The Charlie Chaplin ‘connection’

Are we related to Charlie Chaplin?
By Essanay Studios (British Film Institute) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I don’t know. I have heard from many relatives that we are related to Charlie Chaplin, but so far I have not been able to figure out how. Joseph Spencer’s brother Opie’s family passed down the same story, which makes me think there must be something to it. Sometimes the story is accompanied by a warning that it’s hush-hush.

Charlie Chaplin’s real name was Charles Spencer Chaplin. According to most of the information I’ve found, his parents were Charles Chaplin and Hannah Hill, both music hall entertainers. He was born in Walworth, London, England, April 16, 1889.

That rules out the story that Florence Spencer, Joseph and Sarah’s oldest daughter, was his mother, because the Spencer family had moved to Chicago in 1882. Another possibility is my great-grandfather’s sister Anne, born about 1863. She was called Anne H. Spencer in the 1871 and 1881 censuses. She married an accountant named Fred Avens. She used the name Hannah Esther on the marriage record, but I’m pretty sure Hannah and Anne are the same person because the age on the marriage record matched the censuses, and when their father died in 1909, “Annie and Fred” sent flowers. I don’t even think Anne had a twin named Hannah because no Hannah showed up on the 1871 or 1881 censuses.

On the other hand, in a letter Joseph’s brother wrote to Opie Spencer in 1916, he referred to his mother’s having had nine children. I only know of eight children, so there might have been a ninth named Hannah.

Chaplin’s mother lived with him in the US until her death, so she could not be the Annie who married an accountant. Wikipedia does say that Chaplin’s mother was the daughter of a shoe maker. But if his father’s name was Charles Spencer Chaplin, Sr., then the Spencer name came from his father’s side of the family, not his mother’s.

So what was the origin of the Spencer family story?????? Was Charlie Chaplin’s father’s mother a Spencer? Or did more than one Spencer notice the movie star’s middle name and make up an exciting story for the kids, complete with a warning not to tell anyone? I’d love to know.