Third son of Ninian Chamberlain (1751-1833) and Elizabeth Ewing (1767-1855), of Cayuga Co., NY. He was a soldier in the War of 1812. John first married Mary Ann North in 1817. With her, he had nine children: Eliza; Charles N.; Thomas North (North); Jeremiah Ninian; Naomi Ann; Magdalene C.; Margery Jane (Jane); Mary; John B.; and Sarah. Mary Ann died in 1834, and John later wed Elvira Baldwin.