Earliest known ancestor of Group 21
John Chandler b Gloucestershire, England about 1753

Stephen Alan “Steve” Chandler of Oxford in England is the man whose Y chromosome revealed the 21st genetically distinct Chandler family to be discovered by the Chandler DNA Project. Commenting on Steve’s family tree, Dick Chandler, the conductor of the global Chandler One-Name Study, said “This must be the most cosmopolitan piece of paper I have ever seen. The story begins in Gloucestershire (pronounced Glostersher), England, but the life events of the people on this tree occur in sixteen different English counties, in Wales and Northern Ireland, and in seven other countries – the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, Cambodia and India”.

We are indebted to Fenella (Rook) Smith of Stouffville, Ontario, Canada, Steve’s cousin and a GGGG granddaughter of this John Chandler, for her research and documentation which has contributed a great deal of this story.

Gloucestershire is one of the two English counties most densely populated with Chandlers (Kent being the other one). Minchinhampton lies near the middle of Gloucestershire. The Universal British Directory of 1791 described it as “a small town of little trade, but in the parish the clothing manufactory is carried on to a very great extent”. The same directory mentions John Chandler, a hatter (i.e. a hat manufacturer), as a trader in Minchinhampton. This John and his wife Ann had eight children baptized at Minchinhampton between 1778 and 1798footnote 1:

  • Elizabeth Chandler was baptized on 18 January 1778.footnote 2 At the age of 16 she had a child named William baptized on 8 June 1794. It is not known what happened to this William. Elizabeth married John Stafford, a butcher, on 21 April 1796. They had Mary Ann and Jane, both baptized 15 December 1799; Sarah on 27 March 1803; John on 25 December 1804; Daniel on 1 November 1807; Hannah and Henry on 11 June 1815; and Joseph on 14 September 1817, all at Minchinhampton.
  • Thomas Chandler was baptized on 24 December 1780. He married Hannah Ralph (born 1783) on 10 November 1803. The Gell and Bradshaw Gloucestershire Directory for 1820 shows Thomas as a hat manufacturer in Market Street, Minchinhampton, and Pigot’s Directory for 1830 shows that he has moved to Tetbury Street in the same town. The children of Thomas and Hannah were George, born 1804, who farmed 47 acres at Rangeworthy, Gloucestershire; Thomas, born 1806, who entered the beer and wine trade; William, born 1809, who was a hatter in 1841 and a baker in 1851; Joseph, born 1813, who became a tailor; John, born 1815, who became a baker and grocer; and Richard Ralph, born 1820, who became a druggist.
  • John Chandler was baptized on 6 January 1784. It is this John who left Minchinhampton and established a remarkable pattern of mobility among his descendants. Click here to read the story of John and his descendants.
  • Daniel Chandler was baptized on 1 June 1788. He married Hannah Cosburn and had three children in Minchinhampton.
  • William Levy Chandler was baptized on 2 February 1791 and died in May of that year.
  • Anne Chandler was baptized on 7 April 1793.
  • Anna Maria Chandler was baptized on 17 January 1796.
  • Levi Chandler was baptized on 25 March 1798. He married Martha Millwaters and became a grocer and hatter, first in Nailsworth and later in Horsley, Gloucestershire.

So there you have the eight children of John and Ann Chandler, born towards the end of the 18th Century in rural England. What was the spark in son John that took him to the other side of the country, and his descendants to all quarters of the world? The link above will tell you more of the story of John and his descendants.

It is noteworthy that the manufacture of hats caused some involved to suffer from a form of mercury poisoning because of contact with the chemicals used to shape the hatters’ felt material. This complaint featured in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, when Alice was the most normal guest at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.


1Records extracted from the Minchinhampton Parish Register under the controlled extraction process conducted by the LDS Church and recording within the database at FamilySearch.com

2Recorded as Eliz. Chanler, daughter of John and Ann Chanler.