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CHALMERS - from The Surname of Scotland


Extract from "The Surnames of Scotland" by George F. Black

The following extract was taken from "The Surnames of Scotland, Their Origin, Meaning and History" by George F. Black Ph. D. 1946.


CHALMERS, Chambers. The correct forms are Chalmer and Chamber, from OF, de la chambre, of the chamber: (1) a chamber attendant, (2) of the Treasury chamber (camera), and so metonymic for CHAMBERLAIN, q.v. The spellings with -s are later. When the OF word was naturalized in Scots it lost b by elision, and received l to safeguard as it were, the length of the preceding vowel, as shown in the pronunciation 'chaamer' or 'chammer' (Gregory Smith, Specimens of Middle Scots, p xxiii-iv).

Hugh de Camera appears as witness to a charter of David I (RPSA., p.193), and to charters of Malcolm IV (ibid., p.197; Cambus. 50). Richard de Camera witnessed two charters of William the Lion (Cambus., 121; RAA., I, 60). Radulfus de Camera and his brother, Herbetus de Camera "are occassional witnesses to charters of William the Lion during the greater part of his reign; but nothing is known of their family or local connections, except that a son of Radulf had an interest in the churches of Campsie and Altermony in the Lennox" (Inchaffray, p.259). Several persons of the name rendered homage in 1296: (1, 2) Robert de la Chaumbre and William de la Chambre of Lanarkshire. The seal of Robert bears a lion rampant, and S Rob'ti de Camera (Bain II, p.204,544), (3) William de la Chaumbre, baillie and burgess of Peebles, (4, 5) Symon and William of Dumfreisshire, and (6) Wautier of Berwickshire (ibid., p.198, 204, 206). Willmus de Camera was common councillor in Aberdeen, 1399 and Alexander Chaumir was elected serjeant in 1475 (Guildry, p. 184, 187). James Chamer and Gilbert Chawemere, Scotsmen, had safe conducts into England in 1465-6 (Bain, IV, 1358, 1365). Alexander of Chamowr was "forspekar for the comownis and merchandis" of Aberdeen, 1461 (CRA., p. 22), and in 1474 Gilbert of Chamer (Chamver, or Chadmer) was alderman of the same burgh (ibid., p. 32-33). Robert of Chawmyr witnesses resignation of a feu in Peebles, 1471 (Scots lore p.52), and another Robert Chamer was tenant on lands of Polkak, 1472 (Cupar-Angus, I, p.221). Sir John of Chawmir of Gatgyrth is recorded in 1491 (HMC., 3. Rep., II, p.391). Thomas Chamer was admitted burgess of Aberdeen, 1521 (NSCM., I, p.47), and a particate of land was sold to John Chalmyr in Glasgow, 1555 (Protocols).

The sounded l in Chalmers is a modern affectation. Challmers 1692, Chalmair 1575, Chalmbers 1688, Chalmer 1508, Chalmour 1515, Chalmyris 1557, Chamyr 1477, Chaumar 1503, Chaumyr 1502, Chavmyr and Chawmer 1477, Chawmuir 1553, Schambers 1650.


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This page was updated 22-Mar-2000