"Windows Into Our Past A Genealogy of the Chapman, Patnaude & Associated Families, Volume 4", compiled by Judy Parsons Smith 2000

The Saxon word, Chapman, means a chapman, marketman, trader, monger or merchant. In Germany the name is Kaufman.

An Act of Edward VI  speaks of "person or persons commonly called peddler, tynker or pety chapman." In old reference is found. Chapman: Occupation "the chapman." The earliest chapman was stationary with high consideration, the traveling chapman was of a lower grade. A variety of Chappman and Cheppman. These were written as pronounced and it was not unusual, in ones lifetime, to have the name spelled in a number of ways. It is interesting to note also that the most common name given to Chapmans during their centuries in England were John and William.

The Chapman Motto:  

Virtue thrives beneath oppression

The first record of the name Chapman appears in Cambridgeshire , England , in the 12th century where they lived well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in the year 1066AD.

The Chapman name is descended originally from the ancient Anglo Saxon race that arrived in England from Northern Germany and the Rhine Valley about the year 400 AD.

In 1606 England , under King Harold , was enjoying relative peace and prosperity. However, the Norman invasion and their victory at the Battle of Hastings, caused many of the vanquished Saxon landowners to forfeit their holdings to Duke William and his invading noble. The Saxons were ill at ease under Norman rule and, over the next four centuries, many moved north into Lancashire and Yorkshire where Norman influence was less prevalent. It is here we find the roots of most of the current Chapmans.

As previously mentioned, Chapman emerged as a notable English family name during the 11th century in the County of Cambridgeshire , where they are recorded as holding land and serving their community. 

By the 13th and 14th centuries the name Chapman had branched to Rainthrope Hall in Norfolk , Thringston, Highbury Park in Middlesex, Yorkshire, Worcestershire and Essex . The Chapman family was granted patents of nobility at an early date in England , Ireland and Scotland , and became distinguished in civil and military life, as well as in the realm of letters.

Religious conflict plagued England after 1500 as Puritanism under Oliver Cromwell  took a foothold against the powerful Roman Church. Followers of Protestantism, among them the name Chapman, were oppressed over the three centuries and many families either renounced their faith or were banished. This, combined with the great financial strife of the day, encouraged many to leave their homeland.

A book called "THE CHAPBOOK", obviously edited by some member of the Chapman family, was very popular in the mid 17th century and was peddled from door to door throughout England . "THE CHAPBOOK" was an unstitched pamphlet, usually consisting of about 70 folded pages, and contained versions of popular literature ranging from nursery rhymes to medieval romances.

By the early 1600s the New World was beckoning the adventurous. Many ill-equipped, undermanned and overloaded ships sailed from England . This armada became known as the "white sails" or "coffin ships". The over crowded vessels were plagued with cholera, small pox, typhoid and the stormy North Atlantic, and quite often 30-40% of those on board never reached their dream. Quite often on these ships rosters can be found the name Chapman.

Among the first settlers who landed.


Location arrival/settlement


Francis Chapman

landed - Virginia


George Chapman

settled - Barbados


Benjamin Chapman

arrived - the colonies


Henry Chapman

settled - Jamaica


James Chapman

arrived - Maryland


William Chapman

arrived - Fort Cumberland , Nova Scotia


[Battle Hymn of the Chapmans] [US Chapman] [Robert Chapman] [Robert Chapman 1530]