The CFA has known of genetic Chandler family #27 since 2007. Five men have tested into this family. One was born in New Zealand and now lives in the US, one was born in the US, another was born in Canada. In the UK, one participant lives in England, the other in Wales. The ancestral origins of three of the testees point to the area round Swindon in NW Wiltshire and two point to Groombridge and Rochester, both in Kent, where one was surnamed Chandler and the other Chantler. We suspect that the common ancestor of all five came from Wiltshire. CFA members will be aware that the ancestral origins of genetic Chandler family 7B also lie in Wiltshire. Analysis of 14th century English Poll Tax records has identified several taxpayers around the year 1380 (a few generations after hereditary surnames became commonplace among the ordinary English population) bearing the surname Chaundler or similar in the county of Wiltshire, one of them still working as a candle-maker. This makes it plausible that there would be at least two genetically distinct Chandler families with Wiltshire origins. From the 1379 tax return, two families have been identified as being from the northern part of Wiltshire and may represent the two separate branches mentioned. They are:
- In the Calne area – Richardo, Petro, Nicholas and Willelmo CHAUNDELER
- In Cricklade – Johanne CHAUNDELER
In November 2016 the CFA Executive Committee approved the formation of Chapter 27 to promote further research on this genetic family. Chapter Research Director Graham Sheppard, a Chandler descendant via the female line, has already been able to extend the ancestry of each of the known Wiltshire and Kent families lines this year, and these developments are reflected in the table of Earliest Known Ancestors above.
The first occurrences of Thomas (born about 1623) found so far are of him being the father of six children who were baptised in Christ Church, Swindon, Wiltshire, England between 1644 and 1656. Thomas is thought to have died before the birth of the sixth child. Of the six children there was one boy, also named Thomas born in 1650. In those days Swindon was just a small rural town with a population of less than a thousand people, as the Great Western Railway (on which the ‘new’ town of Swindon was built) was over 200 years away! In the Tax Census of 1697 there were 270 families listed, which included the occupations of the head of household. Thomas born 1650 is listed as being a mason, as was his son Thomas (born 1678) in the Tax Census of 1701. In 1697 masons counted for about 5% of the families listed, among other occupations such as “slater, tayler, combemaker, inholder, sadler, carpenter, shoemaker, barber, currier, clerk, glasier”. There was even someone occupied as a chandler, whose surname was Herring! The occupation of mason was probably very arduous, extracting the stone from the quarries using hand tools, as mechanisation was yet to arrive. By 1801 the population of Swindon was still less than 1,200 people.
From the mid-17th century until the end of the 18th century, Swindon's economy began to increase with the exploitation of the Purbeck Stone (a type of limestone) quarries. The quarries declined during the period 1775–1800, but rebounded during the building of the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal. Stone was used in building the canal walls and buildings, and was also exported using the canal. In 1820, 101 tons of Swindon stone was transported along the canal. This fell to 44 tons in 1845 with the introduction of the railway; however, the Great Western Railway buildings and the creation of Swindon ‘new town’ saw a resurgence in stone extraction. Quarrying activity ceased altogether in the late 1950s.
By the mid-1700s several of the descendants of the Thomas Chandlers were moving out of Swindon to find work, due to the beginning of the decline of the quarries, and several families settled in Chiseldon, about 5 miles away. In the census of 1787 there are three Chandler families living in Chiseldon, all in Family #27. Occurrences in parish registers have also been found in other surrounding villages, but to a lesser extent.
At the time of the 1851 census there were over 400 Chandlers in Wiltshire, comprising over 75 families, a proportion of whom will be Family #27, some others will be family #7B, plus probably others yet to be classified. Research is ongoing.
Those interested in helping others with their research of this genetic family, as well as those in need of help, should contact Graham directly at .