This surname is variously spelled in the early records of England and America, Chapin, Chapun, Chapinne, Chalpin, and several explanations of the name have been given. Rev. R. D. Chapin of Allegan, Michigan, reports an interview with a well-educated Swiss physician who said he formerly lived in France and was at one time much interested in philological studies, "especially the history of names." He said that the name Chapin was one of the oldest and best names in France, dating from the Carlovingian era, going back at least to the tenth century, perhaps earlier. He gives this story as to its probably origin. In some feudal scrimmage of the middle ages, one who had distinguished himself got a sword-cut across his head, laying open his helmet or headpiece. For this exploit he was knighted on the field and dubbed Capinatus, which means "decorated with a hat," and his coat-of-arms was made a hat with a slash in it, thence the name Capinatus, the participle of the law - Latin capino - and then by the softening process of the French made Capin - Chapin. Of course the root is caput, whence cap and chapeau.
The Chapin coat-of-arms tends to verify the story.
(I) Deacon Samuel Chapin, the immigarnt ancestor, was doubtless born in England, though the family perhaps centurie ago came from France to England. Two immigrants of this name came to New England about the same time, and both settled in Springfield.
David Chapin was admitted a freeman there April 5, 1649, and was admitted an inhabitant of Boston in 1658. He was probably son of Deacon Samuel Chapin, though possibly a brother. Deacon Samuel Chapin came from England to Roxbury, Mass., 1636, with several children. He settled permanently at Springfield, where he was admitted a freeman June 2, 1641, and was elected to a town office in 1642. The Chapins of this country are all descended from him, according to the best authorities.
He was a distinguished man in Church and State. He was deacon of the Spirngfield Church, elected in 1649, and was employed to conduct services part of the time in 1656-57, when there was no minster in town. He was appointed commissioner to determine small causes, Oct. 10, 1652, and his commission was indefinitely extended by the general court in 1654.
He married Cicely _____, who died Feb. 8, 1682. He died Nov. 11, 1675. His will, dated March 4, 1674, and proved March 24, 1675, bequeathed to his wife, son Henry and grandson Thomas Gilbert. The widow's will mentions son Henry Chapin of Springfield and Josiah Chapin of Braintree; daughters Catharine, wife of Samuel Marshfield, Sarah Thomas and Hannah Hitchcock; Henry Gilbert. Her son Jephet was executor.
1. Japhet, born Oct. 13, 1642, mentioned below.
2. Henry, died young, April 15, 1718.
3. Henry, died Aug. 15, 1718.
4. Catharine, died FEb. 4, 1712.
5. David, born in England; probably a child of the wife Cicely.
6. Josiah, died Sept. 10, 1726, at Braintree.
7. Sarah, died Aug. 5, 1684.
8. Hannah, born Dec. 2, 1644, in Springfield.
The order of birth of the preceding is not known.
(II) Japhet, son of Samuel Chapin, was born Oct. 15, 1642, and died FEb. 20, 1712, at Chicopee, Mass. He married (first) July 22, 1664, Abilene or Abilenah Cooley, who died at Chcopee, Nov. 17, 1710, daughter of Benjamin Cooley. The gravestones of Japhet and his wife Abilene have been removed to the new cemetery in Springfield. He married (second), May 31, 1711, Dorothy Root of Enfield. She married (second) in 1720, Obadiah Miller of Enfield.
He settled first at Milford, Conn., where he was living Nov. 16, 1669, when he took a deed from Captain John Pyncheon deeded to his father Deacon Samuel the greater part of the land in the valley between Chicopee river and Williamsett brook. The latter piece of land Samuel deeded to his son Japhet, April 16, 1673, and there the latter built his house at the upper end of Chicopee street, northwest of the house lately  owned by Henry Sherman.
Japhet was in the fight at Turner's Falls, in 1676, in King Philip's war. He was a volunteer, and his son, Thomas was gratee of a large tract of land given to the soldiers and their descendants by the general court of Massachusetts. Like his father, Chapin was a man of great piety, a bulwark of the Puritan faith.
1. Samuel, born July 4, 1665.
2. Sarah, born March 16, 1668.
3. Thomas, born May 10, 1671.
4. John, born May 14, 1674, mentioned below.
5. Ebenezer, born June 26, 1677.
6. Hannah, born June 21, 1679; died July 7, 1679.
7. Hannah, born July 18, 1680; taken captive by the Indians and kept in Canada two years.
8. David, born Nov. 16, 1682.
9. Jonathan, born Feb. 20, 1685; died March 1, 1686.
10. Jonathan, born Sept. 23, 1688.
(III) John, son of Japhet Chapin, was born May 14, 1674, and married Sarah Bridgman of Northampton (intentions dated Jan, 24, 1702). He died June 1, 1759, and his wife May 21, 1756.
1. Sarah, born Nov. 23, 1702.
2. Jemima, born Jan. 5, 1705.
3. John, born Oct. 28, 1706.
4. Miriam, born March 5, 1713.
5. Phineas, born Sept. 23, 1715, mentioned below.
6. Stephen, born May 29, 1718.
7. Asahel, born Dec. 20, 1721.
8. Eleazer, born Jan. 27, 1725-26.
(IV) Phineas, son of John Chapin, was born Sept. 23, 1715, and married, Feb. 1, 1739, Bethia, daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Chapin. He died Oct. 11, 1788, and his wife May 1, 1793.
1. Bethia, born 1740.
2. Phares, born July 23, 1742, died Aug. 27, 1755.
3. Phineas, born March 1, 1747.
4. Asenath, born May 2, 1750.
5. John, born May 1, 1753, mentioned below.
6. Silas, born Sept. 10, 1755.
(V) John (2) son of Phineas Chapin, born May 1, 1753, married Aug. 5, 1775, Margaret Ely. He spent most of his life in Chicopee, but the latter part in the state of New York, where he died, aged nearly a hundred years. He came to Ogdensburg in 1800 with seven sons and four daughters.
1. Margaret, married Collins Brown.
2. John, mentioned below.
4. Mary, married Mattoon Day.
(VI) John (3), son of John (2) Chapin, was born about 1780 and probably went to New Yorks state with his father, before 1790. He died in 1856, aged seventy-five years, in Ogdensburg. We find in the census of 1790 that his father John Chapin was at Granville and had in his famly three males over sixteen, three under that age and four females. He had a hotel on State street.
He married Abigial Thrasher, who died in June, 1836.
David M., Elizabeth, Mary, Orphia, James, Charles and Henry.
(VII) David Martin, eldest son of John (3) Chapin, was born in Oswegatchie, St. Lawrence county, New York, near Ogdensburg, April 22, 1806. He attended the district schools and by determined effort secured a good education, preparing for college uner Rev. Jonathan Gale in Oneida county, and Professor Grosvenor at Rome, N.Y., finishing the sophomore year in Hamilton College, and returning to Ogdensburg in 1830 he taught a select school three years, and at the same time sutdied law in the office of Hon. James G. Hopkins. He was admitted to the bar and began to practice in 1836. Subsequently he was admitted to practice in federal courts. He was a successful lawyer. Originally a Democrat, he joined the Republican party when it was organized and was active in supporting its principles and candidates.
In April, 1861, he was appointed by President Lincoln collector of customs for the Oswegatchie district, and held the office until 1866. His later years were devoted mainly to his insurance business, and to negotiating mortgages and other loans, and he commanded a large share of the fire insurance business of this section. He was a prominent member, and for many years an elder of the Presbyterian Church of Ogdensburg. He died in 1879.
He married, March 15, 1838, Mary Elsie, daughter of Joseph and Lavinia York. Her father was a pioneer of Oswegatchie from Vermont; sheriff in 1812-13; taken prisoner by the British during the war; member of the legislature.
Children, born at Ogdensburg:
1. Mary Lavinia, married Captain George B. Bacon, who served in the navy in the civil war, afterward held position in custom house in New York city; children: Mary E. and Sophia Louise Bacon.
2. Joeph York, mentioned below.
3. Sophia Elsie, married Jacob B. Wells (deceased) and had Theodore Wells.
4. Louise Elsie, married M. Seymour.
5. David John, died in infancy.
(VIII) Joseph York, son of David Martin Chapin, was born in Ogdensburg, Aug. 4, 1843. He was educated in the public schools of his native town and at Hamilton College, from which he was graduated in the class of 1866. He studied law in the office of his father and was admitted to the bar in 1868. He practiced law until his father died in 1879, when he succeeded to his father's extensive insurance business, and to that he has devoted his attention chiefly since that time. He is a Republican, and was supervisor of the town for two years. During the past twenty years or more he has been special surrogate of the countyof St. Lawrence. In religion he is a Presbyterian. He is a charter member of the Ogdensburg Club. Mr. Chapin is unmarried, and resides in Ogdensburg.
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