Chambers was born on May 23, 1795, at Flat Rock, the Lunenburg County estate of his father, Edward Chambers, and his first wife, Martha Cousins Chambers. Among his siblings were a twin sister who died at age ten and an elder brother, Henry H. Chambers, who was afrom Alabama in 1825–1826. Following his mother’s death in 1810, Chambers was sent to study at Hampden-Sydney College. He attended the University of North Carolina from the academic year 1813–1814 until 1817 but during the War of 1812 interrupted his studies for thirteen days’ service in the summer of 1814 as a private in a cavalry troop. On October 20, 1817, Chambers was admitted to the bar in Mecklenburg County and began building an extensive law library, valued at his death at $400.
On February 11, 1824, Chambers married Lucy Goode Tucker, of Brunswick County. They had at least ten daughters and three sons before her death on May 20, 1854. In 1825 Chambers received from his father the approximately 1,100-acre Flat Rock estate, along with thirty-five enslaved people, on condition that he pay his father a $1,000 annuity, but two years later financial difficulties and overextension forced Chambers to rescind the transaction. He moved his family to a property owned by his father-in-law near Boydton, in Mecklenburg County. There Chambers practiced law and on May 18, 1835, became commonwealth’s attorney. He served as a trustee of Randolph-Macon College beginning in 1842 and as law professor in its newly established law school for the academic year 1842–1843. Chambers fought the college’s relocation to Ashland in 1868 and, after refusing to attend board meetings at the new site, was removed as a trustee in 1871.
By 1850 he and his wife enslaved twelve people and a modest sixty-six acres of land valued at $693. In August of that year Chambers, campaigning as a reformer, won election to represent Halifax, Mecklenburg, and Pittsylvania counties in a convention called to revise the state constitution. As one of only twoamong the six delegates elected from his district, Chambers favored a mixed basis of apportionment based on the white population and the value of taxable property, although he paired with another delegate who would have voted differently and therefore did not vote on a key compromise on legislative apportionment on May 16, 1851. He served on the minor Committee on Compensation of Officers and on the important Committee on the Right of Suffrage and Qualifications of Persons to be Elected, which debated the extension of the right to vote to all free white males over the age of twenty-one regardless of property qualifications.
Chambers seldom spoke on the convention floor but in April 1851 moved to appoint and became chairman of a special committee to consider a constitutional provision requiring the removal of all free persons of color from the state. The committee reported a draft article mandating the deportation from the United States of most free African Virginians or their reenslavement if they chose to remain. An amended version became the basis of Article IV, Section 19 of the new constitution. Though present, Chambers did not vote on the final approval of the constitution on July 31, 1851.
Late in the spring of 1861 Chambers won election as Mecklenburg County’s representative to the second and third sessions of the secession convention in place of his son-in-law Thomas Francis Goode, who had resigned in order to raise a cavalry troop for Confederate service. Chambers took his seat on June 14, 1861, and on that same day signed the Ordinance of Secession. He attended regularly, served on a committee of five to adopt an ordinance against persons disloyal to the commonwealth, and chaired a committee to investigate the expediency of completing a railroad under construction from Clarksville to Keysville.
At the close of the Civil War, Chambers, overestimating his net worth, applied for a presidential pardon, granted on July 3, 1865. Soon thereafter, on September 7, 1865, the governor appointed him judge of the Second Judicial Circuit, comprising the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Powhatan, and Prince George and the city of Petersburg. He was unanimously elected to the position by the House of Delegates on February 22, 1866.
Chambers was removed from the bench in March 1869 in accordance with a congressional resolution ordering the replacement of Virginia’s civil officeholders who had supported the Confederacy. He returned to law practice in Boydton with his son-in-law Thomas F. Goode and partner William Baskerville Jr., and in November 1870 was elected to a three-year term as commonwealth’s attorney beginning on January 1, 1871. After four months’ illness Chambers died at his home in Boydton on March 20, 1872, and was buried in the Boydton Presbyterian Church Cemetery.