The Chamier family
Important members of the British-Indian establishment in the Madras Presidency



1st generation

2nd generation

3rd generation

Children of Henry and Anne A.E. Chamier

Children of Henry and Mary E. Chamier

Children of Stephen and Dora Chamier


Other sources

  1. The genealogies of the Chamiers, compiled by Anthony Edward Deschamps Chamier, 2005 (privately printed)

Family trees

Chamier Tyrrell FT
Family trees of the Chamier and Tyrrell families


Other information

Brooke House Camberley


Brooke House, Camberley, in 2018

The house, on Middleton Road, is probably as it was in Stephen Chamier's day, but the plot has been divided into three. It is a short distance from 'Silourie', where his daughter Grace and son-in-law Col. John Pennycuick lived.

Tyrella House Banbridge
Tyrella House, 5 Church Street, Banbridge

Home of the family of Dr. George Tyrrell. Now the offices of a firm of solicitors

Grace Pennycuick
Grace Pennycuick, née Chamier, in Madras

Photo in possession of our family

The family into which Col. John Pennycuick married were a long-established dynasty of Huguenots originating in France. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 made it almost impossible for Protestants, including Huguenots, to practice their religion, and many emigrated to England. A certain Daniel Chamier (1661-1698) came to London in the late 17th century as part of this exodus.1 (His great-grandfather Daniel Chamier (1565-1621) had helped to draft the original Edict.2) The descendants of Daniel Chamier (jnr.) established themselves in many areas of public life, such as politics, the law, the armed forces, and the colonial civil service, particularly in India.

Although the Chamiers and the Pennycuicks weren't linked by marriage until 1879 (the '5th generation'), the two families had moved in adjacent orbits before that, but, as it were, shifted by a generation: Col. John Pennycuick was the second-youngest child of his large family, his bride Grace was the eldest of hers, so John's father Brig. John Pennycuick was ten years older than Grace's grandfather Henry; Col. John's siblings were contemporaries of his father-in-law. Examples of these adjacent orbits include:

Researching the Chamier family is made easier by an extensive online family tree compiled by a French descendant of the family ('Madile'),3 and by a superb printed set of family trees (in the possession of Stuart Sampson) compiled by Anthony Edward Deschamps Chamier, born in 1935, the great-grandson of Frederick E. Archibald Chamier. The excellent family history website ( is now sadly no more - only the first page of it has been archived.4

Anthony Chamier


Anthony Chamier

Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1767 (PD)

Anthony Chamier

Our story starts with Anthony Chamier, a grandson of the younger Daniel Chamier mentioned above, and a prominent figure in the fields of politics, finance and culture in 18th-century London.5,6 He was married but childless, so in order to continue the Chamier line, he bequeathed his estate to his nephew Jean Ezechiel Deschamps, son of his sister Judith, on the condition that Jean changed his name to Chamier.2,5 Judith's husband was Jean Deschamps (1707-1767), a Prussian-born philosopher and theologian, also from a Huguenot family, who had tutored the brothers of Friedrich II of Prussia, and had known Voltaire.7

Jean Ezechiel Deschamps Chamier


Jean Ezechiel Chamier, né Deschamps

Jean Ezechiel Chamier

Jean (also written John) Ezechiel Chamier was born in London in 1754, and joined the East India Company (effectively the civil service of British India) in 1772, eventually becoming a member of the Council of the Madras Presidency. He married Georgiana Grace Burnaby, daughter of Vice-Admiral Sir William Burnaby, in 1785 in Madras. They had 11 children, including Frederick, a naval captain and writer, and Henry, a senior civil servant in India (see below). Jean Ezechiel died in Park Crescent, London in 1831 and is buried at St George's Hanover Square.3

Frederick Chamier


Frederick Chamier

Frederick Chamier

Born in Southampton in 1796, this colourful figure joined the Royal Navy at the age of 12 as a midshipman on the Salsette, a three-mast sailing frigate.8,9 On this ship a year later he met Lord Byron, who had hitched a lift to Constantinople, and the two became lifelong acquaintances. Chamier went on to serve on various vessels, retiring at age 30 as a lieutenant (later promoted to captain), and becoming a country squire, writing his autobiography and other books on life at sea.10 He married Bessie Soane, rather against the wishes of her grandfather Sir John Soane, and they had a daughter Eliza Maria, born in Paris where the parents had gone while waiting for Sir John's temper to cool. Frederick died in 1870.11

Henry Chamier

Henry Chamier was the third son of Jean Ezechiel Chamier, born in Madras. Like his father and three of his brothers he joined the Indian civil service, first as Chief Secretary to the Madras government, later becoming a member of the Council from 1843 to 1848. He married Anne Thursby (daughter of John W. Thursby, a civil servant in Madura - see below) in 1816 in Madras, and following her death in 1837, Mary Nicolls (daughter of Lieut.-Gen. Sir Jasper Nicolls). Henry had seven children born in India, and three more after he returned to England in 1848. Almost all went into (or married into) public service: 2 civil servants, 3 lawyers, 2 doctors and 2 army generals. As was typical at the time, most of them 'returned' to England after their time in India.

The Thursby family

Henry Chamier's first wife Anne Antoinette Evelina Thursby was the eldest daughter of John William and Anne Thursby (also spelt Thuresby).12 This family, like the Chamiers, were rooted in the ruling classes of British India. John William was born in Shropshire in 1768, son of Walter Harvey Thursby, a descendant of the Thursby family of Abington, Northants.13 He became a 'writer' in the Madras Presidency at age 21, then Paymaster in Madura, where he died in 1802. (He is buried in the town cemetery, and a useful book15 gives details of his connections with the district.) Their daughter Anne (often referred to in records as Evelina), died in Madras in 1837 aged 39, obviously a much-loved figure: a tablet to her memory in St George's Cathedral reads:14

Sacred to the memory of Anne Antoinette Evelina, beloved wife of Henry Chamier Esq., Chief Secretary to the Government of Fort St. George. Her conduct, her kindness, her benevolence, received their due acknowledgement from mourners, the most sincere and numerous, European and native, that ever attended to honour female virtue at the grave. Born October 12th 1798, departed this life at Madras, November 18th 1837.

Stephen H E Chamier
Stephen H.E. Chamier

Photo courtesy of Stuart Sampson

Gen. Stephen Henry Edward Chamier

The seventh child of Henry Chamier and Anne Thursby, Stephen was born in Madras. Two online biographies give a wealth of detail about his life:16,17 below is the short version. He was educated at Cheltenham College (1849-50) (as were his brother Francis and sons George D. and Arthur T., as well as three nephews and his future son-in-law)18 and Addiscombe Military Academy, and in 1853 joined the Madras artillery, which later became part of the Royal Artillery.

He saw significant action in the Indian Mutiny in 1857, and at the siege and capture of Lucknow in 1858 under General Colin Campbell (of Chillianwala fame). (While in Lucknow it is possible that he met James Farrell Pennycuick, five years his senior, then a major in the Artillery.) In September of that year he married Dora Louisa Tyrrell (see below) in Dinapore. He commanded artillery batteries in Hyderabad and Barrackpur, and from 1877 to 1886 was Deputy Inspector General and then Inspector General of Ordnance in Madras.

Stephen was awarded the CB on his retirement in 1886, and returned that year to England, where he lived in Brooke House in Camberley until his death in 1910 (see left). All his children, four of whom sadly died young, were born in India. His two sons joined the army (George Daniel Chamier to the artillery, Arthur Tyrrell Chamier to the Royal Engineers), and the daughters who reached adulthood married military men. Stephen was also a cellist, obtaining a Mus.Bac. from Trinity College Dublin in 1874. He is buried in the cemetery of St Peter's church, Frimley.

Grace Chamier in 1879
Grace Chamier in 1879

Photo courtesy of Stuart Sampson

Georgiana Grace Chamier

The first child of Stephen Chamier, Grace (as she was called) (not to be confused with Henry Chamier's eldest daughter, also Georgiana Grace), was born in Hingole in the Madras Presidency in 1859 and married Col. John Pennycuick in Madras in 1879. They had five daughters, born while the family lived in India, and a son, John, born in Surrey after their return to England (see page on Sir John Pennycuick). They lived at 'Silourie' in Camberley, a short distance from Grace's father Stephen. After her husband's death in 1911, Grace lived in another house called 'Silourie', in Sandgate, with her daughters Dora and Lucy until her death in 1947. For more details and photos see the pages on Col. John Pennycuick and the Mullaperiyar Dam.

Dorcas Louisa Tyrrell
Dorcas Louisa Tyrrell

Photo courtesy of Stuart Sampson

The Tyrrell family

Both of my great-great-grandmothers on the Pennycuick side are of Irish heritage: Sarah Pennycuick née Farrell and Dora (Dorcas Louisa) Chamier née Tyrrell. Dora was the daughter of Dr. George Tyrrell, a physician and coroner in Banbridge, Co. Down,19 in what is now Northern Ireland. (See map of Ireland - north for locations.) The doctor and his wife Eliza Steele had five daughters and a son, and lived in Tyrella House on Church Street in Banbridge (see left). Tyrella is also the name of a village on the coast some 20 miles east of Banbridge - the connection between the house, the place and the family still needs to be established. Of the other children of Dr. Tyrrell, one daughter (Adelaide) married a farmer and moved to England, and the other three (Maria, Jane and Anna) lived in Tyrella House well into their eighties. The doctor's son George Gerald became a solicitor in Dublin.

Dora Tyrrell and Stephen Chamier were married in Dinapore in the Bengal Presidency soon after the end of the Indian Mutiny, and their children were born in various places in India. Dora returned to England with her husband on his retirement, and lived on in Brooke House after his death, joined by her son George Daniel and granddaughter Lucy M. Pennycuick ('Doddy'). Dora and George Daniel are buried in Frimley churchyard.20,21

Dora's marriage to Stephen Chamier in 1858 was the first of three such linkages between these families, shown on the Chamier/Tyrrell family tree (left). The others were:

All of Dora's children went into (or married into) the armed services. The same goes for the family of Dora's brother George Gerald: the four daughters married army officers, and the son George G. Montague Tyrrell, FRGS, was a lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Irish Lancers.