Spellings of the Surname Chamberlain

Did you ever wonder how many ways there are to spell and say CHAMBERLAIN?

The surname Chamberlain originated as an occupational title for a chief steward, probably from the Norman French Chamberlenc. After the Norman conquest of England, King William had his Royal Chamberlain. But manors, religious establishments, and later civic institutions had Chamberlains.

Eventually the position was inherited and became an occupational surname. When it became a surname, it tended to be spelled however the scribe who wrote it heard it. Pronunciations and scribes varied, and it is not unusual to see the name spelled in different ways for the same person in the church records that began in the 1500s. Chamberlain seems to have been a good candidate for changing with slurred pronunciations that dropped or changed sounds, both in the final syllable with the ln varying greatly, and the middle syllable with the ber being dropped or retained as just the b sound.

After immigration to America, some generations were not literate, and spelling again varied. The spelling does not necessarily indicate a genealogical line. Some families alternated spellings, like Chamberlain and Chamberlin, over the generations, finally fixing on a constant spelling in the 1800s. But for other families, an early spelling froze and that line became, for example, the Shamblins or Chamblins forever more.

Here is a list of SPELLINGS compiled by the late WCGS member Jim Parker with the most common spellings shown in capital letters: Camberlain, Camberlan, Camberland, Camberlin, Camberley, Camberly, Camblayn, Camblen, CAMBLIN, Camerling, Cemberlain, Chaberlin, Chaimberlain, Chaimberlen, Chambalon, Chambeau, Chambedent, Chambelain, Chambelen, Chambelrain, Chamberlan, Chambellan, Chambelleau, Chambelleaux (variant of Chamberland in New Brunswick), Chamben, Chamberdent, Chamberin, CHAMBERLAIN, CHAMBERLAINE, Chamberlaiin, CHAMBERLAN, CHAMBERLAND, CHAMBERLANE, Chamberlang, Chamberlant, CHAMBERLAIN, CHAMBERLAYNE, Chamberlein, CHAMBELEN, Chamberlene, Chambeleigne, Chamberley, Chamberleyn, Chamberleyne, Chamberlian, CHAMBERLIN, CHAMBERLINE, Chamberling, Chamberlins, Chamberlon, Chamberlyn, Chamberlyne, Chambilen, Chamblain, Chamblaine, Chamblayn, Chamblen, CHAMBLIN, Chambling, Chamble, Chamblee, Chambley, Chambly, Chambely (possible variants of Chambliss, but more likely of Camberley/Camberly), Chamborlain, Chamborlin, Chambrelaine, Chambrelan, Chambrelayne, Chambrelem, Chambrelen, Chambrelin, Chambrlin, Chambulane, Chamelee, Chamlee, Chamlen, CHAMLIN, Chamlly, Champerlan, Chanverlange, Charmbelain, Chombelin, Chormbelin, Chombuland, CHEMBERLIN, SHAMBLEN, SHAMBLIN, Shambling, Shamlin, Shanblin

And then there is the tombstone where the carver just gave up on vowels and engraved "CHMBRLN".