The largest group in the Chandler DNA Project has been designated Genetic Family Group 7. DNA test results place almost 100 participants in this group, the seventh genetic family to be discovered by the project. It is believed the progenitor of all these participants lived in England; however, that common ancestor has not yet been identified. Consequently, based upon documented lineages from the year 1600 onwards, Genetic Family Group 7 has been divided into three subgroups: 7A, 7B and 7C.
The common ancestor of subgroup 7B, which has nine DNA Project participants – one English, the rest American – is Thomas, son of Nicholas Chandler and Edyth formerly Spratt, born in Wiltshire, England in 1570 and died in 1629. The English participant descends from Nicholas > Thomas > Gabriel > Thomas > Solomon > Thomas > Edmund > Simon > Simon > William > Job > Tom > William. The American line of descent is Nicholas > Thomas > John > George born 1633 in Wiltshire who married Jane, had eight children, and died at sea while emigrating to America. Click here to read the story of the George and Jane line.
Somewhere in England, probably in the 16th Century, lived the common ancestor of the entire Group 7 genetic family – groups 7A, 7B and 7C. The known origins of 7B ancestors in Wiltshire, and 7C ancestors 30 miles south in Hampshire, suggest quite strongly that the common ancestor will be found somewhere in this area. However, members of this family believe that their ancestry can be traced far, far earlier than the 16th Century in England – 12 generations before this Thomas, son of Nicholas.
First, though, let us consider the land in which these people lived for hundreds of years – the county of Wiltshire, part of Wessex, the ancient kingdom of the West Saxons. Today, Wessex exists only as a county of the mind, of literature and history. However, in the latter part of the first millennium, before the unification of England into a single state, it was a powerful and expanding kingdom, controlling a substantial portion of southern England.
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Wessex was founded early in the sixth century by Germanic chieftains Cerdic and Cynric, who defeated the Britons in a battle at Cerdicesford. Historians have placed the location of Cerdicesford at various locations in southern Hampshire, including the place known today as Chandler’s Ford.
It was not a primitive country that was conquered. The megaliths of Stonehenge had already stood in mystic isolation on Salisbury Plain for at least two thousand years. From Hampshire, the kingdom of Wessex gradually expanded to include Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset.
At left, a photograph of Stonehenge
After the Norman Conquest, Wessex was split among the followers of William the Conqueror and their descendants. One such was Nicholas le Chaundeler, a King’s Serjeant to Henry . At some time before 1252, Nicholas held the land of Tryenestone (Trehanston, in Romney Marsh, in the county of Kent) “of the gift of our lord the King, during [his] pleasure.” This land in Kent was subsequently conferred to another, and the King may have rewarded Nicholas with other lands on the borders of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, because he is later found in this neighborhood.
In 1262, William le Chaundeler, also a serjeant of King Henry , was awarded the rent from some 240 acres of land in Leicestershire by King Henry for long service, to be held by William and his heirs and assigns.
Widespread famine, royal demands for extra finances, and general dissatisfaction with Henry’s methods of government led to a civil war. The forces of a number of barons were led by Simon de Montfort, who had already alienated Henry by marrying his sister Eleanor without consultation. King Henry and his son Prince Edward were placed under house arrest after losing the Battle of Lewes in 1264. During this period of house arrest, when de Montfort became de facto ruler, William le Chaundeler was reimbursed for a substantial quantity of wax he had bought for the King, as well as some gold coins.
Prince Edward escaped house arrest and rallied royalist support, savagely defeating the rebels at the Battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265. It is believed that le Chaundelers fought with Prince Edward at Evesham.
Eighteen days later, at nearby Gloucester, Jordan le Chaundeler, serjeant to Prince Edward, was granted “the houses late of John Maunsell upon Walebroc [Wallbrook] in the city of London, which are said to be the king’s escheats [property reverting to grantor in absence of legal heir] by the death of the said John.”
Two months later, at Westminster, Nicholas le Chaundeler, king’s serjeant, and his heirs, were granted “the houses in Milkstrete [Milk Street] within the city of London late of Richard de Coudres, sometime citizen of London, the king’s enemy, with the rents and all things belonging to him in the said city and suburb and in the county of Middlesex.”
King Henry died in 1272 and was succeeded by his son, Edward , who, in the first year of his reign, ordered the Treasurer of the Exchequer to pay Nicholas le Chaundeler, for faithful services, an annuity for life by the hands of the Sheriff of Gloucester.
Men with the surname le Chaundeler continued to serve the medieval monarchs of England. For example, in 1320 Master Adam le Chaundeler, serjeant, was given responsibility to prepare the chandlery “for the king’s use in parts beyond the seas, where the king is about to go on important business.” (This probably consisted of procuring supplies of wax and candle wicks and packing melting pans and moulds.) Thomas le Chaundeler appears in the list of people accompanying King Edward II “beyond the seas”, and William le Chaundeler accompanied Queen Isabella, “the She-wolf of France”, on the same journey.
In 1368 a William Chaundeler and two others were commissioned to control the finances for King Edward III’s extension of Queenborough Castle, an important defence in the Hundred Years’ War with France. This work earned him a life pension.
It needs to be understood that, until the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547), the Church in England, controlled from Rome, was at least as powerful as the King, who only ruled with the support of the Church. A shrewd family would therefore ensure that its members held prominent positions in both power bases, as well as in agriculture and commerce.
In 1326 John, son of Adam le Chaundeler, was Bishop of Salisbury, one of the most powerful bishoprics in the country. In 1391 another John Chaundeler was a Canon of Salisbury. By 1399 he was treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral and prebendary of the church at Calne, two in Winchester and one in Wales, i.e. receiving a share of the revenues of those churches. Described by Rutherford as “great men like Chandler”, he became Bishop of Salisbury from 1417 to 1426. John may have been a kinsman of Thomas Chaundler, Chancellor of Oxford University in 1445. Another Thomas Chaundler was Chancellor of Wells Cathedral in Somerset in 1452. In 1466 yet another Thomas Chaundler, a parson of Meonstoke, was given a canonry in the King’s chapel of St Stephen in the palace of Westminster.
It is possible that these people were related to the Chaundler family settled at Hyde Barton, Winchester since at least the 1400s. The College of Arms (the authority governing grants of Arms in England) has records of Heralds’ Visitations of Hampshire in 1622 and 1634, at which Arms granted to William Chaundelor of Hyde Barton juxta Winton on 10 September 1565 are mentioned. The pedigree of six generations produced at that time includes people who were prominent in society, in the Church, and in commerce (probably including a London Goldsmith, several members of the Drapers’ Company, and a Merchant Venturer.)
In his 1913 report on research of the Wiltshire Chandler family – Chandler of Oare – Thomas Allen Glenn, a member of the Historical and Genealogical Societies of Pennsylvania, makes the unqualified statement that the family of Hyde Barton in Hampshire was “a branch of the Wiltshire family”, and that their Arms were almost identical. (The College of Arms typically introduced a small variance to differentiate the Arms of two branches of the same family.) If true, those six words “a branch of the Wiltshire family” would instantly resolve the long outstanding question of the origins of 1610 immigrant John Chandler and define the hunting ground for the common ancestor of the entire DNA Group 7. However, a College of Arms investigation report dated 23 June 1997 described the Hampshire family Arms differently to Glenn, thereby calling his “almost identical” statement into question. Further, the report, by Portcullis Pursuivant of Arms, made no reference to a Grant of Arms to the Wiltshire Chandlers, though a pedigree of ten of their generations was recorded. This pedigree descended to the children of Percy Milton Chandler who was born in Philadelphia in 1873 – the man who had commissioned Glenn’s 1913 report: the College made a Grant of Honorary Arms to Percy Chandler in 1937. It is not known how much this cost, but it would have been expensive. The cause of reliable family history is seriously hampered by such events.
It is not known exactly when the le Chaundeler family became resident in the area of Oare, near the edge of Wiltshire’s ancient Savernake Forest (see Google Earth picture above). Richard le Chaundeler, believed to be a son of Nicholas the King’s serjeant, was resident nearby in Studfold Hundred before 1280. [A “Hundred” was a subdivision of a shire or county]. His son Richard, mentioned in an enquiry in 1280, was a tenant by military service of land in Studfold, and this may have included Oare. Shortly afterwards, this branch of the family acquired property in Etchilhampton, about three miles from Oare; in Devizes, about five miles distant; and in the Hundred of Heytesbury, about 15 miles from Oare. Their regular attendance as jurors at inquisitions held in the area during the next century indicates that they were property owners. They appear in various Lay Subsidy and other Rolls into the 1400s. And from 1571 onwards their life events were recorded in the registers of nearby Church, Wilcot. Follow this link to see a photo and history of Holy Cross Church.
The golden missing link in this chain of information is the DNA test result of a living male Englishman showing a kinship link to Group 7A. When such a man is tested and his ancestral origins are established (which could well prove to be in Winchester, Hampshire), the place to search for the common ancestor of the entire Group 7 will be known.
Finally, it should be mentioned that, in order to test their claimed Norman heritage, an attempt has been made to match the DNA of descendants of the Chandlers of Oare with a living Frenchman surnamed Chandeleur from the approximate area of northern France from which Duke William’s followers would have come. The samples did not show a kinship match. This does not disprove the Norman origin, it simply doesn’t support it. Other attempts will be made as opportunities permit.
1 Wessex. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wessex, last checked March 2, 2010.
13 Church, C.M., Wells Cathedral (London: Isbister & Co Ltd, 1897), p. 59, found online at openlibrary.org.
17 Etchelhampton no. 196/79 1 Edward III (1327) Public Record Office:Warminster 196/8 7 Edward III (1334): Etchelhampton 196/42A 2 Richard II (1378) Public Record Office: Devizes and Oare Fine Roll 8 Henry VI (1429).