes by location (e.g. Hill, Marsh, or the name of a town or village), occasionally by appearance (e.g. Long, Small) - would have happened village by village throughout England. Consequently, most of the people acquiring the surname Chandler in this way would not have been related to each other - they would only have been occupied in the same trade. Candles - of vital importance in an age without electricity - were made either of wax (for churches) 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 60 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.

History of the name

At the age of 10, John Chandler and a number of other passengers sailed from England on the Hercules and landed at what became known as Jamestown, Virginia in 1610. These were not Pilgrims like the Mayflower passengers who landed in Massachusetts 10 years later seeking religious freedom - this was a group of merchant venturers who made the voyage for profit. There are now thousands of people who trace their ancestry to that John Chandler, mainly in south-eastern USA. A number of them belong to the Chandler Family Association (CFA) and have participated in a DNA project to help identify their origins in England (see web page link below). Other DNA Project participants include descendants of: - 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 Québec, Canada. Astronomer Seth Carlo Chandler Jr discovered the Chandler Wobble, a movement in the earth’s rotational axis which some believe is a factor in global warming. Dr Robert Chandler did great work for the world’s hungry. 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 represents 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.

Name frequency

Throughout most of the 20th Century, the Chandler surname occurred on average at the rate of about 35 for every 100,000 of the population in English-speaking countries, though immigration is causing this Chandler ratio to decline. In the U.S., the rate was 34 per 100,000 in 1990 but 28 per 100,000 in the year 2000. Again in the U.S., the name Chandler was ranked #322 in 1990 and #379 in 2000. In the U.K., the Office of National Statistics ranked the Chandler surname at #421 in 2002.

Distribution of the name

The Chandler surname is now widely distributed throughout the English-speaking world. In England, it occurs most frequently in the southern counties. If you draw a box starting at Stafford, south to Dorchester, east along the coast to Kent, north to The Wash and then westwards back to Stafford, you will have enclosed more than 80% of all the British Chandlers. The name is relatively uncommon in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.


As an illustration of the quantity and quality of the records in our repository, we have placed 20,000 English Chandler marriage details, covering a period of 100 years, online and searchable on the web at However, we have found that the best way to help Chandler researchers is not simply to provide a pool of data and allow people to fish in it. It is better to provide friendly but experienced responses to enquiries, which not only answer questions but also suggest avenues for further research. We ask that enquirers summarise the research they have done so far and their family tree as they know it. This has two benefits: it avoids telling people what they already know, and it gives us the opportunity to validate the research and (gently) correct any false trails. 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


The CHANDLER DNA project, described technically at, already has more than 250 testees, and some very exciting matches have been found, spanning three continents. For example, an English participant's DNA has been shown to match closely the DNA of a number of American participants whose ancestor migrated to America early in the 1600s. We need more participants, who have to be Chandler male-line descendants because only males carry the Y chromosome, which is handed down, along with the surname, from generation to generation. The ultimate aim is to understand which of the thousands of individual Chandler families belong to each of the genetically distinct lines which are being identified by the project - 60 so far, out of an estimated 150 lines - and to help individuals with their own research along the way. 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


Name: Dick Chandler


Dick Chandler


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