CHALMERS - from Nisbet Vol II


"CHALMERS of Gaitgirth" by Alexander Nisbet

This quotation was transcribed from "A System of Heraldry, Speculative and Practical Vol. II" by Alexander Nisbet Gent., Edinburgh 1816

The information from Nisbet Vol II was kindly sent to me by Alison Durry of Port Chalmers, New Zealand. My sincere thanks for this, all the other Chalmers information she has forwarded to me, and the interest she has shown in the "Chalmers Study."


"CHALMERS or CHAMBERS of Gaitgirth, sometimes designed Chalmers of that Ilk, as in the First Volume of this Treatise, is one of the ancientist families in the shire of Ayr, and chief of the name; of old, wrote in Latin, De Camera, as especially in our ancient records.

Sir George Mackenzie, in his Manuscript of Families, says, It is more than probable that this family took the surname de Camera, when surnames first began in the reign of Malcolm Canmore, from the office Camerarius Regis, i.e. the King's Chamberlain; and says he has seen a charter granted by King William to the abbacy of Paisley; amongst the witnesses there is one Herbert de Camera, which, no doubt, was then his surname, and not his office; for in King William's time, he who had the office of chamberlain, beside his surname, was designed Camerarius Regis; so it is probable the surname de Camera was occasioned by the office being anciently in this family.

In the records of charters in the Parliament House, there are several granted to them of the name of Camera, as, Charta Williemi de Camera, in the year 1369. As also to the name Chalmer, as Charta Joannis Chalmer, under the Great Seal, erecting the lands of Gaitgirth and Culreath into one barony, in the shire of Ayr, 1468. The names Camera and Chalmer are the same; the one in Latin, the other in English.

I have seen a birth-brieve in the reign of King James VI with the consent of his privy council, past under the Great Seal to Sir James Boyd of Trochrig, the 16th of August 1609, showing his mother, Margaret Chalmer, daughter of James Chalmer, Baron of Gaitgirth, chief of his family, and of the name, as also his progenitors, barons of Gaitgirth, these 500 years bygone, which is evident by authentic documents of the family in Latin, thus, "In prosapia, Margareta Camera filia domini Jacobi Camerii, Baronis de Gaitgirth, filia suae princips. Qui quidem Camerii, Baronis de Gaitgirth, ab annis jam amplius quigentia, illius nominis principes claruerunt, ut ex authenticis liquet illius domus monumentis."

One of the family surnamed de Camera (as Sir George Mackenzie) went to France, and called himself Camerarius, in Latin, and in French, de la Chambre, and after his return home, in English, Chalmers. This tradition, says he, seems to be confirmed by the flower-de-luce which the family carries in their arms. It is very probable it was granted by the King of France when John Chalmers of Gaitgirth, in the year 1423, accompanied Archibald Earl of Douglas to France, who was made Duke of Touraine, and Marechal of France, by King Charles VII; he quartered the arms of that dukedom, being azure, seme of flower-de luces or, with his own arms. And John Chalmer probably had one flower-de-luce granted to him for his valour, which the family ever since have continued. The name CHALMERS is since more frequently used than Camera in all their charters that I have seen, by which I give the genealogical account of the family.

SIR JOHN CHALMERS of Gaitgirth, son of the above-mentioned John, as by his charter in the year 1468. He is frequently mentioned in the records of Parliament, in the year 1484, which continued to the first of October 1487, Dominus de Gaitgirth; and is ranked amongst the barons betwixt Dominus de Ker, and Dominus de Balcomy; he was succeeded by his son

JAMES, who gets his sasine of the lands and barony Gaitgirth, Culraith, and Chalmer-house, (from the last of these lands the family has been designed Chalmers of that Ilk) as heir to his father, Sir John Chalmers, upon a precept of the Chancery, dated the 1st october 1501. He married Annabel, daughter to Cunningham of Caprington, a second son of the family of Glencairn. Their son and successor was

ROBERT CHALMERS, Baron of Gaitgirth, who married a daughter of Campbell Lord Loudon, afterwards Earl; and was succeeded by his son

JAMES, who gets a charter of confirmation, under the Great Seal, of the barony of Gaitgirth, the 6th of January 1541; and a charter of twenty-pound lands of Thorny-bank, alias Chalmer-House; as also a charter of the lands of New-Park de Glenken, in the lordship of Galloway, and stewarty of Kirkcudbright, the 10th of August 1588: his lady was a daughter of Fullarton of Corsbie; and was succeeded by his son

JAMES CHALMERS of Gaitgirth, who was infeft in Corsflet and Auldhouseburn, as heir to his father, the 8th of May 1608. He married a dughter of Houston of that Ilk. He was succeeded by his son.

JAMES, Baron of Gaitgirth, Sherriff-Principal of Ayr, by commission under the Great Seal, dated the 8th of Septemeber 1632. His lady was Isabel Blair, daughter to Blair of that Ilk, and with her had his con and successor

JOHN CHALMERS of Gaitgirth, who married Mrs Mary Campbell, eldest lawful daughter to Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck, father and mother of the present JOHN CHALMERS of Gaitgirth, who married Mrs Margaret Montgomery, eldest lawful daughter of Colonel James Montgomery of Coilsfield, second son of Alexander Earl of Eglinton, whose eldest son and apparent heir is

Captain JOHN CHALMERS, who, during the course of the late war, served in Leieutenant-General George Hamilton's regiment abroad in Flanders.


The achievement of this family is argent, a demi-lion rampant issuing out of a fesse, and, in base, a flower-de luce sable; crest, a falcon rising, with the motto, Spero. These arms have been supported, of old, by a sagittary drawing a bow on the right, and, on the left, by a syren or mermaid, all proper; as on the frontispiece of their house, and other utensils belonging thereto: which supporters the family has assumed when the barons of Parliament, as above mentioned.


There are several families cadets of this, and I shall here mention one honourable one in France, viz. Chalmers, baron of Tartas, as by his birth-breive under the Great Seal, and the Lyon Register, descended of Chalmers of Gaitgirth, or that Ilk, carries the same with Gaitgirth, within a bordure gules, for his difference; crest, a facon belled, proper: motto Non praeda sed victoria. The first of this family was one of the seven brothers, younger sons of the family of Gaitgirth, or of that Ilk, who in the year 1440, or thereabout, were forced to go abroad for a slaughter committed by them. The predecessor of Tartas continued still in France, as does his issue. Other three of the seven returned from abroad, and quietly took up their residence in Stirlingshire, where the eldest of the three purchased a piece of land, which he called Chalmerston. The second purchased the lands called Ashentrees, in the said shire, which they possessed for a considerable time; and some of the issue of that family are there remaining at this time: and from the third brother had the Mill of Guidie.

From Chalmers of Ashentrees was descended James Chalmers, Advocate, who had three wives, and with each of them had issue; with the first, Margaret, a daughter of Mr Alexander Nicolson, an Advocate, he had a son, Thomas, who married Mrs Mary Cooper, daughter to Sir John Cooper of Gogar, who entailed his estate upon John, the eldest son of Mr Thomas, and his daughter; which John was ensign a considerable time in the regiment of the Scots Guards: he has two brothers in the service of the government; those carry the arms of Gaitgirth, above blazoned, with a suitable difference; crest, a hand holding up a pair of scales, with the motto, Virtute & labore, and, of late, Lanx mihi clausus."

"Chalmers of That Ilk" (from Vol I of Nisbet's "System of Heraldry")

Chalmers (Appendix) (from Appendix of Nisbet's "System of Heraldry")

See also the Chalmers Heraldry pages


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This page was updated 05-Nov-2000   � John Chalmers 2000.