It's nice to hear from Ashley again, who is sincerely interested in learning more about the history of this Chamberlain (or Chamberlin) surname. For the benefit of all readers, I'll repeat here what has previously been published on the Internet and elsewhere (often to refute errors) - what is generally known by us Chamberlain genealogists, to facilitate your searching, and to preclude any misunderstanding, most hopefully. You can rely on the accuracy of the following comments!
1) BEWARE of Chamberlain (or Tankerville) information posted on the INTERNET - much of it is just plain wrong!!!
2) Many specific and accurate answers to Ashley's questions can be found in earlier postings online (since about 1996) in the Chamberlain, Chamberlin and Chamberland message boards or sites in Ancestry.com and in GenForum. I urge everyone to view them. I've answered thousands of queries on these sites through the years, often in an attempt to correct of clear up errors and misconceptions. These errors are like wildfire - they spread around and it is almost impossible to stampt them out, but I try!
3) Refer to the homepage for the website of the World Chamberlain Genealogical Society. I was one of the co-founders of this society in 1996, together with several other gentlemen here in Michigan. This site provides authoritative information about the origins of the Chamberlain surname and its best known lines, including, for instance, actual formal lineages (Family Group Records which can be downloaded by the public) for the descendants of Henry the Blacksmith. Also, back issues of the society's 4X/year newsletter, The Chamberlain Key, are posted on this website for members' use. Articles published in this newsletter, through the years, have also addressed these matters in considerable detail - reading them is the very best way to learn more about this surname, but one must be a member of the society to access the back issues of the "Key."
4) As a very active amateur genealogist during my retirement years, I maintain here at my home in Michigan what is by far the largest Chamberlain files (actual lineages or partial lineages) available anywhere - readers are urged to continue to contact me, James B. Parker, with their queries at: firstname.lastname@example.org
. Much more can be learned, of course, through networking with other WCGS members.
5) Henry "The Blacksmith" appeared in New England in about 1638, as Ashley said, but his origins (presumably in England) are completely unknown, despite very intensive research in parish and other records in various places in England where he most likely came from. One of the reasons for this failure might be that his age (born about 1592) precedes the available records in many parishes. Because he was a blacksmith - a tradesman - he was almost certainly of humble origin and unrelated (by blood) to the Tankervilles or other noble Chamberlain families. That's for sure.
6) Henry "The Shoemaker" (oft confused with "The Blacksmith") who returned to England with his family, had known children, but their descendants have never been traced (back in England). We simply don't know his ancestry. Perhaps one day we will run cross some living descendants.
7) The illustrious Tankerville family (their first known ancestor was called Tancred - a Viking lord in Normandy born about 800), over several generations, served the Dukes of Normandy, before and after the Conquest in 1066, and they did indeed come to England with William the Conqueror, with branches of this "Chamberlain" family later spreading throughout the British Isles (but very difficult to trace). A book has been published by the late Welton Chamberlain on this subject. So, I maintain a somewhat speculative lineage for them and their known descendants (from about 800 on down to the present day) here, and we are continuing to refine and expand this lineage as time goes by. Just a handful of living descendants are known, but we have yet to obtain DNA samples from any of the men who carry the Chamberlain or Tankerville surname, alas! So, we don't yet know the DNA "fingerprint" for the Tankerville line. Little or nothing has been done, as yet, to trace Tankervilles in France or elsewhere in Europe (e.g. in Sicily). Likewise, other "Chamberlain" lines who originate elsewhere in Europe - families who used this title as their surname - have received little attention to date, though we hope to learn more about them as time goes by.
8) DNA testing (of about 100 living Chamberlain male descendants so far - mostly in the States), absolutely PROVES that there are more than a dozen Chamberlain ancestral lines in the States and elsewhere who are completely and totally unrelated to one another. Only one of them, if any, could be a Tankerville line. The biggest, most prolific of these lines is that of Henry(1) the Blacksmith of Hingham & Hull, Massachusetts, one of the five original immigrant ancestors in early New England - the others being Richard(1) of Braintree who is completely unrelated to Henry(1) - the others being the brothers Edmund(1), Thomas(1) and William(1), who are completely unrelated to the other two. I'm descended from both Henry(1) and Richard(1), by the way, but I maintain lineages for the descendants of all five, of course. It has been said that about 85% of all Chamberlains (all spellings -- there are about 100 variant spellings of this name) in America (all of North and South America) descend from just these five. There is another big French Canadian line of the surname "Chamberland" which came directly from France centuries ago that we trace, and numerous smaller lines elsewhere in America (e.g. in Southern States), one or two of which are believed to be descended from the Tankervilles but this remains unproven. I attempt to trace ALL Ch'n's (all spellings) in America, using all available records and sources, such as LDS IGI data and census records. Another WCGS founder and expert researcher, Philip J. Chamberlain, attempts to trace all of the ancient "English Ancestries" for this surname in the U. K. - a formidable task, and I work on several of these English lines myself from time to time - such as that of Neville Chamberlain, and, of course, the Tankerville line. Philip also heads up the DNA project for the society and publishes charts listing all results to date, organized by family groups.
9) The Tankerville lineage does indeed contain other surnames, as you have noted, such as Earle, which we are investigating. Earle would be a case where a title became a surname in later generations. DNA has been made available for some of these surnames, which are believed to be of Tankerville descent.
10) Chamberlain is indeed a title - originally, evidently, the "Keeper of the Chamber" for a royal family. They kept royal records, served as tutors for the children and, in some cases, protected the royal treasure kept in the King's bedchamber! This title is still in use, I see, in Europe and elsewhere, for various purposes. So, we know that there were quite a number of "Chamberlains" in the early history of England and elsewhere in Europe - families who would have been distinguished or powerful in their own right, but most likely unrelated by blood to the royal or noble families they served and on whose estates they sometimes resided, but they had their own estates in most cases. More humble persons - servants, fiefs, yoeman, tradesmen, etc. - who served the "Lord of the Manor" on any given Chamberlain estate were most likely to adopt this surname for their own family, or a surname which denoted their trade or occupation. Prior to about 1500, such persons used only a given name such as "George" or "Peter" with a last name, if at all, which denoted their occupation - such as Charles Smith, or John Schoolmaster or Richard Tyler, or their place of residence. Royal and noble families (for whom records were usually kept) did usually have, in addition to a given name, also sometimes a separate surname - a title or surname which denoted their origins or place of residence or occupation. A name might be, for instance, Thomas Daniels de Anyers - a name drawn at random from my Parker genealogy. Thomas was the son of Piers (Peter) Daniels and Julia Newton, and was born in that unforgettable year of 1492, in Tabley, Cheshire, England. I haven't checked to see what "Anyers" denotes, but most like it is a place name. To summarize, most (almost all) of us Chamberlains (all variant spellings) descend from families of humble origins, for sure, and we are a motley collection of much more than a dozen ancient ancestral lines or families which are completely unrelated to one another. In most cases, it would be impossible to trace the ancestry before about 1500 or so.
11) Since Henry "The Blacksmith" was almost certainly of humble origins because of his trade, he would not have had a family crest, though his unknown ancesters almost certainly served a noble family of Chamberlains who did indeed have a crest. The Tankerville crest can be viewed in the WCGS website and copies of it can be obtained through various members of the society and elsewhere. I've seen it online from time to time.
12) The WCGS is the third large Chamberlain surname-based society of significance. The first was the Chamberlain Association of America (1898 - circa 1940), whose first President was the famous General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of Civil War fame, and the second society had the same name (circa 1979 - circa 1993). We formed the WCGS after this second group (to which I belonged) became defunct. Many records and publications from these earlier organizations are known to exist (not all yet available to us) and are important and familiar "grist" for the lineages we create and maintain today. Surname-based genealogical societies don't generally exist in England, by the way, which hinders our research.
There - that is quite enough to answer, as briefly as I can, these frequently posed questions and some misunderstandings. I do hope this has been helpful!
Sincerely, James Baldwin Parker, Whitmore Lake, Michigan