CFA Chapter 13
by Carol May, Research Director, Chapter 13
Updated May 8, 2014
First, a note about Edmund Chandler and his family. The opinion of the great Mayflower researcher, George Ernest Bowman, was that there were many serious errors written about Edmund Chandler and his descendants. According to Eugene Aubrey Stratton, former Historian General of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Bowman was able to correct some of the mistakes. Unfortunately, there are many old books still around that, though sincere efforts by their authors, are riddled with errors that have been perpetuated on the Internet. See Myths, Mix-ups and Questions. We have tried to provide the most reliable information that we could find; however, if we made errors, let us know!
The origins of Edmund (also spelled Edmond) Chandler are still a mystery (see Where did Edmund Chandler Originate from?). We think that he was probably born in the 1580s or no later than 1592, as he had to have been an adult when he was admitted to citizenship of Leiden, Holland in 1613. Another clue to his age was the “Able to Bear Arms” list for Duxbury in 1643. All able-bodied males between 16 and 60 were required to be on the list and Edmund was not, which would probably indicate that he was aged 60 or older in 1643 or not able-bodied. There was also a “Nathanell Chaundor” on that “Able to Bear Arms” list, but nothing more is known of him. Was he a relative of Edmund? What happened to him? We don’t know, as that is the only mention of him in the records.
Documents still surface from time to time that may shed light on Edmund’s origins and life. We hope future DNA studies of his male direct line descendants may eventually lead to his origins in England. Chandler is an occupational name, so there is probably no one place or person from which all Chandlers originate. As Chandler is a common name in Wiltshire and Hampshire perhaps his origins will be found there. Other possibilities are Essex and Berkshire.
We do not know the names of Edmund’s wives. We know that he had at least two marriages. He did not marry Elizabeth Alden. His grandson married an Elizabeth Alden. See Myths, Mix-ups and Questions or go directly to Edmund Chandler and Elizabeth Alden.
It is believed that Edmund was probably related to Roger Chandler as they were together in Leiden. They were members of the Separatist congregation of Rev. John Robinson. Separatists believed in complete separation from the (Catholic) Church of England, unlike the Puritans who only wished to “purify” (i.e. radically simplify) it. Roger arrived in Plymouth after the 1627 cattle division in Plymouth as he was not on the list of residents that received cattle and goats. It is believed that all of the residents of the colony were on the 1627 list with the exception of transients. Roger also later moved to Duxbury as did Edmund. Duxbury was part of the Plymouth colony’s expansion. Edmund probably arrived in Plymouth Colony in 1629 or 1630 as that is when arrangements were made to bring the last of the Leiden congregation over. A few stragglers may have arrived later, but in any case he arrived before 1633 as he was on the list of Duxbury freemen for that year, the first mention of him in the Plymouth colony.
Only menial occupations were available to the Separatists in Holland. Edmund was a draper, say-weaver (a weaver of coarse blanket-like cloth) as was Roger, and a pipe- maker. When Edmund died a parcel of books was listed in an inventory of his estate. So he was almost certainly literate. Many people in those days were not, and not many people owned books. When Edmund came to Duxbury, he became active in the governing of the town. He became the Constable of Duxbury (the equivalent of Chief Executive Officer) and participated in other civic activities. Like many other colonists, he became active in acquiring real estate. He acquired land by both grants and purchase. The Plymouth colonists obtained land by purchase from the Native Americans. Stephen Hopkins, one of those who arrived on the Mayflower, was quoted as saying “The King doesn’t own the land, the Indians do.”
Plymouth expanded the colony, by establishing the towns of Duxbury, Scituate, Marshfield, Barnstable, Sandwich, Yarmouth, Taunton, Eastham, Rehoboth, Bridgewater, Dartmouth (Mass.) among others. Like many colonists he became a Proprietor, but not a resident, of what would become early towns like Bridgewater. The land that he didn’t sell or trade he left to his sons.
When he died he left “3500 weight of sugar” in the Barbados to his daughters. It is unknown if he meant pounds of sugar when he referred to “weight” in his Will. How he acquired the sugar is unknown, although sugar was used as money in that time. It would have been virtually impossible for Edmund to have owned a sugar plantation before he came to Duxbury as some old books say. (See The Edmund Chandler Sugar Plantation Myth in the Myths, Mix-ups and Questions section.)
The children named in Edmund’s Will were sons Samuel (believed to have been born to his first wife), Joseph and Benjamin and daughters Sarah, Anna, Mary and Ruth. It is believed that his second wife had died before him. His son, John, died about 10 years previously on the way to Barbados (See Myths, Mix-ups, and Questions for The Edmund Chandler Sugar Plantation Myth). His only male children that are believed to have had children were Joseph and Benjamin.
(source in brackets – listed below)
Edmund was most likely born sometime during this decade.
November 11, 1613
He was admitted to citizenship in Leiden, Holland under the guarantee of Roger Wilson and Henry Wood. (From Small)
April 27, 1615
He guaranteed Leiden citizenship for John Keble. (From Small)
March 26, 1619
He buried a child in St. Peter’s Church in Leiden. Edmund was living in Nieuwestadt, Holland. (From Small)
May 5, 1623
He guaranteed Leiden citizenship for Roger White. (From Small)
April 17, 1626
He guaranteed Leiden citizenship for Edward Coolidge. (From Small)
July 31, 1628
He was a witness for the Last Will and Testament of Catherine Edmonds, wife of William Cubitt in Leiden, Holland. (From the Dutch Archives Internet site, see Sources below). N.B. The English translation of this Will on the Dutch Archives site contains an error – the name of the testator is shown as Catherine Edmonds Chandler (introducing the possibility that she could be related to Edmund the witness). However, examination of the Dutch original makes it clear that the only person named Chandler in the document is Edmund.
NOTE: April 2020 – The original Dutch archive site has been taken down and the information in it has been moved to Dutch Genealogy. The new link is below with the correct translation.
1629 or 1630
Edmund most likely left Holland for Plymouth during this period. Isaac Allerton and Mr. Sherley facilitated the emigration of the remaining members of Rev. Robinson’s congregation, of which Edmund was a member, who wished to leave Holland. (From Plymouth Colony)
January 1, 1633
Edmund was listed as a freeman in Duxbury, Massachusetts. One had to be a member in good standing of the church in those days to be a freeman. He was also listed as a freeman in March 1637 and in 1658. (From Small)
October 20, 1634
He sold a lot to John Rogers adjoining Robert Hicks’ land on the Duxbury side. (From Small)
January 3, 1636/37
He was chosen Constable (the equivalent of Chief Executive Officer) of the town of Duxbury. He was sworn in on March 7, 1636/37. (From Small)
June 7, 1636
He was chosen to serve on a jury. (From Small)
January 29, 1638/9
He took an apprentice, John Edwards. (From Small)
April 2, 1638
“Threescore acres of land are granted to Edmund Chandler on…the Duxburrrow side by…Captain Standish and Mr. Alden.” This was his homestead later occupied by his sons. (From Small)
May 30, 1637
He gave bail for Samuel Chaundler, probably his son, regarding an indebtedness. (From Small and Plymouth Colony)
June 4, 1639
He and Jonathan Brewster were sent as the first Deputies from Duxbury to the Plymouth Colony General Court to look into uniting Duxbury and Plymouth. (From Small and Plymouth Colony)
July 19, 1639
He bought one acre of land from Thomas Besbeech (Bixby) of Duxbury to build a house. (From Small)
September 1, 1640
He served on a jury before the General Court. (From Small)
October 5, 1640
He served on a jury before the Court of Assistants. (From Small)
November 2, 1640
He received a 50 acre grant of land at North River by the General Court. (From Small)
June 8, 1650
He sold the one acre of land that he bought from Thomas Besbeech plus the house and improvements to John Browne of Duxbury.
June 7, 1651
He sold the 50 acres of North River land to Thomas Byrd of Scituate. (From Small)
May 4, 1653
He bought 2 acres of marsh meadow adjacent to his property from John Washburn, Jr. (From Small)
July 15, 1653
He exchanged his interest in his Bridgewater land (of which he was a proprietor) for interest in land in Dartmouth, Mass. He was one of 34 purchasers of the Dartmouth (Massachusetts) land and “places adjacent.” (From Small)
July 3, 1656
The General Court purchased land from the Native Americans – what is now Freetown, Dartmouth and Fall River Mills near Rhode Island – to be granted to freemen. (From Small)
April 2, 1659
The Dartmouth land and “places adjacent” as mentioned above was conveyed to Edmund Chandler among others. This share of land by the Taunton River was left by Will to his son Joseph. Edmund left his “whole share of land” in Dartmouth to his son, Samuel.
May 2, 1662
He wrote his Will leaving his estate to his sons and daughters. His wife most likely died previously. He owned land in Duxbury, Dartmouth and Taunton when he died.
May 2 to June 2, 1662
Edmund died between May 2nd and June 2nd when his estate was inventoried.
“Plymouth Colony, Its History and People 1620-1621” by Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Ancestry Publishing, 1986. Stratton was the former Historian General of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Original source material is listed in this book.
“The Genealogy of Edward Small of New England and the Allied Families with Tracings of English Ancestry” by Lora Altine Woodbury Underhill (Cambridge, Mass. 1910). This is considered the most complete, meticulously documented genealogy of the early Chandlers. Original sources are listed. Chapter 13, The Chandler Family, is 68 pages long and covers Edmund and several generations of his descendants. There have been discoveries since it was first written. John was found to be Edmund’s son and not his brother, as was Samuel. We still have not found more information about Nathaniel (Nathanell Chaundor).
UPDATE: April 2020 – Dutch Genealogy https://www.dutchgenealogy.nl/pilgrim-leiden-pilgrim-records/. This Dutch website saved the information that was in the original Dutch archive site which was taken down. It contains translations of Dutch records regarding the Pilgrims.